Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, and Granville Sharp

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
I would like to discuss the 1st Rule of Granville Sharp and how it bears on two Scriptures (although it bears on a multitude of others as well), Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. I bring this up because some critics of the King James Bible disparage the way it translates these verses, saying the translation is “inferior”. I would like to indicate that it is not.

This is the rule as stated in Sharp's book, Remarks On The Uses Of The Definitive Article In The Greek Text of the New Testament (Philadelphia: B.B. Hopkins and Co., 1807):

When the copulative kai (“and”) connects two nouns of the same case, [viz. nouns (either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal description, respecting office, dignity, or connection, and attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill] if the articles ho (“the”), or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and it is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i.e. it denotes a farther description of the first-named person. (p. 3)​

Though I disagree with Dr. James White on many things in the text and translation controversy, his remarks (pp. 267-270) on the Granville Sharp rule in his book, The King James Only Controversy, I find both sound and edifying, with some minor exceptions.

In Dr. White’s thread (here on PB), “Dr. Stauffer’s book”, both he and another poster, Evan May, take exception to the AV’s translation of Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. And this on the basis of the Granville Sharp rule, asserting that according to this grammatical rule the translation should NOT be as in the KJV:

Titus 2:13: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:1: ….the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ​

They say it should be as in the CT versions or the NKJV:

Titus 2:13: Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:1: ….the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ​

They are not alone in their assertions, for many grammarians and scholars agree with them. One of my favorite commentators, William Hendriksen, says because of the Granville Sharp rule the translation of the Greek “must” be as in the newer versions, and A.T. Robertson says the rule “compels” that the Greek be translated thus.

The issue is, are there any compelling reasons for not translating it as they say? There is no doubt whatsoever that GS’s rule mandates the understanding that the phrase “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” refers to one person, but must it be translated “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”?

I asked Rev. Matthew Winzer, and he replied,

I haven't read the comments of James White on Tit. 2:13, but I note that the article only appears before the first noun, thus indicating that the two are referring to the one person according to Sharp's first rule. However, that rule has its exceptions, e.g., with regard to proper names.

I am inclined to regard it as referring to one person. Taken this way, the two terms should be understood as providing a double reference concerning that person. The way I read the Greek and the AV it is referring to one and the same person under a double aspect: e.g., "I am looking forward to the visit of the great monarch and our queen Elisabeth II." The double reference of the original is thus brought out in an elegant style: (1.) What Christ is in Himself -- the great God. (2.) What He is in relation to us -- our Saviour. By transferring the attributive "our" to the first noun this double reference is lost.​

Will Kinney makes the same point:


2 Titus 2:13

The second verse is found in Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of THE GREAT GOD AND OUR SAVIOUR Jesus Christ;” Here the critics say the KJB rendering does not fully bring out the deity of Jesus Christ. I don’t really understand what they are talking about, because when I read this passage, it clearly declares that Jesus Christ is the great God as well as our Saviour.

The NKJV, NIV and NASB all join here in rendering this verse as “the appearing of OUR great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” They apparently think this brings out his deity more clearly. However, it is necessary to point out two very important things in this verse. Number one is that the Greek reads exactly as it stands in the KJB, and not as it is in the NKJV, NIV and NASB.

The Greek in all texts reads “the great God and OUR Saviour.” The second thing to point out is the difference in meaning. You see, when Christ appears again in glory, He is the God of everybody - every man, woman and child, believer or unbeliever - but He is OUR Saviour. He is the Saviour of only those who are true Christians, but He is the God and creator of all, and He will be the judge of those who have not believed on Him.

So the KJB is actually more accurate here than the NIV, NKJV and NASB. Other versions that read as does the KJB are the ASV, Webster’s Bible, J.B. Phillips, Tyndale 1525, Wycliffe’s 1380, Cranmer’s Bible 1539, Rheims 1582, Coverdale 1535, Bishop's 1568, Geneva Bible 1599, Lamsa of 1933, the Spanish Reina Valera of 1909 , the Italian Diodati and the Third millennium Bible.​

Another writer, Colin Tyler, remarks on this verse [use your browser's Find feature to locate Titus 2:13 on the webpage]:


MJP writes, “Missing the deity of Christ in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. Through ignorance of the ‘Granville Sharp Rule’, which was not defined until the late 1700’s, the KJV reads, ‘God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,’ rather than the correct ‘our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.’”

It will perhaps be helpful to give a brief description of the Granville-Sharp Rule first of all because MJP gives no details of it. James White, like MJP, an opponent of KJV onlyism, gives a brief and suitable definition. “Granville-Sharp’s rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Cephas, or Paul, or Timothy), which are describing a person, and the two nouns are connected by the word “and”, and the first noun has the article (“the”) while the second does not, both nouns are referring to the same person. In our texts, this is demonstrated by the words “God” and “Saviour” at Titus 2.13 and 2 Peter 1.1. “God” has the article, it is followed by the word for “and” and the word “Saviour” does not have the article. Hence, both nouns are being applied to the same person, Jesus Christ.”13 MJP writes “through ignorance of the Granville Sharp Rule … the KJV reads” etc. This implies that divergence from Granville Sharp’s rule, whenever it is applicable, must result in incorrect translation. Are there no other considerations which might justify departure from it? I believe there is one such very important consideration. It is the employment in scripture of the figure of speech called hendiadys.

E W Bullinger, describes hendiadys as “Two words used, but one thing meant. …The two words are of the same parts of speech, i.e. Two nouns (or two verbs) always joined together by the conjunction ‘and’. [The two nouns are always in the same case.]”.14

Examples of the figure hendiadys in the AV from both Testaments are:

Jer 36:27 ‘…after that the king had burned the roll and the words which Baruch wrote..”

Dan 4:13 ‘….behold a watcher and a holy one came down.”

Zeph 1:16 ‘A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities…’

Matt 21:5 ‘…sitting upon an ass, and a colt[/u] the foal of an ass,’

James 1:27 ‘Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father[/u] is this…’

The KJV translators have simply preserved the Greek idiom in the verses about which MJP here complains. The KJV translation, “God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” in Titus 2.13 is an hendiadys as is 2 Peter 1.1

MJP is not alone in his assertion that the KJV translators erred because they did not know the Granville-Sharp Rule. Modern Scholarship generally agrees with him here. They tell us that the fruit of this KJV ‘error’ is to miss or obscure the deity of Christ. However if we turn to Ephesians 5.5 in some modern translations we find:

NASB:……….“in the kingdom of Christ and God”

NIV:………….“in the kingdom of Christ and of God”

Good News:….“in the kingdom of Christ and of God”

New English:…“in the kingdom of Christ and of God”

In these instances, they have not followed Granville-Sharp’s rule themselves. They have left the text as though different persons are meant. By their own rules should they not have translated, “the kingdom of Christ our God”? If it be replied that the word “our” is not in the Greek Text, that did not stop them adding it in James 1.27.

The translation given to us by the KJV in Titus 2.13 and 1 Peter 1.1 is a literal translation. It also preserves the figure hendiadys. The modern translations frequently omit Greek and Hebrew words and remove the figure hendiadys. At times they translate literally and at times interpretively and criticize the KJV translators for doing the same. MJP also has done this in the tract under discussion. Modern translators add words and delete words and criticize the KJV translators for doing the same. MJP is in bad company. Evil communications corrupt good manners.


a figure of speech in which a single complex idea is expressed by two words connected by a conjunction, as in "to pour from cups and gold" instead of "from golden cups."


In the same link as his above piece, Will Kinney writes concerning 2 Peter 1:1:

The third verse that critics cite against the KJB is 2 Peter 1:1. Here we read “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Again they say the verse, as it stands in the KJB, does not clearly show the deity of Jesus Christ. The NKJV, NIV and NASB read: “through the righteousness of OUR God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

First, it needs to be pointed out that there are several textual differences in the Greek of verses one and two. One of the “oldest and best” manuscripts called Sinaiticus reads “Lord” or kurios instead of God. But the NASB and NIV didn’t follow this, but rather the majority reading of "God".

In the next verse we read: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge OF GOD AND OF Jesus OUR LORD."

Here several texts omit "of God and of Jesus" - The Expositor's Greek Testament does this. Other texts omit "of God", and Sinaiticus adds the word Christ to Jesus, and others substitute the word "Saviour" instead of "Lord". So there is a wide variety of different readings for these first two verses.

Secondly, in the texts followed by the KJB, Beza’s of 1589 and 1598, as well as Elzevirs, there is an additional “our” found before Jesus Christ. Regardless of these textual differences, the verse in question can either serve as a proof text for Christ’s deity or not, depending on how you choose to read it.

The reading as it stands in the KJB “the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” can easily be seen as stating that He is both God and our Saviour. Compare other verses with similar wording. In Isaiah 44:6, 24 we are told “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, AND his redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God...Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, AND he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things...” Even though there is the word “and” in between the two nouns, we know there is only one person who is being referred to - God.

The same thing is found in 1 Thessalonians 3:11 “Now God himself AND our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way unto you.”; Galatians 1:4 “according to the will of God AND our Father.” The “and” is not implying another person, but is bringing out another aspect of the same one. He is both God and our Father.

So too, in 2 Peter the “God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” can be seen as showing another aspect of the same divine Person, just as 2 Peter 1:11 “kingdom of our Lord AND Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Even the reading of the NKJV, NIV and NASB could be looked upon as describing two distinct persons; it all depends on how one reads it.

“Righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”, can be compared to statements like “our Mom and Dad won’t let us go to the party” or “our boss and manager will be at the meeting”.

In Scripture we have “ye are our glory and joy” 1 Thessalonians 2:20, and Acts 15:25 “our beloved Barnabas and Paul”. Both Barnabas and Paul were beloved but they obviously were two different people. You see, if you wish to see a declaration of Christ’s deity in this verse, it is there. Likewise, it can be explained away by those who do not wish to see it in either rendering. The Jehovah Witness New World Translation reads much the same way as the NKJV, NIV, NASB, and yet they manage to explain away the full deity of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The King James Bible is in no way inferior to the other versions. Other Bible versions that read just like the King James Bible in 2 Peter 1:1 are the Italian Diodati (dell' Iddio e Salvator nostro, Gesu Cristo), written before the KJB of 1611, Webster’s 1833 Bible translation, the 21st Century KJB, Green's Modern King James Version, and the Third millennium Bible. Other versions like J. P. Green's 1998 Modern KJV, Moffat's translation and the 1602 Geneva bible read: "through the righteousness of our God and our Savior Jesus Christ"

I hope this has been of some help to those who believe that we have all of God’s inspired, pure words today, and that they are found in the King James Holy Bible.

Will Kinney​


I think it is clear that translating Titus 2:13 according to Dr. White and the modern versions will cause the loss of some of the meaning in the Greek. As Rev. Winzer and Kinney both point out, the double aspects of Christ as the great God and our Saviour are lost. Sharp’s rule shows that they are one and the same, and should be exegeted so, yet a translation should not obscure the full sense of the Greek.

If a new and faithful translation of the TR 1894 should occur in my lifetime, and I had a voice in how this verse should be rendered, I would not want this phrase altered.

As regards 2 Peter 1:1, Kinney is quite right that in the Greek underlying the KJV (in the TR 1894), as well Beza and Elzevir, there is an “our” before each of the nouns. Thus the KJV rendering is not wrong, whether one wants to say that God and Jesus Christ, in this verse, refer to the same person, or not.


In the thread mentioned above where Dr. White and Evan May posted, Evan gave a link critiquing Dr. Stauffer’s remarks on Titus 2:13; one of the things Evan said was, “Had the KJV translators known of the Granville Sharp rule, they would not have rejected it [and translated Titus 2:13 as they did].”

The assumption they did not know it is wrong. In Sharp’s book, one of the people whose comments he included in the book, Greek scholar Rev. Dr. T. Burgess, has Burgess saying concerning the first rule, “…though it was acknowledged and applied by Beza and others to some of the texts alleged by you, yet never so prominently…” (p. vii) So let it not be said that the 1611 translators translated as they did through ignorance of the rule. Granville Sharp had not yet been born, yet the principle of his grammatical axiom was known to them, yet not brought to the fore as Sharp brought it. Beza lived from 1519 to 1605. [The information concerning Beza I got from Rev. Richard Durham’s book, Granville Sharp’s Rule—Proving The Deity Of Christ by Greek Grammar (NJ: The Bible For Today, 1973)]

To end this post, I would like to quote from Kenneth Weust’s Treasures from the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1945). [This was before they compiled Weust’s series on the Greek NT into one volume]:

In Titus 2:13 we have “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” We find the same construction in the Greek, and the same rule of grammar requires us to interpret the phrase as teaching that Jesus Christ is the great God. Since the Greek word for “and” should be translated by the word “even” where the context demands such a meaning, we are justified in rendering the phrase “the great God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ,” for the grammatical construction demands that the two expressions, “the great God,” and “Saviour Jesus Christ,” refer to one individual. The word “even” brings out this meaning. The translation could also read, “our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Thus the rules of Greek grammar teach the deity of Jesus Christ. (p. 33)​

It can be seen that there is leeway for creative yet accurate rendering of this verse. As far as I am concerned, the King James Bible’s translation is fine, neither does it violate Sharp’s first rule, nor is its rendering “inferior” as some allege.

A minor correction in Dr. White’s discussion in his KJOC: on page 270 he says of the first rule, “His rule only applies to persons, not things.” In Durham’s book, on page 22, he states under the section, “SHARP’S FIRST RULE REGULARLY APPLIED TO THINGS”,

Thirty-three verses were found in which Sharp’s rule was applied to things rather than persons. These verses were subdivided according to five categories: (1) Entities, (2) Characteristics, (3) Activities, (4) Locations, and (5) Times.​

To give a few brief examples from the book:

(1) Acts 1:25 “this ministry and apostleship”; Acts 2:23 “the predetermined plan and foreknowledge”.
(2) Mark 8:38 “this adulterous and sinful generation”; Mark 16:14 “their unbelief and hardness of heart”.
(3) Hebrews 6:7 “that drinks…and brings forth”.
(4) Matthew 23:37 “who kills…and stones”.
(5) Matthew 24:36 “that day and hour”; Acts 2:20 “the great and glorious day”.


There are those who, in their desire to “fine tune” the Scriptures according to their and others’ views of the Greek (including the variant readings of the differing textforms), do not hesitate to make changes in the standard text; we see where this has led us in the plethora of dissimilar versions extant today: in the eyes of many there is no longer a standard of what is and what is not the Word God has given us. It is pretty much a crapshoot, and confidence in our having a sure Scripture will grow less and less as the years pass. Can the KJV be tweaked for good here and there? Possibly. If there is ever a faithful-intent endeavor in that direction, will it nonetheless wreak havoc with the text? The fear of many is it will. Which is why many people say leave the Reformation Text alone; faithful ministers will make clear what is not clear to all.

I know there are devout, reasonable, and well-meaning believers who will look at this stance as reactionary and antiquated. What I wonder is where their more progressive stances will lead the future generations. Could these things have some bearing on the Lord’s words, “…when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) Is there not a great apostatizing today, and does not the eroding of confidence in our having the word of God intact play a part in that?



Staff member
Language Changes

It should be pointed out here (in agreement with the post, but drawing out more reasons why the KJV is still correct) that language changes. We don't usually use language today the way the KVJ did. It seems that Dr. White et al were interpreting the phrase as two separate ideas, when the use of "and" there did not necessarily indicate two separate ideas. The example of the queen of England just proves the point. We don't usually use language this way anymore. In fact, it is confusing. Therefore, I would advocate the modern way of translating it now. I think the lack of confusion on the GS rule more than outweighs the loss of meaning as discussed in the post.
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