BDAG at Rv 3:14 - Christ was the first creation now probable

GregStffrd at GregStffrd at
Tue Jan 23 23:07:41 EST 2001

In a message dated 01/23/2001 10:36:03 AM Pacific Standard Time, 
alice-iver_larsen at writes:

<< There is a slight difference between ARCWN "ruler" and ARCH "rule, 
 However, in both Greek and English it is possible to refer to a person by an
 abstract noun like "authority." So, even though "ruler" is not a common 
 of ARCH it is a possible meaning, and this parallel context IMO carries a 
lot of
 weight.  >>

Dear Iver:

Thank you for your comments. However, I find that the use of ARCWN in 
Revelation 1:5 speaks against the meaning of "ruler" for ARCH in 3:14, since 
all John had to do was use a term already familiar to him, and used as you 
pointed out just a couple chapters earlier. 

Of course, ARCH in the NT, even in Revelation, regularly means "beginning," 
so one need not hang his/her hat on some obscure passage in the OT, by which 
I assume you meant Proverbs 8:22ff. in one of your other posts. In the NT it 
is quite clear that Christ is presented as the Wisdom of God. You may not 
believe he is the Wisdom of Prov. 8:22ff., but he is the Wisdom of God, and 
it is correspondingly difficult to argue out of the unique claims made by 
Wisdom in Prov 8:22ff. Indeed, a simple comparison of texts and concepts, 
both biblical and non-biblical, available and in use during the first and 
surrounding centuries BCE/CE, will help make the point.

Consider just some of the evidence from the Prologue and various Wisdom 
traditions, where I believe it is easy to see the relationship between the 
two and John's dependence on such traditions, both biblical and non-biblical. 

For example, John 1:1-3 teaches a preexistent LOGOS, which parallels what is 
said of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-31, Sirach 24: 9, Wisdom 7:21, 8:5-6, 9:1-2, 

John 1:1, 2, 18 communicate a relationship between God and the Logos. We find 
this also said of Wisdom and God in Proverbs 8:27-30, Wisdom 8:3, 9:4, 9-10.

The Logos has a mediatorial role in creation according to John 1:3, 10. The 
same is true of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:27-30, Wisdom 7:22, 8:4-6, 9:1-4. Note 
that in Wisdom 9:1 God is said to have "made all things by means of word ." 
But in Wisdom 9:2 SOFIA is used as a parallel for LOGOS. In Sirach 24:3 
Wisdom says, "I came out of the mouth of the Most High," which shows the 
close correspondence between Wisdom and God's "word."

John 1:4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14, 16, and 17 associate light, life, truth and 
salvation with the LOGOS. The same is true of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:6-8 
(truth), 35 (life), Sirach 24:32 (light), Wisdom 7:10, 26, 29 (light), 8:13, 
17 (life), 9:18 (salvation).

The LOGOS appears in the world according to John 1: 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 
and 18. The same is true of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:31, Sirach 1:15, 24:8, 
10-12, Wisdom 9:10, 17-18, Baruch 3:12 and 1 Enoch 42:2.

Finally, the LOGOS is characterized by God's glory in the John 1:14 (compare 
17:5). The same is true Wisdom in Wisdom 7:25-26 (compare Hebrews 1:3), 

I believe, then, along with other scholars and commentators, and most if not 
all of the early church (Nicene and Ante-Nicene) fathers, that John presented 
the LOGOS as the figure of Wisdom, fit for his Hellenized environment. This 
is consistent with Paul's identification of Jesus as God's wisdom, and Jesus' 
own reference to himself as the "wisdom of God" (compare Matthew 23:34 and 
Luke 11:49; note how this is worded in the Arabic Diatessaron, with Jesus 
saying, "I, the Wisdom of God, ...").

This evidence supports the potential for John to similarly make use of 
language consistent with biblical Wisdom traditions in his translation of the 
Revelation, assuming that he did in fact translate it. If not, then the same 
could be said of the translator.

You also wrote:

<<One final comment. If ARCH should be understood as beginning or source, the
 added genitive TOU QEOU seems out of place, because when creation is combined
 with God it seems likely that the meaning is that God is the creator, or the
 source/beginning of all creation. How Christ may have taken part in this
 creation is beyond the present text. >>

This is precisely what I wrote to David, and I agree with what you say, in 
terms of "beginning" = "origin." A temporal reference to Christ as the start 
of God's creative work is not at all out of place, however, but is consistent 
with what we read in the OT in Proverbs 8 and in other NT texts, such as Col. 

Best regards,

Greg Stafford

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