You are on page 1of 37

Colossians 1:16, Is the translation “all other things” appropriate?

(By: Lesriv Spencer, February 9, 2014. Revised, September, 2014; July 9, 2018)

(Bible citations are taken from the English Standard Version – ESV, unless noted. Other quoted Bible versions include:
Amplified Bible – Amp; Common English Bible – CEB; Complete Jewish Bible – CJB; Contemporary English Version – CEV;
Good News Translation – GNT; GOD'S WORD Translation – GW; Easy-to-Read Version – ERV; Expanded Bible – EXB; Holman
Christian Standard Bible – HCSB; International Standard Version – ISV; Lexham English Bible – LEB; New American Bible –
NAB; New American Standard Bible – NASB; New Century Version – NCV; New English Translation – NET; New International
Version – NIV; New International Readers Version – NirV; New Jerusalem Bible – NJB; New King James Version – NKJV; New
Living Translation – NLT; New Revised Standard Version – NRSV; New World Translation, 2013 Edition – NWT; The Living
Bible – TLB); The Message – MSG; VOICE; and the Worldwide English New Testament – WE)

Table of Contents (Ctrl-click to follow link)

1. Why the controversy surrounding Colossians 1:16?


2. Critics speak out against adding “other” to “all things” at Colossians 1:16.
3. Would Paul have used a Greek word meaning “other” to show that Jesus was created?
4. Does “all” always indicate the absolute sum of all things?
5. Scholars speak out on the implications of “all” in Scripture.
6. Examples of “all” (and related words) in Scripture.
7. Does adding “other” to “all things” change the meaning of Colossians 1:16-20?
8. What is the role of Christ in Colossians?
9. What is the meaning of “firstborn”
10. “First created” versus “Firsborn” which?
11. Jewish references of Adam Clarke and Rabbi Bechai … Do they prove anything?
12. Does Isaiah 44:24 in any way support the traditional view?
13. Is Jesus the source or the instrument of God’s creative works?
14. Final thoughts.

In this article we will consider the following questions: What is the meaning of the Greek word
pas, from which pan'ta derives, commonly rendered as “all”? What does the context surrounding
Colossians 1:16 indicate? Is it deceitful for a Bible translation to add the word “other” to “all
things” at Colossians 1:16 in order to imply that Christ was a created being?

1. Why the controversy surrounding Colossians 1:16?

After John 1:1, there is perhaps no other scripture which brings out religious emotions to the
fore as does Colossians 1:16 the way it's rendered in the New World Translation of the Holy
Scriptures (NWT). Politics and religion are two of the most controversial subjects to deal with. It is
a challenge to be impartial and objective when discussing both subjects. Today, we will deal with
the religious factor – and one scripture, mainly Colossians 1:16. The controversy exists mainly
because there are two major interpretations, one where Christ is said to be “God” himself, and
the other, believes that Christ is “divine,” but not one-and-the-same God, second only to the
Supreme God. Not surprisingly, those who belong to the smaller group consistently receive the
greater number of criticisms. I believe that both groups have presented valid arguments in their
favor, and that both camps have within their respective constituencies intellectually bright
individuals. But the main issue is not which group has the most supporters. Rather, who adheres
to the core biblical message better? Who is better able to resist error-prone human traditions
more successfully?

2. Critics speak out against adding “other” to “all things” at Colossians 1:16:

Dr. Bruce M. Metzger: “Some of the translations [such as “other” in Col. 1:16 in the New World
Translation Bible]…are simply indefensible.” (The New World Translation of the Christian Greek
Scriptures, The Bible Translator 15/3 (July 1964), pp. 151-52)

Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (by Matt Slick): “The Jehovah's Witness organization
has altered the biblical text to suit to its theological presupposition that Jesus is a created thing.
This is why the new world translation adds the word ‘other’ four times in Col. 1:16-17, even
though it is not in the Greek text.” (http://carm.org/religious-movements/jehovahs-witnesses/col-116-
17-all-other-things-were-created-him)

Ray C. Stedman: “If you look carefully at the Jehovah's Witnesses' little green translation of the
Scriptures, you will notice that in order to substantiate their lie about Jesus Christ, they've
inserted the word ‘other’ in these phrases. ‘All other things were created by him. In him all other
things were created.’ But there is absolutely no warrant whatsoever in the Greek text for the
insertion of the word ‘other.’ This is a clear instance of the kind of deceitfulness to which these
people will stoop in order to propagate their lies.” (COLOSSIANS: Power to Endure with Joy –
https://www.raystedman.org/bible-overview/adventuring/colossians-power-to-endure-with-joy)

Dr. Walter Martin: “The insertion of the word ‘other’ at Col. 1:16, 17, and 19 is not only a
‘dishonest rendering’ but also ‘one of the most clever perversions of the New Testament texts
that the author has ever seen.’ ” He further states that “attempting to justify this unheard of
travesty upon the Greek language and simple honesty, the New World Bible Translation
Committee enclosed each added ‘other’ in brackets.” (The Kingdom of the Cults, 1985 ed., p. 75.)

Harsh accusations indeed! With such criticisms directed at the New World Bible Translation
Committee for its version of Colossians 1:16, it behooves us, in the name of fairness, to examine
the issues involved. Is the claim true that “there is absolutely no warrant whatsoever in the
Greek text for the insertion of the word ‘other’ ” at those verses in Colossians? Let's see what all
the fuss is about.

First, we will look at two reading variations of Colossians 1:15-20, which clearly show the
theological contrast of the Evangelical English Standard Version, representative of most versions
(Trinitarian supporters), with that of the New World Translation (non-trinitarian), published by
Jehovah's Witnesses, which represents a minority of Christian religious worshipers.

Colossians 1:15-20,

English Standard Version:

[Ch. 1] “15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by [Footnote: “That is,
by means of; or in”] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether
thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And
he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him
all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether
on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

New World Translation, 1984 Edition:

“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 because by means of him all
[other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible,
no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have
been created through him and for him. 17 Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all
[other] things were made to exist, 18 and he is the head of the body, the congregation. He is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that he might become the one who is first in all things; 19 because
[God] saw good for all fullness to dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile again to himself all [other]
things by making peace through the blood [he shed] on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the
things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.”

First, a few observations: Both translations, either add or remove some words, as most versions
do in this passage. The ESV is the most traditional of the two versions. It uses language familiar
which mainstream church-goers take for granted, such as “church” and “cross.” And it renders
verse 19 in a way that makes Jesus Christ recipient of “the fullness of God” (in the sense of
“Godhead” perhaps) as residing in Christ, a thought added to the original statement, which literally
says: “Because in him he [God] thought well all the fullness to dwell down.” What exactly is this
“fullness,” the author does not say at this point, but the ESV translators took the liberty to finish
the thought for the biblical writer by adding their own interpretation to the text.
On the other hand, the NWT uses more words overall in the same passage, including the
controversial “other” added to the expression “all things” at various places, which makes Jesus
Christ a part of the creation, a fact which mainstream religious groups consider dishonoring. Is
the NWT justified in doing so?
The 21st Century New Testament is the only other translation that I know of which adds “other,”
but do so only once in verse 16. Opponents of adding “other” to “all things” assert that the Greek
text does not support such element. A claim is made that when the biblical author said: “For by
him [Christ] all things were created,” the statement certainly excludes Jesus Christ from God's
creative acts. In other words, it is said that the phrase “the firstborn of all creation” applied to
Christ at Colossians 1:15 can only mean that he is the one who initiated the creative acts, rather
than him being a product of creation. Emphasis is often made on the word “all” as proof that
Christ could not be included in the group of creatures.
But, are these claims valid? No! If you are the type of person who likes to obtain a second
opinion, here is one for you – from a trinitarian source, no less: The Expositor's Bible Commentary
(Abridged Edition). This source would agree with the critics above, but notice their cautious
approach and quieter tone in their commentary (Underlines added): “In relation to the universe,
Christ is ‘the firstborn over all creation [NIV reading, on which the work is based].’ ‘Firstborn’...may denote
either priority in time or supremacy in rank. In the present passage, perhaps we should see both
meanings. Christ is before all creation in time; he is also over it in rank and dignity. The major stress,
however, seems to be on the idea of supremacy. Some see in the word an allusion to the ancient custom
whereby the firstborn in a family was accorded rights and privileges not shared by the other offspring. He
was his father's representative and heir, and to him the management of the household was committed.
Following this line of interpretation, Christ is his Father's representative and heir, and as the management
of the divine household (all creation) committed to him. He is thus Lord over all God's creation. ”

It is evident that the persons responsible for the Commentary above (Kenneth L. Barker; John R.
Kohlenberger III; Verlyn Verbrugge, & Richard Polcyn) explain the passage with clear trinitarian
persuasion, but do so with respect to the audience. They are careful in their approach, and by
their choice of words, they recognize that interpretation does come into play in this passage.
Notice selective words which indicate so: “may denote”; “perhaps we should see”; “seems to be
on the idea”; “some see in the word an allusion”; and “following this line of interpretation.” Their
understanding overall is that Christ in this passage is “Lord over all God's creation.” Non-
trinitarians may disagree with their conclusions, but may be inclined to respect the authors for
writing with respect and consideration of other existing interpretations.
With this in mind, I will attempt to explain why another view on the Colossians passage should
be seriously considered before passing final judgment.
3. Would Paul have used a Greek word meaning “other” to show that Jesus was created?
First, consider there are a few words used in the original biblical languages to convey the
meaning of “all”; “other”, and “another.” In Hebrew the most common word for “all” is ‫( כ ֹּל‬kōl, over
5,000x). Also used:‫תמִים‬
ֹּ (tā·mîm, 91x) and ‫( כ ֹּל ִיל‬kālîl, 15x). Another word,‫אחֵר‬ַ (’a·ḥēra·ḥēr,166x), has been
rendered as “other” or “another.” Even the numeral ‫’( ֶא ָ ֥חד‬a·ḥēre·ḥāḏ, “one”, “first”, 471x) has been used
for “other.” Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures appear in the Septuagint (LXX) Greek Text,
a relevant translation in our discussion.
In Greek, the most common word for “all” is πᾶς (pas) [1,243x]. Two other words, ὅλος (hólos, 109x)
and ἅπας (hápas, 34) express the idea of “whole, all” or “wholeness.” Two other words, “ἄλλος (állos,
155x)” and ἕτερος (héteros, 98x) are mainly used for “other” and “another.” Although frequently
interchangeable, héteros is considered a stronger expression than “állos.” Another Greek term,
λοιπός (loipós, 55x) is used with the sense of: ‘the remaining, the rest, what is left.’
Now, a frequent criticism brought up in regards to the use of “other” at Colossians 1:16 is seen in
this quote from CARM, source quoted before: “There exists two Greek words for ‘other’: allos
which means another of the same kind; and heteros which means another of a different kind.
Paul could have used either word here if he wanted to show that Jesus was ‘another’ created
thing. But he did not. There is no linguistic reason at all to insert this word here four times --
unless you are trying support the presupposition that Jesus is not God.” (op. cit., carm.org)
Aside from the fact that this critic did not even considered the possibility of an “ellipsis” being
used here, he ignored other factors as well, which will, under further investigation, confirm the
inappropriateness of his comments. Scholars Blass, Debrunner and Funk define “ellipsis: “In the
broad sense applies to any idea which is not fully expressed grammatically and leaves it to the
hearer or reader to supply the omission because it is self-evident.” (A Greek Grammar of the New
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, University of Chicago Press, 1961, section .480, p. 253. Trans.
by R. W. Funk) Furthermore, the Bible frequently makes use of other figures of speech, such as
Synecdoche, which expresses either more or less than it literally denotes.
The claim that Paul would have used one of those two words (állos & héteros) to show that Christ
was a created being is not true. However, as he himself noted: ‘[Paul] did not [use neither in
Colossians 1:15-20].’ There are other issues which the CARM critic did not address. For one, he did
not mention this one fact which the scholars aforementioned brought out in their Grammar:
“ἄλλος [állos] is sometimes omitted where we would add ‘other.’ ” (Ibid, p. 160.)
This points out that each language has its own peculiarities and idioms which are not easy to
grasp for speakers of another language. This holds true if we compare the biblical languages
with English, and viceversa. To the English speaker, other languages may seem at times, either,
verbose, or too brief in other areas. Hebrew may seem odd or incomplete to modern language
speakers, and Greek too detailed. In top of that, we see evidence of Jewish influence throughout
in the Greek writings of the biblical authors of the New Testament. This is not surprising, since
they were Jewish. At times the Bible writers took for granted within their contextual settings that
their readers would understand these peculiarities of their era.
Due to Semitic influence, Biblical authors frequently avoided redundancy, and were known at
times to omit certain repetitive words when writing, or leave thoughts unfinished, letting their
readers to complete the intended thought. Three examples are provided: First: John 4:24: The
Greek text reads literally: pneuma ho theós = “spirit the God.” The biblical author here did not
employ a verb in the statement. (“Omission [of the verb as a copula] is the rule in Hebrew.”; See Blass,
Debrunner and Funk, where they mention the omission of ei'nai (“to be”), and estín (“is”), op.cit., p. 70.) To
use the CARM writer's argument, the writer would have used the verb if he wanted to, and if
there was any linguistic reason to do so, since elsewhere he supplies the verb. (As in John 17:3;
17:17) But in this verse he did not. Should the English translator then insist in rendering it, “The
God _ spirit,” leaving out the verb simply because it did not appear in the original? No! The
translator typically conveys the Greek idiom in English by supplying the verb “is” to make what is
implicit clear. The King James Version translators rendered it: “God is a Spirit: and they that
worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” The KJV used italics to indicate added
words. Both “is” and the second instance of “him” are lacking in the Greek. The KJV translators
felt they had a linguistic reason to supply the extra words, not to mention the frequent
theological or contextual implications translators come up with as well throughout their work.
Were the KJV translators mischievous for doing so? No!
Second: 1 Juan 5:19 literally says: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the
wicked [one].” (Darby Translation, Brackets his.) Did you notice that the biblical author did not fully
expressed in writing the thought he had in mind at the end? Translator, J. N. Darby added “one”
to the text, which is implied. When the apostle John wrote those words, his target audience likely
understood the intended message without difficulty. Today though, we are forced to use a little
bit more imagination to grasp the meaning. All considered, translators today do not hesitate to
add some words in the final part of the text to make things clear, as the next two versions clearly
show: “We know we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (CEB)
“We know that we belong to God even though the whole world is under the rule of the Evil One.”
(GNT) Should we attack the honesty of these translators for taking such liberty to add words to
the text to complete the sense in English?
Third: Acts 5:29 where it literally reads, “But Peter and the apostles answered: “We must obey
God rather than men.” Since Peter was an apostle too, and the Greek statement does not make
this evident, the idea can be communicated to the modern English reader by adding “other” in
the translation to read, “Peter and the other apostles” as some Bible versions have done, even
though no specific Greek word was used in the sentence for “other”. Doing so is not twisting the
original Greek to say something which is not implied at all. The way the Greek it's phrased, the
meaning of “other” is implicitly understood, and the translator can choose to make it explicit in
English, if he or she so wishes. It is not required, but permissible.
In fact, the translators of the following three modern Greek Bible versions added ‘állos’ where is
omitted where we would add ‘other’, as in Acts 5:29:

1. The New Testament in Today's Greek Version: “Ο Πέτρος όμως καὶ οι άλλοι απόστολοι είπαν.” (Translation:
“But Peter and the other apostles said....”)

2. Η ΑΓΙΑ ΓΡΑΦΗ—ΜΕΤΑΦΡΑΣΗ ΝΕΟΥ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ (NWT in modern Greek, 2017): “Ο Πέτρος και οι άλλοι απόστολοι
απάντησαν:” (Translation: “Peter and the other apostles replied....”)

3. Η ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗ, ΕΓΧΕΙΡΙΔΙΟ ΜΕΛΕΤΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΖΩΗΣ (The New Testament, A Handbook for Study and Life):
“Απαντώντας τότε ο Πέτρος και οι άλλοι απόστολοι, είπαν” [Translation: “Then in response, Peter and the
other apostles said….”].

The underlined word “άλλοι (a nominative, masculine, plural form of “állos” = other)” does not appear
in the Greek text, but these modern Greek translators obviously felt it was a service to the
readers to clarify the statement by supplying “állos” (“other”) to the Greek text. Likewise, the
following modern language English editions inserted “other” to the translated text at Acts 5:29:
CJB; ERV; EXB; GW; KJV; GNT; NCV; NIV; NKJV; NWT; and WE.

Thus, you have here three modern Greek Bible versions above supplying the word “álloi [other],”
where the original Greek text does not, and a number of English Bible translations doing the
same. Why would they do so if there was ‘no warrant whatsoever from the Greek text for the
insertion of ‘other’? Is it a case of “travesty”? ‘Dishonesty’? Or “Clever perversions”? None of that!
Just plain common sense. In fact, the omission of the notion of “other” is quite common in
Greek. The grammarians mentioned before, stated under “ellipses”: “The omission of the notion
‘other, whatever’...is specifically Greek.” (Blass, Debrunner, Funk 1961, p. 254) In other words, Greek
sometimes takes it for granted that the word ‘other’ is implied.
4. Does “all” always indicate the absolute sum of all things?:
Another mistake interpreters often make regarding Colossians 1:16-20 has to do with the
common assumption that the Greek term “all” requires that Christ be excluded from the creative
acts of God. Both in English and Greek, the word “all” frequently is not all-encompassing,
exclusions are common. Greeks often used “all” (or: “everyone,” “everybody,” etc.) as a hyperbole,
that is, as an exaggeration, and not always in the absolute sense. Long ago, Charles H.
Spurgeon, a prolific author and preacher, had noted appropriately: “The words ‘world’ and ‘all’
are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture; and it is very rarely that ‘all’ means all
persons, taken individually.” (Particular Redemption, A Sermon, No. 181, 28 Feb 1858.)
Thus, the meaning of exclusions in “all” is prominent in the Greek use of pas’a·ḥēr. This happens in
English also. Let's look at a few examples of usage first in English, and then with Greek.
In English it is not uncommon to hear overstated expressions such as these 6 examples:

1. “Everyone is looking for you.” This usually refers to an unspecified number of people looking for
someone lost, wherever it may be. The meaning of “everyone” here is implicit to those familiar with the
matter in that it logically restricts the action of looking for the lost one to only those present who know the
individual. In some cases it may include personnel of the police forces. The statement does not require
that every individual in the world participates in the search for that person. “Everyone,” then, is not every
single person alive. In this case it means “some.”

2. “Everybody loves pizza.” Not quite! But we get the point emphatically. “Everybody” here means “many.”

3. “Everyone in Cuba wants to leave the country.” (Words of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, U.S Representative
Florida's 27th congressional district – Congress, Dec., 2013) Would that include the Castro family, his
friends, and their legions of loyal followers? Obviously not! The implicit meaning of Lehtinen's “everyone,”
is that ‘a large number’ of Cubans, ‘a majority’ at most, would be willing to leave the communist island if
they only could.

4. “There is fun to be had by all at the biggest holiday parade in Chicago.” Does “all” here mean that every
single individual of the more than 9,000,000 residents in the metropolitan city of Chicago would be
present in the holiday parade? Or, that “the whole world” literally would be present there? No, those
assumptions are irrational. This is what is meant: There is fun to be had by “all” those who attend the
parade. There is frequently a limit to the word “all.”

5. “As we are all aware, natural resources can act as a destabilizing factor.” Is ‘every living person’ or animal
on the planet aware of this? No. The stated reference was likely directed to a particular audience.

6. “Copy all files to be recorded to your local hard disk drive instead.” Again, this command may be a
simple instruction by the computer, monitor, or hard disk drive manufacturer. Or, the reference
may be to copy all files of a given project to be recorded to a local hard disk drive, instead of a
public server. It does not require that every single file belonging to the company (and from
elsewhere), be recorded to one specific hard drive. The word “local” is contextually a clue that it
does not physically apply to all files of the world which cannot fit in one hard disk drive.

Hence, it is not bizarre in English to use expressions such as “all,” “every,” “everything,”
“everyone,” “everybody,” “the whole world,” without encompassing every living creature under
the sun. It is possible to come up with hundreds of examples to indicate so. There is of course
no doubt that the word “all” is often used in the absolute sense, which would include every
imaginable thing within a given context. But it's equally true that “all” is frequently used as a
hyperbole. Other times “all” is simply used metaphorically to denote comprehensiveness:
“many”; “a great number”; “a majority.” Words such as “other” or “else” are sometimes added in
translation to “all,” “everything,” or “everyone,” to make things clear, or to smooth things out in
English.

The Greek language goes even further than that with words similar in meaning to the English
ones, “pas” and its derivatives/cognates/synonyms: pan, pan'ta, pan'tē, pan'tes, pantí, pan'tōn, pan'tos,
pan'tote, pan'tothen; pa'sas, pasē, pa'ses, pasōn; ha'pax, ha'pas; diapantos', epha'pax, pandocheion,
pandocheus', panopli'a, panourgi'a, panourgos, pantokra'tōr; ampho'teroi, holo'kleros, and ho'los. The same
thing could be said of Hebrew words used for “all”: kōl; kālîl; and tā·mîm.

The word “pas” appears more that 1,200 times in the New Testament, therefore, many examples
could be provided to show that “pas” is not always all-inclusive. (In this article, the various Greek
forms of pas used in quoted Scriptures, it's indicated within brackets throughout.) Thus, adding the
word “other” or “else” to “all” in the translation in some contexts is certainly a reasonable thing to
do to make what is implicit clear. It has nothing to do with “clever perversions.”

At Colossians 1:16,17,20, where the NWT adds “other,” the Greek word for “all” is pan'ta, a form
of pas. Although traditionalists claim that adding the word “other” here ‘has no warrant
whatsoever in the Greek text,’ it is simply not true. In Colossians 1:17, the Greek word for “all”
appears twice, in the form of pánton, and pánta, both forms of pas. Some translators in fact add
“else” in verse 17 to the “all” expression. Some translations which add “else” in verse 17 to the
“all” expression:

NAB (1970): “He is before all else that is. In him everything continues in being.”
ISV: “He himself existed before anything else did, and he holds all things together.”
TLB: “He was before all else began, and it is his power that holds everything together.”
The Kingdom N.T.: “And he is ahead, prior to all else, And in him all things hold together.”
CEV: “God's Son was before all else, and by him everything is held together.”
NLT: “He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together.”
The Translator's N.T.: “He existed before all else, and the whole universe holds together in him.”

If the word “else,” similar in connotation to the word “other” is linguistically admissible in
translation in verse 17 for the Greek pas, then it would be equally admissible in verse 16 as well
to employ “other” or “else” with “all.” As the proverb goes: “What's good for the goose is good for
the gander,” which loosely means, “What's good for one is good for the other.” Likewise, if it's
wrong for one translator to do so, it is equally wrong for the other. Opponents of the NWT
rendering of “other” in “all other things” at Colossians 1:16 are strangely silent when some of
their peers commit the same “sin” by their own addition of “else” in verse 17. The main difference
between the two propositions is one of interpretation. The NWT portrays Christ as having a
beginning, ‘part of the creation,’ whereas the translators above use “else” to say that Christ had
no beginning, that he existed before ‘everything else.’ Grammatically, both renderings are viable
at the two places, regardless of critics claims, but adding “other” at Col. 1:16 is incompatible with
the popular religious doctrine of the Trinity. So the main objection to inserting “other” is
exegetical in nature.

5. Scholars speak out on the implications of “all” in Scripture: Is “all” Scripturally all-inclusive,
with no exclusions whatsoever? Let's examine the evidence:

Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament gives as one meaning: “All, in a qualified sense, i.e.
All, in general, though not each individual, most, a great many: Matt. 4:24; 10:22; Mark 1:37; Luke
15:1; John 12:32; Phil 2:21. Compare Matt. 3:15; 23:3; Luke 21:35.” (John Parkhurst, M.A., Cambridge)

The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: “πᾶς [pas]… A multivalent [having more than
one possible meaning] word principally conveying the idea of comprehensiveness as qualified by
context and without statistical emphasis...”. (Frederick W. Danker with Kathryn Krug, ©2009 by The
University of Chicago)

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Kittel and Friedrich: “In many passages [in LXX], of
course, the use [of pás as “all”] is rhetorical, but in the general context even these instances imply
the total claim of God and his word. […] In many verses, of course, pás is used in the NT simply
to denote a great number, e.g., ‘all Jerusalem’ in Mt. 2:3, and ‘all the sick’ in 4:24.” (Abridged in one
volume by Geoffrey W. Bromiley; pp. 796, 797, Eerdmans, 1992 reprint.)

Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible: “‘All and Some’ – The meanings of these words are
frequently reversed in Scripture. The word all can mean some, and vice versa.” (See: “Illustrations
of Bible Idioms,” under “Idiomatic Expressions.”)

Jason BeDuhn: “‘All’ is commonly used in Greek as a hyperbole, that is, an exaggeration. The
‘other’ is assumed. [...] All translations ‘add words’ in an effort to make coherent English
sentences out of Greek ones.” (Truth in Translation - Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New
Testament, ©2003, pp. 84, 86.)

Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words:

“pas generallly means ‘each, every’ in the singular, ‘all’ in the plural. […] Likewise, the emphasis in
pas in the plural is not so much on each individual within the group as in the group as a whole.
For example, in 1 Cor. 15:22 Paul writes, ‘For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.’
His emphasis here is on two ‘all’ groups: the ‘all’ group that dies because of Adam's sin (i.e. every
single human being) and the ‘all’ group that lives in Christ (i.e., those who believe in him). In similar
vein Paul writes in 2 Cor. 5:14-15: ‘For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that
one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer
live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.’ Christ's love extends to
the entire human race, but not every individual accepts the Lord by faith and lives in and for
him.” (William D. Mounce, p. 13. Italics his.)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online (ISBE,1915): “All”, “Used in various combinations,
and with different meanings. [...] Often used indefinitely of a large number or a great part, ‘All
the cattle of Egypt died’ (Ex 9:6; compare 9:19,25); ‘all Judea, and all the region round about’ (Mt
3:5); ‘that all the world should be enrolled’ (Lk 2:1); ‘all Asia and the world’ (Acts 19:27); ‘All (people)
verily held John to be a prophet’ (Mk 11:32).”

ISBE (1979): “Some uses of the term are best described as connoting comprehensiveness. It is said
of Moses that he was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22). Broadly phrased
axioms belong here also: ‘All who take the sword will perish by the sword’ (Mt. 26:52).
” At times ‘all’ is used for the sake of emphasis. Here should be put hyperbolic statements such as
the note about Jerusalem and all Judea going out to John the Baptist (Mt. 3:5); also the assertion
that the faith of the church at Rome had reached to all the world (Rom. 1:8) and the claim that the
preaching of the gospel message had been similarly diffused (Col. 1:23).

” Occasionally Scripture assigns limits to the meaning of ‘all’ relieving uncertainty, as when the
phrase ‘all that is in the world’ (1 Jn. 2:16) is specifically confined to three items. Often the context
gives help in setting the limits for the intended meaning, as when Peter in the house of
Cornelius asserted concerning Jesus Christ that ‘he is Lord of all’ (Acts 10:36). The reference is
probably to Jew and Gentile. As another example, the ‘all things’ of 1 Cor. 2:15 cannot properly
be treated absolutely but should be restricted to spiritual truth.

” Paul's statement that ‘one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men’
(Rom. 5:18) raises a question. Does this statement teach universal salvation? The answer would
seem to be that the provision is indeed adequate for all but is actually enjoyed only by those
who put their trust in the Savior (cf. Rom. 3:22).” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 1 of
4, p. 94. ©1979 by Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI. General Editor: Geoffrey W.
Bromiley)

Charles H. Spurgeon: “...‘The whole world is gone after him.’ Did all the world go after Christ?
‘Then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan.’ Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem
baptized in Jordan? ‘Ye are of God, little children,’ and ‘the whole world lieth in the wicked one.’
Does ‘the whole world’ there mean everybody? If so, how was it, then, that there were some who
were ‘of God?’ The words ‘world’ and ‘all’ are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture; and
it is very rarely that ‘all’ means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to
signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts—some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some
poor, and has not restricted his redemption to either Jew or Gentile.” (op. cit., Particular Redemption)
6. Examples of “all” (and related words) in Scripture:
(Note: Some of the following examples may be considered figures of speech, such as:
“Synecdoche,” or some other. The Synecdoche is defined as: “A figure of speech in which a part is
substituted for a whole or a whole for a part...” (Thorndike-Barnhart Student Dictionary. See Figures of
Speech Used in the Bible, by E. W. Bullinger.)

Genesis 9:3, “Every [kōl; Or: “all”, LXX: pan] moving thing that lives shall be food for you.”
NET: “You may eat any moving thing that lives.”
MSG: “Just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else.”

While other Bible versions say “all things” for the Hebrew expression “eth-kōl [LXX, ta pan'ta],” The
Message Bible adds “else” to “everything.” So does GW. On Genesis 1:29, the injunction placed on
the first human pair was to eat “all [kōl; LXX: pan & pánta]” vegetation. Both the Hebrew and Greek
words for “all” excluded animals from the diet. After the flood, meat would now supplement
mankind's food diet. This explains why the MSG and GW versions added the word “else” to
“everything.” Even so, the allowance to eat “all” or “every” meat would exclude some animals
which are potentially harmful to man. The same applies to poisonous plants. See below:
A Seventh-Day Adventist Publication, appropriately noted: “It is also very clear that in Genesis 9:3
the word ‘every’ tacitly excludes the unclean animals and those whose flesh might be poison to
man, as some creatures are today.” (Signs of the Times, Feb. 1976, p. 28.)
Exodus 18:11, “Now I know that the LORD [Yahweh] is greater than all [kōl; LXX: pántas] gods.”
(Literally: than all the gods) Does the word “all” in this verse indicate that the Lord is not a “god”
himself? The expression “all the gods” here must logically exclude the ‘greatest’ God there is. To
aid the reader, other Bible versions add “other” to “all.” (See: CJB; GW; TLB; NAB; NIV; NJB; NLT; NWT.)
1 Kings 10:23, “Thus King Solomon excelled all [kōl; LXX: pántas] the kings of the earth in riches
and in wisdom.” NIV: “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of
the earth.” (ERV; EXB; GW; GNT; NCV; NLT; NWT, and VOICE do likewise.) Can you blame them?
Esther 2:17, “The king [Ahasuerus] loved Esther more than all [kōl; LXX: pásas] the women.” Since
Esther was a woman, other Bibles add “other” to “all the women.” (See: CEB; CEV; ERV; GNT; GW;
HCSB; MSG; NCV; NET; NIV; NKJV; NRSV; NWT; TLB; and VOICE.)

Psalm 119:14, “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all [kōl; LXX: pantí] riches.”
(ESV) “I rejoice over your reminders – More than over all other valuable things.” (NWT) Other
translators: “more than in any kind of wealth” (CJB); “more than I find joy in all kinds of riches.”
(GW); “as if they were riches of all kinds” (NET); “as much as in all riches.” (NRSV)

Daniel 7:23, “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms [min-kōl-malkhewatha'; LXX: pásas], and it shall
devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces.”

‘all other kingdoms [nations; empires]’ (Amp; GW; GNT; NCV; NKJV; NLV).
‘all the other kingdoms [kingships]’ (CEB; ERV; EXB; HCSB; NASB; LEB; NCV; NET; NIV; NRSV)
“all the others” (CEV; NLT); “than any of the others” (TLB)
“This kingdom will be different from the rest” (VOICE)

Matthew 26:35, “And all [pántes] the disciples said the same.” Shortly before Jesus' death, various
events are notable: The chief priests plot to kill Jesus; Judas agrees to betray Jesus; and the last
Passover. Jesus, predicts his disciples would fall away and turn their backs on him. “But Peter,
said to him [Christ]: ‘Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!’ And all the disciples said the
same.”

The ESV reflects the Greek here, it does not have “other” in this text. The thing is, that Peter was
a disciple too, which explains why some Greek & English translations chose to add “other” or
“others” to the statement. As they did in Acts 5:29, the following three modern Greek versions
inserted “άλλοι” (masculine nominative plural of άλλος [“other”]) in the text of their translations:

1. The New Testament in Today's Greek Version: “κι όλοι οι άλλοι μαθητές [Translation: and all the other
disciples].”

2. Η ΑΓΙΑ ΓΡΑΦΗ—ΜΕΤΑΦΡΑΣΗ ΝΕΟΥ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ (Greek NWT): “και όλοι οι άλλοι μαθητές [and all the other
disciples].”
3. Η ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗ, ΕΓΧΕΙΡΙΔΙΟ ΜΕΛΕΤΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΖΩΗΣ (The New Testament, A Handbook for Study and Life): “κι όλοι
οι άλλοι μαθητές [Translation: and all the other disciples].”
English translations: ‘And all the other disciples [followers] said the same thing.’ (ERV; EXB; GW;
NIV; GNT; NCV; NIV; NLT; NWT; TLB); “All the others” (Common English Bible; MSG); “And each of the
disciples echoed Peter.” (VOICE)

The CARM writer's criticism that ‘the biblical author could have used állos if he wanted to’ as one
reason to reject the NWT insertion of “other” does not hold up. In these examples, both modern
Greek and English translators considered it a benefit to the reader by adding “other” to the text
where the original text did not.

Matthew 28:18, “All [pása] authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

The Greek term pas does not always include “everything” in the strict sense of the word. There
are exceptions in certain descriptions. In other words, it was the Father who gave Christ the
authority in the first place, so the Father of Jesus Christ was never devoid of authority. It was the
Father who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. As The Message Bible puts it: “God authorized and
commanded me to commission you...” The Revised English Bible says instead: “Full authority in
heaven and on earth has been committed to me.” (Also saying “Full”: Moffatt; Goodspeed; and
Williams. Jonathan Mitchell NT adds: “Or: “Every right….”) Thus, having ‘every right’ or ‘full’ authority to
do something would not rule out someone else from having even greater authority, as John
14:28 and 20:17 proves.

Furthermore, Acts 2:32,36 tells us plainly who really was the One responsible for Jesus'
resurrection, glorification and him receiving greater authority: “This Jesus God raised up, and of
that we all are witnesses.” “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has
made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” So, “all” authority given to Jesus
excludes God from being under the description. This first and second place of authority may
remind us, in a lesser scale of course, of the Egyptian Pharaoh when he appointed Joseph, son of
Jacob, over the land with full authority. Only the Pharaoh had higher authority and power. The
Pharaoh told Joseph: “I will put you in charge of my country, and all my people [kōl-‘ammi; LXX,
pas] will obey your orders. Your authority will be second only to mine.” (Genesis 41:40,41) Or as CEV
says: “No one will be over you except me.”

Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all [pánta] nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

A similar use of the term is also found in this account, where Jesus sends his followers to ‘make
disciples of all nations.’ Does this mean that every person on the planet would be converted to
Christianity? Not likely, since other Scriptures clearly indicate that some will reject the Good
News of the Kingdom, and many will suffer destruction. (Matthew 25:31-33, 41-46) The Bible
encyclopedia ISBE (1979) pointed out: “The provision [for the ‘acquittal and life for all men’] is indeed
adequate for all but is actually enjoyed only by those who put their trust in the Savior (cf. Rom.
3:22).” (ISBE 1979, Vol. 1, p. 95) It is evident that there are times when limits or exclusions are within
the range of meaning for the word “all.” Modifications made to the “all” by translators are not
rare. The intended meaning of the Commandment is thus indicated by the following versions:
“Make followers for me from all nations.” (The New Testament in Plain English; Italics theirs); “make
disciples among all nations.” (Thomas Haweis NT); “make disciples from all nations.” (Jay E. Adams
NT); “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (NWT)

Mark 1:5, “And all [pása] the country of Judea and all [pántes] Jerusalem were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” Was all of Judea, or all
of Jerusalem, baptized in the Jordan River? The NIV Study Bible notes: “whole...all. Obvious
hyperbole, indicating the high interest created by John's preaching.”
Mark 4:13, “And he said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? How then will you
understand all [pásas] the parables?’” (“all other parables,” Geneva Bible 1599); “any others” (CEV);
“any of the others” (VOICE); “all the other parables” (NLT; Phillips); “all the other illustrations” (NWT);
“all the others.” (TLB)
Mark 12:43, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those [pleion pántōn =
“more of all (ones)”] who are contributing to the offering box.” The “all” in this verse was modified
by the addition of the word “those” to it in the ESV. The NIV, NLT, GNT, Phillips, and MSG Bible say
instead: “more than all the others.” The New English Bible reads: “more than any of the others.”
And the Rheims NT has: “more than all the other contributors.”
Mark 16:15, “Christ's followers are told to ‘preach the gospel to every [pásē] creature.’ Would this
include dogs and cats? Of course not. Yet they are obviously ‘living creatures.’ Actually, the
gospel is to be preached to every human being, but human beings make up only a fraction of
the creatures God has made.” (This sample was provided by Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible,
under “Illustrations of Bible Idioms … Other Figures of Speech … Emphatic Generalization.” Mark 16:15
does not appear in the main text in some Bibles. )

Luke 13:2, “And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than
all [pántas] the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?’” There is no Greek word for
“other” in this text, however, translators have no objection in adding it, as ESV does here. Even
Greek scholars William D. Mounce and Robert H. Mounce insert “other” to their interlinear
reading at Luke 13:2. (The Zondervan Greek and English Interlinear New Testament).
Can you imagine that? An Interlinear adding the word “other” in the English text as equivalent
translation to the Greek text which lacks a word for “other”? Yet, some critics, like those
mentioned at the beginning want to make us believe Greek experts would never agree to this
‘atrocity’ of adding “other” to the translation. Well, here you have two Greek experts inserting
“other” into their Interlinear Greek-English literal translation. Truth be told!
Luke 13:4, “Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others [pántas] who lived in
Jerusalem?” Again, “others” does not appear in the Greek text, but is implicit. Mounce Interlinear
supplies “others” here as well.
Luke 21:29, “And he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree, and all [pánta] the trees.’ ” (Since the
fig is a tree too, CEV; EXB; GNT; GW; NAB; NCV; NET; NLV; NLT; NWT & TLB add “other” to “all.”)

John 12:19, “Look how the whole world has gone after him!” (NIV & others. Some translations have
added the word “whole” to the literal Greek (ho kos'mos, “the world”), and are not criticized for it. Did all
the world go after Christ? The ESV Study Bible answers: “The world is an obvious overstatement,
highlighting the Pharisees exasperation (cf. Acts 17:6 [These men who have turned the world upside
down have come here also.]).”

John 17:2 presents Jesus Christ, in prayer to God, saying: “You have given him [“Me,” The Clear
Word; “the Son,” NCV] authority over all [pásēs] flesh, to give eternal life to all [pan] whom you have
given him.” Compare with Matthew 28:18. Spurgeon: “The words [“world” & “all”] are generally
used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts—some Jews, some Gentiles, some
rich, some poor, and has not restricted his redemption to either Jew or Gentile.” (op. cit.,
Particular Redemption)

Acts 2:4 says: “And they were all [pántes] filled with the Holy Spirit.” Was “all” of Jerusalem or
Judea included in this ‘filling’? The NIV Study Bible answers: “All of them. Could refer either to the
apostles or to the 120.” Whether it applies to the apostles or the 120 disciples in attendance, it is
still a far cry from the totality of Judea being there, not to mention the world.
Acts 2:32,36, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all [pántes] are witnesses. Let all [pas] the
house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus
whom you crucified.” Does “all” here indicate everybody in the world? Or, does it apply to “the
crowd” gathered at Pentecost? The second instance of “all” may be more comprehensive, but the
usage of “all” here does not require that the whole world be included, but not necessarily
excluded.
1 Corinthians 6:18, “Shun fornication! Every [pan] sin that a person commits is outside the body;
but the fornicator sins against the body itself.” (NRSV) Is fornication a sin? Yes, it is. Therefore,
various Bible versions translate similarly to the NIV in this text: “All other [pan] sins a person
commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” “Other” is
implicit, so it is added to make it clear. (MSG: “There is a sense in which sexual sins are different
from all others.”)
2 Corinthians 9:13, “And the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others
[pántas].” (NIV: “everyone else.”) There is no Greek word used for “others,” or “else,” but it's implied.

2 Corinthians 12:19, “It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all
[pánta] for your upbuilding, beloved.” Does “all” here mean that all things, such as, witchcraft,
violence, sexual promiscuity, pornography, addiction to drugs, to name a few, are “upbuilding”?
No, the context only supports things which are edifying. The use of “all” here has a limit. This is a
good example of why translators add words in the English translation in order to make explicit
in English what is implicit in the Greek. “[Paul's] aim in all his relations with the Corinthians was
not personal vindication but their spiritual edification.” (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Abridged
Edition) This is made clear by the following two versions: “But, beloved ones, all that we do is to
build you up.” (NWT, Italics mine); “Everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening.” (NIV,
Italics added)

Galatians 3:22, “But the Scripture has confined all [ta pánta] under sin.” (NKJV) Would this
confinement of “all under sin” include God, Christ, and the rest of the heavenly family? “All” here
does not include every single entity in the universe. Does it?
With some occurrences of the Greek word “all,” the meaning “all other” is implied. Or, the context
can make evident that the “all” has exceptions. Take for example Ephesians 1:22 and compare it
with 1 Corinthians 15:27, 28.

Ephesians 1:22, “And he put all things [pánta] under his feet and gave him as head over all things
[pánta] to the church.” Another version: “God has put all things under the authority of Christ.”
(NLT) Would it be reasonable for a Christian to use this scripture to sustain that Christ is God
because “all things” are placed under his control? No, Paul was not trinitarian. Other Scriptures,
like 1 Corinthians 11:3, make it clear that God was not included in the “all things” under Christ's
authority. God never needs anyone to to put “things” under his authority.

Ephesians 4:15, “By speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in all things [ta pánta] to him.
For he, Christ, is the head.” (New Simplified Bible) Do “all things” in this verse imply that Christians
should also experience everything relating to wickedness to be complete? “All things” in this
context, cannot therefore include everything which is bad, instead, it must be restricted to only
what is good.
Philippians 3:8, “More than that, I count all [pánta] things to be loss in view of the surpassing
value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (NASB) The “all things” must be a reference to worldly
things, in contrast with ‘all the good things’ that Christians are encouraged ‘to grow up in’ at
Ephesians 4:15. Both Ephesians 4:15 and Philippians 3:8 restrict the range of meaning of “all
things” to certain things within a specific context, and logically understood by the target
audience.
Colossians 1:20, “And through him God reconciled everything [ta pánta] to himself. He made
peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” (NLT)
The question is: Does “everything” (or, “all things,” ESV) being reconciled include Satan, and other
enemies of God?
Hebrews 2:8, “...You have put everything [pánta] under his control.” (Psalm 8:4-6) So God has put
everything [ta pánta] under him. Everything is under his control.” (NIrV) Again, ‘all things’ (KJV) are
subjected to Christ, that is, with the exception of God himself, in harmony with 1 Cor. 15:27.
1 John 5:19, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world [ho kósmos hólos] lies in the
power of the evil one.” Does “the whole world” include everybody in heaven and earth? Matthew
Henry explains: “Mankind are divided in two great parties of dominions, that which belongs to
God and that which belongs to wickedness or to the wicked one. The Christian believers belong
to God...while on the contrary, the whole world, the rest, being by far the major part, lieth in
wickedness, in the jaws in the bowels of the wicked one.” (Italics removed) Matthew Henry
evidently excluded God, Christ and other celestial beings, as well as Christian believers from the
“the whole world.” It is plain that both the words “whole” and “all” in Scripture do not always
include everything or everyone, individually, or literally. (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole
Bible – Complete and Unabridged)

To understand most of these passages correctly, one must consider if the idea of
comprehensiveness is in view, since the Greek word for “all” allows for such. The Greek language
does not require the meaning of “all” in the absolute sense every time. The same could be said
for the use of “all” in Colossians chapter one. In fact, as shown above, it is typical for Paul and
other Bible writers to place limits to the Greek word for “all.”
7. Does adding “other” to “all things” change the meaning of Colossians 1:16-20?
Some may object and say: “Wait, you can say all you want, and provide Scriptural instances
where ‘all’ is not actually ‘all-inclusive,’ but here in Colossians 1:16, it is different – Christ's deity is
at stake, and hence, it is not applicable. Adding ‘other’ to ‘all things’ in verse 16 changes the
meaning of the passage, and distorts the deity of Jesus Christ, a main theme of Colossians.” One
scholar who feels this way is Robert Bowman, who is a critic of the New World Translation.
Bowman acknowledges that the sense of ‘other’ is often implicit in the Greek text: “It is, of
course, legitimate for translators to add the word ‘other’ where this does not change the
meaning but simply makes for smoother English (e.g., Luke 11:41-42; 13:2,4).” But Bowman* adds:
“In Colossians 1:16-20, however, adding ‘other’ substantially changes the meaning.” Those who
follow the trinitarian interpretation would likely agree with this statement. But is there any truth
to it? (*http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/crj0049a.txt)
Does the Bible teach anywhere that Christ and God are coequal? That Christ is “God” in the flesh?
Let’s have the apostle Paul answer this question for us: “For ‘[God] put everything in subjection
under [Christ’s] feet.’ But when it says that ‘everything’ has been subjected, obviously the word
[pánta] does not include God, who is himself the one subjecting everything to the Messiah.” (1
Corinthians 15:27, CJB) It is generally accepted that the author of the epistles to the Corinthians
and the Colossians is the same person, the apostle Paul, which means, he would have the same
basic understanding of where Christ stands in relation to God. This text is solid Scriptural
evidence that the meaning of “all” in the Bible has exceptions in some contexts. Who can argue
against that? This description of “pánta (all)” by the biblical author is proof that the critics of the
rendering “all other” are wrong. Amazingly, these critics make it sound as if the NWT translators
broke every rule of grammar and theology in the book. How trustworthy then, are these critics?
Should we believe then, in Bowman's theology (or some other scholar claiming the same), or the
apostle Paul's own inspired definition of pánta (“all things”) at 1 Cor. 15:27? We have a choice.
Which would that be? We do well to keep this principle in mind at all times whenever a
description of Christ in relation to God is made in the Bible.
8. What is the role of Christ in Colossians?
According to The Holman Concise Bible Dictionary, “the theme of this letter centers on the
supremacy of Christ in all things.” (©2010, B&H Pub. Group, David S. Dockery, Editor, Nashville) The
Bible Knowledge Commentary, The ESV Study Bible and The NIV Study Bible state something similar.
To what extent is the above conclusion correct when viewed within the context of Colossians? A
consideration of various Colossians verses and other issues will help us determine its accuracy.
But first, consider this statement from John the apostle: ‘God has sent his only-begotten Son into
the world,’ not that God himself came down to earth, as some claim. (1 John 4:9; John 3:16, NASB)
Whatever exegesis we draw from Colossians, it must harmonize with the inspired declarations of
the apostle John. Even some Scriptures that are often used to affirm the equality of God and the
Son, Jesus Christ, such as John 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:16, are no proof to the claim. Links are
provided at the end which explain these texts in more detail.
In the opening chapter of Colossians, verses 1–3, establish a difference between God the Father,
and his Son Jesus Christ, by stating that God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 3): “We
always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.” The message of
this salutation clearly places God the Father over our Lord Jesus Christ. How could Jesus, the Son,
be the source of creation, when the Father is simply stated to be above Christ? The Father is the
One shown to be the Sovereign God. Is God being the Father of Jesus Christ of little
consequence?
The Dictionary of the Bible by John L. Mackenzie, S.J., points out: “God the Father is invoked in the
exordium of each of the 13 epistles attributed to Paul and He is invoked as God our Father in the
body of each of them except Ga, 1-2 Tm, Tt.” (Page 276. ©1965, Macmillan Pub. Co., Inc.) Paul found
this matter important enough to mention it in the introduction of most of his letters, a point
missed by commentators wishing to equate Christ with God.
A biblical source indicates the implication of God as “Father”: “As a title for God; as the Creator
and Sovereign ruler of all (James 1:17); as the Father of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:49); as the Father of
Christians.” (Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Timothy & Barbara Friberg; Neva F. Miller.
©2005, Trafford Pub.)

ISBE notes: “Thus the concept of father, whether applied to God [or, other]...always expresses the
notion of source or fountain of procession.” (ISBE 1979, Vol. 2, p. 285)
Hence, it is significant in the full biblical picture to read in Colossians that God is the Father of
Jesus Christ right from the start. Not the other way around. This indicates that God is “the
Creator and Sovereign ruler of all (James 1:17).” (Friberg & Miller 2005) In another place Paul writes:
“One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6) Jesus
reserves the role of “father” to God alone. (Compare Luke 2:49, with Matthew 23:9: “And call no man
your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”)

What about “sonship”? What does it convey? According to The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, the
expression “son of God” refers to: “One who shares a close relationship with God.” Does any son
“who shares a close relationship with God” ever become equal or identical to him? The
International Standard Bible Enclyclopedia brought this other point: “While it is true that, linguistically,
the NT takes over the title ‘Son of God’ from the OT, K. Barth [Karl Barth, often regarded as the
greatest Protestant theologian of the twentieth century] reminds us that, of all the titles ascribed to
Jesus, ‘Son of God’ came to the forefront for expressing His activity from the standpoint of its
origin (CD [=Church Dogmatics] IV/1, p. 206).” (ISBE, ©1988, Vol. 4, p. 572. Italics theirs.) The Companion
Bible adds: “It is only by the Divine specific act of creation that any created being can be called a
son of God.”
The fact is that God has no “father.” It ends there! This concept of Jesus having a “father,” and
not the Sovereign God, is important to grasp before we move on to Jesus' description later in the
chapter where it says that “all things were created through him and for him.”
Verses 13 & 14: “He [God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to
the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Christ is shown here fulfilling a very important role in the redemption of man. It was the “Son of
God” who was sent to give his life on behalf of sinful mankind, not God himself. (John 3:16) It is
obvious that God here is the Supreme Being, he is the one leading the action, not Christ. Christ
only follows through with what the Father asks of him.
The world around Colossae could only offer its residents hollow philosophies which led to
nowhere. In contrast, God through Christ could fill every Christian need they could ever have,
and then some. Human philosophies, which the Greeks were fond of, were no match in
comparison to the deep mysteries, riches, and depth of God's divine purpose surrounding Christ
Jesus, his Son.

Although many have been misled by human traditions (which ironically the book of Colossians warns
against), to think of Christ as the Supreme Being, Colossians does not teach such doctrine. The
letter to the Colossians show that God is in full control, with Christ fulfilling God's will at all
times. This is evident from the statement at Colossians 1:19: “For God [Literally: “he”] was pleased
to let fullness dwell in him [Jesus Christ].” (Christian Community Bible)

Other translations say that all the “fullness” that came to dwell in Christ was only possible
because ‘it pleased the Father’ to be the case (Douay Version); “God wanted” it that way. (NJB) It was
by “God's own decision” (GNT); or, “by God's own choice” that it so happened. (New English Bible)

How could Jesus then be “God eternal,” as often claimed, when he at one time did not have the
“fullness” which “by God's own choice” was made to dwell in Christ? How could Jesus be the
‘ultimate source’ of creation if he lacked the “fullness” which only “God” could give? The fullness
being spoken of here does not refer to a mythical ‘Godhead’ entering the human body of Christ.
That fanciful idea arose during fierce discussions about the person of Christ, centuries later after
he died. Instead, “fullness” here seems to refer to ‘the immensity of the divine perfections,
attributes and wisdom’ made to live in Christ. Christians themselves can acquire a similar
“fullness” by faithfully following “the way” of Jesus Christ, making it a part of their daily lives,
thus, becoming dependent on him for their salvation. (Colossians 2:6,7)

Col. 1:27, “God wanted his people throughout the world to know the glorious riches of this
mystery—which is Christ living in you, giving you the hope of glory.” (GW)
Who is behind all the glorious riches of ‘this mystery [sacred secret (Christ)],’ which has been kept
in the dark for ages? Let the Bible speak for itself! Again, the initiator of this action is God, Jesus
is the means by which God accomplishes his will. The message of this text does not convey
Christ as the ‘Ultimate All,’ Supreme Being, as claimed. God is!
Although Paul is not explicit on the source of heresy threatening Christians at Colossae, clearly
there was something going on which was distracting them from focusing their energies in God
and Christ. Whether this had to do with ‘worship of angels,’ asceticism, spiritism, or some other
doctrine which debased the Christian concept, the locals were not addressing Christ as the
solution to their problems. Instead, they were being offered another “Kool-Aid.” Thus, Paul saw a
need to address those issues in a way they could understand, that God's solution through Christ
was not only better, but that it was ‘the only sensible way’ to the worship of the Father, in
harmony with what Jesus himself stated at John 14:6.
With concern in mind, Paul sought to convince Colossians that Jesus Christ who appeared in
human form just a few decades earlier, was not just any human they could compare him to. He
was far above that. There was more to Christ than there could ever be with any admired angelic
beings that some worshipped. (Col. 2:18) Hence, the warning below, in paraphrase style:
Colossians 2:8-10, “Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-
talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their
ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But
that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly.
You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the
emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too.
His power extends over everything.” (MSG)

Jesus Christ had been clothed with divine power. (Acts 2:22; 10:38) Christ was no figment of their
imagination. He was real. Nonetheless, a few centuries after Jesus died, confused “Christians”
debated the origin of Christ. Some influential individuals concluded that Jesus was God. Amid
the controversy, they decided that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were three persons,
but one God. The term “trinity” was being defined. The identity of the Father and the Son was
obfuscated to the point that it became widespread. More “Christian” people today believe that
Jesus is part of a Trinity than don't. And this belief is reflected in most Bible translations to this
day.

What does this have to do with our discussion? Colossians 1:15,16 and the following text that we
will address, read differently in some versions. The beliefs or understanding of the translators
will reflect this.
In Colossians 2:9, Paul went on to refocus their attention to Christ, by saying: “For in him [Christ]
the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” The Apostolic Bible Polyglot also reads “deity” here.
The Greek word for “deity” in this text is “theótētos,” a genitive, singular feminine form of theótēs
(fem., an abstract noun for theós=god) meaning ‘godness’ (McReynolds); or, “divinity, divine nature,”
(Liddell & Scott's Greek-English Lexicon). Robinson's Greek-English Lexicon mentions “the divine nature
and perfections – Col. 2:9” as a meaning.
Some translators seek to define it in stronger trinitarian terms, describing Jesus as having the
fullness “of the Godhead.” (Darby; Jerusalem Bible; KJV; NAB) The idea behind “Godhead” is to
communicate the fullness of God coming to reside bodily in the “second person of the Trinity,”
Christ. Or, as the New Life Version puts it: “For Christ is not only God-like, He is God in human
flesh.” Hence, they stress a personality in theótēs, and procure to distinguish it from theiótēs in
Romans 1:20, which is claimed to emphasize attributes. Hermann Cremer claimed that,
“[theiótēs] is to be distinguished from [theótēs] thus, [theótēs] = that which God is, [theiótēs] = that
which is of God.” (Biblico-theological Lexicon Of New Testament Greek, p. 281) The question is: Is the act
of quoting Plutarch, Lucian, and later ecclesiastical writers substance enough to make this a
conclusive matter?
There is not enough evidence to warrant assigning a stronger meaning to theótēs over theiótēs.
Either way, translators do not offer consistent renderings of these terms. R. C. Trench, a
Trinitarian, did a study of both terms which appear only once in the NT, and concluded: “It may
be observed, in conclusion, that whether this distinction was intended, as I am fully persuaded it
was, by St. Paul or not, it established itself firmly in the later theological language of the
Church….” (Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 10.) We may ask: Since when, is ‘later theological
language of the Church’ more decisive on the subject than the even dubious origin of the Trinity
doctrine? For a discussion of the Trinity, see: http://www.scribd.com/doc/160286056/Does-the-Trinity-
ever-make-sense

Not everyone agrees with the alleged stronger meaning of theótēs over theiótēs. Other Bible
translators use “divinity” which is preferable over “Godhead,” which smacks of trinitarian or
pagan language. Some versions offer alternate readings at Colossians 2:9:
Kingdom Interlinear: “divinity.” (Also: NJB; Simple English Bible)
GNT: “full content of divine nature.”
NWT: “fullness of the divine quality.”
Julia Smith Translation: “the completion of divinity.”
The Kingdom New Testament: “the full measure of divinity.”
Word Study Greek-English New Testament: “Godness.” (Paul R. McReynolds)
21st Century New Testament: “divine authority and power.”
Daniel Mace New Testament: “divine plenitude.”
The Original New Testament: “the immensity of the Divine Wisdom.” (Hugh J. Schonfield)
Complete Jewish Bible: “the fullness of all that God is.”
H. T. Anderson's New Testament: “the fullness of the Godhood”.
MSG: “Everything of God gets expressed in him.”
Phillips: “Yet it is in him that God gives a full and complete expression of himself.”
HCSB: “entire fullness of God’s nature.”
New Simplified Bible: “fullness of divine nature.”
The Source New Testament: “the whole fullness of the divine nature.”
Bible in Basic English: “all the wealth of God's being.”
R. F. Weymouth New Testament: “the fulness of God's nature.”
Charles K. Williams New Testament: “God's nature.”
Goodspeed New Testament: “the fulness of God's nature.”

Why would these Bible versions read differently here? (Most are “trinitarian,” a few are not.) One
reason for the difference in renderings is that the word “theótētos” from theótēs include endings
(-otēs or -tētos) which are indicative of quality, rather than personality. The book Lexical Aids for
Students of New Testament Greek, says under Suffixes forming nouns, # 4, the following: “The abstract
idea of quality is indicated by -ια [-ia]…-oτηςτης [-otēs], and -συνη [-synē]]… Examples: ...[kyri-ótēs],
lordship, dominion [ne-ótēs], youth.” (Bruce M. Metzger, p. 43. Italics his.)
And the book, A New Testament Greek Morpheme Lexicon by J. Harold Greenlee, page 304, in Part 2,
under Suffixes and Terminations, you will find a list of nouns with suffixes ending in -otēs or -
tētos, including theótēs plus the ending -tētos (fem.). At the top of the list, right below the endings
in Greek letters, it is shown that the noun stands for “quality.” A comparison of the words listed
in Greenlee's Lexicon will show that the noted endings accentuate a quality, not a personality.
The reader is encouraged to check these out. Some of the listed nouns include: agathótēs
(goodness); hagiótēs (holiness); kainótēs (newness); katharótēs (cleanness); hilarótēs (cheerfulness);
timiótēs (preciousness). With this information at hand, one can see why Paul R. McReynolds
rendered theótētos (a form of theótēs) as “Godness,” at Colossians 2:9, and theiótēs as “deity” at
Romans 1:20. An earlier edition of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation read “godship.” And Bible
translator H. T. Anderson rendered it qualitatively as well: “Godhood.”
That this is the correct understanding is seen by what Paul said to the Colossians (2:10) in terms
of the fullness made to dwell in Christ by God's will: “And in Christ you have been brought to
fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” (NIV) Another translation expresses it:
“God has made you complete in Christ.” (GW; Cf. Col. 2:2,3; John 1:14,16; Ephesians 3:19) It is
obvious that Paul was not implying here that God would be taking possession of human bodies
to fill them with “the Godhead” literally. But it is more reasonable to think that through the union
with Christ Jesus we can acquire the fullness of the Christian quality, to become “complete” in
spiritual maturity, where there is no need ever to go after what the world has to offer. The
sufficiency that Christ gives us, casts aside all pretentious human philosophies.

Moving on to Colossians 2:12 we read: “You were also raised with him through faith in the
powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Col. 2:12 confirms the Greek genitive
meaning of 1:18 by saying that Christ was resurrected from the group of dead ones (Lit., out of
the dead ones). By whom? Logically, by someone “superior” to him. The Supreme ‘God raised him
from the dead.’ Does it make sense then, to make Christ the ultimate “creator,” when he himself
had to fully depend on God to raise him from the dead? (Mark 15:34) This alone should be
enough to start questioning standard trinitarian explanations of Colossians.
Another text in Colossians tells us who is the leading figure in the Universe.
Colossians 2:13, “God made you alive with Christ.” (NIV)
Mankind benefits from God's salvation provision, which occurs through Christ. How would that
make Christ ‘the Supreme God,’ which some versions seek to convey in Colossians? Who is the
One responsible for making Christians come alive? Christ in Colossians is not described as the
all-supreme, but as the agent through which God accomplishes the salvation process.
Colossians was written a few decades after Christ experienced death, ascended to heaven, and
was glorified to an even higher position. (Philippians 2:9) Which position would that be?
Colossians 3:1, tell us that the glorified “Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
If Christ was the Eternal Creator as some argue vigorously when discussing the letter to the
Colossians, what was Jesus doing “at the right hand of God”? By what logic would the biblical
author stress, as we are asked to believe, Christ's ‘Sovereignty’ as proof that he is God, to have
him later point out, that Christ is seated ‘near’ God? Some interpreters claim Paul was stressing
the deity of Jesus. But even if the claim is true, Jesus having ‘deity’ or ‘divinity’ does not make him
coequal to God. Being ‘in the proximity of God’ does not make such divine one the same as God.
The NIV Study Bible links Col. 3:1 to Mark 16:19, where it notes what it means for Christ to be
seated at the right hand of God: “A position of authority second only to God's (see 14:62; Ps.
110:1).” Being ‘second only to God’ in authority does not bode well for someone supposed to be
identical to God, the Creator. Regardless of one's interpretation of the text, one thing is certain:
Both Colossians 1:15,16 and 3:1 are expected to agree with each other.
Col. 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Again, this text shows God the Father as the
Ultimate Source. Christ has a significant role in God's purpose, namely, to mediate for us in our
approach to God. Yes, as another place says: “One mediator between God and men,” Christ
Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
Colossians 4:3, “Pray that we can preach the secret that God has made known about Christ.”
(NCV) God is the One who has made the secret known to us concerning Christ. God has all the
knowledge of the world, much of which he shares with his closest One, Jesus. Jesus has revealed
God to us like no one else can, so we can get to know God more fully. (John 1:18; 17:3; Rev. 1:1)
The above Scriptural considerations indicate Christ is not portrayed as the God of the Universe.
The Father of Jesus Christ is. Some biblical reference sources say that Colossians teach the
“supremacy” of Christ seeking to transmit the idea that Jesus is God Almighty. But honesty
compels us to look at the whole picture. Through Christ reconciliation with God is effected. The
book of Colossians does establish that Christ is superior to human philosophies, Jewish
traditions, and other distractions that humankind could face. (2:17) Concealed in Christ are all
the treasures of true wisdom and knowledge. Christ is more than qualified to rule in
righteousness in the Kingdom of God. (1:12-16) By God's will, Christ possesses “deity” or “divinity”
and is above everyone else, with the exception of God himself. Scripture makes abundantly clear
that we need to accept Christ in order to be saved. To reject Christ is to reject God who sent him.
9. What is the meaning of “firstborn”?
The ESV Study Bible asserts at Colossians 1:15, “It would be wrong to think in physical terms here,
as if Paul were asserting that the Son had a physical origin or was somehow created (the classic
Arian heresy) rather than existing eternally as the Son, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in the
Godhead.”
Is this true? No. First of all, The ESV Bible here sets up a “straw man” argument by implicitly
attacking “the classic Arian heresy.” Also, the ESV Committee is assuming the Trinity dogma is of
biblical substance, and dismisses any probability that Paul used “firstborn” in the customary
biblical sense, “born first in time.” Nowhere in the Bible does the word “Godhead” appear
originally, however, it is added in some English versions. Furthermore, there is no explicit
Scripture anywhere that says that “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” are coequal and
eternal. The trinitarian idea was carried over from external sources of later centuries.
Thus, there is a simple, direct way of interpreting the controversial passage at Colossians, and
there is another way, not so simple and direct, where a foreign, convoluted interpretation is
made to fit a preconceived idea. Various scholars assert that “context” aside, the Colossians
passage conveys one thing. But what happens when someone adds a smorgasbord of
theological tradition to it? It says another:
1. J. B. Lightfoot, in his discussion of Paul's reference to Christ as “the firstborn of all creation”
admits: “At first sight it might seem that Christ is here regarded as one, though the earliest, of
created beings.” Nonetheless, he concludes that it has two meanings: ‘the meaning of priority to
and sovereignty over all creation.’ He rejects the interpretation that Christ is here included
among the created order. (Saint Paul's Epistle to the Colossians and to Philemon, pp. 144-146.)

2. Bratcher and Nida likewise admitted that the three-word phrase in Greek, “first-born of all
creation”, “Translated literally (as RSV), it implies that Christ is included in the created universe,’
which is inconsistent with the context of the whole passage.” (“A Translator's Handbook on Paul's
letter to Colossians and to Philemon”; UBS, p. 22.)

3. C.F.D. Moule: “πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως [prōtótokos pásēs ktíseōs]. If this phrase [of Col. 1:15] were
interpreted without reference to its context and to other expressions of St. Paul's thought about
Christ, it might be natural to understand it as describing Christ as included among created
things, and as merely the ‘eldest’ of that ‘family’: in Rom. viii. 29 [prōtótokos] does appear in this
included sense...” (In The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians and to Philemon: An
Introduction and Commentary by C.F.D. Moule; Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary, Cambridge
University Press, 1957, pages 63, 64.)

4. The New Bible Commentary: “The meaning of the word first-born [prōtotokos] is crucial for a right
understanding of Paul's conception of Christ. The real problem is whether or not this word
implies that Christ was included in creation, whether in other words there is any sense in which
Christ can be described as a created being. If the word is considered out of context, it would be
possible to make a case for the inclusive meaning [of being ‘created’] as paralleled, for instance, in
Rom. 8:29.” (Edited by D. Guthrie and J.A. Motyer)
All four reference works above are obviously trinitarian supporters. But notice the following
admissions: ‘At first sight it might seem that Christ is regarded as one of the created beings’;
“Translated literally...it implies that Christ is included in the created universe”; “It might be
natural to understand it as describing Christ as included among created things”; ‘If the word is
considered out of context, it would be possible to make a case for the inclusive meaning [of
Christ being a part of the created order].’

Observe how the commentators skirt around the lexical meaning, and end up with a trinitarian
conclusion. They point to “context” overruling the literal sense of first-born. But “context” here is
loaded with trinitarian interpretation, represented by some of the best scholarship that
mainstream theology has to offer, a point unnoticed by many church-goers. Why then, question
such interpretations? Simply, where is the evidence? Either they fail to mention any other
Scriptural references to support their claim, or, if they do, the references they provide do not in
any way prove their point. The scholar’s admissions above honestly show that the main
objection standing in the way is not grammar, but religious exegesis as the critical factor in their
reluctance to admit that Colossians chapter one indicates that Christ was ‘created.’
The Greek word under discussion, prōtotokos (“first-born”) has a simple lexical meaning used
consistently throughout Scripture. It occurs 130 times in the Septuagint and 8 times (9x in KJV) in
the NT. “Firstborn” is the only lexical meaning provided by the leading Greek-English lexicons.
(Liddell and Scott, BAGD and NIDNTT) It literally means: “firstborn, earliest born, eldest.” (Analytical
Lexicon of New Testament Greek, Edited by Maurice A. Robinson and Mark A. House. ©2012, Hendrickson
Publishers) In the majority of instances, the Greek word conveys temporal priority, in other
words, it carries the meaning of someone born first in time. We are not talking of just a few
occurrences, we are talking of dozens of instances where prōtotokos carries that sense.
In only a few places does it have a figurative sense, with the meaning of: ‘foremost’; ‘most
excellent’; or ‘dearest one,’ as in Exodus 4:22: “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith
Jehovah, Israel is my son, my first-born.” (American Standard Version); Psalm 89:27: “Also I will make
him [David] the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth; and Jeremiah 31:9: “For I am a
father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” Manasseh was Joseph's firstborn son, so literally
older than Ephraim. This would mean that Ephraim was elevated to the rank of “first-born” over
his elder brother Manasseh. (Genesis 41:51) Of these four texts, Psalm 89:27 is the one mainly
appealed to in connection with Colossians 1:15.
Now, with this in mind, one has to wonder why Trinitarians would shoe-in a figurative meaning
to the word at Colossians 1:15, and then ignore, and even deny the lexical sense, when the
overwhelming usage in Scripture points to the lexical meaning of prōtotokos. The majority of
respected scholarly publications are of trinitarian persuasion. Therefore, I investigated
numerous reference works in search of claimed evidence which could confirm the meaning of
prōtotokos. What I found was actually scarce, irrelevant material, which only emphasized the
figurative sense of a handful of texts, over the lexical sense found in dozens of biblical texts
throughout.
Says the Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, by Ceslas Spicq, O.P.: “Only five occurrences of
this term πρωτότοκος [prōtótokos] can be cited from the papyri, and all of them from the fourth
century [all non-related to Christ] … So this is in effect a biblical term, used 130 times in the LXX,
usually in the proper literal of the word, firstfruits of a (human or animal) mother's womb.” This
work, then goes on to focus on the figurative sense of NT passages, and concludes: “Apart from
Heb 11:28 (cf. Ps 78:51), the other occurrences of prōtótokos in the NT are figurative. […] In all
cases, prōtotokos is a title of honor, suggesting the privileges discussed above.” Whether
‘prōtotokos is a title of honor in all cases in the NT,’ a statement highly questionable in itself, is
beside the point. (Vol. 3, pp. 210-212)
Some scholars do mention John 1:2, 3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; and Hebrews 1:2 as proof that Christ
is the eternal creator. But these texts only prove that Jesus Christ is the means by which God
accomplished his creative works, not that he was the ultimate source of creation. They do not
offer any conclusive proof that Jesus Christ could not be included in the group of created ones.
In this case, it is the weight of prestigious scholarship and tradition which seems to account for
the popularity of such conclusions.
10. “First created” versus “Firsborn,” which?
Some claim the Apostle would have used another Greek word (prōtóktistos = “first created”) had he
intended to indicate Christ was created. The assertion has no solid foundation, for various
reasons. First of all, unlike the word prōtótokos (“firstborn”), the word prōtóktistos was not used by
any inspired NT writer. Secondly, prōtóktistos was not in popular use until the second or third
century CE. When it finally became popular, it was used in reference to Christ with little or no
apparent distinction between the two terms. Thirdly, Bible writers frequently used the concept
of “birth” in place of “made” or “created.” For instance, the Hebrew word for “brought forth” in
some Bible versions is related to birth (“born”). (Deuteronomy 32:18; Psalm 51:5; 90:2; Isaiah 51:2;
66:8-9; Proverbs 8:24-25.) Thus, there was no need for prōtóktistos to replace prōtótokos in the New
Testament to adequately express the idea of someone being brought forth to life. The claim that
prōtóktistos would have been used by the Apostle instead of firstborn is another feeble attempt by
critics to evade the real clear meaning of a word that is actually used by inspired Bible writers,
namely prōtótokos, as in Colossians 1:15.

11. Jewish references of Adam Clarke and Rabbi Bechai … Do they proτηςve anything?

There is also a case where numerous individuals on the internet are citing Adam Clarke’s Jewish
reference at Colossians 1:15 where it is said that Jews described Jehovah as the “Firstborn of the
world” as “definite proof” that “firstborn” meant preeminence: “As the Jews term Jehovah ‫עולם של‬
‫ בכורו‬becoro shel olam, the first-born of all the world, or of all the creation, to signify his having
created or produced all things…. so Christ is here termed, and the words which follow in the
16th and 17th verses are the proof of this.” (Adam Clarke Commentary) Take note that Clarke’s
Jewish reference is vague, no specifics as to the source (no quote), background, or time frame is
given to support Clarke’s position. In other words, Clarke provides no proof, just hearsay, if not
wishful thinking. The total silence of other scholars on this piece of information casts doubt on
its merit or authenticity. It is astonishing to see a number of people so willing to quote this
snippet of information unaware of its utter lack of substantive value. If anything, it shows the
desperation of Trinitarians, who, by using this, makes it more evident that they lack convincing
biblical evidence for their claims.
There is, however, another instance of various scholars, among them, J. B. Lightfoot and William
Barclay, who go on to cite a Jewish source (who lived over a thousand years removed from the 1st
century) for calling God “the firstborn of the world.” But sources of a later era are not inspired
Scripture, and Scripture nowhere calls God “firstborn.” C.F.D. Moule notes that “R. Bechai
appears to be R. Bahya ben Asher, a late writer (died 1340 [CE]), who is scarcely important for the
original meaning of our passage.” (The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians and to Philemon,
Cambridge University Press, 1957, p. 65) Bechai relied on Jewish mysticism and special revelation to
help him interpret the Scriptures. (The Jewish Encyclopedia, vo. 2, 1906, p. 446; Encyclopedia Judaica, vol.
4, p. 105, 1971; The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol 2, p. 34, 1940) T. K. Abott is correct when he
writes: “Rabbi Bechai’s designation of God as ‘firstborn of the world’ is a fanciful interpretation of
Ex. xiii. 2.’” (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, ICC;
Greewood, S.C.: Attic Press, 1979, p. 212)

Let us not overlook the fact that the Jewish people were strict monotheists, since they believed in
the one God of the Jewish people... the God of Abraham, which they considered to be their
“father.” However, they needed to comprehend now in the Christian era that Jesus Christ was
God’s Sent One, the Messiah, not God himself. They had to cope with the fact that Jesus Christ
was the “only-begotten Son” of God, holding a position of divine favor, the very one who took
part in the creation process from the start. (Proverbs 8:22-31) Jews of Bible times were not likely to
associate the Eternal God with the concept of him being “born” first, as the term “firstborn” was
customarily used in Scripture. Almighty “God” and “firstborn” are opposite concepts, so much in
fact that not once does Scripture calls God “firstborn.” However, “firstborn” was used in
connection with Jesus Christ various times. Thus, any Jewish claims supporting equality between
God and Jesus written after the Trinity dogma was officialized as Church doctrine is no conclusive
proof that they are one-and-the-same God.
More significantly is this: Even when prōtotokos was used metaphorically in the sense of “honor,”
that would not necessarily preclude the subject from the temporal sense at all, or from being a
part of the group described (creation), a meaning which Trinitarians refuse to accept in relation
to Christ. Interestingly, William Barclay, a Trinitarian, made this comment: “If we wish to keep the
time sense and the honour sense combined, we may translate the phrase: ‘He was begotten
before all creation.’” (William Barclay's Daily Study Bible, ©1957,1959, First published by The Saint Andrew
Press Edinburgh, Scotland) We can take this a bit further, and amend Barclay's comment this way:
“He was begotten before all other creation,” a concept certainly allowed in the translation of “all.”
Professor Rolf Furuli of Oslo made this assessment: “With all their ingenuity [of Trinitarians], those
seeking a meaning other than ‘the one who is born first’ are able to list just one example, and
that is Psalm 89:28 [LXX], ‘And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.’
This Psalm however, does not give a new lexical meaning to prōtotokos, but simply tells about the
result of God putting the mentioned person in the position of a firstborn (compare 1 Chr 26:1 and 2
Chr 21:3).” (The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation, p. 250. ©1999 by Rolf Furuli, Elihu Books,
Huntington, California. Compare with T. K. Abott's argumentation in A Critical and Exegetical Commentary
on the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, p. 11.)

Hence, taking the reference of Christ as “firstborn of all creation” as evidence that he is “God”
does not help the trinitarian cause. The few Scriptures used by traditionalists to support their
contention that Christ is “preeminent,” “most distinguished” over all creation do not prove his
eternality. Why say that? First of all, Israel, David and Ephraim (in Ex. 4:22; Ps. 89:27; & Jer. 31:9)
were given the status and privileges of a “firstborn.” In Psalm 89:27, after David was ‘placed’ as
‘firstborn of kings,’ having received a most favored and exalted position (“the highest of the kings
of the earth”), was he then disconnected from ‘kingship’? Also, did David as “king” become more
“preeminent” than one of his descendant kings, Jesus Christ? Is Jesus' “preeminence” greater
than his Father's?
What's more, Exodus 4:22; Psalm 89:27 and Jeremiah 31:9 are not even true parallels to those
texts in the New Testament where Christ is designated as “the firstborn.” The NT does not use
the title firstborn to indicate a ‘placement’ of Christ to a preeminent position. He is simply called
“firstborn,” and any implications of greatness or privileges resulting from this designation are
willed by God. (Colossians 1:19)
Please take a look at instances of firstborn in the New Testament:
Mt. 1:25, (KJV), “[Mary] brought forth her firstborn son: and he [Joseph] called his name JESUS.”
Luke 2:7; “[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him.”
Rom. 8:29, “that [Christ] might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Col. 1:15, “[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
Col 1:18, “[Jesus] is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.”
Heb. 1:6, “when [God] brings the firstborn [Jesus] into the world.”
Heb. 11:28, “so that the Destroyer [the angel] of the firstborn might not touch them.”
Heb. 12:23, “the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.”
Rev. 1:5, “from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead.”

Do any of these Scriptures say unequivocally that Jesus is the Supreme Creator? Not one! Only
individuals who rest their faith on those Bible versions which deliberately changed the meaning
in one verse from “firstborn of all creation” to “firstborn over all creation” (NIV or the like) would
believe so.
The Bible speaks of Christ as “the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15), and in Revelation 3:14, “the
beginning of God's creation,” which incidentally, has also been altered by traditionalists. These
are simple statements which indicate that Jesus Christ was the first being created directly by God
in the universe, a very high honor indeed. Because of this high position, God willed that Christ
be acknowledged as ‘the most distinguished creature of all,’ where other creatures would ‘bow
down in reverence’ before the “firstborn” Christ. (Hebrews 1:6)
Since Israel, David and Ephraim as ‘firstborns’ were not “eternal” in the first place, it follows that
the metaphorical meaning of firstborn as “preeminent” does not rule out a firstborn from having
a beginning or end. Yet, those who appeal to Colossians 1:15 to negate the concept of a
beginning for Jesus Christ fail to mention that everyone spoken of as “firstborn” in Scripture,
whether the subject was literally the first son born in the family, or were simply being honored by
receiving “firstborn” status, the fact is – “all” had a beginning. They were all creatures. None were
“creators,” none were “eternal.” Is there actually anyone in Scripture called “firstborn” without a
beginning? If not, why would the title “first-born” when applied singly to Jesus Christ distinguish
him as uncreated, when every other biblical reference of “firstborn of” indicates the exact
opposite?
Two prominent scholars, Dr. Robert G. Bratcher and linguist Dr. Eugene Nida (American Bible
Society), came up with some interesting fresh translations in their Good News Translation (GNT, Aka,
Today's English Version). They are known for advancing “dynamic equivalence” theories in the Bible
translation process, which others have eagerly accepted in their own versions. But linguistics
and exegesis are two different things. That said, Bratcher and Nida (both Baptists), have
influenced other Bible translators in promoting theologically-motivated renderings, like the one
at Colossians 1:15.
Most Bible versions read literally like the Revised Standard Version does at Col. 1:15: “He is the
image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” However, the Good News Translation in
turn, promoted this one*: “Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the first-born
Son, superior to all created things.” In effect, the GNT offered a paraphrase which distorted the
original Greek reading. Nowhere does it say that “the first-born of all creation” could not be
included in the group of created beings. It is only in the whimsical mindset of a Trinitarian,
where such preconceived idea could be brought to appear in the translated text like that. (*The
GNT was not the first version to render Col. 1:15 this way, since the Twentieth Century NT; Worrell NT; and
the New English Bible, read similarly. However, since the publication of the GNT, there has been an increase
in the number of translations moving away from Christ's description as ‘of creation’ to ‘over creation,’ a
move initiated to mislead people in thinking that Christ and God are one-and-the-same.)

The rendering “superior to all created things” in the verse is not an accurate translation by any
means. In fact, it is not even “dynamic equivalence” of the original, but a distortion of it. Furuli
noted: “In this [adaptation of ‘firstborn of creation’ to ‘superior over creation’] there is a deviation from
normal translation procedure. Additionally, there is a question about the grammar of Bratcher
and Nida's translation of Colossians 1:15. The three Greek words prōtotokos pasēs ktiseōs make a
Greek genitive construction (‘all creation's firstborn’) where the second and third words are
subordinated to the first, as its modifiers. It is questionable for a translator to change the
subordination to co-ordination by making the phrase ‘superior to all created things’ in apposition
to ‘the first-born Son.’” (Furuli 1999, p. 251)
So, where are the critics of such distortion and manipulation of the Greek text? Cult critics
apparently looked the other way when the GNT and their followers were enthusiastically
promoting a theological rendering which emphasized the concept of the ‘supremacy’ and
‘eternity’ of Jesus within the text itself of Colossians 1:15. After this foreign doctrine was made
part of the canon, other translators couldn't wait to praise Bratcher & Nida enough, and eagerly
produced similar renderings in concept which only promoted their theories. And all without
solid evidence. (See: CEV; CJB; NIV; HCSB; Lexham English Bible; NET; NKJV, and ISV, which render the
passage in discussion as: “the firstborn over all creation,” or similarly.)

Make no mistake, the reading favored by GNT and its copycats is a mistranslation, one modified
to fit a particular dogma. Whereas the genitive reading ‘of creation’ makes Jesus part of the
creation, ‘over creation’ sets him apart from it. Some may, in speculative mode, refer to it as the
“genitive of subordination (where Christ is said to be over the created order)” instead of the “partitive
genitive” which would make Christ part of the creative acts. Daniel B. Wallace is one scholar who
favors what he calls a “genitive of subordination” for Colossians 1:15.
Though Wallace promotes the Trinity doctrine in his Grammar at every opportunity he gets, he
notes that Colossians 1:15 is one of the “Disputed Examples” of this genitive. More importantly,
Wallace also acknowledges that the genitive of Colossians 1:15 may be “partitive” in nature.
(Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pp. 103,104,128. ©1996, Zondervan) One could only wish that more
Bible students would take scholar's summaries for what they really are, personal interpretations
of biblical text. These interpretations in themselves may be right, or wrong. Caution is always
advised, as Wallace humbly pointed out.
The issue here is: What is the “normal translation procedure” when faced with this term in
Scripture? Nowhere else in Scripture is firstborn of used as a “genitive of subordination” (in the
sense of “over”), as it is said that it applies here. Overall, translators reflect the standard lexical
meaning “first-born” wherever the Greek word prōtotokos appears in the text. That is, “first-born”
refers to one who is a part or member of a group, in this instance, part of the creation itself.
There are many biblical references (upwards of 30 instances) where the expression “the firstborn
of” appears in relation to living creatures. In each instance, the same meaning applies – the
firstborn is part of the group. A few samples: “The firstborn of Israel” is one of the sons of Israel
(Numbers 3:45); “the firstborn of Pharaoh” is one of Pharaoh’s family (Exodus 12:29); “the firstborn
of beast” are themselves animals. (Numbers 8:17) “First-born” also appears at Romans 8:29 where
it is stated that Christ is “the firstborn among many brothers,” that is, born before others being
glorified to receive the status of “brothers” among God's family. Christ is thus presented as the
most notable one of God's family.
Even in the few cases where the context suggests a metaphorical sense for the word, it should
not mean one can detach firstborn from the group. For instance, in Exodus 11:5, ‘the firstborn of
the slave girl’ represented ‘the lowliest of occupations,’ not spared among the list of ‘firstborns’
who died in Egypt. Isaiah 14:30 speaks of “the firstborn of the poor,” and Job 18:13 speaks of a
disease as “the firstborn of death.” Now, could anyone rightfully divorce the firstborn in this text
from “poverty,” or, isolate the malignant disease from “death” itself? Not according to Jamieson,
Fausset & Brown's Commentary on the Whole Bible, which says: “[Isaiah 14:]30. first-born of … poor—
Hebraism, for the most abject poor [“the poorest of the poor,” NIV; GW]; the first-born being the
foremost of the family. Compare ‘first-born of death’ (Job 18:13), for the most fatal death.” And
The MacArthur Study Bible explains the phrase “first-born of death” in Job 18:13 thus: “A poetical
expression meaning the most deadly disease death ever produced.”
At Colossians 1:18 Jesus is called, “the firstborn from the dead.” Similarly, Revelation 1:5 calls
Christ, “the firstborn of the dead.” If we go by traditional reasonings that firstborn can only mean
“supreme”, ‘over creation,’ and not ‘of creation’ at Colossians 1:15, then this would mean that
Jesus was never part of the group of ‘dead’ ones? Is this a correct assumption? Let's have Jesus
Christ himself answer that one for us: “I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!”
(Rev. 1:18) Again, who raised him from the dead? Colossians 2:12 tells us: “God,… raised him from
the dead.” A comparison of Col. 1:18 with Rev. 1:5,18 proves that this genitive is partitive, that is,
it indicates that Christ was part of the group of dead ones. Therefore, the NIV application of
“firstborn” for Colossians 1:18, “the firstborn from among the dead,” in reference to Christ is
most appropriate, but wrongly done at Col. 1:15.
Trinitarians have no problem explaining that, “firstborn from [Or: “of”] the dead” means: “Christ
was the first to be raised from the dead.” (Nelson's Compact Bible Commentary, by Radmacher, Allen,
and House) Or: “Christ was the first to rise in an immortal body (1 Cor. 15:20)...” (The Bible
Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord & Zuck) And: “In Rev. 1:5, too, the prōtótokos signifies not only
priority in time but also the primacy of rank that accrues to Jesus with his resurrection.”
(Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, G. W. Bromiley, Abridged Edition p. 968.)

Now, when it comes to the phrase “firstborn of all creation” of Col. 1:15, traditionalists explain it
differently. The Bible Knowledge Commentary for instance writes: “Being firstborn referred more to
rank and privilege. Since Christ is God, He is supreme in rank over all creation.” Did you notice
the difference in their explanations of the two phrases – both which are genitives? Are they
justified in changing the meaning of the genitive firstborn of to one of “supremacy,” in order to
disengage Christ from “creation” and bolster his deity in verse 15? Not if we want to be
consistent in explaining these kind of genitives as “partitive,” indicative of the subject being
“part” of the group, as is the norm elsewhere in Scripture.
In Colossians 1:15, we are told that Christ is “the firstborn of creation.” If Jesus was not created,
as claimed, it would be the only scripture where the subject is not part of the group. But that's
not the case! This scripture is no different from the others. Jesus Christ was literally the first-born
of God's creative acts. Jesus himself told others he owed his existence to God, the Father. He
said: “I have life because of the Father.” (John 6:57, NAB) The Heavenly Father is the source of all
life, including Jesus' own life. This concept is in full agreement with Revelation 3:14, and with the
Scriptural phrase: “the only-begotten Son” applied to Christ in various verses.
Professor Furuli went over every instance of the Greek word for “firstborn” in the Septuagint and
the New Testament, and this is what he found: “Having gone through all the Biblical passages
that use prōtotokos, I have found no example which has the meaning ‘supreme’ or even
something similar, not even a passage which might be construed with such a meaning! Rather,
in all of the examples used of individuals, in a sense other than were one is ‘placed’ as though he
were the firstborn [Psalm 89:27], they take as a point of departure the notion of one who is born
first.” (Furuli 1999, p. 250) You can confirm Furuli’s analysis by consulting a Hebrew/Greek-English
Concordance.
Thus, the first-born is not someone who is self-existing, but is the result of one being brought
forth by someone else. The first-born is not the Creator, but is a product of creation.
Interestingly, we have three well-known phrases in Scripture which point to Jesus Christ having a
beginning or origin, namely: “The firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15); “the beginning of God's
creation” (Rev. 3:14); and “the only-begotten Son” in various places. (John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16,18;
Hebrews 11:17; 1 John 4:9). These Scriptures are dealt with here:
https://www.scribd.com/document/378080373/Was-Jesus-Created-First

All three Scriptural statements create problems for the Trinitarians, which they manage to alter
to make them say the opposite of what they really say. In the “firstborn of all creation” they say
that it means that Christ was not ‘the one born first,’ but that he is the initiator of all life, the
opposite. In “the beginning of God's creation,” traditionalists claim the phrase means, Christ was
the ‘beginner,’ not the first one to be created by God, the exact opposite. The question is: Are the
Trinitarian faithful able to recognize this obvious manipulation in these verses?
It should be observed that the expression “firstborn of,” and the words “beginning of” are never
applied to God, or the holy spirit, ever. The expression “only-begotten” is never used of God the
Father in Scripture, or the “spirit”, but only of the Son. What does that indicate in itself? If these
biblical expressions had the meaning that traditionalists attribute to them, one would expect
them to be used repeatedly of God and Spirit. But they are not!
12. Does Isaiah 44:24 in any way support the traditional view?

Since God is the direct agent of creation (or “source of creation”), he could well say to those who
question his might, as reported in Isaiah 44.24 (NIV): “I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who
stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself.” Or, as the MSG expresses it: “I
am GOD. I made all that is. With no help from you I spread out the skies and laid out the earth.”

For the CARM critic mentioned earlier, this text is evidence that God and Christ are one-and-the-
same, because it is said that God alone (Or, ‘by himself’) did the creation. But is it? The context
should be considered before one can properly understand God's words in Isaiah 44:24.

God is the Sovereign Maker, and he has every right to determine how he carries out his works.
We are in no position to question the rightness of his actions, or put his power to the test. As the
Eternal Father, he alone existed before anyone did. If one
Now when it says that considers the context of Isaiah where God spoke the words at
‘everything’ has been put Isaiah 44:24, it is evident that God has no peers. He is above any
under him [Jesus], it is clear other gods. Impotent man-made idols can't compete with
that this does not include Israel's God either, and none of the nations around Israel were
God himself, who put
present when God built the universe. So no one is really able to
everything under Christ.
produce a meaningful challenge to God, ever. God ‘himself’ was
– 1 Corinthians 15:27, NIV.
there to make everything that is now visible and invisible. No
wonder The Message Bible translated the text as it did.

Notwithstanding, other parts of the Bible state that God made “all” things through his Son. As we
have considered, we have to be cautious in any attempt to narrow down a simple definition of
“all” and “everything.” Furthermore, in our everyday speech, it is not uncommon to say some
things that are not to be taken literally. In the real estate business for example, homeowners are
frequently heard saying: “I built this house...”, or, “I built that house...”, etc., when the facts are
that the homeowner is understood to mean that the reference is to the time he made the
decision, or made the move to build it, but actually someone else did the construction for him.

Here's another scenario: A certain landowner may decide to write his Last Will & Testament to let
family members know beforehand the distribution of its assets in the event of his death. The
other family members become disappointed with the finality of the written Will and question the
rightness of his decision. He may answer in return: “I was the one who built this house and
everything in it, I did it by myself, without your help. I get to decide who benefits from the fruits
of my labor. You have no right to complain.” Now, would the landowner's statement require that
others understand his words literally within this context... that he alone, physically, constructed
the house without the help of a master builder?
Understandably, within the context of Isaiah 44:24, God could say that he alone or he himself
built all things, because he is the Creator, the Ultimate Source of energy, and life. In this context,
he did not go into details. But later, God volunteered additional information. God is the direct
agent of creation. His first creation is said to be “the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15;
Proverbs 8:22) In another context, God indicated that the creation process involved his ‘firstborn’
Son. (Hebrews 1:2,6,10) Scripture says that God made everything else through the agency of this
“firstborn” Son. Thus, there is no contradiction between what God said at Isaiah 44:24 and other
Scriptures, such as Colossians 1:16.

A Bible version makes this clear: “For through him [Christ] God created everything* in heaven
and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and
authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him.” (GNT) (*In view of Paul's
habitual use of the word pánta [“all”] throughout his writings, the “everything” here could be also
translated: “everything else,” a sense often implied in the Greek Scriptures, and certainly allowed within
the range of meaning of pas/pan'ta.)

In harmony with everything else, John 1:10 says: “He [Christ] was in the world, and the world was
made through him, yet the world did not know him.” (cp. Genesis 1:26) John 20:31 sums up Jesus'
historical actions by saying: “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” This scripture
makes clear that Jesus Christ is not the Sovereign God. Scripture does not use “sonship” ever to
identify God, as traditionalists would like to believe. It was never the intention of St. John or St.
Paul as Christ's disciples, to portray Christ as identical to God.

13. Is Jesus the soτηςurce or the instrument of God’s creative works?


Colossians 1:16 is one text that leads mainstream interpreters to believe that Christ is God,
because they believe the connection of Jesus with acts of creation can only be said of God the
Creator. Something similar is at times claimed of miracles. Only God can do miracles, right? Yet,
God endowed Christ with powerful capabilities unheard of. The Bible account plainly states that
it was God who empowered Christ. (Acts 10:38) Even humans appeared to do miraculous things,
as when Moses parted the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:26-28) Who was behind such miracles? God was!
Besides, could anyone really hold God back from sharing his power with a close one to him, and
even have such one partake with God in the creative process? (Genesis 1:26, John 1:1-3)
The Bible teaches throughout that God the Father is the Creator, not the Son. (Genesis 1:1; 1:27;
Psalm 146:5,6; Matthew 19:4; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11; 10:6) The Son is always portrayed as
contingent on the Father, subordinated to God. God the Father is the Preeminent One, foremost
in every action relating to mankind.
There is another unexpected source of information. The linguistic precision of the Greek
language, the language of the New Testament, makes it possible to ascertain specific meanings
from Scriptural statements. Greek is rich in its use of prepositions, defined by The Free Dictionary as:
“A word or group of words used before a noun or pronoun to relate it grammatically or
semantically to some other constituent of a sentence.” By the use of prepositions, many fine
details of information can obtained.
Some common English prepositions are: at, by, with, from, and in regard to.
Basic prepositions in Greek are: pró (before); prós (toward; with); katá (down); aná (up); apó (from);
ek (out of); diá (through); en (in); eis (into; for); epí (on, upon); metá (after); pará (beside); and hypó
(under). In relation to the subject, let's examine 4 samples of usage:
1). John 1:2, 3: “He was in [en] the beginning with [prós, “toward”] God. All things were made through [dia]
him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
2). 1 Corinthians 8:6, “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom [ex (έκ) hou] are all things and for
[eis] whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through [dia] whom are all things and through [dia]
whom we exist.”
3). Col. 1:16, “For by [en, ESV footnote: “That is, by means of; or in”] him [Christ] all things were created —
all things were created through [dia] him and for [eis] him.”
4). Hebrews 1:2, “But in [epí] these last days he [God] has spoken to us by [en, Or: by means of] his Son,
whom he appointed the heir of all things, through [dia] whom also he created the world.”

What do these four biblical texts have in common? These are the very same Scriptures that
traditionalists often cite as evidence that Christ is the Creator, that he is God. Christ in these
Scriptures is definitely shown as “Divine,” and surely holds a very special place in relation to God.
Actually, John 1:2 says that ‘the Word was in the beginning with God.’ Is there anyone else that
that could be said of? No. “God’s Son has all the brightness of God’s own glory and is like him in
every way.” (Hebrews 1:3, CEV) Like father, like son!
Yet, even with the described superiority of Jesus Christ in relation to others, it is clear that the
Son is mentioned after God, subordinated to God in the writer's mind. God is always Supreme.
Christ is never depicted at the same level as the Father is. It is God, the Father who is the driving
force behind every action the Son does in imitation. It is God, the Supreme Source of energy, to
whom the preposition έκ (“out of”; “out from”) is applied. Not Christ. Which Greek prepositions are
applied to Christ in those texts which speak of creation?
En = “in”; “by”; “by means of.” The ESV acknowledges that en (in) in Col 1:16 in the instrumental
case means: “by means of.” In other words, Christ was the mediator of creation.
Dia = “through.” As the preposition dia makes clear, Christ is the mediating agent. God is the
direct agent of creation. It's that simple!
The correct sense of these prepositions can be appreciated by two simple translations of
Hebrews 1:2:
“In these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. God made his Son responsible for everything. His
Son is the one through whom God made the universe.” (GW)

“But in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. He is the one through whom God created
the universe, the one whom God has chosen to possess all things at the end.” (GNT)

I fully agree with the two renderings of Hebrews 1:2 above. This Scripture does not teach a
“trinity,” or that Christ is coequal to God in every way. God is the Source, Christ is the “mediator.”
“Dia” is used also at John 1:3, of which Newman & Nida had this to say: “The Greek phrase
through him indicates that the Word was the agent in creation, but at the same time the context
clearly implies that God is the ultimate source of creation … Similar expressions are found in
Paul's writings and in the Letter to the Hebrews … The Greek text indicates clearly that the Word
was the instrument or agency employed by God in the creation.” (A Translator's Handbook on the
Gospel of John, p. 10.)

E. Lohse sums up the prepositions used in relation to creation succinctly:


“It should be noted that έν (in), δία (through), and είς (for) are used [of Christ], but not έκ (from
[=out of]). ‘From whom are all things’ (ἐξ [prep. “έκ”] οὗ τὰ πάντα) is said of God in 1 Corinthians 8:6.
He is and remains the creator, but the preexistent Christ is the mediator of creation.” (E. Lohse, A
Commentary on th Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, p. 50, note 125. Hermeneia Series;
Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1971) Why are some distinguished scholars able to comprehend this
basic information, while others are adamant in their refusal to acknowledge so?
Biblical evidence was provided earlier which clearly demonstrates that the biblical word “all”
does not always mean “everything” absolutely. Often it has limits. There is enough evidence to
show that in some contexts the inclusion of “other” or “else” in the translation from Greek to
English for the word “all” does no violence to Scripture.
And coming back to “firstborn” for a minute, it was perhaps an effort to convey the Greek sense
of prōtotokos (first-born) which brought Bible translator J. B. Phillips to revise his earlier translation
of 1962 in Colossians 1:15 which previously read, “He existed before creation began”, with the
following: “Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He was born before creation
began, for it was through him that everything was made.” (The New Testament in Modern English,
Revised Student Edition, 1972)

Since Scripture tells us that Christ is “the firstborn of all creation”; “the beginning of the creation
of God” (Revelation 3:14); and “the only begotten Son” of God (John 3:18, KJV), it is not
unreasonable to conclude that Christ was the first and only direct creation by God. Everything
else was made “through” Christ, by the power of God. Christ himself attributed the creation to
God, including his own existence. (Matthew 19:4-6; John 6:57) There is nothing dishonoring about
that. This thought, of course, upsets many a trinitarian believer.

Various scholars today sustain, as noted, that inserting “other” to “all things” in Colossians 1:16 is
unacceptable. It is clear that inserting “other” or “else” is not mandatory in translation, but it is
not ‘deceitful’ either to add it in certain cases where the context allows for it. I argue that
Colossians 1:16 is one of those places where it is practical to do so. The context of Colossians
mirror other parts of the Bible: ‘The head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3; 15:27, 28; John 14:28) God
the Father is the Creator, but used Christ as the “master workman” in the creative process.
(Proverbs 8:22,30)

14. Final thoughts:

After considering the evidence of the Greek word for “all” in Colossians, Dr. Jason BeDuhn made
this fine argument in his book Truth in Translation (©2003), where he reviewed a number of Bible
translations:

“Yet in many public forums on Bible translation, the practice of these four translations [NIV;
NRSV; TEV (Today's English Version); and LB] is rarely if ever pointed to or criticized, while the
N[ew] W[orld Translation] is attacked for adding the innocuous ‘other’ in a way that clearly
indicates its character as an addition of the translators. Why is that so? The reason is that
many readers apparently want the passage to mean what the NIV and TEV try to make it
mean. That is, they don't want to accept the obvious and clear sense of ‘first-born of
creation’ as identifying Jesus as ‘of creation.’ ‘Other’ is obnoxious to them because it draws
attention to the fact the Jesus is ‘of creation’ and so when Jesus acts with respect to ‘all
things’ he is actually acting with respect to ‘all other things.’ But the NW is correct.” (Ibid, p.
84)

BeDuhn adds: “So what exactly are objectors to ‘other’ arguing for as the meaning of the
phrase ‘all things’? That Christ created himself (v. 16)? That Christ is before God and that
God was made to exist by means of Christ (v. 17)? That Christ, too, needs to be reconciled to
God (v. 20)? When we spell out what is denied by the use of ‘other’ we can see clearly how
absurd the objection is.” (Ibid, p. 85)
He goes on: “ ‘Other’ is implied in ‘all’ and the NW simply makes what is implicit explicit.
You can argue whether it is necessary or not to do this. But I think the objections that have
been raised to it show that it is, in fact, necessary, because those who object want to
negate the meaning of the phrase ‘firstborn of creation.’ If adding ‘other’ prevents this
misreading of the Biblical text, then it is useful to have it there.” (Ibid, p. 85.) Interestingly,
the publishers of the NWT made a similar observation decades ago: “But even here, it
might be added, that, were it not for the prevalence of the trinitarian teaching that Jesus
was not created, it would not have been necessary to add the word ‘other.’ ” (The Watchtower,
April 15, 1970, p. 255)

BeDuhn concludes: “In Colossians 1:15-20 it is accurate to add ‘other’ because ‘other’ is
implied in the Greek.” (BeDuhn 2003, p. 87)
And the book The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible translation, says in reference to the word “other” in
Colossians 1:16 in the NWT: “Thus, there can be no doubt that from a linguistic point of view, the
translation ‘all other’ is perfectly legitimate in Colossians 1:16-20. It is not mandatory, but it is
possible. This means that the brackets that NWT uses around ‘other’ may be removed, because
the word ‘other’ is no addition or interpolation, but in a given context it is a legitimate part of
pas.” (Furuli 1999, p. 254) (The Revised NWT Edition of 2013 did remove the brackets in these verses, and
elsewhere.)

In sum, the Greek word for “all,” pas, does not necessarily mean each and every creature, who is
living, has ever lived in the past or will ever live in the future. It all depends on the context. Even
the apostle Paul who wrote the letter to the Colossians and to the Corinthians, meant an
exception when he used the word pánta: “But when it says that ‘everything’ has been subjected
[to Christ], obviously the word [pánta] does not include God, who is himself the one subjecting
everything to the Messiah.” (1 Cor. 15:27, CJB) Scripture makes clear that the word “all [pánta]” has
an exclusion within the context of Paul's writings, as he defined it. For Paul it was ‘evident’ or
“clear” that Jesus was subject to God. Hence, it was not necessary for Paul to use the Greek word
“állos” every time to make that explicit. It already was implicit. The Christians of Corinth and
Colossae being as they were monotheists, already understood that God was above everyone
else. However, what they needed now was to understand the wisdom of assimilating Christ in
their faith, and to place him foremost above all things in their daily lives, of course, with the
explicit understanding expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:27 in mind.
Unfortunately, ever since the Trinity dogma took over Christian doctrine, “Christian” followers
are not able to see the simple truth about Christ in relation to God as ‘clearly’ as Paul saw it. But
it is there. Even the Colossians Epistle shows throughout that the divine Christ was right below
God Almighty.

Considering the available evidence, it is amazing that some critics are quick to make a blatant
accusation that translators who add “other” to the translated text in the discussed verses are
being ‘deceitful,’ and claim at the same time, that “there is absolutely no warrant whatsoever in
the Greek text for the insertion of the word ‘other.’” These critics keep forgetting that the Trinity
doctrine for which they seek support, was developed after the Bible was written. The biblical
writers of the New Testament had no idea whatsoever that later nominal Christians would
deviate from “the pattern of truth” they were taught, and go on and exalt Christ way beyond the
imagination of first-century worshipers – equating Jesus to God at every level of worship. (2 Tim.
1:13, TLB)

People can quickly become uncomfortable when their understanding of Scripture is challenged
by someone else with a different perspective. However, the most important thing in all of this is
to abide by the teaching of Christ. While today it is common in Christian churches to hear
doctrine which equals Christ with God, Christ himself spent instead his ministry directing all
attention to the Father, God. He sought at all times to please his Father, and carry out his will. He
was humble to acknowledge before others that ‘the Father was his God.’ (John 20:17) When he
was on earth, Scripture says that “God was with him.” (Acts 10:38) He thus preached for the
glorification of his Father, and prayed for the Father's will concerning Christ to be fully
accomplished. He looked to the future when he would be seated right next to God, not take over
his throne. (John 17:4,5) Why should we believe otherwise? That said, I find the translation of “all
other things” at Colossians 1:16 appropriate within the full context of Scripture.

In this article, I have attempted to provide factual information that hopefully readers can benefit
from. My purpose is not to undermine Christ's deity, for I love Christ. I am dependable on Christ
for my salvation. At the same time, all of us need to be careful not to go beyond Scripture.
Tradition exerts an inordinate amount of influence in people. Not all tradition is bad. There is the
traditional teaching that we received from Christ. But there is also a lot of worldly philosophy
intermingled with Christian doctrine affecting biblical interpretations. Hopefully, the information
presented here is able to help someone deal with the frequent allegations made around
Colossians 1:15 and 16.

– End –

21st Century New Testament (Colossians 1:15-20): “15 He is exactly like God himself who is invisible. Of all
creation, he was the first to be produced, 16 in fact it was he that formed all other things in heaven and on
earth, visible and invisible. Whether kingdoms or dominion, governments or authorities, all came into
existance as a result of him and by means of him. 17 As he made them all, he is the first and foremost. 18
He is also head of the body which is the congregation; and he became the chief by being the first to be
raised from the dead. He is thereby foremost in everything. 19 Hence God saw fit to endow him with all
authority and power 20 so that he could fully reconcile all creation to himself through him. So whether on
earth or in heaven, peace was restored by means of the blood shed on the execution stake, and it was all
because of him.” (By Vivian Capel, ©1998, Insight Press, Bristol, England)

_____________________________________________________

To read other related subjects by the same author, check the links below (For Spanish, see
further below):
For Exodus 2:25: http://www.scribd.com/doc/38676458/Exodus-2-25-And-God-took-notice-Does-God-care-about-us
For John 1:1 click: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34916458/The-correct-translation-of-John-1-1
For a briefer consideration of John 1:1, but with additional samples: http://www.scribd.com/doc/50330864/John-1-1-
List-of-Alternate-Readings

For John 1:14 (“grace”): http://www.scribd.com/doc/35002730/John-1-14-Jesus-full-of-grace


For John 8:58: http://www.scribd.com/doc/35318309/The-correct-translation-of-John-8-58-List-of-alternate- readings-to-I-am
For John 17:3: http://www.scribd.com/doc/57772552/John-17-3-%E2%80%98Taking-in-knowledge-of- %E2%80%99-God-and-Jesus
For Acts 20.28, Whose blood?: http://www.scribd.com/doc/231244155/Acts-20-28-Whose-blood
For 1 Timothy 3:16: http://www.scribd.com/doc/76927834/Was-God-manifested-in-the-flesh-1-Timothy-3-16

For Hebrews 1:6,8: https://www.scribd.com/doc/252268649/Does-Hebrews-1-6-8-prove-Jesus-is-God

For Translation Differences: http://www.scribd.com/doc/59484457/Translation-Differences-Questions-and-Answers


For the Trinity, see: http://www.scribd.com/doc/160286056/Does-the-Trinity-ever-make-sense
Did the NW translators know Greek?: http://www.scribd.com/doc/48234022/Did-the-New-World-Translation-
Committee-Know-Greek

Was Jesus Created First?: https://www.scribd.com/document/378080373/Was-Jesus-Created-First

Para una consideración de otros temas, vea los siguientes enlaces:


Para Juan 1:1 (¿“un dios”?), vea: http://www.scribd.com/doc/35899788/Traduccion-correcta-de-Juan-1-1-Lista-de-
lecturas-alternativas
Para Juan 8:58 (“yo soy”): http://www.scribd.com/doc/36126649/La-traduccion-correcta-de-Juan-8-58-Lista-de-
lecturas-alternas-a-yo-soy
Para Juan 17:3 (‘adquirir conocimiento’): http://www.scribd.com/doc/74629981/Juan-17-3-%E2%80%98Adquiriendo-
conocimiento%E2%80%99-de-Dios-y-Jesucristo
Para Colosenses 1:16, “todas las otras cosas”: http://www.scribd.com/doc/209601066/Colosenses-1-16-%C2%BFEs-
la-traduccion-%E2%80%9Ctodas-las-otras-cosas%E2%80%9D-apropiada

Para 1 Timoteo 3:16: http://www.scribd.com/doc/77336247/%C2%BFFue-Dios-manifestado-en-carne-1-Timoteo-3-16


Para Hebreos 1:6,8: https://www.scribd.com/doc/255738165/Ensena-Hebreos-1-6-8-que-Jesucristo-es-Dios
¿Acaso tiene sentido la Trinidad?: http://www.scribd.com/doc/173779117/%C2%BFAcaso-tiene-sentido-la-Trinidad
¿Sabía griego el Comité de la Traducción del Nuevo Mundo?:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/51623596/%C2%BFSabia-griego-el-Comite-de-la-Traduccion-del-Nuevo-Mundo

As stated above, Trinitarians have no problem adding “else” to the Greek “all” in Col 1:17 in their
versions, and no one seems to be complaining. More details later.
1 Corinthians 15:27: “For ‘God has put all things [pánta] in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘all
things [pánta] are put in subjection,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things [ta pánta] in
subjection under him.” NIV (2005): “For he ‘has put everything [pánta] under his feet.’ Now when it says
that ‘everything’ [pánta] has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put
everything [ta pan'ta] under Christ.”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Final Note: This document was written using the free and open LibreOffice Writer, using Noto Sans Font,
Main Font Size 11 – originally in the .odt (Open Document Text) format. To submit comments, suggestions
or corrections: lesriv000@gmail.com.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------