This is a rebellious people, lying children, that will not hear the Law of Yahweh. Isaiah 30:9.


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Titus 2:13 & The Granville Sharp Rule

A disputed text between Trinitarians and Unitarians is Titus 2:13. The New American Standard has it read that Paul calls Jesus God. However, the King James Bible has Paul differentiate God from Jesus. 

Anthony Buzzard, a Unitarian Minister, in The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound (1998) at 279-81 explains why the Granville Sharp rule is not decisive in this context. Below is our verbatim excerpt from pages 279-281:

Does the New Testament Call Jesus God? Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1

A number of contemporary discussions advanced the so-called Granville Sharp's rule to support their claim that Jesus is called the "Great God and Savior" in Titus 2:13. Sharp contended that when the Greek word kai (and) joins two nouns of the same case, when the first noun has the definite article and the second does not, the two nouns refer to one subject. Hence the disputed verse should read "… our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," and not as the King James Version has, "… the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." The rule about the omission of the article, however, cannot be relied on to settle the matter. As Nigel Turner (who writes as a Trinitarian) says:

Unfortunately, at this period of Greek we cannot be sure that such a rule is really decisive. Sometimes the definite article is not repeated even when there is clearly a separation in ideas. "The repetition of the article was not strictly necessary to ensure that the items be considered separately." (Moulton-Howard-Turner, Grammar, volume III, p. 181. The references is to Titus 2:13).

Since the absence of the second article is not decisive, it is natural to see here the appearing of God's glory as it is displayed in his Son at the Second Coming. There is an obvious parallel with Matthew's description of the arrival of Jesus in power: "for the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his holy angels" (Matthew 16:27). Since the Father confers His glory upon the Son (as He will also share it with the saints) is most appropriate that Father and Son should be closely linked. Paul had only a few verses earlier spoken of "God the Father in Christ Jesus our Savior" (Titus 1:4).

A wide range of grammarians and Biblical scholars have recognized that the absence of the definite article before "our Savior Jesus Christ" is quite inadequate to establish the Trinitarian claim that Jesus is here called "the great God." At best, the argument is "dubious." It is unfortunate, as Brown says, "that no certainty can be reached here, for it seems that this passage is the one which shaped the confession of the World Council of Churches in 'Jesus Christ is God and Savior.'" See Raymond Brown, Jesus, God and Man (New York: McMillan, 1967) at 18. It should also be noted that the Roman Emperor could be called "God and Savior," without the implication that he was the Supreme Deity. Even if the title "God and Savior" were most exceptionally used of Jesus, it would not establish His position is coequal and coeternal with the Father. It would rather designate him as the One God's supreme agent, which is the view of the whole Bible.

The same grammatical problem faces expositors of 2 Peter 1:1. Henry Alford is one of many Trinitarians who argue that Jesus is not called "God" in this verse. For him, the absence of the article is outweighed here, as in Titus 2:13, by the much more significant fact that both Peter and Paul normally distinguish clearly between God and Jesus Christ. The writer of the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges agreed that "the rule that the one article indicates the one subject… [cannot] be too strongly relied upon as decisive." [ E. Humphreys, The Epistles to Timothy & Titus (Cambridge University Press, 1895) at 225]. A Trinitarian writer of the last century was much less generous to those who sought proof of the Deity of Christ in the omission of the article: "some eminently pious and learned scholars … have so far overstretched the argument founded on the presence or absence of the article, as have run it into a fallacious sophistry, and, in the intensity of their zeal to maintain the 'honor of the Son' were not aware that there were rather engaged in' dishonoring the Father.'" [Granville Penn, Supplemental Annotations to the New Commented, cited in John Wilson, Unitarian Principles Confirmed by Trinitarian Testimonies (Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1848) at 431.]

The last statement may in fact be true of the whole effort of orthodoxy to make Jesus equal in every sense to the Father.


Study Notes

Another article from an anti-Trinitarian reading of Titus 2:13 is from Kermit Zarley entitled "Is Jesus God in Titus 2:13?" available at this link.