Re: PRWTOTOKOS--my last message, I hope

From: Kyle Dillon (
Date: Tue Nov 10 1998 - 02:22:51 EST

Greg Stafford wrote:
>In a message dated 11/9/98 1:51:47 PM Pacific Standard Time,
> writes:


><< According to the Nicene Creed, the Son of God is "...begotten
> not made, of the same substance as the Father...And to those that
> say...'before he was begotten he was not'...these the Catholic and
> church anathemizes." >>
>Yes, I know, but we are discussing the teachings and meaning of NT
>not creedal confessions hundreds of years after the fact.

That is a good point. However, in all passages of the Bible, whenever
Christ's so-called "beginnings" are stated, a form of GENNAW or TOKOS is
used, never GINOMAI or KTIZW. In the Nicene Creed (I know, I know), it says
that Christ is "eternally begotten." The Bible never speaks of a temporal
beginning to Christ (at least grammatically and lexically; I'm sure several
passages could be interpreted as referring to a beginnning of Christ's
existence, like Proverbs 8), but it does speak of a supposed "birth," which
Greek-speaking Christians have interpreted as a sonship that has no relation
to time whatsoever.

><< I don't think that there is any way to determine the meaning of
> PASHS KTISEWS on solely grammatical grounds. The different uses of the
> genitive are determined by context, not inflection or syntax. >>
>Has someone said otherwise?

Well, sort of. People have suggested that a genitive that follows PRWTOTOKOS
is inherently either possessive of partitive, which is not necessarily the
case. Daniel Wallace says it can precede a genitive of subordination or a
genitive of reference, and A.T. Robertson says that PRWTOTOKOS may carry a
superlative (as opposed to chronological) meaning.

><<And in Colossians 1:15, the context makes one thing clear: All things
>created in Christ, so Christ is the firstborn of every creature. >>
>No, as we have discussed several times (have you been reading the threads?)
>Christ is the firstborn of KTISIS, and TA PANTA was created in and through

Am I missing something, or didn't you just essentially repeat what I wrote?
But you do have two minor, but significant, changes. Christ is firstborn of
*every* creature (PASHS KTISIS--your omitting PASHS suggests that Christ is
simply the first creature, which this passage does not directly say, while
including it better expresses Christ's priority over the entire creation),
*on the basis that* all things (TA PANTA) were created in and through him
(you weaken the force of the causal clause when translating hOTI as "and").

><<There is no doubt that PASHS KTISEWS is a genitive of subordination, but
>it also partitive? >>
>Actually, there is quite a bit of doubt about that. I think you mean to say
>that there is no doubt that we have, inherent from the use of PRWTOTOKOS, a
>preeminent sense that conveys the firstborn's superiority over the group to
>which he belongs.

Okay, I'll go with that. But what I mean to say is that PASHS KTISEWS is
subordinate to Christ, because of the priority of the position of firstborn,
which is something I think we all agree on.

><< It seems to me that such an interpretation would be in contradiction
> the following clause in verse 16. How can Jesus be the first member of
> creation if EN AUTWi EKTISQH TA PANTA? >>
>Clearly you have not been following the threads, and I wonder, why are you
>commenting on the issues with such certainty without having considered all
>that has been said?

I can't keep track of all the messages. With so little spare time and so
many messages in this thread, I don't have time to read them all. That is
why I myself am a little reluctant to further add to this neverending
discussion. So I will try to keep my questions and statements short and
simple, so I don't waste everyone's time.

><<And perhaps the strongest argument is
> that this phrase is found within a causal clause, linked to the preceding
> verse by hOTI. Why is Christ firstborn? Because he was instrumental in the
> making of all created things.
>Indeed, the hOTI clause is key, along with the lexical sense of PRWTOTOKOS,
>for it shows that Christ must be the firstborn, since TA PANTA was made in
>through him. No one but the firstborn/firstcreated of God could not have
>served as the mediator for TA PANTA. Not one of the TA PANTA could be
>firstborn, for it has reference to the through-him [= Christ] things. That
>Christ also lives because of the Father is really no an issue.---John 6:57.

>Greg Stafford

It seems that you hold a distinction between PASHS KTISEWS (of which you say
Christ is a member) and TA PANTA (of which Christ cannot be a member). It
appears to me that the two terms are synonymous, with KTISIS being implied
in the latter phrase by means of the connected passive verb EKTISQH. This
being the case, how can Christ be the creative instrument of all things
created (TA PANTA...EKTISQH) if he himself is a member of creation
(KTISEWS)? In other words, can he be an instrument in his own creation? See
also John 1:3, which emphasizes better than any other passage in the Bible
that Christ had an instrumental role in the beginning of anything that ever
had a beginning.

Kyle Dillon

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