Re: PRWTOTOKOS--my last message, I hope

Date: Tue Nov 10 1998 - 09:42:20 EST

In a message dated 11/9/98 11:52:15 PM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

 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. >>

Actually, there are many different words used, and, as I pointed before, there
is no difference between the two words given above, in the Bible.

<< 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. >>

The only kind of birth mentioned in the Bible is a temporal birth. There is
absolutely no basis for any other kind of birth as used in Scripture. Eternal
generation is a contradiction of terms, used to preserve one's theology, as I
am sure you know. It is extra-biblical.

><< 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
 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. >>

That involves the meaning of PRWTOTOKOS, not the entire phrase in question.
Your statement had to do with the entire phrase in question, Wes' comments had
to do with the word PRWTOTOKOS only.

><<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?

Yes, I think you missed the fact that you used a form of the English word
"create" for both KTISIS and TA PANTA. That is what I am commenting on.

<< 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), >>

Being the first creature would still involve his priority over creation, and
my omitting of PASHS has nothing to do with the point I am making, which has
to do with your lumping of two different words together, as though they were
the same thing. The use of PASHS most naturally is partitive, including Christ
in the *entire* creation. Where you are getting the word "over" from is not
clear; it appears to be an assumption designed to distance Christ from
creation, when he is really the firstborn *of* it. The superiority then
follows from this temporal priority.

<< *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").


Good, at least you are now using "all things" for TA PANTA. I was not
translating the hOTI clause in my above comments at all. How did you gather as

><<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. >>

Yes, but some seem to want to accept only the priority of the position, and
not the temporality that is inherent in the term, unless it is used
figuratively, as we have already discussed. Would someone like to comment on
Wes' list?

><< 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. >>

I think it is very important that we consider all the material, especially
since the points you missed were made in many of the posts. Otherwise, it
gives the impression that you are just posting to support a dogmatic

><<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. >>

What we have here is the difference between a *noun* (KTISIS) and a *verb*

<<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. >>

Actually, John :13 speaks with reference to those things which were created in
the beginning, further showing that PANTA (and TA PANTA) is context-dependent.
This is evident in other passages, also. (Ps. 8:6)

What I think you are missing is the fact that Christ is also MONOGENHS, and
thus only by being the mediator for TA PANTA can he remain MONOGENHS. That is
why he can be the PRWTOTOKOS of KTISIS, and the mediator of TA PANTA.

I noticed you dropped the word PRWTOKTISTOS. What, then, could Paul have used
to convey temporal priority, but PRWTOTOKOS? How many ways does the Bible have
to say that Jesus "lives because of the Father"?--John 6:57.

Greg Stafford


B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:07 EDT