Arguing against the teaching that Jesus is a created being, some point out that calling him the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15)does not mean the first created.
The trinitarian will often say that had the scripture intended to say Jesus is the first created thing the word Protoktistos would have been used rather than prototokos. Then they state that the word Protoktistos is never used in connection with Jesus.

My question is: Can you cite examples in the scriptures where the word Protoktistos is used? I would like to compare the places it is used with the places where prototokos is used.

  • 1
    Cross posting is discouraged, especially when so little time has passed between postings (10 hours). You should know this Kris. See your other question here.
    – Ken Graham
    Jan 19 '20 at 14:17
  • 2
    I have answered this question on SE-C.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 19 '20 at 15:59
  • @Kris - when you ask "Is the Greek word Protoktistos used anywhere in the Bible?" do you mean in the New Testament, or do you mean also in the Old Testament (Hebrew). I ask because I fail to understand what any reference to the Book of Wisdom and Sophia has to do with Christian biblical teaching about Christ Jesus. Perhaps you could clarify for our benefit?
    – Lesley
    Jan 20 '20 at 17:53
  • @Lesley since it is a Greek word I am asking primarily about the Christian Greek Scriptures (New Testament) however if in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) you find the word that would be of great value. I don’t understand the part of your question about Wisdom and Sophia unless you are referring to the answer by Thomas Pearne
    – Kris
    Jan 20 '20 at 18:06

In the New Testament the Greek word ‘prototokos’ is found here: Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:15 and 1:18, Hebrews 1:6, 11:28, 12:23, and Revelation 1:5.

Luke 2:7 refers to Mary giving birth to her first (‘tikto’) son (‘gennao’). Gennao is the bringing into the world of a separate entity, a unique individual, a new life. In the case of natural childbirth, ‘gennao’ occurs after ‘tikto’. However, the use of ‘prototokos’ when applied to Christ Jesus (six times, in the singular) takes on a far greater significant meaning.

Firstborn does not mean first created: The Greek word for firstborn (Prototokos) in the New Testament means first in rank, an heir, to have pre-eminence in position, NOT in origin. The other Greek word for created is Protoktisis; it is NOT used for Christ. Since Jesus is self-existent (not created), the Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul use the word “prototokos,” not “protoktistos”. Full explanation given in [1]

Another source [2] has this to say with regard to the meaning of prototokos as it applies to Christ Jesus:

The context of Colossians 1:15 and the phrase in which we encounter prototokos should weigh heavily in our interpretation of the word. Many would disagree with the interpretation and above definition due to the connection of prototokos with pases ktiseos. These would interpret this phrase as being a partitive genitive, making the prototokos a part of creation, a created thing, rather than superior over all things. It is admitted that this could be construed as a partitive genitive, but this is excluded by the context, which sharply distinguishes between the Son and ta panta, and for this idea Paul would probably have used protoktistos. The well-known scholar, A. T. Robertson, wrote:

“The use of this word does not show what Arius argued that Paul regarded Christ as a creature like “all creation (pases ktiseos…). It is rather the comparative (superlative) force of protos that is used… Paul is here refuting the Gnostics who pictured Christ as one of the aeons by placing Him before “all creation” (angels and men)… Paul takes both words to help express the deity of Jesus Christ in his relation to the Father as eikon (Image) and to the universe as prototokos (First-born).”

In Romans 8:29, the Lord Christ is described as “the first-born among many brethren.” These brethren are, of course, the glorified Christians. Here the Lord’s superiority and sovereignty over “the brethren” is acknowledged, as well as His leadership in their salvation. “As the brethren of Christ, all Christians will share his destiny (c.f. Heb. 2:10-17), and Christ is the pre-eminent Son among the sons of God (c.f. 1:3).” In Hebrews 1:6 we read, “And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” Here the idea of pre-eminence is obvious, as all of God’s angels are instructed to worship Him, a privilege rightly reserved only for God (Luke 4:8). The term prototokos is used here as a title, and no idea of birth or origin is seen.

I think the point is simple. Indeed, the fact that the Greek word for created (Protoktisis or Protoktistos) is nowhere to be found in the New Testament with regard to Christ Jesus, the Son of God, speaks volumes. It’s not there because the Son of God, who is the Word or Logos, was himself never created. Yes, he was born of a woman and dwelt with us, but prior to giving up the glory he shared throughout eternity with God the Father, he was the eternal, the uncreated Son of God through whom ALL THINGS were created. He is the creator, not the created.

[1] http://www.letusreason.org/Trin29.htm
[2] https://www.aomin.org/aoblog/1986/01/01/prototokos-firstborn-its-meaning-and-usage-in-the-new-testament/

Edit: Just because someone has cited a non-biblical use of the word 200 years after Paul does not prove that the word only existed then!

  • The Greek word Protoktistos is a real Greek word But it does not show up in any writings until about 200 years after Pauli’s writings. This makes the argument that if Paul had meant first created he would have used Protoktistos a moot point. That word was apparently unknown at the time of Paul. Thanks for your thoughtful answer.
    – Kris
    Jan 24 '20 at 17:20
  • Kris - that Greek word existed long before Paul wrote his letters. Paul was an educated man. If he had wanted to let us know that Jesus had been created he would have used the right word. Think about it.
    – Lesley
    Jan 24 '20 at 18:08
  • Your words:”no such Greek word exists”.
    – Kris
    Jan 24 '20 at 18:53
  • I have no problem with the word prototokos meaning first in rank, preeminence in position. Those are accurate in describing Jesus even to me who believes he is a creation of Jehovah. If Colossians 1:15 said “ He is the image of the invisible God,the preeminent one of all creation” or “the highest ranking one of all creation” I’m good with that. It still says he is a creation.
    – Kris
    Jan 24 '20 at 22:32
  • When I said "It's not there because no such Greek word exists" that means the fact that word does not appear in the New Testament does not mean the word does not exisist. I am not saying the word does not exist. However, I should have made that clear. Meanwhile, do you have any evidence to support your view that the Greek word Protoktistos does not show up in any writings until about 200 years after Paul's writings? Just curious.
    – Lesley
    Jan 25 '20 at 9:15

No, but Clement did.


  "Well, they say that God pervades all being while we call Him solely Maker, and Maker by the Word. They were misled by what is said in the book of Wisdom: `He pervades and passes through all by reason of His purity' (Wisd. vii. 24) since they did not understand that this was said of Wisdom, which was the first of the creation of God. [SOFIAS THS PRWTOKTISTOU TWi QEWi]"

  • Miss Kris, just a heads up that you quoted Colossians 1:13 so could you please edit your question by posting Colossians 1:15. Thank You!
    – Mr. Bond
    Jan 18 '20 at 23:01
  • 1
    @Mr.Bond I fixed that. Also I am mortified that you assigned a gender to me. Lol. I’m a mr not a miss.
    – Kris
    Jan 19 '20 at 17:52
  • My apologizes on the name misunderstanding. Your right, I should not have "assumed."
    – Mr. Bond
    Jan 19 '20 at 17:58
  • 1
    @Thomas Pearne - what does your answer have to do with the New Testament, specifically Colossians 1:13? Does the Greek word 'protoktistos' appear in the New Testament? I could be wrong but I don't think the O.P. is about the wisdom literature written in Hebrew.
    – Lesley
    Jan 20 '20 at 12:15
  • 1
    I have read that the first usage of the word protoktistos known is by clement and that was like 200 years later than the letter to Colossians
    – Kris
    Jan 22 '20 at 2:57

What if the apostle Paul wanted to say that Jesus is pre-eminent or the most important highest ranking of all creation and Chronologically first one given life of all creation, then might he have used the Greek word Prototikto for Firstborn as opposed to just Prototikzo for First created and left out pre-eminent? sorry if I have misspelled those words you are all very intelligent people who know a lot. I am just saying this because Kris and those who differ in opinion on this Col 1 it’s quite possibly translated either way. There is no conclusive evidence who is correct. You would have to go with the context of the whole of your beliefs whether it’s one YHWH two or three and there is no agreement there too. You are all good people, take care. Sincerely Stephen

  • Please see the Tour and the Help (below, bottom right) as to the purpose and the functioning of the site. This is not an hermeneutic and substantiated (referenced) answer and is well below the standard expected on this site.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 23 '20 at 18:19

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.