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.

  • I asked this also on BHSE. Really quiet over there today.
    – Kris
    Jan 18 '20 at 23:21
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    I believe you refer to Colossians 1:15 (not 1:13) regarding the supremacy of Christ and him being the firstborn from among the dead?
    – Lesley
    Jan 19 '20 at 9:02
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    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 14:12
  • @Lesley yes 1:15 not 1:13 firstborn over all creation.
    – Kris
    Jan 19 '20 at 14:16
  • @KenGraham Didn’t know that.
    – Kris
    Jan 19 '20 at 14:20

I am quoting from Young's Concordance and therefore looking at the KJV :-

Κτιστης Ktistes 'Creator' occurs once.

... served the creature more than the Creator [Romans 1:25]

Κτιζο, ktizo - the verb to create - occurs fourteen times.

But neither protoktizo nor protoktistos nor protoktistes ever occur in the (KJV) bible.

My 1,700 page special American edition of Liddell & Scott lists both

πρωτοκτιστης protoktistes 'first founder or creator ... and

πρωτοκτιστος protoktistos 'founded or created first'

as occurring in Hellenistic Greek literature, other than the bible.

(Note that the first 'o' is an omega ω, and the second is an omicron ο.)

Πρωτοτοκος prototokos (from the word τοκος tokos meaning 'usury') occurs nine times in the KJV Greek text. In saying 'the Greek text' I mean the belated Scrivener text of 1894, as the KJV translators did not actually produce a Greek text but used - largely - Erasmus and Beza and the Computensian Polyglot.

Tokos is used twice in scripture in parallel passages of the gospel accounts and relates to usury (interest on money loaned) each time. The word 'born' is not actually present in the word, as such.

Any interpretation of the word needs to convey the meaning of the root word tokos as well as the meaning of the prefix, protos, which indisputably means 'first'.

In a generational context, prototokos does not draw attention to the matter of a birth, as such. The word is much more forward looking than that. It is a matter of the 'return' on an 'investment', the initial birth (in the context of birth, which is not essential to the word) being the first 'token' of the success of the entire 'project'.

  • Thayer's has birth for a first definition of Tokos and usury as a second definition in the sense of 'money generating more money'. So, not only is born in the meaning of prototokos but also the notion of like generating like. Prototokos therefore harmonizes well with monogenes as only-begotten. Aug 23 '20 at 18:24
  • @MikeBorden The fact that tokos is used twice (only) in scripture and both times it is used in a context of usury should draw our attention to that meaning. To ignore the scriptural usage in favour of lexicons, is not my own practice.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 23 '20 at 18:26
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    I don't disagree but the undertone of interest being 'money birthing more money' is still there. It is interesting at least. Aug 23 '20 at 18:30

Πρώτοκτιστός is not found in the Bible. However to assume that it would have been used at Col 1:15 if the Son had been created is an argument from silence.

If there were examples in Paul, the NT, or the LXX, then they could be examined.

What is more pertinent is the syntax and grammar of the phrase in Col 1:15 compared to its use elsewhere.

Πρωτότοκος when the head noun of a genitive phrase is always a part of a group defined by the genitive phrase.

For example Exodus 34:20, firstborn of your sons, πρωτότοκον τῶν υἱῶν, in the LXX.


Using the Blue Letter Bible to search for that term we can see it yields no results. The closest word I could find results was prōtotokos / πρωτοτοκοσ, found 40 times in LXX, 3 times in MGNT and 3 times in TR.

Search for a term in the bible

In Col. 1:15, as seen in MGNT, that's the term used for "the firstborn"

Term from a specific verse

which can be read in more detail in Strong's G4416 - prōtotokos.

Strong's info addresses what you're looking for. It states

πρωτότοκος prōtótokos, pro-tot-ok'-os; from G4413 and the alternate of G5088; first-born (usually as noun, literally or figuratively):—firstbegotten(-born).

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