From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Mon Nov 09 1998 - 09:59:57 EST

At 09:03 AM 11/9/98 +0200, Rolf Furuli wrote:
>Jonathan Robie wrote:
>>Can anyone provide evidence that lends credence to the belief that adding
>>EK changes the meaning in this phrase? Is there really any significant
>>difference between:
>>Please justify your answer...
>Regarding Revelation 1:5 and the phrase hO PRWTOTOKOS EK TWN NEKRWN, we
>must keep in mind:
>(a) The grammar of Revelation is different from the other NT books, and
>(b) Differences in personal style may give slightly different readings with
>the same meaning. Thus there need not be any semantic difference between
>the two phrases above.

I think we agree that there is no clear difference between the two phrases
I asked about; given that fact, is there any reason to assume that EK in
Colossians 1:18 carries more meaning than it does in Revelation 1:5?

>Regarding Colossians 1:15 and the relationship of Jesus to creation, it
>seems to me that theology rather than grammar has been the guiding factor
>in several postings.

That may be an inherent problem when we try to go beyond the question the
text is designed to answer. Colossians 1:15-20 *is* about the relationship
between Jesus and creation. It is essentially a hymn of praise to Jesus,
saying that Jesus is preeminent, above and before all creation.

Now if we ask whether Jesus is part of creation or separate in his deity, I
think we are asking a question that goes beyond the intent of this passage.
It says that Jesus is the EIKWN of the invisible God, preeminent over all
creation, that all things hold together in him, that all things were
created through him and for him. This kind of passage, a hymn of praise to
Jesus, occurs in quite a few places in the New Testament, but there are not
similar hymns of praise to humans or to angels or to any other except God
in the New Testament. However, nowhere in this passage is there a
conclusive statement that Jesus is part of creation or that Jesus is not
part of creation.

Is there disagreement about any of what I said in the above paragraph?

>(1) Is Jesus the direct or the intermediate agent of creation? If he is the
>direct agent, he is the creator, if he is the intermediate agent, he can be
>a part of creation.

I think that it's clear that it says all things were created *through*
Jesus, not *by* Jesus. This same distinction is made in John 1:5 (DIA) and

>(2) Does PASHS KTISEWS in Col 1:15 have the same reference as TA PANTA in
>verses 16 and 20? This is very often presumed, but the intelligent reader
>should rather look for arguments. Since Jesus is clearly different and
>separated from TA PANTA, he can be no part of creation if this phrase is
>synonymous with PASHS KTISEWS. If it cannot be proven that the phrases
>have the same reference, the principal argument (the context) against a
>partitive understanding of verse 15 vanishes.
I think that TA PANTA is part of the phrase TA PANTA EN TOIS OURANOIS KAI
EPI THS GHS, which is then further specified as including all things
visible or invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. This doesn't talk
about other created things like flowers and butterflies because the passage
is primarily about the authority and power of Jesus, and his preeminence
with respect to anything else that might claim to be an authority or power.
Now it goes without saying that TA PANTA EN TOIS OURANOIS KAI EPI THS GHS
in this passage does not include the Father, nor does it include Jesus, and
any attempt to include either in the scope of this phrase would violate the
context of the passage.

The link between PASHS KTISEWS and TA PANTA is made by the word hOTI:


The reason that he is the PRWTOTOKOS over all creation is that all things
were created by means of him. I read this as an instrumental EN.

Several people have argued that PRWTOTOKOS PASHS KTISEWS forces the
conclusion that Jesus is part of creation. Some have argued that the use of
the genitive forces that conclusion. I don't think so - compare the
following two phrases:


Is God part of the earth? I don't think so. Lots of similar examples are
easily found. So the genitive itself does not force the conclusion that
Jesus is part of creation.

Others have argued that PRWTOTOKOS forces the conclusion that Jesus is part
of creation. I think that PRWTOTOKOS is used to stress the preeminence of
Jesus over all of creation and that he existed before TA PANTA, and this is
the whole theme of the passage. I don't see any reason to believe that the
author wanted to clearly state whether Jesus is part of creation. I think
we are asking the passage to answer a different question than the one this
passage is all about.


Jonathan Robie

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