None of the answers to the duplicate linked in the recent question about 'Prototokos' covered the root word 'tokos' in their explanations.

'Tokos' is mentioned twice in scripture - by Matthew, 25:27, and by Luke, 19:23 - in connection to which Matthew quotes Jesus' word 'trapezites' (KJV 'exchangers') and Luke quotes Jesus' word 'trapeza' (usually 'table' but here - KJV - 'bank').

The word 'tokos' is translated in both instances as 'usury' (KJV).

Matthew and Luke both use the exact same words, in Matthew 1:25 and in Luke 2:7, regarding the birth of Jesus Christ :

ου ... ... ... ετεκεν .. ... ... ... τον υιον ... αυτης ... τον ρωτοτοκον

until ... she brought forth ... the son ... of her ... the prototokos

(Stephanus 1550, Beza 1598, Elzevir 1624, Scrivener 1894)

My question (regarding the parable which Matthew and Luke report) is - how do the words which Jesus himself used regarding money, usury, exchangers and banks (in the parable reported by both evangelists) help us to understand the word used (again by both evangelists) about his own coming into the world 'prototokos' and then further understand how the apostles use that word to reveal more of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and in the New Creation ?

  • What specifically has you thinking Jesus being called prototokos in one text and him criticizing exploitative temple economy in another text are related? The mere presence of two words with a common root is not a strong connection.
    – user2910
    Jun 17, 2018 at 15:30
  • @MarkEdward The word prototokos consists of protos which is undoubtedly 'first' or chief'. Then the root word tokos is used twice in scripture. In order to determine what prototokos means, one must needs consider tokos. This is only scientific and is a recognised part of hermeneutics. The two occasions of its use were in the mouth of Jesus Christ himself and are made available to us in the apostolic record.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 17, 2018 at 16:09
  • @Ruminator The article you link to says (at the very beginning) This article has multiple issues. To say that a word does not derive from its root is an argument you would have to prove (substantially and academically) in any and every case you assert it, sir.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 20, 2018 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


How do 'usury', a 'table' and 'exchangers' relate to the Prototokos? A quick comparison of the passages in Matthew 25:27 and Luke 19:23 will shed some light:

“Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.” (KJV)

“You should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.” (NIV)

“Why didn’t you deposit my money with the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.” (NLT)

Both “usury” and “interest” come from the Greek word “tokos” which has two meanings: a bringing forth; offspring; produce of money lent; interest; usury. (William D. Mounce, Greek Interlinear)

The notes on Luke 19:23 from the NLT Study Bible say this about the Greek word “tokos”: Literally, “put the money on the table” which means to give it to the moneylenders who would loan it out at interest. This links to Matthew 21:12 where Jesus overthrew the tables of the money changers. The Greek word “trapeza” means a table or counter of a money changer. It can also apply to a bank, as it does in Luke 19:23. Here, then, is the connection between table and money exchangers (or money lenders) to usury, which is interest gained on money that is loaned out.

How to link these words to “prototokos” and specifically as it applies to Christ Jesus? Luke 2:7 (in both the KJV and the NIV) says that Mary “brought forth” (or gave birth to) her “firstborn,” a son. This is the Greek word “prototokos” which, as a noun, refers to a parent’s firstborn child. As an extension of the literal meaning, it can refer to a person who holds a special status as preeminent (as in Colossians 1:15). Source – NIV Study Bible notes.

“Tokos” is the first return on an investment, but is not constrained merely to financial matters. During biblical times, a firstborn child would be the first fruit of the union between the parents. Parents might hope that their “investment” in this child (time, money and emotions) would pay off in later years when the parents became aged and/or infirm. Their firstborn child would take care of them. Indeed, is this not what our Lord did as he endured the cross? Before he died, he charged John with the responsibility of looking after his mother (John 19:26-27).

Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross was an exchange of his life for others. Jesus, as the Son of God, was God’s “investment” in his creation, the means by which atonement could be made for sin and humanity redeemed. The resurrection of Jesus, as the “first-fruits from the dead” was the first token of the “return on that investment.” “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep... Christ the first-fruits, then when he comes, those who belong to him” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). This is the link between “tokos” which means usury (or interest, the return on an investment) and why Jesus had to come into the world, suffer, die and be resurrected. The resurrection of the Son of God on the cross results in salvation to many.

Regarding Colossians 1:15 Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, is not only Mary’s firstborn son, but He is “the firstborn of every creature” (KJV). In both instances the Greek word “prototokos” is used. Jesus, of course, was never created, either as the Word of God or as Jesus. If Paul had wished to express the idea that Jesus was created, he had available a Greek word to do so, the word πρωτοκτιστος, meaning “first created.” However, Paul uses the word πρωτοτοκος, meaning “first begotten,” which signifies something quite different, as the following explanation makes clear:

“One of the creeds says that Christ is the Son of God “begotten, not created”; and it adds “begotten by his Father before all worlds.” Will you please get it quite clear that this has nothing to do with the fact that when Christ was born on earth as a man, that man was the son of a virgin? We are not now thinking about the Virgin Birth. We’re thinking about something that happened before Nature was created at all, before time began. “Before all worlds” Christ is begotten, not created. What does it mean?

We don’t use the words begetting or begotten much in modern English, but everyone still knows what they mean. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. And the difference is just this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers, and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set. … Now that’s the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man.

To return now to Col. 1:15 where Paul speaks of Christ as “the first begotten of all creation,” it is important to observe that the adjective “first” refers both to rank as well as time. In other words, the Apostle alludes here not only to Christ’s priority to all creation, but also to his sovereignty over all creation.” (Source: A Biblical and Theological Appraisal by Bruce M. Metzger as published in Theology Today 10/1 (April 1953), pp. 65-85.)

The life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the eternal and uncreated Word of God, was the first token that God’s investment in a “new creation” had succeeded – an investment that results in interest gained. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them... God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).

You ask how Jesus’ words in the Parable of the Talents (financial usury or money invested to result in a profit) help us to understand more about the meaning and purpose of Jesus’ life and death – his role in the “new creation.” The parable is an illustration of how the Lord delegates responsibilities to his stewards to take care of his wealth and to follow his instructions. He expects them to know Him well enough to apply the spirit as well as the letter of His instructions. Those that do are richly rewarded. The others receive severe judgment. The amount given is based on each steward’s ability. The profitable stewards are praised, given increased responsibilities and invited to enter into the joy of their Lord. The untrusting steward is scolded, rejected, and punished.

Jesus executed his responsibilities as the steward of God’s Kingdom and was obedient unto death so that through his resurrection, his followers would be assured of their future reward as part of the “new creation”.


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