Sunday, April 15, 2007

Is Jesus God? Part 3

This is part three in a series on the Deity of Christ. Today we will examine another description of Jesus of Nazareth from the writings of Paul. Specifically our focus will be on Titus 2:13.

Titus 2:13

The next key text that we will examine from the Pauline corpus comes from the Pastoral Epistles. Specifically we will be examining Titus 2:13 where Paul is giving a reason for believers to live obedient lives. He motivates them by reminding them of their present place in the history of redemption and of the future hope. He says they are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The main question that we will address in this text has to do with “whether the Apostle Paul intended to refer to one person (Christ) or to two persons (the Father and Christ)…”[15] If Paul is referring to one person then this text indeed becomes a clear affirmation of the deity of Christ. It is the contention of this author that Paul is referring to one person (Jesus Christ) in this verse. This contention is based upon two primary factors.
The first factor for why Paul is referring to one person has to do with the grammar of the verse. The phrase that is translated “Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” comes from the Greek expression “tou/ mega,lou qeou/ kai. swth/roj h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/(.” In the Greek language if there are two nouns connected by the conjunction kai., and the first noun is preceded by an article while the second is anarthrous (“not preceded by the article”[16]) then “there is a close connection between the two [nouns].”[17] If the two nouns in question are “personal, singular, non-proper nouns,”[18] then “the two nouns always refer to the same person.”[19] This is exactly the grammatical construction that we have in this verse. The two nouns are “tou/…qeou” (God) and “swth/roj” (Savior). The first noun has the article (tou/) and the second noun is anarthrous. In addition to this both of the nouns are personal, singular, and non-proper nouns. This means that the two nouns are referring to the same person, namely Jesus Christ (VIhsou/ Cristou/).[20] Thus the grammar of this verse points to an “explicit affirmation of the deity of Christ.”[21]

The second factor for understanding Paul as referring to one person in this verse is that “the New Testament writers consistently speak of in terms that emphasize the manifestation of Jesus Christ in his glory, not in terms that emphasize the glory of the Father.”[22]In fact the word that Paul uses to describe the appearing (evpifa,neia) is always used by him in reference “to Jesus’ second coming and never to God [the Father].”[23] This means that “the appearance of God” that Paul is talking about is the appearance of Jesus.[24]

In light of these factors, (i.e. the grammar that Paul uses and his continual emphasis on the Son’s return) Titus 2:13 is best understood as being yet another Pauline text that affirms that Christ is indeed God.

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