Monday, June 08, 2015

BDAG on TA PANTA = "All Things" (Absolute and Relative Sense)

[Taken from my personal archives]

For PANTA, BAGD gives information for an absolute sense of the word (Rom. 9:5; Eph. 1:22a; Rev. 21:5), but the Scriptures also show that PANTA (like TA PANTA, see BAGD 633) can be utilized in a relative sense as well. The context and the overall teaching of the holy writings can help us to determine when PANTA (TA PANTA) is used in an absolute or relative sense. Obviously, when Rom. 9:5 exclaims that God rules "all things," we can pretty much conclude that nothing is excluded from His suzerainty (an absolute sense). Other uses of PANTA (TA PANTA) do not seem to fit into this mold, however. Cf. 1 Cor. 3:21; 15:22, 27; Eph. 4:4-6; Phil. 3:8. This is what can properly be termed, the relative sense of PANTA. In other words, "all things" do not encompass "everything" in toto/ex toto.

Now what about John 1:3? Is it possible that contra BAGD, PANTA is used in a relative sense here? Well if ARXH (John 1:1-2) is being employed in the sense of "the beginning of God's creative work overall (spirit and material world)," as it evidently is used in Prov. 8:22--then PANTA could very well appear in a relative sense at 1:3. TDNT also allows this understanding. There, Delling writes that Rev. 3:14 may denote that Jesus Christ is the 'principle and source of creation.' But TDNT goes on to say:

"Otherwise the usage reflects rabbinic usage and the Messiah is before the world, yet himself created" (TDNT 1:484, ftn. 34).

Origen also understood PANTA in John 1:3 to have a limited sense: he felt that nothing was strictly uncreated except the Father:

All, then, who have part in Him who is, and the saints have part in Him, may properly be called Beings; but those who have given up their part in the Being, by depriving themselves of Being, have become Not-beings. But we said when entering on this discussion, that Not-being and Nothing are synonymous, and hence those who are not beings are Nothing, and all evil is nothing, since it is Not-being, and thus since they are called Not-being came into existence without the Logos, not being numbered among the all things which were made through Him. Thus we have shown, so far as our powers admit, what are the "all things" which were made through the Logos, and what came into existence without Him, since at no time is it Being, and it is, therefore, called "Nothing."

(From Commentary on John 2.7)

No comments: