Where Jesus Is Called God

In Christian teaching, God is more complex that what the philosophers of Ancient Greece may have thought. We believe in one God as some of them did, but God is in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Several passages teach this, but there are a couple of often overlooked passages where Jesus is called God. But we have to check our translations to get the Greek grammar correct.

“… waiting for … the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:13 ESV)

The ESV makes clear that in this verse Jesus Christ is called both the great God and Savior. The NKJV, NASB, NIV, NET, CSB, and NRSV render it the same way. The King James has the following.

“Looking for … the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13 KJV)

So why is there a difference in the translation? In 1798, Granville Sharp, a linguist, noted that in Greek when you have an article, a noun, the word “and” (which in Greek is kai) followed by a noun without the article, if the two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper nouns), the two nouns are governed by the same article and always refer to the same person. Sharp and the scholars who followed him demonstrated that God (theos) and savior (sōtēr) were common nouns. Proper nouns in Greek are words that cannot form a plural. Both God (theos) and savior (sōtēr) can be found in the plural. Grammarians have attempted to disprove the Granville Sharp Rule for the past 200 years but have been unable to do so. Modern translation after the ASV have reflected the rule in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. In both passages, Jesus is called God.

The teaching about the deity of Christ is not dependent on these two verses. We also find it in passages like John 1:1-14, Hebrews 1:1-4, and Philippians 2:6-7.

Sometimes I’m asked do I understand the teaching about the godhead (the traditional term is “trinity”). I would answer yes. But do I necessarily comprehend it all? I would say no. But that is also true of qualities like God’s eternal nature, omniscience, and omnipotence. I understand that these things are taught about God. I understand the implications of these teachings, but do I totally grasp them? The answer is no. The practical outcome of the teaching concerning the deity of Christ is that we worship Jesus Christ. I can accept the plain teaching about the godhead, but I suspect that even in eternity we will be growing in our understanding of the nature of God. God is worth eternal contemplation and worship.

— Russ Holden

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: