Bibliotheca Sacra 141 (April-June. 1984) 99-111.

Copyright 1984 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Cited with permission.

 

 

Colossian Problems

Part 2:

 

 

The "Christ Hymn"

of Colossians 1:15-20

 

 

F. F. Bruce

 

Perhaps in Paul's mind there was not the same measure of

urgency in the theological situation of the Colossian church as

there had been some years before in that of the Galatian

churches. At any rate, in Colossians he does not launch an attack

on the false teaching immediately after the prescript, as he does

in Galatians. The fact that the church of Colossae had not been

directly planted by him, as the churches of Galatia had been, and

that he was personally unacquainted with most of its members

may also have something to do with his procedure. However that

may be, before he undertakes a refutation of the false teaching

which was being urged on the Colossian Christians, he presents

them with a positive statement of the truth which was being

challenged by the false teaching.

Hengel has recently drawn attention to the important part

that hymns or Spirit-inspired songs played in formulating the

doctrine of Christ in the primitive church, even before the start of

the Pauline mission.1 The doctrine of Christ was the principal

truth threatened by the false teaching at Colossae, and this is the

doctrine Paul presents to his readers before dealing specifically

with the false teaching. His presentation of the doctrine of Christ

takes the form of the "Christ hymn" in Colossians 1:15-20.

Do these six verses really contain a hymn? Certainly one

cannot recognize here the established forms of either Hebrew or

Greek poetry. What is here is rhythmical prose, but it is rhyth-

mical prose with a strophic arrangement such as is found in

 

99



100 Bibliotheca Sacra April-June 1984

 

much early Christian hymnody. As with the "Christ hymn" in

Philippians 2:6-11, it is not of the first importance to decide

whether Paul is composing the words de novo or reproducing an

inspired composition already known to him (and possibly to his

readers) and stamping it with his apostolic authority.

The strophic arrangement is indicated by the repetition of

key words or phrases. There appear to be two strophes verses

15-16 and verses 18b-20 with verses 17-18a supplying a tran-

sitional link between them. Each strophe begins with o!j e]stin

("He who is") and exhibits the key words prwto<tokoj ("first-

born"), o!ti e]n au]t&? ("because in Him"), di ] au]tou? ("through Him"),

ta> pa<nta ("all things"). The first and last clauses of the transition-

al link begin with kai> au]to<j e]stin ("He indeed is"), the first sum-

ming up the preceding strophe and the last introducing the

following strophe.2

 

The First Strophe (1:15-16)

 

He who is the image of the invisible God,

Firstborn before all creation,

because in Him all things were created

things in heaven and things on earth,

things visible and invisible,

whether thrones or dominions,

whether principalities or powers

they have all been created through Him and for Him (author's

translation).

 

This first strophe celebrates the role of Christ in creation,

most probably in His character as the Wisdom of God. This early

Christian theme, which exercised a major influence on the

church's Christological thought, was not confined to the Pauline

circle and probably did not originate in it. It finds expression in

the prelude of Hebrews (Heb. 1:2b-3a), in the prologue of the

Fourth Gospel (John 1:1-5), and in the Apocalypse (Rev. 3:14).

Christ, then, is introduced as "the image of the invisible

God." That He is "the image of God" has been affirmed already by

Paul (2 Cor. 4:4), in a context which appears to reflect Paul's

conversion experience. Paul recognized the One revealed to him

on the Damascus Road as Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Did he,

in that same moment, recognize Him also as the image of God?3

When Ezekiel received his vision of God, he saw enthroned at the

heart of the rainbow-like brightness "a likeness as it were of a

human form" (Ezek. 1:26). Paul had a similar experience when



The "Christ Hymn" of Colossians 1:15-20 101

 

he recognized "the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).

He is not merely echoing someone else's form of words here; he is

expressing what his own experience confirmed as true.

To call Christ the image of God is to say that in Him the being

and nature of God have been perfectly manifested that in Him

the invisible has become visible. In another letter Paul had de-

clared that since the creation of the world the "everlasting power

and divinity"4 of the unseen Creator may be "clearly perceived in

the things that have been made" (Rom. 1:20). But now an all-

surpassing disclosure of His "everlasting power and divinity'' has

been granted. "The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" has

shone into His people's hearts through the same creative Word

that first called light to shine forth out of darkness (2 Cor. 4:4-6).

In addition to being the image of God, Christ is said to be the

"Firstborn before all creation." This rendering is designed to

clarify the force of the genitive phrase "of all creation." To con-

strue the wording as though He Himself were the first of all

created beings is to run counter to the context, which insists that

He is the One by whom the whole creation came into existence.

The construction prwto<tokoj pa<shj kti<sewj is similar to that in

John 1:15, 30, where John the Baptist says of Jesus prw?to<j

mou h#n, He was first in respect to me."5 In Colossians 1:15

prwto<tokoj with the genitive has the same force that prw?toj with

the genitive has in John 1:15, 30; it denotes not only priority but

primacy.

The title "Firstborn" perhaps echoes the language of Psalm

89:27, where God says of the Davidic king, "I will make him the

firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth." But it belongs to

Christ not only as the Son of David but also as the Wisdom of

God. In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament wisdom is at

best the personification of a divine attribute or of the holy law,

but when the New Testament writers speak of Wisdom in person-

al terms, they consciously refer to One who is alive, one whose

ministry on earth was still remembered by many. To all those

writers, as to Paul, Christ was the personal (not personified) and

incarnate Wisdom of God. They were not so much arguing that

the personified wisdom of the Old Testament is actually Christ as

they were testifying that Christ (who lived on earth as Man, who

died and rose again, "whom God made our wisdom" [1 Cor. 1:30])

is the One who was before all creation, the preexistent Christ.

The idea of preexistence is not unknown in Jewish thought.

It is seen, for example, in later discussions about the Messiah6



102 Bibliotheca Sacra April-June 1984

 

and in the preexistent Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch.7 But

such preexistent beings were, to the minds of those who dis-

cussed them, largely ideal. Here preexistence is predicated of

Jesus who had lived and died in Palestine within the preceding

half-century. This is not the only place in the Pauline letters

where the preexistence of Christ is stated or implied, and Paul is

not the only New Testament writer to teach such a truth.

Paul speaks of Christ not only as preexistent, but also as

cosmic, that is, he finds in Christ "the key to creation, declaring

that it is all there with Christ in view."8 Whatever other figures in

Jewish literature may have preexistence ascribed to them, none

of them is credited with such cosmic activity and significance as

are here predicated of the preexistent Christ. Paul had already

used language of this kind; in 1 Corinthians 8:6 he said that

Christians acknowledge "one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom

are all things, and we through him." And in Romans 8:19-21 he

showed how the redemption secured by Christ works not only to

the advantage of its immediate beneficiaries, "the sons of God,"

but through them to the whole creation.

Not only is Christ's primacy with regard to creation asserted;

it is "in Him" that all things were created. When the Revised

Version appeared in 1881 with this rendering in place of the King

James Version's "by Him," some critics, like B. W. Newton,

charged the revisers with encouraging the "deadly" error of the

immanence of the Word in the world by thus "reversing the

translation of their Protestant predecessors."9 But if Newton and

others had studied the matter a little further, they might have

discovered why Paul wrote e]n au]t&? here, and why the revisers

translated the phrase "in Him." The reason is that Christ is

identified with the beginning "in" which, according to Genesis

1:1, "God created the heavens and the earth."10 This is not mere

surmise; He is expressly called "the beginning" in Colossians

1:18. Perhaps one could say that here He is viewed as the sphere

within which the work of creation takes place, as in Ephesians

1:4 the people of God are said to have been chosen "in Him" even

earlier, before the world's foundation. God's creation, like His

election, is accomplished "in Christ" and not apart from Him.

When the preposition is changed, and creation is said to

have taken place "through him" (di ] au]tou?), as it is at the end of

verse 16, He is denoted as the Agent by whom God brought the

universe into being. This is in line with the testimony of the

Epistle to the Hebrews, which affirms that through the Son (di ]



The "Christ Hymn" of Colossians 1:15-20 103

 

ou$) God made the worlds (Heb. 1:2), and of the Fourth Gospel

which states that "all things came into being through him

[through the Logos, who is identified with the Son), and apart

from him none of the things that exist came into being" (John

1:3).

This is to be distinguished from Philo's doctrine of the func-

tion of the logos in creation. It is easy to see affinities between

Pauline language and Stoic terminology, but Paul's thought is

derived not from Stoicism but from Genesis and the Old Testa-

ment wisdom literature, where wisdom is personified as the

Creator's assessor and master-workman. However, for Paul,

"master-workman" is no longer a figure of speech but a descrip-

tion of the actual role of the personal, preexistent Christ.

Thus Christ through whom the divine work of redemption

has been accomplished (Col. 1:14) is the One through whom the

divine act of creation 'was effected in the beginning. His media-

torial relation to the created universe provides a setting to the

plan of salvation which helps his people appreciate the gospel all

the more. For those who have been redeemed by Christ the uni-

verse has no ultimate terrors; they know that their Redeemer is

also Creator the Origin and Goal of all.

Probably with special reference to the "Colossian heresy"

Paul then emphasized that if all things were created by Christ,

then those powers for which such high claims were made in that

heresy must have been created by Him. "Thrones, principalities,

authorities, powers, and dominions" probably represent the

highest orders of the spirit world, but the variety of ways in which

the terms are combined in the New Testament warns against

attempting to construct a fixed hierarchy from them. The point

is that the most powerful angel princes, like the rest of creation,

are subject to Christ as the One in whom, through whom, and for

whom they were created.

The concept of Christ as the Goal of creation plays an essen-

tial part in Pauline Christology and soteriology. To this concept

Jewish parallels have been adduced; for example, the third-

century Rabbi Yohanan offered the opinion that the world was

created with a view to Messiah.11 But for Paul, Messiah had come;

He is identical with Jesus who, not more than 30 years earlier,

had been crucified in Jerusalem and who had appeared to Paul

himself on the Damascus Road as the risen Lord. Any under-

standing of Paul's Christology which fails to reckon with his

personal commitment to Jesus, crucified and exalted, would be



104 Bibliotheca Sacra April-June 1984

 

the kind of understanding that is dismissed in this letter as

being "according to the elemental forces of the world, and not

according to Christ" (Col. 2:8).

 

The Transitional Link (1:17-18a)

 

He indeed is before all things,

and they all cohere in Him;

He is also the head of the body, the church (author's translation).

 

The teaching of the first strophe is recapitulated in a twofold

reaffirmation of the preexistence and cosmic significance of

Christ: "He indeed is before all things, and they all cohere in

Him." The phrase "before all things" sums up the essence of His

designation as "Firstborn before all creation" and excludes any

possibility of interpreting that designation to mean that He Him-

self is part of the created order (albeit the first and chief part).

Since the phrase pro> pa<ntwn occurs elsewhere in the New Testa-

ment to denote priority in importance, this denotation, as well as

the idea of priority in time, may well be present here.

The statement "all things cohere in Him" adds something to

what has been said about His agency in creation. What has been

brought into being by Christ is maintained by being in Him. The

best known parallel to this comes, as stated earlier, in the prelude

of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the Son is not only the One

through whom the worlds were made but also the One who

upholds all things by His almighty and enabling Word (Heb.

1:2b-3a). The Greek verb suni<sthmi is found as a Platonic and

Stoic term. According to Philo, the material of the human body

"coheres (sune<sthken) and is quickened as into flame by the provi-

dence of God."12 The Greek translator of Ben Sira, using a

synonymous verb, says that by the Word of God "all things hold

together (su<gkeitai)" (Sir. 43:26). But to Paul the living Christ,

who died to redeem His people, is the Sustainer of the universe

and the unifying Principle of its life.

Thus far the doctrine of Christ has been set forth in terms

that Paul shares with other New Testament writers -- terms

which indeed may have belonged to a widely used Christian

catechesis or confession, even if Paul stamped them here with

the imprint of his own experience and thought. But now he went

on to make a contribution to apostolic Christology which is

distinctively his own. Christ, he wrote, is also "the Head of the

body, the church."



The "Christ Hymn" of Colossians 1:15-20 105

 

Those who believe that verses 15-20 constitute an already

existing hymn incorporated into the argument of this letter con-

clude that "the church" is a gloss added by Paul to make plain the

sense in which "the body" is to be understood. This may be so.

But it is also widely supposed that in the original form of the

hymn the body was the ko<smoj.13 Christ is certainly presented in

this letter as Ruler of the ko<smoj as Head, in particular, "of

every principality and power" (2:10). But when "Head" and

"body" are used as correlative terms, as they are here in 1:18a,

the physiological analogy is to the fore, and it is not established

that the physiological analogy ever figured in Christ's headship

over the ko<smoj.

Where the ko<smoj was viewed as a body, as in Stoicism, it is

animated by the divine world-soul and not by a power function-

ing as head of the body. And if it be maintained that the original

hymn was not only pre-Pauline but pre-Christian, and that it was

the kosmokra<twr, or the Gnostic redeemer, and not Christ, who

was originally presented as head of the body (the ko<smoj),14 one

would still ask for evidence that the head-body relationship was

current in that realm of thought.

But if the identity of the church with the body of which

Christ is the Head is implied or expressed in the original hymn, is

Paul then dependent on an existing composition (viz., this sup-

posedly pre-Pauline hymn) for this insight? Whereas the por-

trayal of the church as the body of Christ appears in his earlier

letters (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Rom. 12:4-5), the portrayal of Christ

as Head of the body is found first in Colossians and Ephesians. It

seems unlikely to this author that this development of Paul's

earlier thought first took shape in someone else's mind. More

probably the hymn was composed within the circle of the Pauline

churches, under the influence of Paul's own teaching.

Another possibility has been ventilated, however. Benoit

suggests that it was only the first strophe celebrating Christ's

role as the creative Wisdom, that circulated independently before

it was incorporated in this letter, and that the second strophe

was constructed (by Paul himself?) on the model of the first.15

Since the transitional link, which leads from the first strophe

into the second, would have no point apart from second strophe

it would have been constructed at the same time as the second

strophe. This writer does not know if this consideration has any

bearing on the presentation of these verses in the 26th edition of

the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, where verses 15-18a



106 Bibliotheca Sacra -- April-June 1984

 

(the first strophe plus the transitional link) are set as poetry, but

verses 18b-20 (the second strophe) as prose.

This, however, is not the occasion for entering further into

Paul's doctrine of the church as the body of which Christ is the

Head, apart from repeating what has been suggested from Patris-

tic times, that the seed may have been sown in his mind when the

risen Lord addressed him on the Damascus Road, crying out

from heaven about the injuries being inflicted on His body on

earth.16

 

The Second Strophe (1:18b-20)

 

He is the beginning,

Firstborn from the dead,

that He might be preeminent in all things,

because in Him it was decreed that all the fullness should

take up residence

and that through Him, [God] should reconcile all things

to Himself,

having made peace through the blood of His cross [through

Him], whether those on earth or those in heaven (author's

translation).

 

As the first strophe celebrates Christ's role in the old crea-

tion, the second strophe celebrates His role in the new creation,

especially with regard to His work of reconciliation. In relation to

the old creation and the new He holds the rank of "Firstborn."

The new creation is the resurrection order; over it, as over the old

order, He is "the Beginning." He is not only "the Beginning" in

whom heaven and earth were first created, but also by His rising

from the dead He is proclaimed the One in whom men and women

who died in the first Adam are "made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22).

The risen Christ is Head of the body, which is the church.

His resurrection marked His victory over all the forces that held

men and women in bondage. On that first Easter morning He

brought new hope for humanity. Now Christ is "the Firstborn

among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29); He is "the Firstfruits of

those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor. 15:20); His own resurrec-

tion is the harbinger of the great forthcoming resurrection-

harvest of His people. He who has been "designated Son of God in

power . . . by the resurrection of the dead" (Rom.1:4) exercises

universal primacy; the divine purpose is thus fulfilled "that He

should be preeminent in all things" (Col. 1:18).

The fact that the designation "Firstborn from the dead"

appears independently in Revelation 1:5 (expanding the title



The "Christ Hymn" of Colossians 1:15-20 107

 

"Firstborn" in a quotation from F's. 89:27)17 suggests that it may

have had a wider currency in first-century Christianity. The

same consideration applies to the title "the Beginning," which is

given to Christ at the beginning; of the letter to the Laodicean

church in Revelation 3:14, in the fuller form "the Beginning of

God's creation" (probably by way of an allusion to wisdom's self-

introduction as "the beginning of His way" in Prov. 8:22). Is there

further significance in the fact that the church to which these

words were addressed was situated, like the Colossian church, in

the Lycus Valley? The question must be left unanswered, but at

least it may be asked.

In the following words of the hymn the statement that God

has decreed the preeminence of Christ over every order of being,

both in this age and in the coming age, is repeated in different

terms. These terms may have been calculated to appeal with

peculiar force to the Colossian Christians in their present situa-

tion. "In Him it was decreed that all the fullness should take up

residence." The impersonal rendering "it was decreed" has been

adopted provisionally. But the verb is not impersonal: eu]do<khsen

means "decreed," "decided," "was well pleased," and implies a

subject. Who or what was well pleased? When the good pleasure

is God's, there are analogies for the omission of His name. For

example, "He was well pleased" could mean "God was well

pleased" (as in the KJV: "It pleased the Father that in Him should

all fullness dwell"). On the other hand, an explicit subject for the

verb is offered in the clause itself; "the fullness was well pleased to

take up residence in Him" (as in the RSV: "in him all the fullness

of God was pleased to dwell"). It cannot be decided with certainty

whether o[ qeo>j (understood) or pa?n to> plh<rwma (expressed) is the

more probable subject. Benoit, for example, prefers o[ qeo>j;18 on

the other hand Kasemann declares this construction to be "not

permissible19 (but on exegetical and theological, not on

grammatical, grounds).

Before which of the two constructions can be considered the

more probable, the meaning of plh<rwma in this sentence must be

examined and determined. So far as Paul's intention is con-

cerned, its sense is scarcely in doubt; it is repeated more fully in

Colossians 2:9: "It is in Him [i.e., Christ] that all the fullness of

deity dwells in bodily form." If, then, Colossians 1:19 is con-

strued to mean that "in Him all fullness of deity was well pleased

to take up residence" (the double aorist, eu]do<khsen and

katoikh?sai perhaps pointing to the time of His resurrection or



108 Bibliotheca Sacra -- April-June 1984

 

exaltation),20 this is tantamount to saying that God Himself, in all

His fullness, was pleased to dwell in Him. No substantial differ-

ence exists, then, in meaning between the two constructions.

This is so, as has been stated earlier, "so far as Paul's inten-

tion is concerned." This leaves open the possibility that in the

original hymn, if it were an independently existing composition,

the sentence had a different meaning from what has been placed

on it by its being incorporated into the argument of this letter.

But one should ask for evidence that the original meaning was

different, before accepting that it was so; and such evidence is

hard to obtain.

No doubt the word plh<rwma had a special sense (or senses) in

Gnostic terminology, but it does not follow that the present

occurrence originally bore that special sense (or senses). The

word is used by Paul and other New Testament writers in a

variety of senses. Conceivably it may have been used in a techni-

cal sense by the false teachers at Colossae, and there may be some

allusion to that technical sense here; but nothing can be estab-

lished as a matter of fact on the bare ground of its being conceiv-

able. In the mid-second century the Valentinians used plh<rwma

to denote the totality of aeons (divine entities or emanations),

and the word may have borne some such meaning in incipient

forms of Gnosticism in the mid-first century. But it is necessary

to insist no information on the Colossian heresy is known apart

from inferences drawn as cautiously as possible from the argu-

ment and wording of this letter. It would make sense one can

say no more than that if the Colossian heresy thought of a

hierarchy of powers among which the divine fullness was distrib-

uted and which occupied the intermediate realm between the

supreme God and the world of humanity. In that situation, any

communication between God and the world, in either direction,

would have had to pass through the spheres in which those

powers exercised control. Those who thought in this way would

see the point of treating such powers with due respect. The

nature of the Colossian heresy is the subject of the next article in

this series, but if it was anything like this, then it is undermined

in one simple affirmation: the totality of the divine essence and

power is resident in Christ. Christ is the One and all-sufficient

Intermediary between God and the world of humanity, and all the

attributes of God are disclosed in Him. There is no good reason to

suppose that the hymn at any stage bore a different meaning

from what it bears in the context of the Letter to the Colossians.



The "Christ Hymn" of Colossians 1:15-20 109

 

It was God's good pleasure, moreover, to "reconcile all things

to Himself" through Christ. The fullness of divine energy is man-

ifested in Him in the work of reconciliation as well as in that of

creation. In the words that follow in Colossians 1 this reconciling

activity is applied particularly to redeemed humanity, but first its

universal aspect comes into view. In reconciliation as in creation

the work of Christ has a cosmic significance; it is God's eternal

purpose (as stated in Eph. 1:10) that all things should be sum-

med up in Him.

If "all things" (both in heaven and on earth) were created

through Him, and yet "all things" (whether on earth or in heaven)

are to be reconciled to God through Him, it follows that "all

things" have been estranged from their Creator. Paul had spoken

of the creation as involuntarily "subjected to futility" but also as

destined to "be set free from its bondage to decay and [to) obtain

the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:20-21). Since

the liberty of the children of God is procured by the redemptive

work of Christ, the release of creation from its bondage to decay is

assured by that same redemptive work. That earlier argument of

Paul's is akin to his present one, but here not simply subjection

to futility but positive hostility is implied on the part of the

created universe. The universe has been involved in conflict with

its Creator, and needs to be reconciled to Him; the conflict must

be replaced by peace. This peace has been effected by Christ,

through the shedding of His blood on the cross.

Even if Paul was not the first author of these words about the

reconciliation of all things, his use of them as part of his argu-

ment implies that he understood them in accord with his general

teaching about reconciliation. It is difficult to interpret his

teaching along the lines of anything like universal reconciliation

as that phrase is commonly understood today. He did not antici-

pate Origen in the view that fallen angels benefit by the saving

work of Christ. Instead, Paul thought of the saving work of Christ

as denuding hostile spiritual powers of all vitality and potency.21

The peace effected by the death of Christ may be freely

accepted, or it may be imposed. The reconciliation of the uni-

verse spoken of here includes what would now be distinguished

as pacification. The principalities and powers whose downfall is

described in Colossians 2:15 are certainly not depicted as gladly

surrendering to divine grace but as being compelled to submit to

a power greater than their own. Everything in the universe has

been made subject to Christ even as everything was created for



110 Bibliotheca Sacra April-June 1984

 

Him. By His reconciling work "the host of the high ones on high"

and sinful human beings on earth have been decisively subdued

to the will of God and must subserve His purpose. As the parallel

Christ-hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 indicates, the Father's good

pleasure is that all "in heaven and on earth and under the earth"

shall unite to bow the knee at Jesus' name and confess that He is

Lord. As Hengel has pointed out, the hymn to Christ "served as a

living medium for the progressive development of christological

thinking" in the earliest church, and it also "created community

in the union of a]galli<asij in praise and spirit-filled didaskali<a;

indeed, the unity of the earthly and the heavenly communities

became evident in the singing."22 Few exercises can so effectively

promote the spirit of unity as joint celebration of the person and

work of Christ.

 

Editor's Note

This is the second in a series of four articles delivered by the author as the

W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, Novem-

ber 1-4, 1983.

 

Notes

 

1 Martin Hengel, Between Jesus and Paul, trans. J. Bowden (London: SCM

Press, 1983), pp. 78-96.

2 The strophic arrangement followed here is that suggested by Pierre Benoit,

"L'hymne christologique de Col 1, 15-20," in Christianity, Judaism and

Other Greco-Roman Cults, ed. Jacob Neusner, 4 vols. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975),

1:226-63.

3 See Seyoon Kim, The Origin of Paul's Gospel (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerd-

mans Publishing Co., 1982), pp. 137-62.

4 With the qeio<thj ("divinity") revealed in creation maybe contrasted the ethnic

("deity") embodied in Christ (Col. 2:9).

5 A. W. Argyle compares the construction of the Septuagint in 2 Kingdoms 19:43

(not found in the Hebrew of 2 Sam. 19:43): prwto<tokoj e]gw> h} su>, "I was born

before you" ("prwto<tokoj pa<shj kti<sewj [Colossians 1:151," Expository Times

66 [1954-55], pp. 61-62).

6 An example is the messianic interpretation of Psalm 72:17 as "Before the sun

his name was Yinnon" (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b).

7 See Maurice Casey, The Son of Man (London: S.P.C.K., 1979), pp. 99-112.

8 Archibald M. Hunter, Interpreting Paul's Gospel (London: SCM Press, 1954),

p. 60.

9 B. W. Newton, Remarks on the Revised English Version of the Greek New

Testament (London: Houlston, 1881), p. 65.

10 See C. F. Burney, "Christ as the APXH of Creation," Journal of Theological

Studies 27 (1925-26):160-77.

11 Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b.

12 Philo Who Is Heir of Divine Things? 58.



The "Christ Hymn" of Colossians 111

 

13 See E. Schweizer, "Die Kirche als Leib Christi in den paulnischen Anti-

legomena," Neotestamentica (Zurich: Zwingli Verlag, 1963), pp. 293-316

14 See Ernst Kasemann, "A Primitive Christian Baptismal Liturgy'' in Essays

on New Testament Themes (London: SCM Press, 1964), pp. 149-58.

15 Benoit, "L'hymne christologique de Col 1, 15-20," pp. 248-50.

16 See Augustine Sermon 279.1.

17 The phrase in Revelation 1:5 is o[ prwto<tokoj tw?n nekrw?n as compared with

prwto<tokoj e]k tw?n nekrw?n here, but the meaning is the same.

18 Benoit, "L'hymne christologique de Col 1, 15-20," p. 256.

19 Kasemann, "A Primitive Christian Baptismal Liturgy," P. 158.

20 Probably katoikh<sai should be construed as an ingressive aorist. It is not

questioned that God was in Christ before His resurrection, but the risen Christ is

the subject of this second strophe.

21 Because of His saving work they have been rendered "weak and beggarly"

(Gal. 4:9).

22 Hengel, Between Jesus and Paul, pp. 95-96.

 

 

 

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

3909 Swiss Ave.

Dallas, TX 75204

www.dts.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: thildebrandt@gordon.edu