Is the article at 2 Thessalonians 1:12 anaphoric? If not, what grammatical reasons deny it?

  • 2
    For this question to be considered valid, you must demonstrate that the article is anaphoric.
    – Dottard
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 22:22
  • 3
    The quote from Wallace does not perform the logical function you hope for. Neither does the chart as the article in this instance does not necessarily distinguish individual from individual.
    – Dottard
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 22:47
  • 1
    I am quite amused by the adversarial atmosphere that you have created - it is always your guru, Gregory Blunt vs Grenville Sharp. Quite fun really!
    – Dottard
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 10:56

2 Answers 2


Is the article τοῦ anaphoric in the phrase τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ?

Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:12 NLT)

ὅπως ἐνδοξασθῇ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν αὐτῷ κατὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

There are three reasons why the article is not anaphoric:

  • Calling the article anaphoric fails to follow the proper classification methodology which is to continue until the narrowest, that is, the most specific category is found.
  • In a similar fashion, attempting to simply classify the article without regard to how it functions in context, ignores the semantic purpose.
  • It assumes a New Testament writer treats "God" as a regular noun whose immediate meaning may be changed.

Specific Category
Wallace gives these instructions on using his chart:

...attempt to find the narrowest category to which a particular article can belong. As long as you can say "yes" to a particular semantic force, you should continue on until you get to the narrowest category for a particular article.1

enter image description here

As shown, if the chart is to be used (in this case it shouldn't, see below), the article would be monadic, the only one of its class: literally, the God of us and Lord, Jesus Christ. This follows the use of "Lord" in the New Testament as a title never used of the Father and given only to Christ Jesus. In the New Testament letters, there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ.

The fact the article may also be "simple identification" or "anaphoric" or "well-known" or any other category does not remove it from its narrowest use.

Semantic Purpose
Attempting to treat the article as anaphoric or as any other category, in this case is improper as it strips the article of its semantic purpose in forming a T-S-K-S (article-substantive-καὶ-substantive) construction. Attempting to relegate the use of the article to a simple classification no matter how specific, in this case is an improper application of grammar. As Wallace notes in texts of this nature, the purpose of the article is specifically to point forward:

In Greek, when two nouns are connected by καὶ and the article precedes only the first noun, there is a close connection between the two. The connection always indicates at least some sort of unity. At a higher level, it may connote equality. At the highest level it may indicate identity.2

Regardless of the precise relationship between the two nouns, the use of the article is not anaphoric. In fact such a conception is at odds with the purpose the article was used, namely to point the reader to understand the relationship with what "lies ahead."

For the New Testament writer, "God" is not the typical noun and the notion the article is anywhere used as an anaphoric reference for God, is inconsistent with a New Testament understanding of God. This may be seen by following how "God" is identified in the first verses of the letter:

Verse 1   θεῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν
Verse 2   θεοῦ πατρὸς
Verse 3   τῷ θεῷ
Verse 4   τοῦ θεοῦ
Verse 5   τοῦ θεοῦ...τοῦ θεοῦ
Verse 6   θεῷ
Verse 7   ----
Verse 8   θεὸν
Verse 9   ----
Verse 10  ----
Verse 11  ὁ θεὸς
Verse 12  τοῦ θεοῦ

After the initial "identification" Paul has two uses of "God" without the article:

since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,
(2 Thessalonians 1:6 ESV)

in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:6 ESV)

If the article with God is anaphoric, then what is meant when the article is not used? Which God will repay? Which God do those who not obey the Gospel not know? Unlike other nouns, "God" does not need the article to be identified, either at the beginning, end, or in the middle of a letter. In fact, the idea a writer would use the article to "remind" the reader of "which" God they are speaking about requires a polytheistic conception of "God" foreign to every New Testament writer. We can confidently say, that any text which is translated as "God" is understood as such in that text, regardless of whether it was written with or without the article.

Therefore, when used with "God" it is difficult if not impossible to see a New Testament writer using the article as an anaphoric device.

1. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Zondervan, 1996, pp. 230-231
2. Wallace, p. 270

  • @ThomasPearne First, you assert anaphoric use solely on the basis of earlier mention, an obvious misstatement. Second, Wallace's failure to give examples is meaningless, as your own work shows, since you make claims for which there are no examples. Third, your entire argument is circular as it assumes the answer that God doesn't apply to the Lord. Because if it does, you have a unique use, not a renewed use and it is not repeated. Your entire approach begins assuming God doesn't apply, rather than letting the text decide. Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 14:43
  • @ThomasPearne You have launched an assault on every text which deals with the divinity of Jesus Christ. Your current theory is the "anaphoric article." This verse, as well as every other one you question, has been extensively examined by scholars; none of which use the "grammatical" excuse of an anaphoric article. If the issue could be resolved as simply as you suggest, it would have been long ago. Rather than continually "respond" to answers by modifying your question, why don't you offer some evidence the article can be anaphoric when used of God? And show how/why this is so. Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 17:30
  • Essentially what you are saying is Sharp's Rule is never applicable in any verse because the article precedes a substantive which was previously mentioned. A theory you need to show is valid by something other than your own analysis. Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 17:33
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 17:42
  • @ThomasPearne This question is about 2 Thessalonians. Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 1:09

Is the article ο in ο θεός at 2 Thessalonians 1:12 anaphoric? If so, what is it's antecedent?

Following the chart, figure 1 from Wallace's grammar below:

  • Start chart.
  • Does θεός at at 2 Thessalonians 1:12 distinguish class from class? - No, not generic (ie Deity)
  • Does it distinguish individual from individual? - [a] Since θεός is repeated it is not the "drip-pan" category of last resort.
  • Does it refer to a noun mentioned previously? Yes, at 1:11, so it cannot be “well known” and is therefore = Anaphoric
  • Is the person or thing the only one of a class? No. It's not deictic. [b] The possessive pronoun is not a genitive phrase or adjective. "Lord Jesus Christ" is tight apposition and a convertible proposition that cannot linguistically be broken up by artificially adding a comma. See 2 Thess. 1:1,2:; 2:1,14,16; 3:6,12,18 where the same phrase is used in the same book 8 other times.

Θεός at 2 Thessalonians 1:12 is a renewed mention of θεός at 1:11, 1:8, 1:6 and 1:1-5,and identified as the same individual.

It is anaphoric to θεός at verse 1:1-2 which is its antecedent and anarthrous first mention.

Excursus on Context

2 Thessalonians 1:2 Grace (χάρις) to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

Grace is from the Father and Son in 2 Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 1:2 that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace (χάριν) of our God and [the grace of] the Lord Jesus Christ.

The verbal idea (grace) is carried over by the adjunctive και and/or ellipsis from the introduction. See this for another example.

enter image description here

[a ] (1) SIMPLE IDENTIFICATION ExSyn 216–17 (a) Definition. The article is frequently used to distinguish one individual from another. This is our “drip-pan” category and should be used only as a last resort. Pragmatically, unless the article fits under one of the other six categories of the individualizing article or under the generic use (or one of the special uses), it is acceptable to list it as “the article of simple identification.”

(b) Illustrations

  • Luke 4:20 πτύξας τὸ the βιβλίον ἀποδοὺς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ ἐκάθισεν· he sat down; he closed the book and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The book was the book of Isaiah, referred to previously in v. 17 (thus, anaphoric). But the attendant has not been mentioned. He is not apparently a well-known attendant, but simply a typical attendant at the synagogue. The article identifies him as such.

  • Acts 10:9 ανέβη went up Πέτρος ἐπὶ τὸ δῶμα προσεύξασθαι to pray Peter went up to the housetop to pray

There is no previous reference to any house, but in the background is the custom of praying on a housetop. Luke is simply specifying this location as opposed to some other.

[b] (5) MONADIC (“ONE OF A KIND” OR “UNIQUE” ARTICLE) ExSyn 223–24 (a) Definition and amplification. The article is frequently used to identify monadic or one-of-a-kind nouns, such as “the devil,” “the sun,” “the Christ.”

The difference between the monadic article and the article par excellence is that the monadic article points out a unique object, while the article par excellence points out the extreme of a certain category, thus, the one deserving the name more than any other. The article par excellence, therefore, has a superlative idea.

When the articular substantive has an adjunct (such as an adjective or gen. phrase), the entire expression often suggests a monadic notion. If no modifier is used, the article is typically par excellence. Thus, “the kingdom of God” is monadic, while “the kingdom” is par excellence

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