In Titus 2:13 we are presented with a controversy concerning who we shall one day see. According to some Christian denominations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Biblical Unitarians we await the appearance of the Father and our Savior Jesus. They take issue with how the KJV and other more modern translations render this verse and point out that other translations seem to show that both the Father and the Son are indicated by Paul. Notice:
Titus 2:13 WORNT looking for the blessed hope, and glorious appearance of the great God, and our Saviour, Jesus Christ:
Titus 2:13 TRC looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the mighty God, and of our Savior Jesus Christ:
Titus 2:13 NIV “While we wait for the Blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” [emphasis mine throughout]
Do either of the first two translators mean to say that while Jesus is our Savior, he is not our great God? Moreover, are we to believe in reading either of the first two translations above that we wait for the appearance of both the Father and the Son?
Does the text above call for a clear distinction between the Father and Jesus or is only Jesus meant? Some would have us believe a clear distinction is called for and point to 2Peter 1:1-2 where they claim a clear distinction is made in verse-2 between God and Jesus.
2Peter 1:1-2 ASV Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ: (2) Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; [emphasis mine]
2Peter 1:1-2 WORNT Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us, in the righteousness of our God, and of our Savior Jesus Christ: (2) grace and peace be multiplied unto you, in the acknowledgement of God, and of Jesus our Lord; [emphasis mine]
2Peter 1:1-2 NASB Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: (2) Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; [emphasis mine]
Notice the differences in translations above. The WORNT assumes the righteousness is obtained from God (the Father) and Jesus Christ (two entities). The ASV seems to say the same by placing the article before “Savior.” However, the NASB has our righteousness coming from our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, which agrees with what we are told elsewhere (Romans 5:17-18; Romans 10:4; 1Corinthians 1:30). Nevertheless, the correct translation is “…our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The article in the Greek is before God and not Savior, indicating that Jesus is God! Though this is the construction of Greek text The article is erroneously placed before Savior in the ASV to imply two entities – our Father and Jesus.
Critics pick up on this “distinction” claiming it must agree with the distinction between God and Jesus in the next verse…” i.e. 2Peter 1:2.
In each of the translations above the word knowledge in verse-2 is modified in the Greek by the prepositional phrases of God and of Jesus, both prepositional phrases being in the genitive case. The verse could just as well be translated as one prepositional phrase, with the Greek word, kai (G2532 – and) translated as it is often done into the English word: even when one clause of a sentence amplifies the meaning of a previous clause. This is done in most translations at Romans 5:14, Romans 9:24, 1Corinthians 3:5, 2Corinthians 10:13, Ephesians 4:4, Philemon 1:19, to name a few. Moreover, since we know there is no “accurate knowledge” of our Father obtainable apart from what our Savior reveals about him (Matthew 11:27), “even Jesus our Lord” is the only accurate rendering I can see for 2Peter 1:2. However, lest anyone believe that I am saying this on my own authority, notice how Wuest translates the verse:
2Peter 1:2 Wuest Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the sphere of and by the experiential knowledge of God, even Jesus, our Lord. [emphasis mine]
Jesus said that getting to know himself is the same as getting to know his Father, and that the Father cannot be approached apart from the Son (John 14:6-7). How am I able to know anyone whom I have neither seen nor heard (John 5:37), unless someone that I can see and hear reveals that one to me? Therefore, 2Peter 1:2 must refer to an “accurate knowledge” of our God and Savior, even Jesus our Lord! The only accurate knowledge we have of God is that which has been given to us by Jesus in the New Testament and the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament.
There is no reason whatsoever to change the wording in 2Peter1:1 to agree with 2Peter 1:2, because they already agree. It is just one’s own doctrinal supposition that makes one believe they are contradictory. Are we to change Scripture to agree with our doctrine, or should we cause our doctrine to agree with Scripture? The answer is obvious, but has not always been followed as a rule of study by many Bible students throughout our Christian history. May the Lord have mercy upon us and give us eyes to see and ears to hear.
If this reasoning in God’s word is true thus far, then the question remains concerning Titus 2:13, does the Scripture refer to our Father and Jesus, or does this it refer to only Jesus? The truth of God’s word is very simple. Although it follows the rules of grammar, we do not always need an expert in the Greek grammar to decipher the great mysteries of his word. He does not leave the truth solely in the hands of the experts to direct the understanding of the simple, unpretentious Bible student. God’s word is not understood by a quick and ready mind, but by one in whom the Spirit of God dwells. It is God’s own Spirit that enables each one who submits to the Lord to understand the legacy given to us in the Holy Scriptures. In the case of Titus 2:13 the key to understanding to whom it specifically refers is the phrase, “…manifestation of the great God.” The word manifestation in the Greek is epiphaneia (G2015) and appears only six times in the New Testament. It is translated into the KJV with the words appearing and brightness. Notice:
2Thessalonians 2:8 KJV And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
1Timothy 6:14 KJV That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2Timothy 1:10 KJV But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
2Timothy 4:1 KJV I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Timothy 4:8 KJV Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Titus 2:13 KJV Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [emphasis mine throughout]
We have no Scriptural evidence that we await the manifestation of our Father. As far as I can tell, the clause in question in Titus 2:13 can be translated one of two ways: “…the glorious manifestation of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” or “…the manifestation of the glory of the great God, namely our Savior, Jesus Christ.” There is only one manifestation indicated, in this verse, and it is our Savior, Jesus Christ, who will one day appear to us again. He is also the glory of God, as Hebrew 1:3 testifies. Jesus is the “radiance, outshining, brightness, effulgence, shining splendor” of the glory of God, the specific word depending upon the translation used. Therefore “…the manifestation of the glory of the great God…” is another way of saying the manifestation of our Savior Jesus Christ. This glory has reference to the Shekinah glory that dwelt in the Temple and was seen in the pillar of the cloud that went before Israel, while they dwelt in the wilderness. It was the manifestation of the Great God of Israel the Angel of the LORD or the Word of God (John 1:1) that became man (John 1:14) in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
I believe either translation which I suggest above would be correct, because there is no God greater than Jesus. There is only one God – but he reveals himself as a plurality dwelling in unity. The suggestion of some modern critics cannot be correct, because it calls for the manifestation of our heavenly Father. In every other place in the Bible these same critics agree that this word, epiphaneia (G2015) refers to Jesus. There is no reference in Scripture to support their claim that we await the manifestation of our Father and Jesus in Titus 2:13. Our Father is seen in and through his Son’s manifestation, both in Jesus’ coming as the Son of Man and in his glorious appearance as the Son of God.
Let God be true though every man is a liar. Even though all men agree, if God says differently, God is correct! The word of God clearly makes reference to our awaiting the return of Christ. If this does not agree with a man’s doctrine, then which of the two must we believe? I would hope that all God’s children would seek the glory of their God rather than that of men (cp. John 12:42-43), even when this means personal ostracism from those to whom we have given our friendship. Jesus knows the difficulty in taking such a lonely path, but he says the rewards are great for those who do – both in this lifetime and when he returns.