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Is the article at Titus 2:13 anaphoric? If not, what grammatical reasons deny it is?

Note: Keep in mind that Wallace says "Most individualizing articles will be anaphoric" [a] Also anaphoric is not mutually exclusive with other designations.

The answer to this question must be grammatical, not merely mention grammatical terms. It should also directly address the Greek anaphoric article. Titus 2:13 is a text which some interpret with Sharp’s rule. This question does not discuss Sharp's rule as there is already a question for that here.

The articular “God” at Titus 2:13 has a potential antecedent in the classic anarthrous “first mention,” in Titus 1:1-4 which explicitly identifies God as the Father. [a]

Titus 1-1-4 Paul, a servant of [anarthrous] God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of [anarthrous] God’s elect, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal; 3 but in his own seasons manifested his word in the message, wherewith I was intrusted according to the commandment of God our Saviour; 4 to Titus, my true child after a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour

Is the article at Titus 2:13 anaphoric? If not, what grammatical reasons deny it is?


[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).

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    Whatever may, or may not, be true of language or grammar, whatever its rules and its means, this one true thing must be held in mind, in order to understand any scripture that exists : I and my Father are One. If 'God' - in any particular place - means 'Father' : then it is still true (in that particular place) that I and my Father are One. – Nigel J Jun 8 '20 at 22:39
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    That this site has extremely capable and well qualified exegetes is unquestioned. But that is the point - none, except the notable vociferous very few try to justify their theological position with such an incessant parade overtly theological questions couched in terms that begs or assumes the OP's patently desired result, albeit one text at a time! I suspect that is why many refrain. – Dottard Jun 8 '20 at 23:24
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    Titus 2:13 seems very far away from 1:1-4; perhaps it would help the discussion if you would present at least one clear example exhibiting a comparable distance, so as to help bridge the gap between the theoretically-possible and the relatively-plausible. – Lucian Jun 9 '20 at 9:30
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    Aren't there other ways individualizing articles are used, eg. kataphoric? – Revelation Lad Jun 9 '20 at 21:34
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    @ThomasPearne: As usual, your logic fallacies are quite easily seen from the get go. Pronouns might indeed refer to a noun, but not necessarily back to it. (Otherwise, one might also ask to what previous noun the first articles of Genesis 1:1 point back to). – Lucian Jun 10 '20 at 11:33
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You are basically asking us if the (articulated form of the Greek word for) God from the end of one chapter is basically a throwback to an expression used at the beginning of the previous chapter. At first glance, this might seem somewhat unlikely, but, in all fairness, I think you meant to ask two questions at once, only to end up being detrimentally parsimonious to oneself; thus, allow me first to rephrase your own question, so that it might make more sense, both to myself, and other readers:

  • Is the article at Titus 2:13 ultimately anaphoric to θεός at Titus 1:1-4 ?

Or, to unpack it even further:

  • Is the expression at Titus 2:13 a throwback to the one mentioned just verses earlier, at Titus 2:10-11 ?

  • Does the expression at Titus 2:10 reference the same entity as the similar one employed previously at Titus 1:3, and, later on, at Titus 3:4 ?

  • Are the articles at Titus 1:2-3 anaphoric to the two unarticulated forms found in the previous verse ?

To state matters plainly, you seem to have the following hermeneutic approach in mind:

Titus 1:3  But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.

Titus 2:10  Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Titus 3:4  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared...

with a possible (and arguably plausible) interpretative key provided by:

Titus 1:4  To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Note: The following sentence is neither an argument used in the OP, nor a grammatical observation. The OP is entirely grammar. End Note.

along with the observation that whenever the word God appears in the vicinity of Christ, it usually refers to the Father:

Titus 1:1  ¶Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.

Titus 1:4  To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

thus substantiating the proposed interpretation of:

Titus 2:13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

as referring to two distinct entities, rather than one. Though not impossible, let us also take a closer look at the way in which the word Savior is employed throughout the Epistle:

Titus 1:3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.

Titus 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Titus 2:10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Titus 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared...

Titus 3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Note: The previous examples of "Savior" don't employ a grammatical analysis and are merely comments on superficial similarities in the English text. If it is meant as applicable to the OP, that needs to be fixed. These phrases are discussed in the original paper (See Titus 3:6) and applied with Greek grammar. That would be a good starting point. End Note.

The rhetorical mechanism employed here seems thus similar to the one used in the Prologue to John's Gospel, as well as 10:28-29, wherein the various attributes of God are portrayed as being mirrored in Christ; as such, it would not be farfetched to interpret the somewhat ambiguous expression of 2:13 (the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ) as a combination of the other two (namely, God our Saviour and Jesus Christ our Saviour).

Note: Neither alleged "rhetoric mechanisms" or rhetoric nonsense are grammatical arguments. This should be excised from this answer. End Note.

Therefore, in conclusion:

Is the article at Titus 2:13 anaphoric?

It might be.

(And please stop formulating your questions in such absolute language; i.e., don't ask whether it is, but rather whether it could be, or, alternately, to what extent it would be plausible to regard it as such).

If so, what is its antecedent?

The similar phrase just three verses earlier, as already stated above.

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  • @ThomasPearne: If the non-articulated noun God from the first two verses has an anaphoric article pointing at it, then that is most likely the one preceding the articulated noun God in the verse immediately following them. Nor can I spot any differences, in the Greek, between the use of Soteros in the aforementioned verses. – Lucian Jun 10 '20 at 18:24
  • @ThomasPearne: God our Savior and Christ our Savior have the same grammatical structure in both Greek and English, your objections being of a hermeneutic rather than strictly grammatical nature. Secondly, I do agree with the Father as an ultimate cause, and the Son as an intermediate tool; same for creation in John. This was the meaning of my words. – Lucian Jun 10 '20 at 20:50
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Here is every use of God in the letter to Titus:

1:1   θεοῦ - θεοῦ            2:1   ----                   3:1   ----
1:2   ὁ ἀψευδὴς θεὸς         2:2   ----                   3:2   ----
1:3   τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ  2:3   ----                   3:3   ----
1:4   θεοῦ πατρὸς            2:4   ----                   3:4   τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ
1:5   ----                   2:5   τοῦ θεοῦ               3:5   ----  
1:6   ----                   2:6   ----                   3:6   ----
1:7   θεοῦ                   2:7   ----                   3:7   ----
1:8   ----                   2:8   ----                   3:8   τῷ θεῷ
1:9   ----                   2:9   ----                   3:9   ----
1:10  ----                   2:10  τοῦ σωτῆρος ὑμῶν θεοῦ  3:10  ----
1:11  ----                   2:11  τοῦ θεοῦ σωτήριος      3:11  ----
1:12  ----                   2:12  ----                   3:12  ----
1:13  ----                   2:13  τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ       3:13  ----
1:14  ----                   2:14  ----                   3:14  ----
1:15  ----                   2:15  ----                   3:15  ----
1:16  θεὸν

If the article is necessary to point the reader back to a specific use of God, then it should be necessary for all subsequent uses. But as can be seen, even after identifying God as Father, "God" is used with and without the article. Since the reader is always able to identify God without the article (eg. θεοῦ, v. 6 and θεὸν, v. 7), the article is not need as an anaphoric device to identify God.

The conclusion the article can never be only anaphoric when used with God, is seen when Wallace's instructions for classification are followed:

...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

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Obviously, "God" will always be "well-known" and "the best of its class." Any attempt to limit the purpose of the article as simply anaphoric, is ignoring how the article is to be classified. Moreover, as the letter shows, the article is never really needed as a "pointer" to identify God, regardless of where in the letter God is found.

In addition to using the article to place a substantive in a particular category, all grammars recognize the article has special uses with multiple substantives connected by καὶ. This use must first be considered before attempting to limit the function of the article to simple identification. In other words, just as one looks for the most specific use to categorize, one looks at the entire text to see if the article has a narrower purpose beyond simple identification and classification.

In the case of Titus 2:13, the article is used with καὶ to connect multiple substantives. Here the concept of an anaphoric use is impossible, as the purpose for using the article in this construction is to point the reader forward to the other substantive:

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

Since the purpose of the article in texts of this type is to point the reader to understand the relationship with what "lies ahead," the use of the article in this type of construction can never be anaphoric, regardless of the precise relationship between the two substantives.


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

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  • @ThomasPearne I disagree. You are obviously trying to limit the classification to anaphoric and obviously to deny the T-S-K-S construction. Your novel argument is the T-S-K-S construction is trumped by the "anaphoric article" with God. In the hundreds of years of examining this text, no scholar has ever made such an argument. You distort Wallace, Middleton and every scholar you cite because you pick and chose statements which are obviously not applicable to the specific text. – Revelation Lad Jun 13 '20 at 20:54

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