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Where should the pronoun ἡμῶν (our) be placed in Titus 2:13? Most translations place it before the word “God”, such as the ESV: “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (ESV). A few translations place the pronoun before the word “Savior,” such as the KJV: “great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (KJV).

In the book of Titus, the Greek word ἡμῶν (our) is found six times (Titus 1:3, 1:4, 2:10, 2:13, 3:4, 3:6). Each use qualifies the noun σωτῆρος (Savior) to say, “our Savior,” However, most translations deviate in Titus 2:13.

If the Apostle Paul intended to write “our great God” as reflected in most translations (possibly because of the Granville Sharp Rule), would he not of placed the pronoun ἡμῶν (our) after the noun θεοῦ (God) for “our great God” which is consistent with first century Koine Greek?

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    There is a third interpretation, expressed by the Englishman's Greek New Testament literal interlinear - 'and saviour of our Lord Jesus Christ', implying that God is the saviour of Jesus Christ, personally.Green's Literal says 'saviour of us (sic)'. YLT has 'of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ'.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 6, 2019 at 14:09
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    Granville Sharp Rule is the key. Essentially it means where you put the our doesn't matter in Greek because both are the same. However, with both being the same, putting the our at the beginning makes the most sense in English.
    – Perry Webb
    Jul 6, 2019 at 14:10
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    Why is this not a repetition of hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/38617/…
    – user25930
    Jul 6, 2019 at 23:26
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    @Mac'sMusings The subject is the same, I would say. The questions are different. Also, the text is such an important one that coming at it from two different aspects is actually quite helpful. I have up-voted the previous question today and also up-voted your previous answer.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 8, 2019 at 3:27
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    Concerning your third and final paragraph, since the Savior is also ours (regardless of how many persons are intended), this would have resulted in the needless (and arguably unaesthetic) repetition God ours and Savior ours, instead of the much shorter and more elegant God and Savior ours.
    – Lucian
    May 2, 2020 at 4:21

4 Answers 4

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There is no pronoun 'our' in Greek. There is just 'us' represented in the genitive form 'of us' which expresses possessiveness or, as in this case, agency - the Agent of salvation.

του μεγαλου θεου και σωτηρος ημων ιησου χριστου [TR]

the great God and saviour of us Jesus Christ [literal - see Green]

The literal translation offered in the body of Green's text is above. In the margin, Green alters this and moves the word 'our' in front of 'great God' for reasons which are not given.

The literal Greek wording supports a very strong expression of the Divine Being and the Divine Power of Jesus Christ, the Divine Saviour of all men, and specially of those who believe (see I Timothy 4:10).

Which is probably why there is reluctance - on the part of some - to translate accurately what is there on the page of the Greek scripture.

EDIT: As commented by @Mac's Musings below, this is an example of the Granville Sharp rule in action where the article 'the' relates to both 'great God' and 'saviour of us' and the two expressions relate to the stated person/noun 'Jesus Christ'.

The whole expression 'the great God and saviour of us' relates to 'Jesus Christ' and semantically uses one definite article to avoid ambiguity.

If Paul had used two articles and had stated (in Greek) 'the great God and the saviour of us Jesus Christ' then there would be ambiguity as to whether two persons were in view. 1. The Great God (The Father) and 2. The saviour of us, Jesus Christ (The Son).

But using one article, Paul clarifies that one person is in view (the Son of God) and this one Person is 'the great God and saviour of us - Jesus Christ'.

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    What are you saying? of us = our
    – Perry Webb
    Jul 6, 2019 at 14:30
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    'Our' only expresses possessiveness in English. The expression of agency, in English, is by means of the genitive. Or dative - 'pertaining to us'.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 6, 2019 at 14:32
  • For some words possessive and agency have different meanings, but with the word Savior, the possessive still has the meaning of agency.
    – Perry Webb
    Jul 6, 2019 at 14:39
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    @Mac'sMusings Thank you. Edit added as per your comment.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 7, 2019 at 16:55
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    @Mac'sMusings The Oxford English Dictionary specifies two meanings for 'our'. A the pronoun (genitive) B the adjective (possessive).
    – Nigel J
    Jul 10, 2019 at 15:42
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"of our Great God and Saviour" as one piece, is the only option.

anything different, if translated backward into Greek, will produce something different from Titus 2:13

The Greek syntax is unambiguous, whatever goes between the article "του" and the pronoun "ημών", stays as one piece and refers to one person only because the article is only one and singular (not plural).

For example this: "of the great God and our Saviour" is a corruption of Titus 2:13, it corrupts the fact that whatever is between the article and the pronoun, remains one piece.

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  • Please - if you are truly Orthodox, I think you would know that it is not right to use a name like the one you are. IMO it would be better to simply research what the Fathers might say about a verse and not represent your responses as though you are speaking for the Church. You are going to do more harm than whatever good you think is coming from your actions.
    – user33515
    Jul 3, 2023 at 10:55
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The phrase in question, from Titus 2:13, has been translated as both "our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" and "the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ". Since it has multiple translations, it's possible the underlying Greek has some ambiguity. While there is a disambiguating "rule", it is not necessarily absolute. Potential ambiguity is a consequence of being able to express complex ideas.

  • τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ
    tou megalou Theou kai Sōtēros hēmōn Christou Iēsou
    the great God and Savior of-us Christ Jesus

Since the article appears before "great God", it would seem that the correct positioning of "our" is before "great God". However, consider 1 Timothy 1:1–

  • Θεοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τῆς ἐλπίδος ἡμῶν
    Theou Sōtēros hēmōn kai Christou Iēsou tēs elpidos hēmōn
    God Savior of-us and Christ Jesus the hope of-us

There is no article associated with Θεοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν (Theou Sōtēros hēmōn), so "our Savior" could be a legitimate translation for Titus 2:13. However, the other instances of "our Savior" in Titus don't support a translation of "our Savior" in 2:13 because they all contain an article. This may indicate that if "our Savior" had been meant, the writer would have included an article:

  • τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν
    tou Sōtēros hēmōn
    the Savior of-us

If the Apostle Paul intended to write “our great God”... would he not of placed the pronoun ἡμῶν (our) after the noun θεοῦ (God)... ?

Like so?

  • τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ Σωτῆρος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ
    tou megalou Theou hēmōn kai Sōtēros Christou Iēsou
    the great God of-us and Savior Christ Jesus

Moving the word would change the meaning so that "our great God" would be a separate entity from "Savior Christ Jesus". Whereas with the original placement "our great God and Savior" is the same entity also known as "Christ Jesus".

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Concerning your third and final paragraph, compare, for instance, the expression the God and father ours of Galatians 1:4, Philippians 4:20, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 3:11, and 3:13 with the similar expression the great God and savior ours of Titus 2:13.

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