Titus 2:13 -- The Smoking Gun -- Jesus is God

C_M_C_M_ Posts: 3,230

Titus 2:13 is found in the middle of a sentence that reaches from vs. 11 through 14, the chain of genitive nouns τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ has divided those who study languages and theologians between three different interpretations:

  • (1) The text refers to both God the Father (τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ) and to Jesus (σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ), and the glory that will appear at the Parousia belongs to both of them (cf. KJV)
  • (2) The whole phrase is referring to Jesus Christ, called “our great God and Savior", whose glory will be seen at His Second Coming.
  • (3) Jesus Christ is described as “the glory of our great God and Savior.”

Which of these reflect the truth of Jesus? Please feel free to share any references or other voices to make your case, pro or con. Let's have a fruitful discussion that leads to better knowledge and understanding. Thanks CM

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Comments

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328

    “as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13 (NET)


    "The terms “God and Savior” both refer to the same person, Jesus Christ. This is one of the clearest statements in the NT concerning the deity of Christ. The construction in Greek is known as the Granville Sharp rule, named after the English philanthropist-linguist who first clearly articulated the rule in 1798. Sharp pointed out that in the construction article-noun-καί-noun (where καί [kai] = “and”), when two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper names), they always had the same referent. Illustrations such as “the friend and brother,” “the God and Father,” etc. abound in the NT to prove Sharp’s point. The only issue is whether terms such as “God” and “Savior” could be considered common nouns as opposed to proper names. Sharp and others who followed (such as T. F. Middleton in his masterful The Doctrine of the Greek Article) demonstrated that a proper name in Greek was one that could not be pluralized. Since both “God” (θεός, theos) and “savior” (σωτήρ, sōtēr) were occasionally found in the plural, they did not constitute proper names, and hence, do fit Sharp’s rule. Although there have been 200 years of attempts to dislodge Sharp’s rule, all attempts have been futile. Sharp’s rule stands vindicated after all the dust has settled. For more information on Sharp’s rule see ExSyn 270–78, esp. 276. See also 2 Pet 1:1 and Jude 4."


    Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,773

    With all due respect to the resources from which @C_M_ and @Dave_L _ quote, there is no "smoking gun" in Titus 2.13. As is often the case in biblical interpretation, it is the context in which the verse resides that reports a fuller description of the writer's views. (All Scripture quotations from the ESV; all emphases are mine)

    • Titus 1.4: "To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior."

    The writer clearly offers grace and peace from two distinct and different sources: God and Christ Jesus. God is "the Father" and Christ Jesus is "our Savior." If the writer believes Jesus is God, then the word choice of 1.4 makes no sense. Much more sensible, had he held such a view, would have been language such as "Grace and peace from God, who is (known to us as) both our Father and Christ Jesus our Savior."

    • Titus 3.4-8: "4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone."

    The writer asserts that God - whom he identifies as "our Savior" - poured out the Holy Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ. In my view, it makes no sense that the writer meant to tell us that the one through whom the Spirit was poured out was also the one who did the pouring out. I'd offer word choice for this text that would have made more sense had the writer meant to report that Jesus was God, but I can't fashion any off the top of my head. So I leave it to you two... and anyone else. How do you interpret this (and the previous) passage to mean Jesus is God? Doesn't the word choice, particularly of the Titus 3 text, basically rule out the writer's believing Jesus is God?

    But alas! The writer calls God "our Savior" in Titus 1 and 3, and calls Jesus "our great God and Savior" in 2.13. Therefore, they must be the same!! The logical problem is simple: Jesus CANNOT both be God AND not God. If we take the two texts I have cited and the Titus 2 text you have cited, we have a conflict that's difficult to resolve. The language of the texts I cite is at least as clear in its distinction/separation between God and Jesus as the text you cite is in its unification of them. I choose to believe that the writer is exalting, not deifying, Jesus and his role in our salvation.

    Consider one other NT passage:

    • 1 Timothy 2.5-6: "5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time."

    This writer clearly distinguishes between God and the one who mediates between God and humanity. Who is that mediator? A human being named Jesus.

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328
    edited April 11

    Your position ignores Granville Sharp's rule. So it's a matter of how much you trust his judgement and those who think he is right as opposed to your own untrained eye.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,773

    @Dave_L said:

    Your position ignores Granville Sharp's rule. So it's a matter of how much you trust his judgement and those who think he is right as opposed to your own untrained eye.

    First, my "eye" is not "untrained."

    Second, your post avoids any and all mention of the substance of my previous post, in which I quoted and commented on three New Testament texts, including two from the very epistle the verse upon which the resource material you quoted in your other post in this thread commented.

    In addition:

    • I don't see how "Sharp's Rule" contributes to our understanding of the Christology reflected in Titus 1.4, Titus 3.4-8, and 1 Timothy 2.5-6. If it does, please explain.
    • Do you dispute ANY of my observations about those three texts? If so, where in the texts themselves do you find support for your disagreement?
    • In your view, what does each of those texts say about the relationship between God and Jesus? (I'm asking for YOUR interpretation of those texts, Dave, not a resource's.)
    • How do you resolve the apparent conflict between the Christology reflected in those three texts and the text your resource cited, Titus 2.13?
  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328

    You need to go with the pros and not just wing it in these matters.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,773

    @Dave_L :

    You need to go with the pros and not just wing it in these matters.

    And again you completely avoid the substance of one of my posts.

    Please let me know if "the pros" have anything to say about the Christology reflected in Titus 1.4Titus 3.4-8, and 1 Timothy 2.5-6, the three texts I quoted, commented on, and asked for your views about - specifically, the apparent conflict between those texts' understanding of the distinction between God and Jesus, and said understanding reflected in Titus 2.13.

  • PagesPages Posts: 73

    @C_M_

    (1) The text refers to both God the Father (τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ) and to Jesus (σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ), and the glory that will appear at the Parousia belongs to both of them (cf. KJV)

    (2) The whole phrase is referring to Jesus Christ, called “our great God and Savior", whose glory will be seen at His Second Coming.

    (3) Jesus Christ is described as “the glory of our great God and Savior.”

    My very brief response to this is that the grammatical structure of the Greek text reflects that both God and Savior are referring to Jesus Christ; so, I would therefore be in agreement with the second option offered above. 

  • PagesPages Posts: 73

    @Bill_Coley

    Titus 1.4"To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior."


    The writer clearly offers grace and peace from two distinct and different sources: God and Christ Jesus. God is "the Father" and Christ Jesus is "our Savior." If the writer believes Jesus is God, then the word choice of 1.4 makes no sense. Much more sensible, had he held such a view, would have been language such as "Grace and peace from God, who is (known to us as) both our Father and Christ Jesus our Savior."

    With regard to your observation of Titus 1:4 that two distinct persons are in view, I am in full agreement. However, Titus 1:4, in grammatical structure, is completely different than that of Titus 2:13 – as are the other references (Titus 3:4-8, and 1Tim. 2:5-6) you cite (as a side note on Titus 3:4-8 “our Savior” is there applied to both God and Jesus).

    The grammatical syntax (τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος) found at Titus 2:13 is that of, in short, a single articular noun (not proper), a co-ordinating conjunction kai (and), a non-articular noun (not proper) – all singular, and agreeing in both gender and case. This particular Greek syntax denotes a single entity, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, as being the referent of the phrase θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος.   

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,773

    Thanks for the response!

    @Pages said:

    With regard to your observation of Titus 1:4 that two distinct persons are in view, I am in full agreement. However, Titus 1:4, in grammatical structure, is completely different than that of Titus 2:13 – as are the other references (Titus 3:4-8, and 1Tim. 2:5-6) you cite (as a side note on Titus 3:4-8our Savior” is there applied to both God and Jesus).

    As to the number of distinct persons referenced in Titus 1.4, we have common ground... always a satisfying outcome in these forums.

    As to the grammatical structures of 1.4 and the other verses to which I referred in an earlier post, in my view, the grammatical structure employed in the texts is a factor, but not the only factor affecting the texts' meanings. I contend that regardless of the depth of our analysis of those texts, three of the four make a claim about Jesus and God that is in obvious and not quickly resolved tension/conflict with the claim of 2.13.

    As to the deployment of "our Savior" upon both God and Jesus in Titus 3.4-8, clearly you're correct, but that doesn't change the meaning of the text writ large: God poured out the Holy Spirit through Jesus, a meaning whose most sensible implication is that the one through whom the Spirit was poured is not ALSO the one who did the pouring. Aside from the repeated "our Savior" title, there is no indication in the text whatsoever that the writer believes Jesus is also the God doing the pouring out of the Spirit. I contend, in fact, that the writer's word choice leads to the opposite conclusion.

    The grammatical syntax (τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος) found at Titus 2:13 is that of, in short, a single articular noun (not proper), a co-ordinating conjunction kai (and), a non-articular noun (not proper) – all singular, and agreeing in both gender and case. This particular Greek syntax denotes a single entity, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, as being the referent of the phrase θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος. 

    I quickly cede Greek grammar territory to your experience and knowledge, but from what I've read in other resources, your take on the phrase seems on-point. For me, the result is that 2.13 is in conflict with the other Titus verses I cited, and dozens of other verses/passages in the NT. At least so far in this thread, no one has shown that the Christology reflected in any of the other three passages comports with the Christology of 2.13.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,096

    If one understood the use of figures of speech in general and in the Bible in particular - in this case the figure of speech ellipsis - one might just be able to understand Tit 2:13 in light of the overall scope and context in such a manner which would not cause contradictions and make the man Christ Jesus to be a God. In addition, it would not be bad to have a look at a Greek dictionary and notice that the word for "and" also can have the meaning of "even".

    Titus 2:13

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

  • PagesPages Posts: 73

    @Bill_Coley

    Thanks for the response!

    You are welcome, thank you for the kind words.

    As to the number of distinct persons referenced in Titus 1.4, we have common ground... always a satisfying outcome in these forums.

    Yes, I agree – most satisfying.

    As to the grammatical structures of 1.4 and the other verses to which I referred in an earlier post, in my view, the grammatical structure employed in the texts is a factor, but not the only factor affecting the texts' meanings. 

    I would also agree that other factors are in play when reading texts in addition to syntax. However, in the case of Titus 2:13 the grammatical construct is of most importance to answer what the writer wanted to convey to his readers – i.e., to whom does “God and Savior” refer.

    The occurrences of this particular syntactical construct found in the NT will have a single referent that it points to in all instances.

    I contend that regardless of the depth of our analysis of those texts, three of the four make a claim about Jesus and God that is in obvious and not quickly resolved tension/conflict with the claim of 2.13.

    In those three texts cited (Titus 1:4; 3:4-8; 1Tim. 2:5-6) which you believe have nearly un-resolvable tension/conflict with Titus 2:13, I find no tension or conflict at all.  

    As to the deployment of "our Savior" upon both God and Jesus in Titus 3.4-8, clearly you're correct, but that doesn't change the meaning of the text writ large: God poured out the Holy Spirit through Jesus, a meaning whose most sensible implication is that the one through whom the Spirit was poured is not ALSO the one who did the pouring. Aside from the repeated "our Savior" title, there is no indication in the text whatsoever that the writer believes Jesus is also the God doing the pouring out of the Spirit. I contend, in fact, that the writer's word choice leads to the opposite conclusion.

    Yes, Jesus is acting as agent for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit; and Jesus is not the one pouring – we are in agreement.  

    there is no indication in the text whatsoever that the writer believes Jesus is also the God doing the pouring out of the Spirit. I contend, in fact, that the writer's word choice leads to the opposite conclusion.

    We agree here as well. Two distinct, individual persons.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,096


    Forgot to mention that the Greek text actually has the equivalent wording "the appearing [manifestation] of the glory of God" which is how the coming or presence of our savior, Messiah Jesus, is described.

    No God Jesus mentioned in the verse.

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328

    There is no substance to your rebuttals. You are coming against the Greek language pros, not me. And they say you are wrong. Would you go to a Walmart greeter for a root canal? Why not go to the pros who better understand what the language actually says?

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,096

    You are coming against the Greek language pros, not me. And they say you are wrong. Would you go to a Walmart greeter for a root canal?

    I wouldn't even go to just any dentist ... especially when I as an amateur can already see that what he suggests as a treatment makes no sense.

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328

    That's why the Greek Language pros play such an important part in our understanding of Greek.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,096

    Could it be that you were unable to read and/or understand what I actually wrote ?

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328

    I think it is obvious that Jesus is YAHWEH when we follow the rules of grammar. No need to kick it around.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,773
    edited April 12

    @Dave_L said:

    There is no substance to your rebuttals. You are coming against the Greek language pros, not me. And they say you are wrong. Would you go to a Walmart greeter for a root canal? Why not go to the pros who better understand what the language actually says?

    In my CD participation, Dave, I'm forever expressing agreement or disagreement with, or questions or comments about, others' points of view, and in so doing, I very intentionally constrain my responses to those forms. Almost never do I tell another poster that he or she is "right" or "wrong." Your post here, however, prompts me to deviate from form: On the matter of the "substance" of my "rebuttals," you are wrong.

    In response to CM's OP, I wrote nearly 350 words that directly and substantively engaged three New Testament texts. In an exchange with @Pages, I wrote another 265 words that directly engaged the substantive textual issues he raised. YOUR response to my post - the part of your response that dealt substantively with my response - was this sentence: "Your position ignores Granville Sharp's rule." That's it. Six words, whose content engaged only one of the three NT texts I cited, and only in the briefest and least substantial of manners. The rest of your responses to me have offered inconsequential, Angie's List-like recommendations about dental procedures and "Greek language pros."

    • I write 350 words of direct engagement with biblical texts. (a word count that doesn't include the many questions to which I asked for, but did not receive, your response)
    • You write six words that quickly and without explication engage at best one-third of my response.

    And I'M the one whose rebuttals have had "no substance"? No. On this matter, Dave, you're wrong.

    Post edited by Bill_Coley on
  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328

    We are talking experts vs amateurs as it relates to interpreting Titus 2:13. Shouldn't we all go by what the pros say, and not what our lack of study provides?

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,096

    No, we should absolutely NOT think of the "pros" as infallible know it alls .... your statement is plainly dead wrong.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 3,230

    Let's stop giving one another a piece of our mines and mine the text. CM


    PS. My studied take on the text, later. Yes, I will invite other voices, but they don't know it all.

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,773

    @Dave_L said:

    We are talking experts vs amateurs as it relates to interpreting Titus 2:13. Shouldn't we all go by what the pros say, and not what our lack of study provides?

    When in Psalm 119 the psalmist wrote...

    11    I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 

          12    Blessed are you, O LORD;  teach me your statutes! 

          13    With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 

          14    In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 

          15    I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 

          16    I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. 

    ... I can't imagine he even considered the option of waiting for the "experts" and "pros" to decide the meanings and implications of God's statutes and precepts before he "stored" them in his heart. Can you?

    As for any "lack of study," I am intentional about my engagement with Scripture, in the form of daily devotional reading and weekly Bible study and sermon prep time.


    Without understanding the language, all debate is worthless.

    And without substantive contributions that report the views of CD posters, there is no debate at all. There is only a collection of quotations from "pros" and "experts" who aren't available to respond to each other as we CD posters are.

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328

    Do you take your car to the root beer stand and have a car hop work on it? Of course not. So it likewise does not make sense to wing it when specialists are available to fix things right.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,096

    When it's time to give account, the excuse will be, "but I believed the pros .. It's their fault"

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328

    It makes more sense to go to a doctor for heart surgery than to a butcher.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,096

    Hmn .... sounds like person cannot read and understand what God inspired in the Biblical scriptures without "pros" first spelling out everything??

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,328

    When questions arise over Greek issues, it's best to consult the pros and not amateurs.

  • C_M_C_M_ Posts: 3,230

    Gentlemen,

    I know the name of this site is called Christian Debate. Do we have to debate everything? I hope this doesn't means non-debaters are not welcome and there's no room in these forums for them. Can't one simply make a contribution to the topic, rather it's developed or not? Why there seems to be no room for one to supply materials for those who bent on debating, to supply fuel as one shovels wood chips into a furnace. Must every thought be a finished product? From the pattern of things, no minds are changed or seems willing to be changed. We're all amateurs when it comes to God's knowledge and wisdom.

    A simplistic definition of an expert or a pro, is an over paid, individual who knows a lot about a little. Conversely, an amateur is one who is paid a little, but know a little, about a lot. Let's calm down and be receptive of everyone's contributions.

    Remember, a wiseman once said, that a man's opinions are his reputation and his reputation are his opinions. 😜CM

  • Bill_ColeyBill_Coley Posts: 1,773

    @C_M_ said:

    I know the name of this site is called Christian Debate. Do we have to debate everything? I hope this doesn't means non-debaters are not welcome and there's no room in these forums for them. Can't one simply make a contribution to the topic, rather it's developed or not? Why there seems to be no room for one to supply materials for those who bent on debating, to supply fuel as one shovels wood chips into a furnace. Must every thought be a finished product? From the pattern of things, no minds are changed or seems willing to be changed. We're all amateurs when it comes to God's knowledge and wisdom.

    In this thread's OP, CM, you asked us to "make (our) case(s)" regarding our views of Titus 2.13. When our views differ - which they often do - some form of debate or disagreement is inevitable... and not necessarily unhealthy.

    FWIW, I'm eager to receive what in an earlier post you described would be your "studied take" on the verse.

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