In the Beginning God Created the Son..?

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In the Beginning God Created the Son..?

In Rev 3.14 Jesus is said to be “the beginning (or first, Gk. arche) of the creation of God.” Many interpret this as meaning that the Son pre-existed his virgin birth. But the Greek word arche can mean, depending on the context, first in terms of time or priority/status. Therefore, considering what the Gospels have to say regarding the “origin” (Matt. 1,1; 18) and “coming into existence” (Luke 1.35) of the Son in the womb of Mary, the latter would make more sense in this case. Many English translations reflect this important distinction:

Young’s Literal Translation:

“the chief ruler of God’s creation.”

Common English Bible; Complete Jewish Bible; English Revised Version; Expanded Bible; International Children’s Bible; New Century Version; New International Version & UK:

“the ruler of God’s creation.”

J.R. Mantey in Depth Explorations In The New Testament, page 100, also tells us that “outside the NT, we found the following ideas expressed by the word [arche]:

  • Beginning or Source, 87x;
  • authority, 40x;
  • office, 36x;
  • ruler or commander, 32x;
  • realm or dominion, 18x.

A few samplings of the usage as ruler are:

  • Plutarch, Morals II.151F, “he held the greatest and the most perfect position as a ruler.”
  • Lives VIII, Sertorius 10, “They were altogether lacking in a commander of great reputation.”
  • Morals V.75.E, “For it is not fitting for the Ruler and Lord of all to listen to anyone.”
  • Diodorus Siculus II Bk.3.5.1, “him the multitudes take for their king.”
  • Philo, Alleg. III.58, “for the sake of being a ruler with governors”; 66, “Amalek, the ruler of nations.”

Also cp. Isaiah 9:5-6 where the LXX uses arche for Christ’s rule.

And Louw & Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon, page 779, in their entry 89.16:

“It is also possible to understand arche in Rev. 3:14 as meaning ‘ruler’ (see 37.56).”