Is the article in 2 Peter 1:2 (του θεου) anaphoric to θεός in 1:1? If not, what grammar denies it?

Note: Keep in mind and address that Wallace says "Most individualizing articles will be anaphoric" if the answer is no. [a]

Anaphora (Greek, ‘to bring back, to bring up’) is a word or phrase which depends upon another for identification.

For example, “Pronouns are anaphors.” When one says, “They refer back to a noun,” the word “they” is a pronoun that is anaphoric and the word “Pronouns” is its antecedent.

Pronouns are very useful in exegesis. In ancient Greek, they developed before definite articles. Eventually articles were derived from them.

That is why the Greek definite article still retains its use as an anaphoric pronoun, in fact, Thomas Franshaw Middleton in his “Doctrine of the Greek Article,” says that the definite article ὁ and pronoun ὁ are identical in function.

Daniel Wallace also discusses the Anaphoric article in “Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics,” page 208-239. If one follows the flow chart on page 239 and applies it to “God” at 2 Peter 1:2, the anaphoric article identifies “God” in verse 1 as someone other than Jesus Christ.

A complete analysis of this is found at here.

The same grammar applies to Titus 2:13, 2 Thessalonians 1:12, Romans 9:5, Hebrews 1:8 and 1 John 5:20.

So at 2 Peter 1:1-2 in the KJV:

1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God [the God from verse 2] and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, [God is not Jesus here] and of Jesus our Lord.

The question: Is the article in 2 Peter 1:2 (του θεου) anaphoric to θεός in 1:1? If not, what grammar denies it?

[a] “Practically speaking, labeling an article as anaphoric requires that it have been introduced at most in the same book, preferably in a context not too far removed…Most individualizing articles will be anaphoric in a very broad sense. (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace 1996, p 218). [Quoted as a hostile witness]

  • The article in Greek is NOT always anaphoric - it is sometimes monadic.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 28 at 11:46

4 Answers 4



1 Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
(2 Peter 1:1-2) [ESV]

1 Συμεὼν Πέτρος δοῦλος καὶ ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῖς ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν λαχοῦσιν πίστιν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ 2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη ἐν ἐπιγνώσει τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν [mGNT]

This question is misleading as θεός is not used in either verse (it is found only in 2 Peter 2:4). The inflected term in verse 1 is θεοῦ: exactly as in verse 2. So from this narrow grammatical perspective, the answer is no. The same article prefaces the same word: these two terms are grammatically identical. It would appear to be a matter of theology whether τοῦ θεοῦ in verse 1 is cataphoric to θεοῦ in verse 2 or τοῦ θεοῦ in verse 2 is anaphoric to θεοῦ in verse 1.

However, if the meaning in verse 2 is different from that in verse 1, then semantically it might be anaphoric. The Lexicon supports considering this as a possibility:

❷ Some writings in our lit. use the word θ. with ref. to Christ (without necessarily equating Christ with the Father, and therefore in harmony w. the Shema of Israel Dt. 6:4, cp. MK 10:18...In 2Pt 1:1; 1J5:20 the interpretation is open to question (but cp. ISmyrna McCabe .0010, 100 ὁ θεὸς καὶ σωτὴρ Ἀντίοχος).1

Since the first use of θεοῦ is open to interpretation, different meanings between the two could justify treating one as primary and the other as anaphoric (or cataphoric).

Here is a comparison of the two phrases in question:

enter image description here

First, the pronoun ἡμῶν can be understood as making a distinction. That is, the God is anaphoric to the God of us. In this case Peter would be drawing a distinction between God in the general sense with God of us in a particular sense similar to Exodus 6:6-7, 2 Corinthians 6:16, or Hebrews 8:10. In context of the letter, the distinction is the difference between righteousness and knowledge. There is a knowledge of the God (in general) which is different from the righteousness of the God of us.

Despite the obtuse approach and creating a text in which τοῦ θεοῦ is open for interpretation, it is obvious the terms do not work to provide the interpretation suggested by the OP:

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God [the God from verse 2] and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, [God is not Jesus here] and of Jesus our Lord.

In this analysis "our" must refer only to God: if the pronoun ἡμῶν is "relocated" to refer to "Savior" what remains is τοῦ θεοῦ, which is identical, not anaphoric. So the correct interpretation in this approach is the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. This points to the second way τοῦ θεοῦ in verse 1 may be different from verse 2: τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν and Savior is Jesus Christ exactly as the text states and which is affirmed by Sharp's Rule. [Ironically, the validity of Sharp's Rule to 2 Peter 1:1 is obvious from the OP's interpretation. The only justification for interpreting "our" as referring to Savior in the phrase τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος, is θεοῦ and σωτῆρος are referring to the same person.]

Writer's Intent
A grammatical analysis cannot be divorced from the writer's intent. Peter is not writing to give his readers the definition of τοῦ θεοῦ. He is writing to people who have already obtained the same faith by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. This means τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν is anaphoric to what the reader already has. That is to say, Peter opens the letter by an anaphoric acknowledgement of τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν the reader already possesses. The progression of "God" from verse 1 to verse 2, is the inverse of the readers prior experience:

Previous 1: knowledge of God...
  Previous 2: equal faith by the righteousness of God...
  2 Peter 1:1 equal faith by the righteousness of God...
2 Peter 1:2 knowledge of God...

This simply reflects before they obtained the same faith of Peter, they had a knowledge of God, but had not obtained the same righteousness. Until one makes a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, knowledge of God does not result in faith which saves. Jesus is our Savior only if one accepts Him:

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Romans 10)

Those who know Jesus Christ is Savior, call Him Lord. This is exactly how Peter continues:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (1:2)

Peter is asking for grace and peace to be multiplied (a Pauline greeting) in the knowledge of two things God and Jesus our Lord. Very simply, in verse 1 Peter acknowledges the readers status as having been saved. In verse 2 he asks for them to increase in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. [Living as if Jesus is the Lord of you life is a key aspect of Peter's message.]

Peter makes two claims about Jesus. 1) He is our God and Savior. 2) He is our Lord:

enter image description here

Chiastic Arrangement
The essential "anaphoric" treatment within the letter is the chiastic device where ideas are repeated in reversed order: ABB'A'. Thus B' is anaphoric to B and A' to A.

For example, Paul uses a chiasm of grace and peace to bracket the letter to the Ephesians:2

Grace to you  (A - Ephesians 1:2a)
  and peace. . . (B - Ephesians 1:2b)
  Peace . . .    (B' - Ephesians 6:23)
Grace. . .    (A' - Ephesians 6:24)

Peter uses this same technique such that the opening statement is effectively repeated: enter image description here

The closing verse, τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ refers back to the opening verse τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The structure in 3:18, "Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" "brings back" the opening, "our God and Savior, Jesus Christ." The first statement (A) combines with the last statement (A') to repeat the opening proclamation, our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

The God of us (A - 1:1a)
    and Savior Jesus Christ (B - 1:1b)
    the Lord of us (B' - 3:18a)
And Savior Jesus Christ (A' - 3:18b & 1:1b)

While it is true θεοῦ has different meanings in 2 Peter 1:1 and 1:2, the article in verse 2 is not anaphoric. Rather, the article in verse 2 serves to distinguish between God and Lord. It reinforces the emphasis from verse 1 where the article serves to show God and Savior are one. Taken together, verses 1-2 state since Jesus Christ is our God and Savior, He should be our Lord.

1. William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University Chicago Press, 2000, p. 450
2. James L. Resseguie, A Glossary of New Testament Narrative Criticism with Illustrations, pp. 8-9

  • 2
    @ThomasPearne I am simply pointing out the meaning and giving illustrations how it works. Moreover, you approach the Greek use of the definite article as if it were a static grammatical principle rather than a dynamic linguistic element. There is little support in the NT for the position that the definite article was always used as a pronoun or ever intended to be understood as such by any writer. Also you promote difficult a reading which overrides the obvious one while giving no thought to how a writer would clearly and simply convey the interpretation you find in the text. Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 15:22
  • @ThomasPearne Interesting. When a writer employs a personal pronoun (DA-N-PP) how does the use of the definite article interact with the personal pronoun. Or do you maintain τοῦ θεοῦ is the same as τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν? Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 19:36
  • 1
    This answer has the most upvotes and deserves to be awarded best answer. The fact that the OP awarded himself best answer to his own question and despite having a negative answer rating makes his intentions here so blatantly obvious. Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 20:15

Firstly, the link supplied to an article by Gregory Blunt appears to me to show that Blunt is arguing against Daniel B Wallace's treatment of the article :

However, it will be demonstrated that a consistent treatment of the article as pronoun, described by Middleton, and anaphora with respect to "individualizing articles" as described by Daniel Wallace results in a conflict with their treatment of the article in a wide range of texts where they adhere to traditional theological interpretations. Some of their exegetical principles at times produce tension with the context by appealing to grammatical rules (Sharp, 1798) and even secular references to Pagan Formulas.6

An inspection of Daniel Wallace's extensive treatment of the article in his book 'Beyond the Basics' indicates that in 2 Peter 1:1 and 2, Wallace is supporting the Granville Sharp rule and demonstrating (in detail) that it has been sorely misunderstood, and robbed of its deserved place by a single unsubstantiated comment by G B Winer.

Of 2 Peter 1:1 Wallace insists that 2 Peter 1:11 should be regarded, and not ignored. For what is true of one construction must needs apply to both. To deny that 'God and our Saviour' do not equally apply to 'Jesus Christ' in 2 Peter 1:1 leaves the grammarian with a problem in 2 Peter 1:11 'the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ'.

[See P 276 and 277 of 'Beyond the Basics'.]

The question of anaphoric articles is not a simple one. One needs a thorough understanding of Colwell's construction and an understanding of how it has been misunderstood (see Daniel B Wallace again in p256 to p262 in regard to anarthrous situations) and one needs a thorough understanding of the Granville Sharp Rule (the article with multiple substantives connected by kai) together with an awareness of how that rule, also, has been misunderstood and misapplied.

In all of this, what is being sought is clarity of understanding of the Person of Christ and it is notable that the misunderstandings and misapplications of these grammatical rules have led to one thing and to one thing only - the undermining of the fact of the Deity of Christ.

Therefore, discipline and caution are required in such examinations.

  • For anyone reading the OP and answers, a full description of the Granville Sharp Rule by Wallace is available: "Sharp Redivivus? - A Reexamination of the Granville Sharp Rule" located here: bible.org/article/… Commented Jun 11 at 15:05

Is the article in 2 Peter 1:2 (του θεου) anaphoric to θεός in 1:1?

The question: Is the article in 2 Peter 1:2 (του θεου) anaphoric to θεός in 1:1?

The comments on the grammar are from the book " Truth in Translation" by Jason David Beduhn an associate professor of religious studies at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

The Bibles compared in the book are as follows:


Excerpts from the book:

2 Peter 1:1

tou theou hemon kai soteros Iesou Hristou

of the God of us and (of the) savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:2

tou theou kai Iesou tou kuriou hemon

of the God and (of) Jesus the Lord of us.

(Can somebody please edit and align the verses to match the Greek words, thank you)

All translations compared maintain the distinction between "God" and "Jesus", our Lord in verse 2, while ignore it in verse 1. But the grammatical structure of the two sentences is identical making it very doubtful that they be translated in different ways. In English, we have an article before a common noun (the savior) and not before a name (Jesus); but that is something about proper English expression, not about the original Greek.

Those who defend the translations that read as if only Jesus is spoken of in both Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 attempt to distinguish those two passages from the parallel examples I have given by something called "Sharp's Rule." In 1798 the amateur theologian Granville Sharp published a book in which he argued that when two nouns of the same form ("case") joined by "and" (kai), only the first of which has the article, the nouns are identified as the same thing. Close examination of this much-used "rule"shows it to be fiction concocted by a man who had a theological agenda in creating it, namely to prove that the verse we are examining in this chapter call Jesus "God."

"Sharp's Rule" does not survive close scrutiny. He claimed that the rule did not apply to personal names, only to personal titles. That is why is cited in connection with Titus 2:13 and not Titus 1:4, with 2 Peter 1:1 and not 1:2. Daniel Wallace has demonstrated even that cliam is too broad, since he foud that "Sharp's Rule" doesn't work with plural forms of personal titles. Instead Wallace finds----(Wallace, page 72-78),--- In others words there is no evidence that anything significant for the meaning of the words happens by merely joined by "and" and dropping the second article.

Smyth rule on Greek grammar section 1143, says: "A single article, used with the first of two or more nouns connected by "and" produces the effect of a single notion." "That sounds an awful lot like "Sharps Rule",doesn't it? But what exactly is meant by "single notion"? Smyth gives two examples "the generals and captains (commanding officers)"; "the largest and smallest ships (the whole fleet)." You can see from these examples that the two nouns combined by "and" are not identical; the individual words do not represent the same thing. Instead, by being combined, they suggest a larger whole. The generals and the captains together make up the more general category of "commanding officers," just as the various sized ships together constitute the fleet as a whole.

So the article-noun-"and"-noun construction does combine individual things into larger wholes, but it does necessarily identify them as one and the whole thing. This is further clarified by Smyth in section 1144.

Other verses compared are Titus 2:13 which is identical to Titus 1:4 , as well as Titus 2:13 which is comparable to 2 Thess. 1:12.

I hope the above answered you question.


The original question posed by "Thomas Pearne" (AKA "Gregory Blunt") was based on the (possibly deliberate) misapprehension that the Greek article is always anaphoric.

It is true that this is mostly the case. However, as Daniel Wallace points out, it has other important functions, one of which he describes as "Monadic". In this monadic function the Greek article is mostly used with the titles of God. Here are some examples:

  • Matt 1:23 - ὁ Θεός is not anaphoric as it is the first instance in the book - here it is monadic and serves to show that Jesus was ὁ Θεός = "The God".
  • Matt 3:9 - ὁ Θεὸς - again, this cannot be anaphoric and is clearly monadic
  • Mark 1:14 - τοῦ Θεοῦ is not anaphoric but is monadic
  • Luke 1:6 - τοῦ Θεοῦ is not anaphoric but is monadic. See also V8, 16, 19, etc
  • John 1:1 - ὁ Λόγος cannot be anaphoric but must be monadic; Further τὸν Θεόν cannot be anaphoric and must be monadic, same with V2
  • John 20:28 - Ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου - both Ὁ Κύριός and ὁ Θεός cannot be anaphoric and must be monadic.

There are many more examples of this but let us examine the specific cases associated with the OP's question.

Notice that in 2 Peter 1:1, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ has no article. However, the last part of the same sentence is τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ Σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (the God and Savior of us, Jesus Christ) is a classic TSKS construction as discussed extensively by Daniel Wallace. In this case, it also has a name in apposition to the last title which makes the Greek construction capable of slight paraphrase as:

... the God and Savior of us, [namely,] Jesus Christ

This means that "the God" is referring to Jesus Christ and thus, is monadic.

In V2 we have another trickier instance with the following:

τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν = "of the God and of Jesus of the Lord of us"

This cannot be a TSKS construction because "Jesus" is a personal name. Further, τοῦ Θεοῦ cannot anaphoric because that would refer back to the previous "The God and Savior" which is Jesus Christ which would make no sense. Therefore, the only option left is that τοῦ Θεοῦ is monadic. Thus we must translate:

... of the God, and of Jesus our Lord


Therefore, in answer to the OP's question, του θεου is not anaphoric, it is monadic.

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