Colossians 1 – Study of EN and DIA in Colossians 1

The following is from the English Revised Version Appendix C:

Dia (#1223 dia,), : Dia can modify a noun in either the genitive or the accusative case.

With Genitive:
1. Agency: by, through
— E.g., “the Lord had spoken by the prophet” (Matt. 1:22).
2. Means: through, by means of
— E.g., “Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink” (2 John 1:12).
3. Spatial: through
— E.g., “he decided to return through Macedonia” (Acts 20:3).
4. Temporal: throughout, during
— E.g., “they were continually [lit. ‘through everything’] in the temple” (Luke 24:53).

With Accusative:
1. Causal: because of, on account of, for the sake of
— E.g., “They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold” (Acts 28:2).
2. Spatial (very rare): through
— E.g., “Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee” (Luke 17:11).

The only one of the meanings given above for dia in Colossians 1:16 in the context would be the Genitive #1 above, that is, agency. Most “trinitarian” scholars agree with this, but they still believe that Jesus is the creator who is the agent in the creation, since they would add to and read into the scriptures that Jesus an alleged person of the Creator, and that in that one Creator, one alleged person of the Creator uses another alleged person of Creator as an agent. The trinitarian dogma read into the text blinds their minds so that they interpret the words in accordance with the blinding dogma.

The second word “en”:

En (#1722 evn): En only takes the dative case. When en modifies a noun, the noun will be in the dative case and the preposition will be understood in one of these ten ways:

1. Sphere: in
— E.g., “I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences” (2 Cor. 5:11).
2. Spatial: in
— E.g., “there was a woman in the city who was a sinner” (Luke 7:37).
3. Temporal: in, while, during
— E.g., “in the days of Herod the king” (Matt. 2:1; cp. Matt. 11:22).
4. Association: with
— E.g., “the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (John 10:38; cp. John 14:20).
5. Causal: because of
— E.g., “And they glorified God in me” (Gal. 1:24). ESV: “And they glorified God because of me.” (Cp. Acts 7:29; Heb. 10:10).
6. Instrumental: by, with
— E.g., “[Will not the King] consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand” (Luke 14:31).
7. Agency/Means: by means of
— E.g., “the Pharisees said, ‘He casts out demons by the prince of demons’” (Matt. 9:34).
8. Thing possessed: with, which possesses
— E.g., “there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit” (Mark 1:23; cp. Eph. 6:2).
9. Standard/Dative of Rule: according to the standard of
— E.g., “as to the righteousness which is in the Law, [I was] found blameless” (Phil.3:6; cp. 2 Tim. 3:16).
10. Used in place of eis with verbs of motion
— E.g., “to turn… the disobedient to the wisdom of the just” (Luke 1:17; 9:46).

“En” is often sed in sense of “by” it is speaking of instrumental or agency “by means of” (6 & 7 above). Most trinitarian scholars recognize this, but still insist that it means that Jesus is creator, rather than the agency used by the Creator. A parallel to this usage may be found in Hebrews 1:1,2, where the God of the Old Testament is said to have spoken by means of (en, Strong’s 1722) the prophets of old, and that he now speaks by means of (en, Strong’s 1722) of his Son. The usage of the prophets as agents is clearly shown, and so likewise the usage of the Son of God as a agent by God is clearly shown.

What some trinitarians do is claim that #1 above is meaning of “en” in Colossians 1:16, that in him (en autw) was the sphere of creative activity related to the all. It sounds logical on the surface and saves the added-on dogma of the trinity, preserving Jesus as the Creator.

However, so far we have not seen any scholar who states who actually connects that view with the context. Let us examine Paul’s usage in the context leading up to Colossians 1:16. We will be examining his usage especially of the words en (Strong’s 1722), dia (Strong’s #1223), “God”, “Jesus”, and “Christ”, as to how they are used in relation to each other.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through [Strong’s #1223] the will of God, and Timothy our brother, — Colossians 1:1.

It should be obvious that Paul, in using a form of the word “dia,” is speaking here of God’s will in a manner of instrumentality, that through, by means of, God’s “will” Paul is an apostle of Christ Jesus.

Is Paul using the word “God” to mean more than one person? Or, does he use the word “God” unipersonally, to represent one person? In verse one, while we can say “Christ Jesus” and “God” are apparently speaking of two different persons, we do not yet, based only in what is said in this verse, to establish that “God” is being unipersonally. In other words, we suppose one could imagine that “God” here includes Christ Jesus as a person of “God.”

To the saints and faithful brothers in [Strong’s 1722, KJV: by, instrumentality] Christ [who are] at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and (Greek, Kai) the Lord, Jesus Christ. — Colossians 1:2.

Here we have the word “en” (Strong’s 1722) which seems to be generally conceded as being used here in the sense of instrumentality, although it could also mean that a figurative locative is used as meaning in associative agreement with.

Some, nothing that the word “kai” can also mean “even”, may endeavor to argue that “kai” here should be rendered “even,” making the last part read “even the Lord, Jesus Christ.” While, at least on the surface, this may seem to support the oneness views, no knowledgeable trinitarian would seek to render “kai” as “even” here, since to do so would mean that this make Jesus appear to be God, our Father.

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, praying always for you, — Colossians 1:3.

It is in this verse that we can find the relationship of God and Jesus being more clearly delineated. “God” here, most definitely is use unipersonally, speaking of the God and Father of Jesus, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who spoke through Jesus. — Exodus 3:14,15; Deuteronomy 18:15-19; John 14:24; Ephesians 1:3; Hebrews 1:1,2.

Nevertheless, even the trinitarian has to admit that “God” in this verse speaks, not of three persons, but one person, thus “God” is used unipersonally.

But more importantly, this verse sets forth the identity of the main person doing the action as “God” in later verses, that is: “God, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ,” and this “God” is unipersonal.

Having heard of your faith in [en, Strong’s #1722) Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have toward all the saints. — Colossians 1:4.

Here Paul is using “en” as a figurative sphere of location of their faith as being “in” Christ Jesus, that is, the placing of their faith in his words, promises and work of Jesus Christ.

Because of the hope which is laid up for you in [en, Strong’s #1722] the heavens, whereof you heard before in [en, 1722] the word of the truth of the gospel. — Colossians 1:5.

Here we have the word “en” used twice; the first instance refers to the sphere of location, figuratively speaking, of the hope, that is, in the heavens, while the second usage is speaking of instrumentality, that they heard before “by means of” the word of truth.

Which has come to you; even as it is in [en, Strong’s 1722] all the world and is bearing fruit and increasing, as it does in [en, Strong’s 1722] you also, since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth. — Colossians 1:6.

The word “en” is again used twice, first locating the word of the Gospel as being located in all the world, and then he says that this Word is bearing fruit “in” the believers also. These usages are both designated a sphere of location, the first referring to in the world, and the last referring to a figurative sphere of location in the Christians at Colossae.

“God” is referred to as one person, that is God and Father of Jesus (Colossians 1:3,12), not three persons, and it this unipersonal God who is spoken of as the One performing the actions in Colossians 1:12, “who made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in (en, Strong’s #1722, by means of) [the] light.” Paul continues in verse 16 with the same line of thought as he had begun as shown in Colossians 1:13,14:

Colossians 1:13
who [Jesus’ God] delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his [Jesus’ God] love;
Colossians 1:14
in [Greek, en, Strong’s #1722, by means of] whom [the Son of God’s love] we have our redemption through [dia, Strong’s #1223] his blood [the blood of the Son of God’s love], the forgiveness of our sins;

In Colossians 1:14, Paul uses the the same Greek instrumental words as used in Colossians 1:16,17, that is, the Greek instrumental word “en”, and the instrumental word “dia”. He is showing how God has performed works by means of the Son of his love. God is the source of the actions, and Jesus is the agent that is used by Yahweh, which actions show the pre-eminent place that Yahweh has given to his firstborn creature.

Some trinitarians point to Ephesians 1:10, which they claim supports their theory concerning “en autw” in Colossians 1:16. However, what do we find there? We again find the God and Father of Jesus as one acting by means of Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in [en, Strong’s #1722, by means of] Christ;
Ephesians 1:4 even as he [the God and Father of Jesus] chose us in [en, Strong’s #172, by means of] him before the foundation of the world [kosmos, probably a reference to regenerated world of the age to come], that we would be holy and without blemish before him in [en, Strong’s 1722, by means of] love;
Ephesians 1:5 having predestined us for adoption [placement] as sons through [Greek, dia, Strong’s #1223] Jesus Christ to himself [the God and Father of Jesus], according to the good pleasure of his [God’s] desire,
Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of his [God’s] grace, by which he [God] freely bestowed favor on us in [en, Strong’s #1722, by means of] the Beloved [Jesus],
Ephesians 1:7 in [Strong’s #1722, by means of] whom [Jesus] we have our redemption through [dia, Strong’s #1233] his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace [the grace of the God and Father of Jesus],
Ephesians 1:8 which he [the God and Father of Jesus] made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
Ephesians 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will [the will of the God and Father of Jesus], according to his good pleasure [the good pleasure of the God and Father of Jesus] which he [the God and Father of Jesus] purposed in [en, Strong’s #1722, by means of] him [Jesus]
Ephesians 1:10 to an administration of the fullness of the times, to [The God and Father of Jesus will] sum up all things in [en,, Strong’s #1722, by means of] Christ, the things in [epi, upon] the heavens, and the things on [epi, upon] the earth, in [en, Strong’s #1722, by means of] him;
Ephesians 1:11 in [en, Strong’s #1722, by means of] whom also we were made a heritage [God makes his saints a heritage through Jesus], having been foreordained according to the purpose of him [the God and Father of Jesus] who works all things after the counsel of his will;
Ephesians 1:12 to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory [to praise of the glory of the God and Father of Jesus], we who had before hoped in [en, Strong’s #1722, in association with] Christ:
Ephesians 1:13 in [en, Strong’s #1722, by means of] whom [Jesus] you also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, — in [en, Strong’s #1722, in association with] whom [Jesus], having also believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who [ho, which] is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption [releasing, deliverance] of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory [the glory of the God and Father of Jesus].

Thus seen in context, there “en” in Ephesians 1:10 is also seen to be referring to instrumentality.

Some point to Colossians 1:19 as being in the context, and thus would like the application of “en” in Colossians 1:19 to also be applied to Colossians 1:16.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell. — New King James Version

Colossians 1:19
hoti en autw eudokeesen pan to pleerwma
3754 1722 0846_5 2106 3956 3588 4138
Westcott & Hort Interlinear

Most scholars recognize the verb “eduokeesan” to be referring to the God and Father of Jesus, as spoken of in Colossians 1:2,3,10-13. The distinction between Jesus and his God is maintained. “All the fullness”, all the plenitude, is said to dwell “in” Jesus, which is the thought, the will of, the God and Father of Jesus. The reference is to the fact that the God and Father of Jesus has placed in Jesus all the plentitude, all full amount of that which is necessary, for Jesus to carry out what has been given to him by the God and Father of Jesus. This is further attested by the Colossians 1:20, “and through [di, Strong’s #1223] him [Jesus] to reconcile all things to himself [the God and Father of Jesus], having made peace [between the all and the God and Father of Jesus] through [di, Strong’s #1223] the blood of his [Jesus] cross [stauou, Strong’s #4716, not referring directly of instrument of death, but rather the act of dying on the instrument]. Through [di, Strong’s #1223] him [Jesus], I say, whether things on the earth, or things in the heavens.” It is the God and Father of Jesus who does these things “through” Jesus, and “through” Jesus, “the all” — ta panta — being spoken of, whether in heaven or on the earth, will be reconciled to the God and Father of Jesus. Please note that the word “things” can be misleading; the Greek does not have a word in Colossians 1:16-20 to correspond with the English word “things”, but the word is added by translators.

Another scripture often referenced in this connection is Hebrews 2:10

Hebrews 2:10
eprepen gar autw di hon ta panta kai
4241 1063 0846_5 1223 3739 3588 3956 2532
di hou ta panta pollous huious eis doxan
1223 3739 3588 3956 4183 5207 1519 1391
agagonta ton archeegon tees swteerias autwn
0071 3588 0747 3588 4991 0846_92
dia patheematwn teleiwsai
1223 3804 5048
Westcott & Hort Interlinear

Hebrews 2:9 – 9 But we see him who has been made a little lower than the angels, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for everyone.
Hebrews 2:10 – For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. — World English.

Hebrews 2:10 – For it was becoming in him – For the sake of whom are the all things, and by means of whom are the all things, – when, many sons, unto glory, he would lead, The Princely Leader of their salvation, through sufferings, to make perfect. — Rotherham.

For it became him, for whome are all these thinges, and by whome are all these things, seeing that hee brought many children vnto glory, that he should consecrate the Prince of their saluation through afflictions. — Geneva Bible (1587)

The word “en” (Strong’s #1722) is not used here, but a form of the word “dia” (Strong’s #1223) is used three times.

“Him” in Hebrews 2:10 can be read to mean either Jesus, spoken of Hebrews 2:9, or the God of Jesus, spoken of in Hebrews 2:3-8. I will give a suggested paraphrase of this verse as related by Carl W. Conrad, which seems to focus the attention on Jesus, not the God of Jesus:

“It was appropriate that he, inasmuch as all things are mediated by him and all things exist through his agency, that the author of their salvation should accomplish his mission through experience of suffering, thereby bringing many sons into glory.”

Thus seen, the words of Colossians 1:16,17 do not attribute this creation to Jesus, but rather through or in him. Green’s interlinear: “in [Greek en, Strong’s #1722] him were all things created.” This is similar to the expression “in you” in Romans 9:17: For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER *IN YOU*, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” — NASV Green’s Interlinear:

“For this very thing I raised up you, so as I may show forth in you the power of me.” Also in Galatians 3:8: The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” Green’s Interlinear: “that will be blessed in you all the nations.”

If the creation is done “by means of” Jesus, who is the One who would be doing it “by means” of him? God the Father of Jesus, who is the One being spoken in the earlier verses as doing the action through Jesus. Thus the only true God creates these things by means of his firstborn Son, Jesus.

In the latter part of the verse Paul tells that all these things have been created through [Greek, di, Strong’s Greek #1223] Jesus and for him. It is Yahweh who is the Creator and it is Jesus who is used by Yahweh as the executor of the commands of Yahweh in creation. Jesus acknowledges his God as the Creator in Mark 13:19.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2011 Jesus and His God

Comments are closed.