Col 1:16 - For in Him [Jesus] all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him [Jesus] and for Him.

The verb for created here is:

κτίζω • (ktízō) to people to found, build, establish (a city) to plant (e.g. an orchard) to create, produce to make so to perpetrate

Does the lexical range of this word always mean that something is created out of nothing?

  • Which scripture is this from? Also, you have tagged the question with worship and new-world-translation but do not refer to these in your question. Please edit your question to address these issues.
    – agarza
    Aug 4 at 20:09
  • 1
    What lexicon are you quoting?
    – Dottard
    Aug 4 at 23:14
  • This is seeking a philosophical meaning or implication of the word. Ex nihilo creation out of nothing is philosophical. Although it's evident that creation is always out of nothing in the biblical theology not like pantheism.
    – Michael16
    Aug 5 at 3:07

4 Answers 4


These are the times that ⲕⲧⲓⲍⲱ is used in the NT:

κτίζω to create, build, found (15)

  • Matt. 19:4 Οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ὅτι ὁ κτίσας ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς ἄρσεν

  • Mark 13:19 ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἣν εκτισεν ὁ θεὸς ἕως τοῦ

  • Rom. 1:25 τῇ κτίσει παρὰ τὸν κτίσαντα, ὅς ἐστιν εὐλογητὸς

  • 1Cor. 11:9 καὶ γὰρ οὐκ ἐκτίσθη ἀνὴρ διὰ τὴν γυναῖκα,

  • Eph. 2:10 γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ

  • Eph. 2:15 καταργήσας, ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα

  • Eph. 3:9 τῶν αἰώνων ἐν τῷ θεῷ τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι,

  • Eph. 4:24 ἄνθρωπον τὸν κατὰ θεὸν κτισθέντα ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ὁσιότητι

  • Col. 1:16 ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ειτε ἀρχαὶ ειτε ἐξουσίαι· τὰ πάντα δι’ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν εκτισται·

  • Col. 3:10 εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν κατ’ εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν,

  • 1Tim. 4:3 βρωμάτων, ἃ ὁ θεὸς εκτισεν εἰς μετάλημψιν μετὰ εὐχαριστίας

  • Rev. 4:11 δύναμιν, ὅτι σὺ εκτισας τὰ πάντα καὶ καὶ διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου ἦσαν καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν.

  • Rev. 10:6 τῶν αἰώνων, ὃς εκτισεν τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὰ

In all of them, it's hard to find a context or example where, when God is the subject of the verb, ⲕⲧⲓⲍⲱ isn't understood in a Hebrews 11:3 sense of the word (“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:3 NIV11-GKE)).

The only exception is the Matthew passage. For God created Adam out of dirt. And he created Eve from Adam. But in either case, there was no life, breath, and soul in either of them. So, even in these cases, an "ex nihilo" conclusion could be understood.

  • Good, thorough answer that considers ALL the evidence. +1.
    – Dottard
    Aug 4 at 22:36

Let me first summarize the data concerning the verb κτίζω about which we observe:

  • God is always the subject of the verb, ie, doing the creating. In this sense at least, the verb is equivalent to the Hebrew verb בָּרָא (bara) which is also exclusive to God's activity of creating.
  • there is nothing innate in the meaning of the verb that requires creation from nothing

Now, let me list the 15 times this verb appears (in two cases, the verb occurs twice in the same verse):

  • Matt 19:4 - God made humans male and female, but in this case the creation of mankind used pre-existing material, soil for Adam, and Adam's rib for Eve.
  • Mark 13:19 - the beginning of God's creating is a direct allusion to the start of God's activity when, by definition, nothing existed and thus it was ex-nihilo
  • Rom 1:25 - the One (ie God) who created all things
  • 1 Cor 11:9 refers to the Adam being created, ie, NOT ex-nihilo
  • Eph 2:10 - we are created in Christ Jesus for good works; again, nothing about ex-nihilo is necessarily implied
  • Eph 2:15 - Jesus creates one man out of two; this definitely not ex-nihilo
  • Eph 3:9 - God created all things, which by definition must have at least begun with ex-nihilo
  • Eph 4:25 - God creates the "new man according to God", possibly ex-nihilo?
  • Col 1:16 - Jesus created all things, which by definition must have at least begun with ex-nihilo
  • Col 3:10 - very similar to Eph 4:25
  • 1 Tim 4:3 - God created food, which was NOT ex-nihilo as it comes from the plants that God created
  • Rev 4:11 - God created all things, which by definition must have at least begun with ex-nihilo
  • Rev 10:6 - God created all things, which by definition must have at least begun with ex-nihilo

Thus, many of these references to God's creative activity do not require, indeed actually preclude creation ex-nihilo. However, the other half of the references are definitely God creating ex-nihilo.

  • 1
    Definitely God creating ex-nihilo? What would be the most definite example? In fact, maybe you could bold all the ones that you think are "definitely God creating ex-nihilo" because I don't think that's the case. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 5 at 0:23
  • @Ruminator - if God created all things, then by definition, He must have started with nothing - those are specifically listed and noted above.
    – Dottard
    Aug 5 at 0:30
  • 1
    That's a philosophical syllogism, but it is entirely unscriptural. All the things formed in Genesis 1 are made from existing material. Ex Nihilo is not a scriptural concept. The scriptural concept is ex hudatos, or "out of water": >[2Pe 3:5 NASB20] [5] For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God [the] heavens existed long ago and [the] earth was formed out of water and by water, The earth (IE: the dry land, not the planet) was lifted by God, partially to a rain reservoir in the sky, and partly on mysterious foundations.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 5 at 0:37
  • 1
    @Ruminator - I fully agree that some things were not created ex-nihilo, but some were. If God always created from pre-existing materials, then where did the pre-existing materials arise? I believe that God did create all things, else God would not be God. Your reference to creating from water (that text does NOT used the verb ktizo !!) refers to things on this earth - what of everything else - where is the stars originate, etc?
    – Dottard
    Aug 5 at 1:04
  • 1
    @Ruminator - I appreciate your theological courage. One final question. If you believe that God formed all things out of water, does that mean the water is eternal as God is, and thus, uncreated? Or, are you suggesting something else?
    – Dottard
    Aug 6 at 6:20

Not, of course, for the concept of “creation out of nothing” was hardly even entertained in Hellenic philosophy or cosmogony, whereas the word κτίζω existed nevertheless.

However when in Paul this word is qualified by “all things” and given that beyond “all things” analytically and necessarily there is “no thing” or nothing, then it obtains that κτίζω in this sentence relates to creation out of nothing.

Moreover, since Christ is clearly outside of the “all things”, then, given that beyond “all things” there is either nothing or Creator, and given that nothing does not exist, it obtains necessarily that He is eternally existing uncreated co-Creator alongside with the Creator Father of all things, i.e. the entire created order of the universe.

I do not fathom why this clear logic evaded the brains of the Arians and their modern-day heirs such as Jehovah Witnessists and other unitarists.

  • It is a dead end street to allow philosophy and modern theological constructs dictate what the scriptures must say. Ex nihilo is a worldly construct. Peter says (as does Genesis) that the Genesis 1 world was formed (poiew) from a preexistent, windy bottomless ocean.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 5 at 14:21
  • @Ruminator Then besides God there is another unbegun/unoriginated Principle WBO (windy bottomless ocean), and at a certain instance God decided to interact with WBO and make things out of it, like atoms, molecules, dinosaurs or men. If you have a special taste and knack for such mythologies, who is to hinder, you can write even a phantasy novel about it, but this will not be a theology. Aug 5 at 18:31
  • I fully agree - I am mystified by the downvote of someone who clearly cannot follow the logical path. Upvoted to balance the leger.
    – Dottard
    Aug 5 at 21:49
  • @Dottard Thanks dear Dottard! Indeed, it is fundamentally wrong to pit Biblical revelation against dialectics/logic, for our very intellectual essence is logical, and even if the revelation admittedly has things supra-logical, those things are in no way anti-logical; the very term “theology” includes in itself the necessity of a correct logic and well-argumented, Scripture-based inferences. Aug 6 at 1:58
  • So "all things" gives you all you need to ignore the forming account in Genesis 1? Where specifically did Paul say "all things"? And by the way, the planet is billions of years old.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 6 at 2:04

The question is marked as a "word-study." Words do not have "meaning," but authors do. An author can use words any way that they want, as long as they are understood, from the context.

In English, what does "made" mean? Without a context, who can say? For example:

"I made a lot of money today."

Does that mean that s/he works at the Treasury? Or at a tech job?

But in broad terms, ποιέω is used to speak of "forming something," usually, if not always, from other stuff. Not normally to speak of "ex nihilo."

κτίζω is usually referring to founding something immaterial. For example, you might found a corporation by drafting Articles of Incorporation, and appointing a President, Vice President and a Treasurer. After that, one might ποιέω widgets.

I'm amused by the comedy of errors that arise when people fail to understand (or accept) this passage:

[Col 1:15-17 NASB20] [15] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: [16] for by Him all things were created [κτίζω], [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities--all things have been created [κτίζω] through Him and for Him. [17] He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

When you see a chair, do you think, "Jesus made this chair!"? I hope not. The chairs are only metonymy for roles/positions of authority.

And all the Trinitarian fervor for verse 16 is because they don't realize this, and that he is referring specifically to the (brief) Kingdom of Christ, not Genesis 1.

Also, κτίζω is used to translate the origin of God's demiurge, Sophia:

[Pro 8:22 NASB20] [22] "The LORD created [κτίζω] me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old.

Sophia was God's "wisdom." Did God come to come to possess Wisdom at the beginning of his journey? Did he form wisdom? Or did he establish wisdom? Is Christ Sophia?

[Pro 8:22-31 NASB20] [22] "The LORD created me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. [23] "From eternity I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. [24] "When there were no ocean depths, I was born, When there were no springs abounding with water. [25] "Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills, I was born; [26] While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. [27] "When He established the heavens, I was there; When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, [28] When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, [29] When He set a boundary for the sea So that the water would not violate His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; [30] Then I was beside Him, [as] a master workman; And I was [His] delight daily, Rejoicing always before Him, [31] Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And [having] my delight in the sons of mankind.

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