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When considering the meaning of terms Paul applied to Jesus in the letter to Titus, the phrase "the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (2:13) is much debated. There are grammatical arguments for and against who is meant by "the great God." However, there is agreement among the Lexicons the word "great" (μεγάλου) is meant to apply to Christ.1 But the English "great" is likely misleading as the nuance here is "being relatively superior in importance." In other words, Paul calls Jesus Christ our Savior the God who is "relatively superior in importance" in relationship to Father God (1:4) Paul can make this statement because Jesus gave Himself for us (2:14). The phrase recognizes Jesus as God using a term which emphasizes the importance of His sacrificial death relative to the Father's action of sending the Son. Effectively Titus 2:13-14 is the same as John's ὁ λόγος which was God (who was sent) and became flesh (who gave Himself for us).

In his commentary on John's Gospel, C.K. Barrett discusses the Christian background to the Gospel. With respect to Paul he notes "the considerable measure of agreement between John and Paul."2 He also says this could be attributed to general agreement on fundamental Christianity, but two things in particular he sees as distinctly Pauline:

In Col. 1.15-19 Paul in dependence on the Jewish concept of σοφία (Wisdom) develops a Christology which is practically a Logos-Christology, though the word Logos itself is not used. It could well be argued that John in the Prologue has done little more than add the technical term λόγος to a Christology which he took ready made from Paul.3

They [the Pastoral Letters] contain the closest New Testament approach to the sacramental language of John 3.5. Baptism is a λουτροῦ παλιγγενεσίας καὶ ἀνακαινώσεως πνεύματος ἁγίου (Tit 3.5; for the notion of regeneration...).4

"The Logos" is not in Colossians but is in Titus and Timothy. Specifically, ὁ λόγος found in Titus in particularly relevant places. First in close relation to the "great God and Savior" passage and then in close relation to the baptismal passage (3:5).

discreet, chaste, diligent in home work, good, subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be evil spoken of. (Titus 2:5)
σώφρονας ἁγνάς οἰκουργούς ἀγαθάς ὑποτασσομένας τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν ἵνα μὴ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ βλασφημῆται

The word [is] faithful, and I desire that thou insist strenuously on these things, that they who have believed God may take care to pay diligent attention to good works. These things are good and profitable to men. (Titus 3:8)
πιστὸς ὁ λόγος καὶ περὶ τούτων βούλομαί σε διαβεβαιοῦσθαι ἵνα φροντίζωσιν καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι οἱ πεπιστευκότες θεῷ ταῦτά ἐστιν καλὰ καὶ ὠφέλιμα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις

If "ὁ λόγος" was personalized both become expressions which are central to Christianity:

[Jesus Christ] the word of God may not be evil spoken of...
[Jesus Christ] The word [is] faithful

Are these references to "the Word" in Titus more relevant sources of John's ὁ λόγος than Philo, or Hellenistic philosophy, or Jewish Wisdom literature or other extra-Biblical sources?


1. Fredrick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University Chicago Press, 2000, p. 624 [Also William F. Arndt F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University Chicago Press, 1957, p. 499]
2. C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John, S.P.C.K, 1962, p. 45
3. Ibid., p. 56
4. Ibid., p. 53 (similar p. 172; Barrett also includes 1 Peter 1.3,23)

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  • I would like to see you substantiate that there is "general agreement" that great is applied to Christ at Titus 2:13. I suggest you consider linguist Stanley Porter and show your research here. Right now it's just a bald claim and your entire question uses it as a foundation for all succeeding points.
    – user33125
    May 4 '20 at 2:14
  • Not at the entry for Savior. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/q/47369/33125
    – user33125
    May 4 '20 at 5:09
  • General agreement to you is one old entry from 1975 that disagrees with the latest change in 2000? Also the 2000 entry is the only one with the word semantic. Your statement is incorrect.
    – user33125
    May 4 '20 at 14:42
  • Yes, the legacy entry with no supporting evidence says Christ is great God. The new linguistic evidence says και supports the NRSV alternative reading where he is not. That is not general support or agreement among lexicons. It's 50-50 at best now. Your claim is false.
    – user33125
    May 4 '20 at 15:31
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. May 4 '20 at 16:14
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The λόγος as the Word of God directed to a prophet has been extablished in the Greek reading of the Tanakh long time before Paul and John. The Hebrew term דְּבַר־יְהוָה or דְּבַר־אֲדֹנָי is a fixed form for the Revelation of God to a prophet and it is always translated in the LXX as Λόγος Κυρίου; the translation Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ would be equivalent.

The λόγος as the Word of God directed to a prophet has been extablished in the Greek reading of the Tanakh long time before Paul and John. All Christans -from the first genration until now- make a difference between Jesus and the prior prophets saying that the Word of GOD/דְּבַר־יְהוָה/Λόγος Κυρίου did not come to Jesus like it came to the prophets before him but it that Jesus was the incarnation of the Word, bearing it inside, and propagating it not only through his teachings but from all his being, from all his deeds and his teachings.

The evangelist Matthew says (1:18): «she was pregnant with a child of the Holy Spirit», «ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου.»

The evangelist John says (1:14): «And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us», «ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν».

The Word of God and the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit are almost synonymes. The fact that Paul uses Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ in a broader sense than the spoken Word of God is immanent to the word λόγος in Greek.

The usage of the λόγος θεοῦ in the letter to Titus 2:5 does not refer to Jesus but rather to the דְּבַר־יְהוָה from the Jewish Law. The λόγος in Titus 3:8 refers to the Word of God in general, transported through the Holy Spirit and through Jesus.

John and Paul are propagating the same religion from the same Jesus at the same time, on the same background. The usage of the word λόγος in the Letter to Titus and the Gospel of John are not the main common.

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