EZRA ABOTT, On The Construction Of Titus 2,13, in Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, 1881
The Greek reads as follows: PROSDECOMENOI THN MAKARIAN ELPIDA KAI EPIFANEIAN THS DOXHS TOU MEGALOU QEOU KAI SWTHROS HMWN IHSOU CRISTOU (or CRISTOU IHSOU).
Shall we translate, “the appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”? or, “the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”?
It was formerly contended by Granville Sharp, and afterwards by Bishop Middleton, that the absence of the Greek article before SWTHROS in Tit. ii. 13 and 2 Pet. i. I, and before QEOU in Eph. v. 5, is alone sufficient to prove that the two appellatives connected by KAI belong to one subject.
[ftn. Sharp applied his famous rule to 2 Thess. i. 12, but Middleton thinks that this text afford no certain evidence in his favor. Winer disposes of it summarily as merely a case in which KURIOU is used for O KURIOU taking, in a measure, the character of a proper name. In 2 Thess. i. 11, O QEOS HMWN denotes God in distinction from “our Lord Jesus” (ver. 12); it is therefore unnatural in the extreme to take this title in the last clause of the very same sentence (ver. 12) as a designation of Christ. We may then reject without hesitation Granville Sharp’s construction, which in fact has the support of but few respectable scholars.
As to I Tim. v. 21 and 2 Tim. iv. 1, it is enough to refer to the notes of Bishop Middleton and Bishop Ellicott on the former passage. Compare the remarkable various readings in Gal. ii. 20, adopted by Lachmann and Tregelles (text), but not by Tischendorf or Westcott and Hort, - EN PISTEI ZW TH TOU QEOU KAI CRISTOS.
In Eph. v. 5, EN TH BASILEIA TOU CRISTOU KAI QEOU, the CRISTOU and QEOU are regarded as being distinct by a large majority of the best commentators, as De Wette, Meyer, Olshausen, Meier, Holzhausen, Flatt, Matthies, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bleek, Ewald, Schenkel, Braune and Riddle (in Lange’s Comm., and Prebendary Meyrick in “the Speaker’s Commentary” (1881).
In the Revised New Testament, the construction contended for so strenuously by Middleton in Eph. v. 5, and Sharp in 2 Thess. i. 12, has not been deemed worthy of notice.]
“It is impossible,” says Middleton in his note on Tit. ii. 13, “to understand QEOU and SWTHROS otherwise than of one person.” This ground is now generally abandoned, and it is admitted that, grammatically, either construction is possible. I need only refer to Winer, Stuart, Buttman, T.S. Green, and S.G. Green among the grammarians, and to Alford, Ellicott, Bishop Jackson, and other recent commentators.
[ftn. See Winer. Gram. 19, 5, Anm. I, p. 123, 7te Aufl (p. 130 Thayer’s trans., p. 162 Moulton); Stuart, Bibl. Repos. April, 1834, vol. iv. p. 322 f.; A. Buttman, Gram. 125, 14-17, pp. 97-100, Thayer’s trans.; T.S. Green, Gram. of the N.T. Dialect (1842), pp. 205-219, or new ed.(1862), pp. 67-75; S.G. Green, Handbook to the Gram. of the Greek Text., p. 216; and Alford on Tit. 11. 13. Alford has some good remarks on the passage, but I find no sufficient proof of his statement that SWTHR had become in the N.T. “a quasi proper name.”]
It will be most convenient to assume, provisionally, that this view is correct; and to consider the exegetical grounds for preferring one construction to the other. But as some still think that the omission of the article, though not decisive of the question, affords a presumption in favor of the construction which makes TOU MEGALOU QEOU a designation of Christ, a few remarks upon this point will be made in Note A, at the end of this paper. It may be enough to say here that QEOUhas already an attributive, so that the mind naturally rests for a moment upon TOU MEGALOU QEOU as a subject by itself; and that the addition of IHSOU CRISTOU to SWTHROS HMWN distinguished the person so clearly from TOU MEGALOU QEOU, according to Paul’s constant use of language, that there was no need of the article for that purpose.
The question presented derives additional interest from the fact that, in the recent Revision of the English translation of the New Testament, the English Company have adopted in the text the first of the constructions mentioned above, placing the other in the margin; while the American Company, by a large majority, preferred to reverse these positions.
I will first examine the arguments of Bishop Ellicott for the construction which makes TOU MEGALOU QEOU an appellation of Christ. They are as follows:-
“(a) EPIFANEIA is a term specially and peculiarly applied to the Son, and never to the Father.” The facts are these. In one passage (2 Tim. 1. 10) the word EPIFANEIA is applied to Christ’s first advent; in four to his second advent (2 Thess. ii. 8; 1 Tim. vi. 14; 2 Tim. iv. 1, 8); and as EPIFANEIA denotes a visible manifestation, it may be thought that an EPIFANEIA of God, the Father, “whom no man hath seen nor can see,” could not be spoken of.
But this argument is founded on a misstatement of the question. The expression here is not “the appearing of the great God,” but “the appearing of the glory of the great God,” which is a different thing. When our Saviour himself had said, “The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels” (Matt. xvi. 27, comp. Mark viii. 38), or as Luke expresses it, “in his own glory and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels” (ch. ix. 26), can we doubt that Paul, who had probably often heard Luke’s report of these words, might speak of “the appearing of the glory” of the Father, as well as of Christ, at the second advent?
[ftn, Even if the false assumption on which the argument were correct, that is, if the expression here used were THN EPIFANEIAN TOU MEGALOU QEOU KAI SWTHROS HMWN IHSOU CRISTOU, the argument would have little or no weight. The fact that EPIFANEIA is used four times of Christ in relation to the second advent would be very far from proving that it might not be so used of God, the Father, also. Abundant examples may be adduced from Jewish writers to show that any extraordinary display of divine power, whether exercised directly and known only by its effects, or through an intermediate visible agent, as an angel, might be called an EPIFANEIA, an “appearing” or “manifestation” of God. The word is used in the same way in heathen literature to denote any supposed divine interposition in human affairs, whether accompanied by a visible appearance of the particular deity concerned, or not. See Note B.]
This view is confirmed by the representations of the second advent given elsewhere in the New Testament, and particularly by 1 Tim. vi. 14-16. The future EPIFANEIA of Christ was not conceived of by Paul as independent of God, the Father, and more than his first EPIFANEIA or advent, but as one “which in his own time the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man hath seen nor can see, shall show” (DEIXEI). The reference is to the joint manifestation of the glory of God and of Christ at the time when, to use the language of the writer to the Hebrews (i. 6), he again bringeth [or shall have brought] his first-begotten into the world, and saith, Let all the angels of God pay him homage.”
[ftn. “See also Acts iii. 20: “-and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus.”]
That God and Christ should be associated in the references to the second advent, that God should be represented as displaying his power and glory at the EPIFANEIA of Christ, accords with the account given elsewhere of the accompanying events. The dead are to be raised at the second advent, a glorious display of divine power, even as Christ is said to have been “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Rom. vi. 4). But it is expressly declared by Paul that, “as Jesus died and rose again, even so shall GOD, through Jesus, bring with him them that have fallen asleep” (1 Thess. iv. 14; comp. Phil. iii. 21); and again, “GOD both raised the Lord, and he will raise up us by his power” (1 Cor. vi. 14). There is to be a general judgement at the second advent; but Paul tells us that “God hath appointed a day for which HE will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he hath ordained” (Acts xvii. 31), or, as it is elsewhere expressed, “the day in which He will judge the secrets of men, through Jesus Christ.” (Rom. ii. 16, comp. ver. 5, 6); and that “we shall stand before the judgement seat of GOD” (Rom. xiv. 10). So the day referred to is not only called “the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. i. 8, v. 5; 2 Cor. i. 14), or “the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. i. 6), or “the day of Christ” (Phil. 1. 10, ii. 16), but “the day of GOD” (2 Pet. iii. 12). Here, as throughout the economy of salvation, there is EIS QEOS O PATHR EX OU TA PANTA KAI HMEIS EIS AUTON KAI EIS KURIOS IHSOUS CRISTOS DI OU TA PANTA (1 Cor. viii. 6).
It appears to me, then, that Bishop Ellicott’s “palmary argument,” as he calls it, derives all its apparent force from a misstatement of the question; and when we consider the express language of Christ respecting his appearing in the glory of his Father, the express statement of Paul that this EPIFANEIA of Christ is one which God, the Father, will show (1 Tim. vi. 15), and the corresponding statement of the writer to the Hebrews (i. 6, when he bringeth,” etc.); when we consider that in the concomitants of the second advent, the resurrection of the dead, and the judgement of men, in which the glory of Christ will be displayed, he is everywhere represented as acting, not independently of God, the Father, but in union with him, as his agent, so that “the Father is glorified in the Son,” can we find the slightest difficulty in supposing that Paul here describes the second advent as an “appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”?
(b) Bishop Ellicott’s second argument is “that the immediate context so specially relates to our Lord.” He can only refer to ver. 14, “who gave himself for us,” etc. The argument rest on the assumption, that when a writer speaks of two persons, A and B, there is something strange or unnatural in adding a predicate to B alone. If it is not instantly clear that such an assumption contradicts the most familiar facts of language, one may compare the mention of God and Christ together in Gal. 1. 3, 4, and 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6, and the predicate that in each case follows the mention of the latter. The passage in Galatians reads: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might deliver us to God,” etc.
(c) The third point
is “that the following mention of Christ’s giving Himself up for us, of His
abasement, does fairly account for
(d) The fourth argument is “that MEGALOU would seem uncalled for if applied to the Father.” It seems to me, on the contrary, to have solemn impressiveness, suitable to the grandeur of the event referred to. It condenses into one word what is more fully expressed by the accumulation of high titles applied to God in connection with the same subject in 1 Tim. vi. 14-16, suggesting that the event is one which the power and majesty of God will be conspicuously displayed. The expression “the great God” does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, but it is not uncommon in the Old Testament and later Jewish writings as a designation of Jehovah. See Note C, p. 456
(e) Bishop Ellicott’s last argument is that “apparently two of the ante-Nicene (Clem. Alexand. Protrept. 7 [ed. Pott.] and Hippolytus quoted by Words.) and the great bulk of post-Nicene writers concurred in this interpretation.”-As to this, I would say that Clement of Alexandria does not cite the passage in proof of of the deity of Christ, and there is nothing to show that he adopted the construction which refers the TOU MEGALOU QEOU to him.
[Winstanley well remarks, in his valuable essay on the use of the Greek
article in the New Testament, the “the observation of
The supposition of Wordsworth and Bishop Jackson that Ignatius (Eph. c. 1) refers to this passage has, as far as I can see, no foundation.]
Hippolytus (De Antichristo, c. 67), in an allusion to the passage, uses the expression EPIFANEIAN TOU QEOU KAI SWTHROS HMWN of Christ, which may seem to indicate that he adopted the construction just mentioned. But it is to be observed that he omits the THS DOXHS, and the MEGALOU, and the IHSOU CRISTOUafter SWTHROS HMWN, so that it is not certain that if he had quoted the passage fully, instead of merely borrowing some of its language, he would have applied all the terms to one subject. My principal reason for doubt is, that he has nowhere in his writings spoken of Christ as O MEGAS QEOS, with or without HMWN, and that it would hardly have been consistent with his theology to do this, holding so strongly as he did the doctrine of the subordination of the Son.
It is true that many writers of the fourth century and later apply the passage to Christ. At that period, and earlier, when QEOS had become a common appellation of Christ, and especially when he was very often called “our God” or “our God and Saviour,” the construction of Tit. ii. 13 which refers the QEOU to him would seem the most natural. But the New Testament use of language is widely different; and on that account a construction which would seem most natural in the fourth century, might not even suggest itself to a reader in the first century. That the orthodox Fathers should give to an ambiguous passage the construction which suited their theology and the use of the language in their time was almost a matter of course, and furnishes no evidence that their resolution of the ambiguity is the true one.
The cases are so numerous in which the Fathers, under the influence of dogmatic bias, have done extreme violence to very plain language, that we can attach no weight to their preference in the case of a construction really ambiguous, like the present. For a notable example of such violence, see 2 Cor. iv. 4, EN OIS O QEOS TOU AIWNOS TOUTOU ETUFLWSEN TA NOHMATA TWN APISTWN, where fear of Gnosticism or Manichaeism, Iranaeus (Haer. iii. 7, / 1; comp., iv. 29 (al. 48), / 2), Tertullian (Adv. Marc. v. 11), Admantius or Pseudo-Origen (De recta in Deum fide, sect. ii. Orig. Opp. i. 832), Chrysostom, Theodoret, (Ecumenius, Theophylact, Augustine, Primasius, Sedulius Scotus, Haymo, and others make TOU AIWNOS TOUTOU depend on APISTWN instead of O QEOS, a construction which we should hardly hesistate to call impossible.
[ftn., For many of these writers see Whitby, Diss. de Script. Interp. secundum Patrum Commentarios, p. 275 f. Alford’s note on this passage has a number of false references, copied without acknowledgement from Meyer, and ascribes this interpretation (after Meyer) to Origen, who opposes it (Opp. iii 497, ed. De la Rue).]
I have now considered all the arguments of Bishop Ellicott, citing them in full in his own language. It seems to me that no one of them has any real weight; and that a consideration of his “palmary argument,” which is the onemainly urged by the advocates of his construction of the passage, really leads to the opposite view. The same is trus also, I conceive, of his reference to the expression “the great God.”
But there is a new argument which it may be worth while to notice. In
the English translation of the second edition of his Biblico-Theological
Lexicon of N.T. Greek, Cremer has added to the article QEOS a long
note on Tit. ii. 13 which is not in the German original, and has made other
alterations in the article. He here contends that TOU MEGALOU QEOU refers
to Christ. He gives up entirely the argument from the want of the article
before SWTHROS, on which he had insisted in the German edition. Nor does
he urge the argument from the sense of EPIFANEIA. His only arguments are
founded on assertion that ver. 14 “by its form already indicates that in ver.
13 only one subject is presented” - an argument which has already been answered
(see p. 443, under b), and to which, it seems to me, one cannot
reasonably attach the slightest weight - and the fact that ver. 14 contains the
expression LAON PERIOUSION, “a peculiar people,” an expression used in
the O.T. to denote the Jewish nation as the chosen people of God. The argument
rests on the assumption that because in ver. 14 that Apostle has transferred
this expression to the
The case seems to me to present no difficulty, and to afford no ground for such an inference. The relation of Christians to God and Christ is such that, from its very nature, the servants of Christ are called the servants of God, the church of Christ the church of God, the kingdom of Christ the kingdom of God (1 Pet. ii. 9, 10).
[ftn., Comp. Clement of Rome, I Ep. ad Cor. c. 64 (formerly 58): “May the All-seeing God and Master of Spirits and Lord of all flesh, who chose the Lord Jesus Christ and us through him for a peculiar people (EIS LAON PERIOUSION), grant,” etc.]
If Christians belong to Christ, they must also belong to God, the Father, to whom Christ himself belongs (1 Cor. iii. 23, “ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s”). To infer, then, that because in ver. 14 Christians are spoken as Christ’s peculiar people, the title “great God” must necessarily be understood as applied to him in ver. 13 is a very extraordinary kind of reasoning.
Such are the arguments which have been urged for the translation, “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Let us now consider what is to be said for the construction which makes TOU MEGALOU QEOU and IHSOU CRISTOU distinct subjects.
In the case of a grammatical ambiguity of this kind in any classical author, the first inquiry would be, What is the usage of the writer respecting the application of the title in question? Now this consideration, which certainly is a most reasonable one, seems to me here absolutely decisive. While the word QEOS occurs more than five hundred times in the Epistles of Paul, not including the Epistle to the Hebrews, there is not a single instance in which it is clearly applied to Christ.
[ftn., The passages in the writings of Paul in which the title QEOS has ever been given to Christ are very few, and are all cases of very doubtful construction or doubtful reading. Alford finds it given to him only in Rom. ix. 5; but here, as is well known, many of the most imminent modern scholars make the last part of the verse a doxology to God, the Father. So, for example, Winer, Fritzsche, Meyer, De Wette, Ewald; Tischendorf, Kuenen and Cobet, Buttmann, Hahn (ed. 1861); Professor Jowett, Professor J.H. Godwin, Professor Lewis Campbell of the University of St. Andrews, the Rev. Dr. B. H. Kennedy, Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Cambridge, and Dr. Hort. Of the other passages, Eph. v. 5 and 2 Thess. i. 12 have already been considered. In 1 Tim. iii. 16 there is now a general agreement among critical scholars that OS EFANERWQH and not QEOS EFANERWQH is the true reading. In Col. ii. 12, the only remaining passage, the text is uncertain; but if we adopt the reading TOU MUSTHRION TOU QEOU CRISTOU, the most probable construction is that which regards CRISTOU as in apposition with MUSTHRION, which is confirmed by Col. i. 27. This is the view of Bishop Ellicott, Bishop Lightfoot, Wieseler (on Gal. i.1), and Westcott and Hort. Others, as Meyer, Huther, and Klopper, translate “the mystery of the God of Christ” (comp. Eph. i. 3, 17, etc.). Steiger takes CRISTOU as in apposition with TOU QEOU, and thus Christ here called God; but to justify his interpretation the Greek should rather be CRISTOU TOU QEOU (comp. De Wette).
The habitual, and I believe uniform, usage of Paul corresponds with his language 1 Cor. viii. 6.
Here and elsewhere I intentionally pass by the question whether Paul’s view of the nature Christ and his relation to the Father would have allowed him to designate Christ as O MEGAS QEOS KAI SWTHROS HMWN. This would lead to a long discussion of many passages. My argument rests on the undisputed facts respecting his habitual use of language.]
In the case then of a question between two constructions, either of which is grammatically possible, should we not adopt that which accords with a usage of which we have five hundred examples, without one clear exception, rather than that which is on opposition to it? The case is made still stronger by the fact that we have here not only QEOU, but MEGALOU QEOU.
Even if we do not regard the Pastoral Epistles as written by Paul, and confine our attention to them only, we reach the same result. Observe how clearly God, the Father, is distinguished in 1 Tim. i. 1,2; ii. 3-5; v. 21; vi. 13-16; 2 Tim. i. 2, 8, 9; iv. 1; Tit. 1, 3 (comp. for the KAT EPITAGHN 1 Tim. i. 1, Rom. xvi. 26), 4; iii. 4-6. Observe, particularly, that the expression “God our Saviour” is applied solely to the Father, who is distinguished from Christ as our Saviour; God being the primal source of salvation, and Christ the medium of communication, agreeably, to the language of Paul, 2 Cor. v. 18, TA DE PANTA EK TOU QEOU TOU KATALLAXANTOS HMAS EAUTW DIA CRISTOU; comp. 1 Cor. viii. 6. See 1 Tim. i. 1; ii. 3-5; iv. 10; Tit. i. 1-4; iii. 4-6; compare also Jude 25. Such being the marked distinction between QEOS and CRISTOS in other passages of these Pastoral Epistles, should we not adopt the construction which recognizes the same here?
An examination of the context will confirm the conclusion at which we have arrived. I have already shown that the title “God our Saviour” in the Pastoral Epistles belongs exclusively to the Father. This is generally admitted; for example by Bloomfield, Alford and Ellicott. Now the connection of ver. 10 in which this expression occurs, with ver. 11 is obviously such, that if QEOU denotes the Father in the former it must in the latter. Regarding it then as settled that QEOU in ver. 11 denotes the Father (and I am not aware that it has ever been disputed),* is it not harsh to suppose that the QEOU in ver. 13, in the latter part of the sentence denotes a different subject from the QEOU in ver. 11 at the beginning of the same sentence?
[ftn., *It should be questioned, all doubt will probably be removed by a comparison of the verse with Tit. iii. 3-7 and 2 Tim. i. 8, 9.]
It appears especially harsh, when we notice the beautiful correspondence of EPIFANEIANin ver. 13 with the EPEFANH of ver. 11. This correspondence can hardly have been undesigned. As the first advent of Christ was an appearing or visible manifestation of the glory of God, as well as of Christ.
To sum up: the reasons for which are urged for giving this verbally ambiguous passage the construction which makes “the great God” a designation of Christ, are seen, when examined, to have little or now weight; on the other hand, the construction adopted in the common English version, and preferred by the American Revisers, is favored, if not required, by the context (comparing ver. 13 with ver. 11); it perfectly suits the references to the second advent in other parts of the New Testament; and it is imperatively demanded by a regard to Paul’s use of language, unless we arbitrarily assume here a single exception to a usage of which we have more than five hundred examples.
I might add, though I would not lay much stress on the fact, that the principal ancient versions, the Old Latin, the Vulgate, the Peshito and Harclean Syriac, the Coptic, and the Arabic, appear to have given the passage the construction which makes God and Christ distinct subjects. The Aethiopic seems to be the only exception. Perhaps, however, the construction in the Latin versions should be regarded as somewhat ambiguous.
Among the modern scholars who have agreed with all the old English versions (Tyndale, Coverdale, Cranmer, the Genevan, the Bishop’s Bible, the Rhemish, and the Authorized) in preferring this construction are Erasmus, Calvin, Luther, Grotius, LeClerc, Wetstein, Moldenhawer, Michaelis, Benson, MacKnight, Archbishop Newcome, Rosenmuller, Heinrichs, Schott, Bretschneider, Neander (Planting and Training of the Christian Church, Robinson’s revised trans., p. 468,) De Wette, (and so Muller in the 3d ed. of De Wette, 1867), Meyer (on Rom. ix. 5), Fritzsche (Ep. ad Rom. ii. 266 ff.), Grimm, Baumgarten-Crusius (N.T. Gr. ed. Schott, 1839), Krehl, H. F. T. L. Ernesti (Vom Ursprunge der Sunde, p. 235 f.), Schumann (Christus, 1852, ii. 580, note), Messner (Die Lehre der Apostel, 1856, p. 236 f.), Huther, Ewald, Holtzmann (in Bunsen’s Bibelwerk, and with more hesitation in his Die Pastoralbriefe, 1880), Beyschlag (Christol. des N.T., 1866, p. 212, note), Rothe (Dogmatik, II. i. (1870), p. 110, note 3), Conybeare and Howson, Alford, Fairbarn, with some hesitation (The Pastoral Epistles, Edin. 1874, pp. 55, 282-285), Davidson, Prof. Lewis Campbell (in the Comtemp. Rev. for Aug., 1876), Immer (Theol. d. N.T., 1877, p. 393). W.F. Gess (Christi Person und Werk, Abth. II. (1878), p. 330), in opposition to the view expressed in his earlier work, Die Lehre von der Person Christi (1856), p. 88 f., Reuss (Les Epitres Pauliniennes, Paris, 1878, ii. 345), Farrar (Life and Work of St. Paul, ii. 536, cf. p. 615, note 1); and so the grammarians Winer and T.S. Green (comp. his Twofold N.T.). In the case of one or two recent writers, as Pfleiderer and Weizsacker, who have adopted the construction, there is reason to regard them as influenced by their view on the non-Pauline authorship of the Epistle, disposing them to find in its Christology a doctrine different from that of Paul.
Very many others, as Heydenreich, Flatt, Tholuck (Comm. zum Brief an die Romer, 5te Ausg., 1856, p. 482), C. F. Schmid (Bibl. Theol. des N. T., 2te Aufl., p. 540), Luthardt, leave the matter undecided. Even Bloomfield, in the Addenda to his last work (Critical Annotations, Additional and Supplementary, on the N.T., London, 1860, p. 352), after retracting the version given in his ninth edition of the Greek Testament, candidly says: “I am ready to admit that the mode of interpreting maintained by Huther and Al[ford] completely satisfies all the grammatical requirements of the sentence; that it is both structurally and contextually quite as probable as the other, and perhaps more agreeable to the Apostle’s way of writing.”
The view of Lange (Christliche Dogmatik, Heidelb. 1851, ii. 161 f.), Van Hengel (Interp. Ep. Pauli ad Romanos, ii. 358, note), and Schenkel (Das Christusbild der Apostel, 1879, p. 357), that IHSOU CRISTOU is here an apposition to THS DOXHS, the words which precede (TOU MEG. QEOU KAI SWT. HMWN) being referred to the Father, has little to commend it that it may be passed over without discussion.
Note A. (see p. 440.)
On the omission of the Article before SWTHROS HMWN.
Middleton’s rule is as follows: “When two or more attributives joined by a copulative or copulatives are assumed of [assumed to belong to] the same person or thing, before the first attributive the article is inserted; before the remaining ones it is omitted.
By attributes he understands adjectives, participles, and nouns which
are “significant of character, relation, or dignity.”
He admits that the rule is not always applicable to plurals (p. 49); and. again, where the attributes “are in their nature plainly incompatible.” “We cannot wonder,” he says, “if in such instances the principle of the rule has been sacrificed to negligence, or even to studied brevity....The second article should in strictness be expressed; but in such cases the writers knew that it might be safely understood” (pp. 51,52).
The principle which covers all the cases coming under Middleton’s rule, so far as that rule bears on the present question, is, I believe, simply this: The definite article is inserted before the second attributive when it is felt to be needed to distinguish different subjects; but when the two terms connected by a copulative are shown by any circumstance to denote distinct subjects, the article may be omitted, for the excellent reason that it is not needed.*
[ftn., See the remarks (by Andrews Norton) in the American edition of Winstanley’s Vindication of Certain Passages in the Common Eng. Version of the N. T., p. 45ff.; or Norton’s Statement of Reasons, etc., 2d ed. (1856), pp. 199-202.]
Middleton’s rule, , with its exceptions, applies to the English language
as well as the Greek. Webster (Wm.) remarks in his Syntax and Synonyms of the
Greek Testament -
”In English, the Secretary and Treasurer means one person; the Secretary and the Treasurer means two persons. In speaking of horses, the black and white horse means the piebald, but the black and the white horse mean two different horses.” (pp. 35, 36)
But this rule is very often broken when such formal precision of
expression is not felt to be necessary. If I should say, “I saw the President
and Treasurer of the
Take an example from the New Testament. In Matt. xxi. 12 we read that Jesus “cast out all those that were selling and buying in the temple,” TOUS PWLOUNTAS KAI AGORAZONTAS. No one can reasonably suppose that the same persons are described as both selling and buying. In Mark, the two classes are made distinct by the insertion of TOUS before AGORAZONTAS; here it is safely left to the intelligence of the reader to distinguish them.
In the case before us, the omission of the article before AGORAZONTAS seems to me to present no difficulty, - not because SWTHROS is made sufficiently definite by the addition of HMWN (Winer), for, since God as well as Christ is often called “our Saviour,” H DOXA TOU MEGALOU QEOU KAI SWTHROS HMWN, standing alone, would most naturally be understood of one subject, namely, God, the Father; but the addition of IHSOU CRISTOU to SWTHROS HMWN changes the case entirely, restricting the SWTHROS HMWN to a person or being who, according to Paul’s habitual use of language, is distinguished from the person or being whom he designates as O QEOS, so that there was no need of the repetition of the article to prevent ambiguity. So in 2 Thess. i. 12, the expression KATA THN CARIN TOU QEOU HMWN KAI KURIOU would naturally be understood of one subject, and the article would be required before KURIOU if two were intended; but the simple addition of IHSOU CRISTOU to KURIOU makes the reference to the two distinct subjects clear without the insertion of the article.
But the omission of the article before the second of two subjects connected by KAI is not without effect. Its absence naturally leads us to conceive of them as united in some common relation, while the repetition of the article would present them to the mind as distinct subjects of thought. The differences between the two cases is like the differences between the expressions “the kingdom of Christ and God” and “the kingdom of Christ and of God” in English. The former expression would denote one kingdom, belonging in some sense to both; the latter would permit the supposition that two distinct kingdoms were referred to, though it would not require this interpretation. The repetition of the preposition, however, as of the article, brings the subjects seperately before the mind. In the present case, the omission of the article before SWTHROS, conjoining the word closely with QEOU, may indicate that the glory spoken of belongs in one aspect to God and in another to Christ (comp. Eph. v. 5); or that the glory of God and the glory of Christ are displayed in conjunction (comp. 2 Thess. i. 12, KATA THN CARIN TOU QEOU HMWN KAI KURIOU ‘1. X.; Luke ix. 26).
There may still be another reason for the omission of the article here
before SWTHROS HMWN, or perhaps I should say, another effect of its absence.
It is a recognized principle that the omission of the article before an appellative which designates a person tends to fix the attention on the quality or character or peculiar relation expressed by the appellative, while the insertion of the article tends to throw into the shade the inherent meaning of the term, and to give it the force of a simple proper name. For example EN TW UIW would simply mean “in (or by) the Son,” or “his Son”; but the omission of the article (EN UIW) emphasizes the significance of the term UIOS-by one who is a Son,” and in virtue of what the designation expresses is far above all “the prophets.” (Comp. T. S. Green, Gram. of the N. T., 2d ed., pp. 47 f., 38 f.) So here the meaning may be, “the appearing of the glory of the great God and a Saviour of us,” one who is our Saviour, “Jesus Christ”-essentially equivalent to “of the great God and Jesus Christ as our Saviour” (comp. Acts xiii. 23); the idea suggested being that the salvation or deliverance of Christians will be consummated at the second advent, when Christ “shall appear, to them that wait for him, unto salvation.” Comp. Phil. iii. 20, 21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, EX OU KAI SWTHRA APEKDECOMEQA KURION IHSOUN CRISTON, who shall change the body of our humiliation,”etc.; Rom. viii. 23, 24, xiii. 11; 1 Thess. v. 8, 9; Heb. ix. 28; 1 Pet. i. 5. The position of SWTHROS HMWN before IHSOU CRISTOU, as well as the absence of the article, favors this view; comp. Acts xiii. 23; Phil. iii. 20, and contrast Tit. i. 4.
The points which I would make, then, are that the insertion of the article before SWTHROS was not needed here to show that the word designates a subject distinct from TOU MEGALOU QEOU; and that its absence serves to bring out the thoughts that, in the event referred to, the glory of God and that of Christ are displayed together, and that Christ then appears as Saviour, in the sense that the salvation of Christians, including what St. Paul calls “the redemption of the body,” is then made complete. There are conceptions which accord with the view which the Apostle has elsewhere presented of the second advent.
But as many English writers still assume that the construction of Tit. ii. 13 and similar passages has been settled by Bishop Middleton, I will quote in conclusion a few sentences, by way of caution from one of the highest authorities on the grammar of the Greek Testament, Alexander Buttman. He says:-
“It will probably never be possible, either in reference to profane literature or to the N. T., to bring down to rigid rules which have no exception, the inquiry when with several substantives connected by conjunctions the article is repeated, and when it is not. ...From this fact alone it follows, that in view of the subjective and arbitrary treatment of the article on the part of individual writers (cf. /124, 2) it is very hazardous in particular cases to draw important inferences affecting the sense or even of a doctrinal nature, from the single circumstance of the use or omission of the article; see e.g. Tit. ii. 13; Jude 4; 2 Pet. i.1 and the expositors of these passages.” (Gram. of the N. T. Greek, / 125, 14; p. 97, Thayer’s trans.)
Note B. (See p. 441 n.*)
The Use of EPIFANEIA and Kindred Terms with Reference to God.
It has already been observed that the expression used In Tit. ii. 13 is
not EPIFANEIAN TOU MEGALOU QEOU but EPIFANEIAN THS DOXHS TOU MEGALOU QEOU, and
that the reference of the title “ the great God “ to the Father accords perfectly
with the representation elsewhere in the New Testament that the glory of
God, the Fathert, as well as of Christ, will be displayed at the second advent.
This reference, therefore, presents no difficulty.
But the weakness of the argument against it may be sti1l further illustrated by the use of the term EPIFANEIA and kindred expressions in Josephus and other Jewish writings. It will be seen that any extraordinary manifestation of divine power, whether exerted directly or through an Intermediate agent, is spoken or as an EPIFANEIA of God.
I. For example, the parting of the waters of the
2. Speaking of the journey through the wilderness, Josephus says : “The cloud was present, and, standing over the tabernacle, signified the appearing of God,” THN EPIFANEIAN TOU QEOU (
3. Josepbus uses both H PAROUSIA TOU QEOU and H EPIFANEIA [TOU QEOU] in reference to a miraculous shower of rain (
So a violent thunder storm, which deterred the army of Xerxes from attacking
4. In reference to the miraculous guidance of Abraham’s servant when sent to procure Rebecca as a wife for Isaac, the marriage is said to have been brought about UPO QEIAS EPIFANEIAS, where we might say, “by a divine interposition.” (Joseph. Ant.i. 16. § 3.)
5. After giving an account of the deliverance of Elisha from the troops sent by Ben-hadad to arrest him, which were struck with blindness, Josephus says that the king “marveled at the strange event, and the appearing (or manifestation) and power of the God of the Israelites (THN TOU QEOU ISRAHLITHS EPIFANEIAN KAI DUNAMIS), and at the prophet with whom the Deity was so evidently present for help.” (
6. In Josephus,
7. In 2 Macc. iii. 24, in reference to the horse with the terrible rider, and the angels that scourged Heliodorus, we read, O TWN PNEUMATWN KAI PASHS EXOUSIAS DUNASTHS EPIFANEIAN MEGALHN EPOIHSEN, and In ver. 30. TOU PANTOKRATOROS EPIFANENTOS KURIOU, the Almighty Lord having appeared,” and farther on, ver. 34. Heliodorus is spoken of as having been “scourged by him, UP AUTOU, i.e. the Lord, according to the common text, retained by Grimm and Keil. But here for UP AUTOU, Fritzsche reads EX OURANOU, which looks like a gloss (comp. ii. 21,EX OURANOU GENOMENAS EPIFANEIAS).
8. The sending of a good angel is described as an EPIFANEIA TOU QEOU, 2 Macc. xv, 27, comp. vv. 22, 23. Observe also that in 2 Macc. xv, 34 and 3 Macc. v. 35 TON EPIFANH KURION or QEON does not mean “the glorious Lord (or God) “ as it has often been misunderstood, but EPIFANHS designates God as one who manifests his power in the deliverance of his people, a present help in time of need, “ the interposing God (Bissell). Compare the note of Valesius (Valois) on Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. ii. 6. § 2.
9. See also 2 Macc. xii, 22 EK THS TOU TA PANTA EFORWNTOS EPIFANEIAS GENOMENHS EP’ AUTOUS; comp. 2 Macc. xi. 8, 10, 13.
10. “They made application to him who...always helpeth his portion [his people] MET’ EPIFANEIAS 2 Macc. xiv. 15.
11. In 3 Macc. v. 8, we are
told that the Jews “besought the Almighty Lord to rescue them from imminent
death META MEGALOMEROUS EPIFANEIAS,” and again, ver. 51, “to take pity on them
META EPIFANEIAS.” The answer to the prayer is represented as made by the
intervention of angels (vi. 18).
In ch. i. 9, God is spoken of as having glorified Jerusalem EN EPIFANEIA MEGALOPREPEI.
12. In the Additions to Esther, Text B, vii. 6 (Fritzsche, Libr. Apoc. V. T. p. 71), the sun and light in Mordecai’s dream are said to represent the EPIFANIA TOU QEOU “appearing” (or manifestation) “of God” in the deliverance of the Jews.
13. In the so-called Second
Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, c. 12, § 1, we read: “Let us
therefore wait hourly [or betimes, Lightf.] for the
The use of the term EPIFANEIA in the later Greek classical writers
corresponds with its use as illustrated above. Casaubon has a learned note on
the word in his Exercit. ad. Annales Eccles. Baronianas II. xi., Ann.
I will only add in conclusion: If Paul could speak of the first advent
of Christ as an EPIFANEIA of the grace of God (see EPEFANH, Tit. ii. 11;
iii. 4), can we, in view of all that has been said, regard it as in the least
degree strange or unnatural that he should speak of his second advent as an
EPIFANEIA of the glory of God?
Note C. (See p. 444)
On the Expression, TOU MEGALOU QEOU.
There is no other passage in the New Testament in which this expression occurs, the reading in the “received text” in Rev. xix. 17 having very slender support. But the epithet “great” is so often applied to God in the Old Testament and later Jewish writings, and is so appropriate in connection with the display of the divine power and glory in the event referred to, that it is very wonderful that the use of the word here should be regarded as an argument for the reference of the QEOS to Christ on the ground that “God the Father did not need the exalting and lauditory epithet MEGAS,” as Usteri says (Paulin. Lehrbegriff, 5te Aufl., p. 326). It might be enough to answer, with Fritzsche, “At ego putaveram, Deum quum sit magnus, jure etiam magnum appelari” (Ep. ad Rom. ii. 268). But the following references show how naturally Paul might apply this designation to the Father: Deut. viii. 21 (Sept. and Heb.), x. 17; 2 Chron. ii. 5(4)l Neh. i. 5, vii. 6, ix. 32, Ps. lxxvii. 13, lxxxvi. 10; Jer. xxxii. 18, 19; Dan. ii. 45, ix. 4; Psalt. Sal. ii. 33; 3 Macc. vii. 2. Comp. TOU MEGISTOU QEOU, 3 Macc. i. 16, iii. 11, v. 25, vii. 22, “the great Lord,” Ecclus. xxxix. 6, xlvi. 5; 2 Macc. v. 20, xii. 15. So very often in the Sibylline Oracles. I have noted thirty-one examples in the Third book alone, the principal part of which was the production of a Jewish writer in the second century before Christ.
Though all will agree that God, the Father, does not “need” exaltating epithets, such epithets are applied to him freely by the Apostle Paul and other writers of the New Testament. For example, he is called by Paul “the incorruptible God,” “the living God,” “the invisible God,” “the living and true God,” “the blessed God,”; and since there is no other place in which the Apostle has unequivocally designated Christ as QEOS, much less QEOS with a high epithet, it certainly seems most natural to suppose that O MEGAS QEOS here designates the Father. The Bishop of London (in the “Speakers Commentary”) appeals to 1 John v. 20, where he assumes that Christ is designated as “the true God.” But he must be aware that this depends on the reference of the pronoun OUTOS, and that many of the best expositors refer this to the leading subject of the preceeding sentence, namely, TON ALHQINON ; so, e.g., Erasmus, Grotius, Wetstein, Michaelis, Lucke, De Wette, Meyer, Neander, Huther, Dusterdieck, Gerlach, Bruckner, Ewald, Holtzmann, Braune, Haupt, Rothe, C. F. Schmid, Gess, Reuss, Alford, Farrar, Westcott, and Sinclair (in Ellicott’s N. T. Comm.); and so the grammarians Alt, Winer, Wilke, Buttman, and Schirlitz; comp. also John xvii. 3. So doubtful a passage, and that not in the writings of Paul, but John, can hardly serve to render it probable that Paul has here applied the designation O MEGAS QEOS to Christ rather than to God, the Father.