Our Great God and Savior- Titus 2:13
In the latter part of the verse we are studying, we find that the “glorious appearing is of “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”. The interpretation of this phrase has been in dispute among Christians, with many asserting that it is a direct assertion of the deity of Christ, while others assert that it is not. Since space limitations prevent a complete explanation of this dispute (which rests upon some rather complicated matters in Greek grammar), we will step back and examine what we believe to be at the root of this dispute, for in it we can learn something very worthwhile concerning Biblical interpretation. The issue at hand here is whether this phrase refers to both God the Father and God the Son, or to God the Son alone. The former would basically assert that God is the God “of” Jesus Christ, while the latter would basically assert that Jesus Christ “is” God. What we will focus on here is the way in which one’s theological presuppositions can determine his or her understanding of Scripture. Those who accept the classic theological doctrine of the trinity, of one God in three persons, understand this as referring to Jesus as God, as an assertion of the deity of Christ. Those who do not accept this doctrine understand this as referring to God the Father, and as God the Father being the God of Jesus Christ. So we find here a primary example of how one’s presuppositions color his or her understanding of Scripture. We see the Scripture through “lenses”, and these lenses tend to be connected to labels. As an example, we may wear the label of Calvinist or Arminian, and if we accept the Calvinist label, we also put on the Calvinist lenses, and consequently see the Bible as “proof” of our Calvinist presuppositions. The key, then, to a proper understanding of Scripture is found in learning to put aside these presuppositions and let the text speak for , to put off the “lenses” and learn to let the Bible speak for itself. If we wear the lenses of “trinitarian”, we will see this verse as proof of the doctrine of the trinity. If we wear the lenses of “non-trinitarian”, we will see this verse as proof that God and Jesus are not the same person. So, if we remove the “lenses”, what do we find here? This phrase in the Greek has only one definite article, and according to the “rules” of Greek grammar, when two nouns are separated by the word “and” and have only one definite article, the two nouns refer to the same person or thing. So, letting the text speak for itself, we come to the conclusion that it is referring to God and Jesus as the same person, or that Jesus Christ is God, and this conclusion is arrived at from the text and not from our presuppositions. So what we do have here is rather clear and direct assertion of the deity of Christ, arrived at from the text itself and not from our theological presuppositions. If we approach this text bearing the label of “non-trinitarian”, we will see it through non-trinitarian lenses, and it will become just another proof text of the non-trinitarian position. So what we find here that we should be very wary of accepting theological labels (ie, Calvinist or Arminian), for if we accept the label, we wear the lenses, and those lenses color how we understand and interpret the Scripture. May we all learn to approach the Bible without the lenses, and learn to let it speak for itself, on its own terms.