Sharp's Rule states a writer indicates two substantives attributed to a single person by beginning a phrase placing the article before the first substantive connecting the second with καὶ while omitting the article before the second. This is called a T-S-K-S construction.

John appears to use a T-S-K-S sequence in the introduction of Revelation:

and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:6 ESV)
καὶ ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων ἀμήν

Obviously this was not done to show the Father is God, something which is accepted without any objection. Nevertheless, the unquestioned relationship between God and Father requires the validity of the rule. In other words, if the T-S-K-S construction is not valid, then the meaning of τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ is that God and Father are separate entities.

Does Revelation 1:6 have an example of Sharp's Rule?

  • Im not a grammatical expert, however, logic tells me when reading texts such as Rev 1:1, yes God and the Father are separate entities...God is the name of the collective (to use a star trek term) and the Father is a member of that collective as are the Son and Holy Spirit. When Stephen prior to his stoning (Acts ) looked into heaven and saw the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God, he saw Jesus on the right, the Father in the middle (as much as is allowed), and Holy Spirit on left. – Adam Feb 25 at 19:23
  • @Dave - forgive my ignorance... how is applying a rule of grammar questionable because of the organization of the content? – The Chaz 2.0 Feb 25 at 21:12
  • The logic of the question doesn't make sense. A rule can be false while still holding true in some cases. – Ben Crowell Feb 26 at 12:58

YES. Sharp's rule, also known as the "TSKS" rule, applies to Rev 1:6 for the following reasons. See Daniel B Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics pages 270-277.

The phrase in question is τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρὶ

  1. Both nouns are in the same case, namely, dative masculine
  2. Both nouns are personal titles
  3. Both nouns are singular
  4. Neither noun is a proper name (ie, they are titles)

Therefore, both nouns apply to the same person, in this case, God the Father.

Further, Wallace in GGBB specifically lists the example of Rev 1:6 on page 274



Yes, Sharp's rule applies here, and since this rule is mostly true, that is strong evidence that we should translate this as "God and Father" just as the ESV has, and interpret both nouns as referring back to Christ.

However I would argue that there are two fallacies being made in the asking of this question which make it seem like a lot is at stake in this passage when it really isn't.

Grammar has no poison pills

"The T-S-K-S construction which uses God and Father becomes a type of "poison pill" if the rule is denied because without the rule the meaning of τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ is that God and Father refers to two distinct entities God"

This assumes a rule is always true or always false. For example, if I find an example that violates subject-verb agreement in number, then it must be that subject-verbs always disagree in number! But when a rule is false, it just means that it can't be applied to resolve the ambiguity, not that the opposite of the rule can be applied to resolve the ambiguity. Otherwise we could generate lots of false rules and use them to understand any passage. Clearly a false rule does not allow us to resolve anything in either direction.

Rather, simple rules like Sharp's rule (or subject verb agreement), are at best be mostly true, and to make them precisely true you have to keep piling on more conditions or formalize irregularities (introduce different rules for collections, etc) which is why grammars are so complex and remain the subject of research even to the present day. In the case of Sharp's rule, exceptions have been found in the greek cannon outside the NT even though the rule appears to be true most of the time.

Theology does not require any grammatical rule

"Nevertheless, the unquestioned relationship between God and Father requires the validity of the rule."

This assumes that if a grammatical rule can be used to prove a theological point in one passage, then the validity of the theological point requires the validity of the rule. Yet it could be that in this case John was referring to two people without denying the doctrine of the trinity. Or it could be that John was referring to one person yet the grammatical rule is false. The doctrine of the trinity does not require any grammatical rule, nor is it established by any single passage.

  • I revised the question to remove the "poison pill" comment. But, if the rule was recognized at the time the NT was written and debated as it is today, then the passage in Revelation is a response on the side of the rule's applicability. And the issue is not whether the rule is sometimes true and sometimes not. It is whether there is such a thing as the rule. Those who deny the application of the rule when it is used to convey the deity of Christ contest the rule. – Revelation Lad Feb 25 at 21:30
  • This rule was discovered in the 18th C, so how could it be recognized at the time the NT was written? And in any case, people speak naturally. The rules we come up with to try to describe the language as having a certain order are separate from the language itself. Language is the creation of God, grammar is the creation of man in an attempt to understand and describe the creation of God. – Robert Feb 25 at 22:34
  • The rule was formally articulated in the 18th century to address the persistent claims that nowhere does the NT explicitly state the diety of Christ. The fact it wasn't articulated sooner doesn't mean it wasn't understood and used any more than "discovering" a scientific principle initiates an era when the discovery can be used. – Revelation Lad Feb 25 at 22:39
  • 1
    whether you are asking if the correct interpretation is "God and Father" both referring to the same antecedent, then I think this is what John meant, but that doesn't in and of itself require him to mean that because of this rule as opposed to some other rule. But any further discussion will have to be outside the comments, as I've spammed it enough already. It was an interesting question! – Robert Feb 25 at 22:56
  • Father and God both refer back to Christ? – Revelation Lad Feb 26 at 4:30

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