2

Titus 2 text:

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 15Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

3
6

Different translations render this verse differently, so that those following the 1798 Granville Sharp rule of Greek grammar applicable here have Jesus Christ as both God and Saviour, while those that do not apply it have God as God, and Jesus as Saviour.

The AV reads, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The NASB 1977 agrees while rendering the verse more literally: “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”
But the NWT takes the latter stance, rendering Titus 2:13 as, “while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus” (Note the square brackets around ‘the’).

In the original Greek, the words for “God” and “Savior” are joined by kai, and the definite pronoun ho is only used once, preceding “God”. According to the Granville Sharp Rule of Greek grammar, both God and Savior must refer to the same person, namely, Jesus Christ. Here is what the rule states:

“When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case, [viz. nouns (either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal description, respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connexion, and attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill,] if the article ho, or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle.” Granville Sharp, Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament: Containing Many New Proofs of the Divinity of Christ, from Passages Which Are Wrongly Translated in the Common English Version. (3)

In simpler terms, the Granville Sharp Rule says that when two singular common nouns are used to describe a person, and those two nouns are joined by an additive conjunction, and the definite pronoun precedes the first noun but not the second, then both nouns refer to the same person. This principle of semantics holds true in all languages.

The actual rule of Granville Sharp is concerned with the use of definite articles and copulative conjunctions in the New Testament. Copulative conjunctions (also called additive conjunctions) are words that join other words and indicate the relation of additional information. In English, we have one definite article, the; some copulative conjunctions are and, moreover, and also. The grammatical construction of the Greek makes it plain: definite article + singular noun + copulative conjunction + singular noun = the same person. However, it might need to be pointed out that no writer of any of the Bible books ever treats God and Jesus as “one person”, nor does Titus 2:13 make such a category error.

That verse is NOT stating that Jesus is Jehovah God. It states that Jesus is the great God, and given what Isaiah 9:6 says about him, that's true - one of his titles is "the Mighty God", which is equally applied to Jehovah God in Isaiah 10:21. But the Father and the Son sharing the same titles does not turn them into the same person! Nowhere in the Bible is the Father (Jehovah) ever said to be the Son (Jesus). They have their distinct roles and they relate the one to the other in particular ways in the one Being of God, but being uncreated and co-equal, the trinitarian understanding is upheld in Titus 2:13. It is invariably people who do not understand the Trinity doctrine who get into a tizzy about that verse. It's not a problem for trinitarians, but simply confirms their view of the Godhead.

https://www.gotquestions.org/Granville-Sharp-Rule.html

7
  • I think this is a good answer as well. +1.
    – Dottard
    Jul 29 at 22:38
  • Sharp rule ignored in 1 Tim 5:21 and 2 Tim 4:1. Also, the glory that is to come will be of God and of the Son of Man and of the Angels according to Luke 9:26: "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." Thus, the Bible confirms that the glory to come will be of at least two people.
    – Austin
    Aug 1 at 4:42
  • The Sharp rule does not apply in 1 Tim 5:21 & 2Tim 4:1 - it's not being ignored. As for glory, God refuses to share his glory with another, but he DOES share his glory with the Son. See Isa 42:8 & 48:11, cf. Mt 16:27, Mk 8:38 & Heb 1:3.
    – Anne
    Aug 1 at 14:38
  • Please explain how 1 Tim 5:21 & 2Tim 4:1 don't apply when they follow your exact construction: definite article + singular noun + copulative conjunction + singular noun = the same person.
    – Austin
    Oct 22 at 8:47
  • Also I think you missed the part wear Jesus come in the glory [singular] of both the Father and the Angels. One glory shared by both the Father and the holy angels. Luke 9:26: "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
    – Austin
    Oct 22 at 8:58
3

Note the parade of pronouns in Titus 2:

13 as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. 14 He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

All the highlighted pronouns above have the same referent - God and Savior Jesus Christ - all these are masculine singular.

For far more information about the details of the grammar in this verse and similar constructions involving the "Sharp Rule", or what Daniel Wallace calls "TSKS", see Daniel Wallace, "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics", pages 270-290; this explains why, "our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" in Titus 2:13 refers to a single person with the dual title of "God" and "Savior", known as "Jesus Christ".

APPENDIX - Glory

Note that in Titus 2:13 because "glory" (doxa in the Greek) is feminine singular and so cannot be the referent for masculine pronouns. Further, we read in John 17:5, 24 from the words of Jesus Himself:

And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. ... “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

This is reinforced in Jesus' words of Luke 9:26 -

Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Again, in John 1:14 we read -

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Even in Heb 1:3, Jesus is described as having a shared glory with the Father -

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word.

14
  • Up-voted +1, but what version are you referencing, please ?
    – Nigel J
    Jul 29 at 7:05
  • 1
    @AlBrown - actually, apart from "our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" there are three other nouns that might be antecedents: "hope" (feminine), "appearing" (feminine), and "glory" (feminine) - none are suitable because the pronouns are masculine.
    – Dottard
    Jul 29 at 22:00
  • 1
    Oh interesting... You're translation is weird. Every other translation somehow makes it clear that the "who" "became" (or "was made") "wisdom" from God which is what's reflected in the Greek. "ὃς ἐγενήθη σοφία ἡμῖν ἀπὸ θεοῦ" Thus, since the "who" became and still is "wisdom" (fem) from God, the masculine 'who' and the feminine "wisdom" refer to the same subject, Jesus.
    – Austin
    Aug 1 at 22:13
  • 1
    I'm not disagreeing with you that the "who" refers to Jesus. Do you disagree with nearly every translation on Biblehub.com, for example that the "who", Jesus, became or was made wisdom from God in 1 Cor 1:30? It seems like we're talking past each other.
    – Austin
    Aug 1 at 23:33
  • 1
    I haven't changed my mind. They both refer to Jesus. Jesus became wisdom from God means Jesus is wisdom from God. Wich means "wisdom" from God and the "who" both refer to the same person Jesus. I'm just putting two and two together. If you refer to the same person, the subject is the same.
    – Austin
    Aug 1 at 23:43
3

It is more plausible that God and Savior refers to the same person, so God is Jesus (as it was traditionally understood by great theologians of the past) like in an expression, "our great talent and savior of Argentinian team, Diego Armando Maradona" both "great talent" and "savior of Argentinian team" refers to Maradona for sure.

Yet, if one has an irresistible knack for subjecting texts to a little bit of a grammatico-syntacical torture, out of, God knows what, decent or indecent reasons, one can separate them and say that "God" here refers to one person, whereas "Savior" to another. Even if one admits this, this changes nothing with regard of divinity and equality of Christ with the Father in Paul. Paul worships Lord Jesus Christ and only God can be worshiped.

Acts show patently Pauline Christology and when it says that God purchased His Church by His own blood (Acts 20:28), what can an indecent quibbler say here? Will not even he will be necessitated to say that God who purchased His church by His own blood is the Lord Jesus Christ and cannot be Father, unless he again erases even the tiny vestiges of his already mercilessly self-razed conscience and says that Father has some metaphoric or ethereal blood flowing in His veins. But dishonesty has no limits both now and ever and unto ages of ages.

2
  • indecent quibbler lol. Thanks for the answer I hadnt seen Acts 20:28 or didnt read it carefully or something. Idk. Regardless, thats beautiful. God bless
    – Al Brown
    Jul 29 at 21:19
  • 1
    @Al Brown Thanks! Lord’s blessings to you too Jul 31 at 16:52
2

No. If we read the verse carefully, we can see what Paul is referring to.

looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Christ Jesus (NASB and most others)

he says, "the appearing of the glory" The glory is what will be appearing.

Jesus IS the glory of God

The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the representation of His nature Heb 1:3

Jesus is the glory of God and Paul is looking for that glory - which is Christ, to be revealed.

We see further in this passage of Titus 2 the focus which is on Jesus, as

  • the glory of God,
  • who did give himself for us,
  • he might ransom us.

We only have to look to the messages from Paul at the beginning of every letter to see his consistent differentiation between God and Jesus, His son.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ 1 Cor

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Eph 1

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 1 Tim

To take one ambiguous verse or translation and query it without having regard for all other scripture is to invite misunderstanding.

3
  • There's an entire site dedicated to identifying Christ as God's Shekhinah.
    – Lucian
    Jul 29 at 0:14
  • Yeah thats an important point not clearly discussed in other answers. If I say the appearing of Bob and Frank... Another answer refers to the He His etc pronouns (or “it”, depending? Do i have that right?) following the phrase and says it cant be referring to glory due to gender mismatch. And it would make no sense to be referring unclearly to the only second of a pair like that. Says the referrant is “God and Savior Jesus Christ” and is a singular pronoun. Could the difference be that it refers to appearing (manifestation) not glory?
    – Al Brown
    Jul 29 at 21:22
  • I got this answered: actually, apart from "our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" there are three other nouns that might be antecedents: "hope" (feminine), "appearing" (feminine), and "glory" (feminine) - none are suitable because the pronouns are masculine
    – Al Brown
    Jul 30 at 0:28
2

Did Paul treat God and Jesus as one person in Titus 2:13?

NO, you're simply reading an incorrect translation of the verse,obviously, those translators want to see Paul referring to Jesus as "God" here, and accordingly shift the possessive pronoun "our" to a position before "God" to draw the two phrases together. Below you will find three correct renderings of the verse by KJV, NAB, and ASV

ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΤΟΝ 2:13 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament

13 προσδεχομενοι την μακαριαν ελπιδα και επιφανειαν της δοξης του μεγαλου θεου και σωτηρος ημων χριστου ιησου

Correct Tranalations

The translators of the KJV, NASB, and ASV understand Paul to refer to both God the Father and Jesus here. All three retain both "the" (with God) and "our" (with savior). The NAB goes a bit further and uses the second "of" which is an implicit part of the genetive ("of") form of the nouns in this phrase.

Titus 2:13 KJV

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Titus 2:13 New American Bible

As we await the blessed hope, the appearance 3 of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ,

Titus 2:13 ASV

looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory [a]of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Titus 2:13 NAB

Incorrect translation: NIV,NASB and NRSVA

The translators of NIV, NASB, and NRSVA all prefer to see Paul referring to Jesus as God here, and accordingly shift the possessive pronoun "our" to a position before God to draw the two phrases completely together.

Titus 2:13 NIV

13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Titus 2:13 NASB

13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

Titus 2:13 NRSVA

13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

When Faced with Ambiguity

Biblical theology, however, means that you want to find what God's Word itself says, so when faced with such ambiguous passages, you look for similar passages for comparison of expression, on the same subject and so help to clarify the possible meaning of the words that are being translated.

For example:

The closest parallels to Titus 2:13 are Titus 1:4 and 2 Thessalonians 1:12 In Titus 2:13 the phrase "Savior of us" is before Christ Jesus and in Titus 1:4 "our Savior" switches position it is after "our Savior". The variations in the two verses is entirely incidental.

Words in English -bold- and in brackets added to the verse by me for clarification

ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΤΟΝ 2:13 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament

13 προσδεχομενοι την μακαριαν ελπιδα και επιφανειαν της δοξης του μεγαλου θεου και σωτηρος ημων (Savior of us ) χριστου ιησου (Chist Jesus)

ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΤΟΝ 1:4

1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament

4 τιτω γνησιω τεκνω κατα κοινην πιστιν χαρις και ειρηνη απο θεου πατρος και χριστου ιησου (Christ Jesus)" του σωτηρος ημων (Savior of us )

Another comparable verse is

ΠΡΟΣ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΕΙΣ Β΄ 1:12 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament

12 οπως ενδοξασθη το ονομα του κυριου ημων ιησου εν υμιν και υμεις εν αυτω κατα την χαριν του θεου ημων και**(of the)** κυριου ιησου χριστου

The grammatical structure of the passages of Titus 1:4 and 2 Thess.1:12 are the same as Titus 2:13. The translators of the NIV, NRSVA, and NASB show (read verses below) that they understand "God" and "Jesus" to be distinct, two separate individuals, but not so in Titus 2:13

Titus 1:4 NIV

4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

2 Thessalonians 1:12 NIV

12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.[a]

Titus 1:4 NRSVA

4 To Titus, my loyal child in the faith we share: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour.

2 Thessalonians 1:12 NRSVA

12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Titus 1:4 NASB

4 To Titus, my true [a]son [b]in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

2 Thessalonians 1:12 NASB

12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, in accordance with the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

If the distinctness of Jesus in Titus 1:4 and 2 Thess. 1:12 is certain to them why is it not so in Titus 1:13? Why are they so inconsistent in how they translate the two passages.

2

The Most Literal Translation

The most literal translation of this verse, on biblehub.com is done by the ASV ('of' added):

looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and [of] our Saviour Jesus Christ;
προσδεχόμενοι τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,

Many translations inaccurately place the word "our" so that it modifies the word "God" instead of modifying the word "Savior" as it does in the original Greek. Also many translations only place "of" in front of "God" and not in front of "Savior" even though both are written in the genitive. But if we put the "of" in front "of" both "God" and "Savior" and place the "our" in its appropriate location it becomes more clear that we are talking about two people and not one. The fact that the singular glory is of at least two people is consistent with what else the scriptures say.

What the Gospels Teach Us

According to Luke's Gospel, the singular glory to come will be of at least two different people:

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
ὃς γὰρ ἂν ἐπαισχυνθῇ με καὶ τοὺς ἐμοὺς λόγους, τοῦτον ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπαισχυνθήσεται, ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἐν τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τῶν ἁγίων ἀγγέλων.
Luke 9:26

While most translations use the word "glory" twice in this verse, it only shows up once in the Greek for the glory of the Son and of the Father and of the holy angels, thus a singular glory can be modified in the genitive by two or more persons.

Granville Sharp's Ignored "Rule"

Much is made of Granville Sharp's made up "rule" that was so efficiently distilled by an Anne as:

definite article + singular noun + copulative conjunction + singular noun = the same person.

This "rule" is proven to be, in fact, no rule by most Bible translators. For example, most translators completely disregard Sharp's rule in the following verses:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels...
διαμαρτύρομαι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν ἀγγέλων...
-1 Timothy 5:21

No one translates God and Christ as the same person here. And they appropriately put an 'of' before both genitives. Also notice that there is only one "presence" for God and for Jesus and for the elect angels, just as we saw only one glory for both God and the Son of Man and the angels.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus...
Διαμαρτύρομαι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ...
2 Timothy 4:1

Again God and Christ are not translated here to be the same person despite the rule and the "of" is placed properly.

Additionally, It should be acknowledged that definite articles, or the lack thereof, in front of nouns in prepositional constructions like the ones found in the genitive in Titus 2:13, don't change the meaning of the nouns in the New Testament. The same person within a prepositional phrase may show up with a definite article or without one. "Of Christ" is the same as "Of the Christ." This further invalidates the Sharp rule in this context.

Conclusion

So given what we've learned from Luke and the inconsistency of Grainville Sharp's made-up rule, we should have no problem understanding from both Luke and Titus that we will be waiting for the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ.

2
  • You start by quoting "the most literal translation of this verse, on biblehub.com is done by the ASV ('of' added)" but when words are ADDED to the text, it is no longer a literal translation. OF should not be in Titus 2:13, 1 Tim 5:21 or 2 Tim 4:1. At the end you say this is a 'made-up' rule. Well, are not ALL rules 'made-up'? Someone has to spell them out! Disregard that rule if you like, but others don't. Also, to dwell on 'glory' is to miss the point of the question.
    – Anne
    Aug 1 at 14:31
  • 1
    @Anne, OF should not be in Titus 2:13, 1 Tim 5:21 or 2 Tim 4:1 Anne, if 'of' is not literal when put before 'Savior Christ Jesus' then 'of' is not literal when put before 'the Great God.' When noun's are in the genitive they essentially mean "of that noun." Certainly, there are different ways of meaning "of", but it is literal to translate genitive nouns, with no other prepositional modifiers, with an "of." But like I said, the Sharp "rule" is not a rule generally respected by translators consistently in various Bible translations because it really isn't a hard rule.
    – Austin
    Aug 1 at 19:28
1

The question — “Did Paul treat God and Jesus as one person in Titus 2:13?” — I think, should be restated. By asking whether Paul regarded “God and Jesus” as “one person,” from my perspective, sounds very contradictory; Modalistic, even. How can two people — “God and Jesus” — be “one person”? By using a proper name (“Jesus”) you are thereby distinguishing that one person from another (i.e., “God”) and then asking if they can be “one person.” So from that standpoint, we can flatly say, “no, Paul did not believe ‘God and Jesus’ were ‘one person.’”

However, had the OP asked, “Did Paul refer to Jesus Christ as ‘our God and Savior’?” Now that is an altogether different question, and the one that I think was intended to be asked. So that is the question I am going to answer. The question should not be whether “God and Jesus” are “one person,” rather, whether the two titles “God” and “Savior” (which are not proper names) refer to one person, namely, Jesus Christ.

In order to answer this question, I will need to deal with arguments from Austin, and Ozzie Ozzie accordingly. This will be quite extensive, but rich in material. If there is something I say here that you would like more clarification on, feel free to reach out.

In his official response to the question, Austin states,

Many translations inaccurately place the word "our" so that it modifies the word "God" instead of modifying the word "Savior" as it does in the original Greek. Also many translations only place "of" in front of "God" and not in front of "Savior" even though both are written in the genitive. But if we put the "of" in front "of" both "God" and "Savior" and place the "our" in its appropriate location it becomes more clear that we are talking about two people and not one. The fact that the singular glory is of at least two people is consistent with what else the scriptures say.

Likewise, Ozzie Ozzie expresses similar sentiments,

The translators of NIV, NASB, and NRSVA all prefer to see Paul referring to Jesus as God here, and accordingly shift the possessive pronoun "our" to a position before God to draw the two phrases completely together.

Though, Ozzie Ozzie (unlike Austin) takes this one step further by suggesting,

The grammatical structure of the passages of Titus 1:4 and 2 Thess.1:12 are the same as Titus 2:13. The translators of the NIV, NRSVA, and NASB show (read verses below) that they understand "God" and "Jesus" to be distinct, two separate individuals, but not so in Titus 2:13

As evident in both of their materials, the Granville Sharp rule has become a bit of a sticking point, which they hope to invalidate; dismissing it as an innovation of the late 18th century. This is not something we should think of being as entirely unusual, however. How else is one to expect a non-Trinitarian to respond when such forces them into a position that makes them theologically uncomfortable? Of course they are going to respond in such a manner. Contra Sharp, Austin cites 1Tim. 5:21 and 2Tim. 4:1 as counter examples, while Ozzie Ozzie cites 1Thess. 1:12 and Titus 1:4 as counter examples. Much can be (and will be) said regarding these texts, but doing so at any great length here detracts from the larger point I’m trying to make.

1Tim. 5:21, 2Tim. 4:1, and 2Thess. 1:12

TSKS constructions do not (by themselves) speak of referential identity, but they do (minimally) imply conceptual unity, regardless of the components in the construct. Sharp’s principle was heavily qualified, and restricted to personal, singular, non-proper substantives within such a construct. To cite any run-of-the-mill TSKS construct without also applying the same restrictions would be to misappropriate Sharp’s rule. Whether or not the rule is valid; any accurate representation of it must include these criteria.

The reason translations (such as those cited by Ozzie Ozzie) render 2Thess. 1:12 as a reference to two persons is because the translators recognize that such a passage falls outside the contours of Sharp’s rule: with “Lord Jesus Christ” (and other variations of this form, i.e., “Christ Jesus our Lord”)[1] functioning as a compound proper name – occurring 62 times in the NT and existing in 16 various books/epistles. Thus, such recurring and wide spread attestation allows for “Lord Jesus Christ” (and other variations) to be understood as such. Similarly, 1Tim. 5:21 and 2Tim. 4:1 also utilize a compound proper name (i.e., “Christ Jesus”) which has broad NT attestation. And although these two texts do distinguish between θεοῦ and Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, the precise construction — minimally — suggests the closest of unity between the two,

In particular, 1Tim. 5:21 is noteworthy because it brackets off the Father and Son from the angels by the use of the TSKS construction: τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν ἀγγέλων. By so doing, the author is indicating a closer relationship between Christ and God than between Christ and the angels. (Daniel B. Wallace, “Granville Sharp’s Canon and its Kin,” pp. 283-84)

And although 1Tim. 5:21 does not technically fit the contours (due to the use of a compound proper name) of Sharp’s rule, it does — to a degree — place God and Christ in a category by themselves in contrast to the angels. Notice that the text does not say: τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ ἐκλεκτῶν ἀγγέλων. Rather, ἐκλεκτῶν ἀγγέλων is headed by its own definite article τῶν. And so here lies an evidence that places Jesus on a par with God, and as such, superseding the angels.

Following this line of thought, should one suggest that “Savior Jesus Christ” is a compound proper name, a natural problem arises: “Savior Jesus Christ” only occurs five times in the whole of the NT, and is restricted to two epistles – Titus, and 2Peter. If we were to exclude 2Peter 1:1 and Titus 2:13 from the mix, all remaining occurrences of “Savior Jesus Christ” (each of which occur within the ὁ – substantive – καὶ – substantive construction) unanimously signify a mutual identity with the preceding (or “head”) noun (2Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:18).

An 18th Century Innovation?

The tendency among Unitarian circles is to classify Sharp’s rule as an 18th c. innovation, of which Sharp himself “fabricated” in order to satisfy his “Trinitarian taste buds.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds of something like a modern-day Frankenstein. Cue the spooky music, Count Sharpula!

Such an argument, however, appears to be more driven by a particular theological notion, than it is with attempting to understand how earlier Christians may have used such language when speaking of Jesus. For example, there are papyri (such as BU 366, 367, 368, 371, 395)[2] of which pre-date the alleged “innovation” by approx. eleven centuries, suggesting that at least by the 7th c., Christians were referring to Jesus in such a manner:

ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ Κυρίου καί δεσπότου Ἰησοῦ Χρήστου τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν
(“in the name of the Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, our God and Savior”)

Minimally, this suggests that such an interpretation of Titus 2:13 wasn’t something that had just spawned at the tail of the 18th c. as a result of one known, Granville Sharp. Rather, this is something that can be traced far beyond the 18th c., as it is the standard interpretation held by the majority of post-Nicene Father’s, and earlier, such as Hippolytus of Rome (On Christ and Antichrist, c. 67) and Clement of Alexandria (The Exhortation to the Heathen, Chp. 1).

Moreover, as has been pointed out by an increasing number of scholars,[3] the use of this formulae is also widely attested in ancient Hellenistic circles; and during a time where deified kings and emperors were bestowed with such titular endowments, such as, ὁ θεὸς καὶ σωτῆρ ("the God and Savior"). More on this will be covered below.



Pauline Usage of ἡμῶν

Contrary to what Austin states,

It should be acknowledged that definite articles, or the lack thereof, in front of nouns in prepositional constructions like the ones found in the genitive in Titus 2:13, don't change the meaning of the nouns in the New Testament. The same person within a prepositional phrase may show up with a definite article or without one. "Of Christ" is the same as "Of the Christ." This further invalidates the Sharp rule in this context.

Paul’s use of the possessive pronoun ἡμῶν (“our”) is often preceded by an articular substantive (ὁ – substantive – ἡμῶν),[4] or a set of substantives headed by a single article (ὁ – substantive – καὶ – substantive – ἡμῶν),[5] where the possessive pronoun latches onto the entire articular phrase that it’s placed in direct apposition to. See footnotes [4] and [5] for a thorough listing of examples. In each of these examples, Paul’s use (or non-use) of the article (“the”) helps dictate what the possessive pronoun (“our”) is being placed in apposition to.

For example, in 1Thess. 1:3 we see two occurrences of this in just a few short words from one another,

τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς ἡμῶν

In the first instance, the possessive pronoun ἡμῶν is placed in apposition to τοῦ Κυρίου (“the Lord”) and may be translated, “Jesus Christ our Lord.” Just a few short words away, we again see the possessive pronoun ἡμῶν, but this time it is placed in apposition to τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς (“the God and Father”) — a TSKS construct — and may be rendered “our God and Father.” Paul’s use or non-use of the definite article is not mere usage, but rather provides valuable insight and further clarification when trying to determine what the possessive pronoun (“our”) is being placed in apposition to.

Hence, when it says in Ephesians 1:3,

Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ Πατὴρ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Notice these several things: The verse opens with a TSKS construct that fits all the qualifications of Sharp’s rule — ὁ θεὸς καὶ Πατὴρ — applying both substantives (“God” and “Father”) to one individual. Second, notice the text uses the definite article to help distinguish between both subjects — “the God and Father” (=one person), and “the Lord” (=one person) — coupled by the fact that “Lord Jesus Christ” (as stated in my opening) is a proper name. Third, notice ἡμῶν is placed in apposition to the articular τοῦ Κυρίου (“the Lord”), and is thereby rendered, “our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Alternatively, notice 1Tim. 1:1,

κατ’ ἐπιταγὴν θεοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τῆς ἐλπίδος ἡμῶν

Unlike Eph. 1:3, Paul’s non-use of the article of both subjects can also help draw a distinction between those two subjects; coupled by the fact that “Christ Jesus” is a proper name. But also notice the last part of the verse — τῆς ἐλπίδος ἡμῶν — where ἡμῶν is placed in apposition to τῆς ἐλπίδος (“the hope), and would be rendered as “our hope.”

Following suite, we find this same phenomenon in the Epistle to Titus. In Titus 1:3, it states,

κατ’ ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ

Notice the possessive pronoun ἡμῶν is placed in apposition to the articular τοῦ Σωτῆρος (“the Savior”) and may be rendered “God our Savior.” Likewise, in Titus 1:4 it states,

Χάρις καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν

Notice again, the possessive pronoun ἡμῶν is placed in apposition to τοῦ Σωτῆρος (“the Savior”), and may be rendered, “Christ Jesus our Savior.” Likewise, see 2:10, 3:4, and 3:6.

Further, if you recall from earlier, Ozzie Ozzie had made the following remark:

“The grammatical structure of the passages of Titus 1:4… are the same as Titus 2:13.”

Yet, Titus 1:4 is not a ὁ – substantive – καὶ – substantive – ἡμῶν construct (as is found in Titus 2:13). Rather, in Titus 1:4, θεοῦ is lacking the definite article, coupled by fact that Titus 2:13 does not supply the words, “the Father” (as Titus 1:4 does). Further, where the final clause of Titus 1:4 places Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (“Christ Jesus”) before the articular τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν (“our Savior”); Titus 2:13 keeps Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν anarthrous and places Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (“Christ Jesus”) after. How is that even remotely the “same grammatical structure,” Ozzie Ozzie?

Throughout the Epistle to Titus the possessive pronoun ἡμῶν is placed in apposition to the articular phrase (Titus 1:3, 1:4, 2:10, 3:4, 3:6), and there’s no reason to think Paul might be using ἡμῶν any differently at 2:13.

The point of saying all of this is quite simple: The presence of the article (i.e., Eph. 1:3) — for both subjects — or the lack thereof (i.e., 1Tim. 1:1, Titus 1:4), is how Paul routinely distinguishes between two subjects. And when the possessive pronoun is present, it is always intended to be taken in apposition to the articular phrase. Why would Paul stray from both of these patterns here at Titus 2:13 had he intended to refer to two individuals? It would be highly out of character for Paul to head a substantive (1Thess. 1:3a) or set of substantives (1Thess. 1:3b) with a definite article, only to have the possessive pronoun not stand in direct apposition to it.

Had an article been placed before “Savior Jesus Christ,” or had μεγάλου θεοῦ (“great God”) been left anarthrous, then this would have prompted such a translation, “the great God and Jesus Christ our Savior” and would have aligned itself better with texts such as Titus 1:4, Rom. 1:7, Gal. 1:3, 1Cor. 1:3, 2Cor. 1:2, 2Cor. 1:3, Phil. 1:2, Eph. 1:3, 17. This is not ambiguous, but is really quite straight forward.

If Austin and Ozzie Ozzie were consistent in their approach then texts like 1Thess. 1:3b, 3:11a, 3:13a, Gal. 1:4, and Phil. 4:20 — all of which follow precisely the same syntactical pattern as Titus 2:13 (even placing ἡμῶν in the same position) — should be rendered thusly to refer to two individuals, “the God and our Father,” and not as the ASV translates it (“our God and Father”). So who is it exactly that is accusing the other of being “inconsistent”? If consistency means anything, then why not mention the consistency of Paul?

Titus 2:13
τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν

1Thess. 1:3b
τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς ἡμῶν

1Thess. 3:11a
ὁ θεός καὶ Πατὴρ ἡμῶν

1Thess. 3:13a
τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς ἡμῶν

Gal. 1:4
τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς ἡμῶν

Phil. 4:20
τῷ δὲ θεῷ καὶ Πατρὶ ἡμῶν

Had Paul wished to distinguish between “our great God” and the “Savior Jesus Christ,” then all he would had to have done — following a similar syntactical pattern as Titus 1:4 — was leave θεοῦ anarthrous. It is as simple as that. That, or Paul could have even included an additional article (“the”) before “Savior Jesus Christ” (“our great God and the Savior Jesus Christ”), or perhaps included an additional possessive pronoun (“our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ”) for further clarification. After all, when two (or more) nouns in the same case are linked by καί (“and”), the repetition (or even the non-use) of the article with both nouns may indicate that the nouns are to be taken separately.

Further (as mentioned earlier), Paul could have even simply qualified θεοῦ by supplying the words, “the Father.” Or he could have positioned “Jesus Christ” ahead of the epithet “Savior” (“Jesus Christ our Savior”). Or further, instead of referring to “Savior Jesus Christ,” Paul could have referred to “the Lord Jesus Christ” (or “Jesus Christ our Lord”) to remain consistent with other texts such as Romans 1:7; Gal. 1:3, 4; 1Cor. 1:2, 3; 2Cor. 1:2, 3; Phil. 1:2; Eph. 1:3, 17, et al. Paul had all of these options at his disposal (of which are each authentically Pauline), to distinguish between the Father and the Lord Jesus. But instead, he chose to use an ὁ – substantive – καὶ – substantive – ἡμῶν type of construction, where it would only naturally refer to one person.

Additionally, ἐπιφάνεια (“appearing”) further weakens the argument that two persons are in view, as Paul routinely uses it as a personal designation for Jesus Christ alone (1Tim. 6:14; 2Tim. 1:10, 4:1, 4:8). While there are NT parallels for the idea of a future “appearing” of Jesus, who comes in the full display of the Father’s glory; keep in mind, however, that it is not the Father Himself who will be visibly manifested. The NT nowhere speaks of a dual appearing of Father and Son. It is the Son who comes in the Father’s glory, not the Father appearing with the Son. Paul elsewhere makes this clear when he speaks (in a very similar context) of the “appearing of our Savior” without any possibility of a second referent,

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace (χάριν) which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now (νῦν) has been revealed (φανερωθεῖσαν) by the appearing (ἐπιφανείας) of our Savior Christ Jesus (τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ), who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2Tim. 1:9–10, NASB)

For the grace (χάρις) of God has appeared (Ἐπεφάνη), bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present (νῦν) age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing (ἐπιφάνειαν) of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ), who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11–14, NASB)

In light of the parallel passage (2Tim. 1:9-10), and Paul’s actual usage of ἐπιφάνειαν (always with reference to Christ), there is no reason (aside from theological) to think that Paul used ἐπιφάνειαν any differently in Titus 2:13, is there?


ἐπιφάνειαν in Context

But there’s something even more intriguing about Paul’s use of the term ἐπιφάνειαν. This term (and its other forms) is never used by any other NT author, and occurs only in a select few of Paul’s letters. So not only is it rare in Paul; it is really rare in the NT as a whole. That should lead one to ask: Where did Paul get it from?

Some scholars suggest that Paul may have borrowed such terminology from ancient Hellenistic circles, in which deified kings were bestowed with extravagant titular endowments, i.e., Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Hence, Ptolemaic era rulers were often referred spoken of in such ways:

του βασιλέως του μεγάλου θεού Ευεργέτου και σωτήρος [ἐπιφανοῦς] ευχαρίστου[6]

And:

Πτολεμαίου τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος[7]

And again:

τοῖ . . . θεοῖς καὶ Σωτῆρι Πτολεμαίωι[8]

Coupled with the cultural dynamic (cf. Acts 19:21-34), this very well may have been the very catalyst that drove Paul to oppose such cultic practices, reserving such divine honors for the Lord Jesus Christ over against Caesar, or Zeus, or any other.

Without dismissing the former point, there is yet another dynamic to this that should be pointed out. If one were to run a query on ἐπιφάνειαν in the LXX, you will get only a couple of returns. One of those occurrences is — ironically — in 2Sam. 7 LXX. Notice that in this context specifically, David offers a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for His promise of an everlasting kingdom from his seed (vv. 12-16); something that is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Luke 1:32-33). In David’s prayer, he praises God for His greatness (μεγαλῦναί, v. 22) as exhibited in the Exodus, where He manifested (ἐπιφάνειαν, v. 23) Himself to redeem to Himself a peculiar people for His own possession (τοῦ λυτρώσασθαι αὐτῷ λαὸν, v. 23), i.e., Israel.

But then Paul does something that may escape notice of the casual reader. Where as in 2Sam. 7, it is the “great” God who manifests Himself to redeem to Himself a peculiar people (Israel); Paul in turn uses this exact language to describe the work of Jesus Christ in Titus 2:13-14. Notice the relative clause of v. 13 (“who gave Himself for us...”) which further describes, defines, and explicates the work of Jesus Christ as that “great” (μεγάλου) God and Savior: “who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us (cf. 2Sam. 7:23, Psalm 130:8) from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds (cf. 2Sam. 7:21-24; Deut. 7:6, 26:18; Ex. 19:5; 1 Peter 2:9).”

It is for these reasons, thoroughly expressed, that Titus 2:13 is best understood to refer to one individual.


Foot Notes

[1] i.e., “Christ Jesus our Lord,” or “Jesus Christ our Lord” where “our Lord” may be placed in apposition to the compound name, “Christ Jesus”

[2] Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, pg. 84

[3] Harris, Wendland, Moulton, Wallace, Quinn, Guthrie, Moehlmann, Cullmann

[4] ὁ – substantive – ἡμῶν (1Thess. 1:2, 1:3a, 1:5, 2:1, 2:2, 2:9, 2:19, 2:20, 3:2, 3:5, 3:7, 3:9, 3:11b, 3:11c, 3:13b, 5:9, 5:23, 5:28; 2Thess. 1:8, 1:10, 1:11, 1:12, 2:1, 2:14 [x2], 2:16 [x2]; Col. 1:3; Eph. 1:3, 1:14, 1:17, 2:3, 2:14, 3:11, 3:14, 5:20, 6:24; Gal. 1:4a, 2:4, 3:24, 4:6, 6:14, 6:18; 1Cor. 1:2, 1:7, 1:8, 1:9, 1:10, 5:4 [x2], 5:7, 6:11 [x2], 9:1, 10:1, 12:23, 12:24, 15:3, 15:14, 15:31, 15:57; 2Cor. 1:3, 1:4, 1:5, 1:7, 1:8, 1:12, 1:14, 1:22, 3:2 [x2], 3:5, 4:3, 4:6, 4:10, 4:11, 4:16 [x2], 4:17, 5:1, 5:2, 6:11 [x2], 7:3, 7:4, 7:5, 7:13, 7:14, 8:9, 8:22, 9:3, 10:4, 10:8, 10:15; Romans 1:4, 3:5, 4:1, 4:12, 4:24, 4:25 [x2], 5:1, 5:6, 5:11, 5:21, 6:6, 6:23, 7:25, 8:16, 8:23, 8:26, 8:39, 9:10, 10:16, 15:6, 15:30, 16:1, 16:9, 16:18, 16:20, 16:24; Titus 1:4, 2:10, 3:4, 3:6; Phil. 3:21; Phm. 1:2; 1Tim. 1:2, 1:12, 1:14, 2:3, 6:3, 6:14; 2Tim. 1:2, 1:8, 1:9, 1:10; Heb. 3:1, 7:14, 9:14)

[5] ὁ – substantive – καὶ – substantive – ἡμῶν (1Thess. 1:3b, 3:11a, 3:13a; Gal. 1:4b; Titus 2:13; Phil. 4:20; Phm. 1:1)

[6] Papyrus 667, 2nd c. BC; F.G. Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum, pg. 7; Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, pg. 84

[7] Inscriptions from Miletus 034.57

[8] Delos, Inscriptiones Graecae XI,4 [510-1349] document 1038, 25

New contributor
William Jordan is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
2
  • Hi William, welcome to the site! Nice, thoroughly researched first answer. Congratulations! Will look forward to future contributions. Oct 22 at 20:46
  • Fantastic contribution - as with your other answer it does spend a lot of time responding to others rather than answering the question directly. Answers should typically stand on their own merits and not get caught up trying to argue with other answers - though in this specific case you've done a really good job of engaging with the other content in a balanced and academic fashion which usefully answers the question, so it seems perfectly good as-is.
    – Steve Taylor
    8 hours ago

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.