2:13 Grammatically and contextually, this verse is a powerful reference to Christ’s deity. Paul’s belief in Jesus’s deity was based on his life-changing experience of seeing Jesus clothed in divine glory (Ac 9:3–9), his exegesis of important OT messianic texts (Ac 9:20–22), and Jesus’s personal claims and miraculous activities as reported to him by eyewitnesses. Paul also witnessed Jesus’s divine power at work in his disciples through the miracles that Paul and other disciples performed. See note on 1Tm 2:5.
2:13 The verb used here for wait often carries a connotation of eagerness. The eager expectation of the return of Christ mentioned here is not just the time of the instruction of grace (while we wait), it is also the way grace teaches us to renounce sin and live in a “godly way” (v. 12). Setting our minds on the truth of Christ’s return impels us to holiness (1Jn 3:2–3). The blessed hope is the appearing of … Christ. The reference to Jesus as God and Savior is a strong affirmation of his deity.
2:13 The “appearing” (epiphaneia, Gk.) of Jesus is designated by Paul as the “blessed hope” for which all believers are to be in constant anticipation. This appearing of Christ is the next great event on God’s prophetic calendar. Christ will come for His bride, namely, every true believer in Jesus (cf. 1 Thess. 4:14–17, note on the description of Christ’s return). It is also of great significance that Paul here refers to Jesus not only as our “Savior,” but also as “our great God.”
2:13 our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory. The Second Coming (1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8). See “Hope” at Heb. 6:18.
our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. This is one of the clearest affirmations in the New Testament of the deity of Christ.
2:13 blessed hope Refers to the anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ.
appearing Refers to the second coming of Christ (compare Titus 2:11).
our great God and Savior Jesus Christ This designation identifies Jesus with God. See note on 1 Tim 1:1.
2:13 The Greek for waiting (prosdechomai) often carries a connotation of eagerness. Eagerly expecting the return of Christ is the way grace trains Christians to renounce sin and live in a godly way (see vv. 11–12). Setting one’s mind on the truth of Christ’s return impels a person to holiness (see 1 John 3:2–3). Our blessed hope means Christ’s second coming, which Paul calls the appearing of … our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. It may seem unclear whether Paul refers here to two persons of the Godhead (God the Father and Jesus Christ) or whether he describes Jesus as God and Savior. The Greek grammar, however, is well reflected in this translation and indicates that Jesus is being identified as “our great God and Savior” (cf. John 1:1; 20:28; etc.).
2:13 blessed hope. A general reference to the second coming of Jesus Christ, including the resurrection (cf. Ro 8:22, 23; 1Co 15:51–58; Php 3:20, 21; 1Th 4:13–18; 1Jn 3:2, 3) and the reign of the saints with Christ in glory (2Ti 2:10). appearing of the glory. Cf. 2Ti 1:10. This will be our salvation from the presence of sin. God and Savior. A clear reference to the deity of Jesus. Cf. 2Pe 1:1.
2:13 While living as aliens in the world, we are inspired by a magnificent hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. By this are we to understand the Rapture, when Christ appears in glory to the church and conveys it to heaven (1 Thess. 4:13–18)? Or does it refer to Christ’s coming to reign, when He appears in glory to the world, puts down His foes, and sets up His kingdom (Rev. 19:11–16)? Basically we believe Paul is speaking of the first—Christ’s coming for His bride, the church. But whether it is His coming as Bridegroom or as King, the believer should be prepared and looking for His glorious arrival.
2:13. While salvation digs deeply into the difficulties of our todays, we recognize that our experience of God’s rescue is incomplete. We are not left with the partial successes and recurrent failures which even faith encounters in this world. Instead, we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This “hope” is not a wish. It is the certainty of blessing which will occur when Christ appears again. In this epiphany, the splendor of God’s glory will be seen. This is the brilliance of his beauty that was witnessed at the transfiguration and the dazzle of his holiness before the world began. Christ’s Second Coming will not be hidden. It will blaze in fulfillment of his authority over all the universe. It is what all creation groans and waits expectantly for (Rom. 8) and what all believers anticipate.
|The Grace of God in Christ is
|the Effective Preparer.
We—aged men, aged women, young women, young men, slaves, etc.—should live a Christian life because through the power of God’s grace we are waiting for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.
The grace of God trains us in order that we may live consecrated lives, while we are waiting for the blessed hope. The waiting for or patient looking forward to modifies the living, of which it is an attendant circumstance or further explication. It is “the blessed hope” for which believers are waiting. This is metonymy for the realization of that hope (that is, the realization of our earnest yearning, confident expectation, and patient waiting). We find a similar metonymy in Gal. 5:5; Col. 1:5 (to which some interpreters would add Heb. 6:18).
This hope is called blessed. It imparts bliss, happiness, delight, and glory. The adjective blessed is used in connection with God in 1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15; see on these passages.
Now, even the possession of the hopeful spirit and the exercise of hope is blessed, because of hope’s:
(1) immovable foundation (1 Tim. 1:1, 2; then Rom. 5:5; 15:4; Phil. 1:20; Heb. 6:19; 1 Peter 1:3, 21);
(2) glorious Author (Rom. 15:13; cf. 2 Thess. 2:16);
(3) wonderful object (everlasting life, salvation, glory: Titus 1:2; 3:7; then 1 Thess. 5:8; then Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27);
(4) precious effects (endurance, 1 Thess. 1:3; “boldness of speech,” 2 Cor. 3:12; and purification of life, 1 John 3:3);
(5) and everlasting character (1 Cor. 13:13).
Then surely the realization of this hope will be blessed, indeed! Read Dan. 12:3; Matt. 25:34–40; Rom. 8:20b; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; 1 Thess. 4:13–18; 2 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 14:14–16; 19:6–9. In fact, the certainty of the realization imparts strength to the hope, and results in the graces mentioned under (4) above.
Now the realization of the blessed hope is “the appearing in glory.” Note the two appearings. There had been one (see on verse 11; cf. 2 Tim. 1:10). There is going to be another (see N.T.C. on 2 Thess. 2:8; cf. 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8). It will be the appearing of … well, of whom? Throughout the history of interpretation that question has divided grammarians and commentators. Are we waiting for the appearing in glory of one Person or of two Persons?
Those who endorse the one-Person view favor the rendering:
“of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.” (Another reading has “Jesus Christ,” but that makes no difference in connection with the point at issue.) Now if that view be correct, those who accept Scripture’s infallibility have in this passage an additional prooftext for the deity of Christ; and even those who do not accept Scripture’s infallibility but who do accept the one-Person rendering must admit that at least the author of the Pastorals (perhaps erroneously, according to them) held Jesus to be one in essence with God the Father. The one-Person rendering is favored by the A.R.V. margin, Weymouth, Goodspeed, Berkeley Version, R.S.V., and many commentators: Van Oosterzee, Bouma, Lenski, Gealy, Simpson, etc. The great New Testament grammarian A. T. Robertson has given a strong defence of this view, from the standpoint of grammar, basing his arguments upon Granville Sharp’s rule.
Among others, John Calvin was unwilling to choose between the one-Person and the two-Persons rendering. Yet, he emphasized that on either view the purpose of the passage is to state that when Christ appears, the greatness of the divine glory will be revealed in him (cf. Luke 9:26); and that, accordingly, the passage can by no means give any comfort to the Arians in their attempt to prove that the Son is less divine than the Father.
The two-Persons theory is represented, with minor variations, in the versions of Wyclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, A.V., A.R.V. (text), Moffatt, and R.S.V. (margin). It has been supported by a long list of commentators (among whom are De Wette, Huther, White [in The Expositor’s Bible], E. F. Scott, etc.) and especially by the grammarian G. B. Winer.
The rendering then becomes:
“of the great God and the (or “and of the”) Savior Jesus Christ.”
Winer was willing to admit that his endorsement of this view was based not so much upon grammar—which, as even he admitted, allowed the one-Person rendering—as upon “the dogmatic conviction derived from Paul’s writings that this apostle cannot have called Christ the great God.” (Such argumentation encounters difficulty in interpreting Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:15–20; Col. 2:9; etc.) But he should have noticed that even the very context (verse 14) ascribes to Jesus functions which in the Old Testament are ascribed to Jehovah, such as redeeming and purifying (2 Sam. 7:23; Ps. 130:8; Hos. 13:14; then Ezek. 37:23); and that the word Savior is in each of the three chapters of Titus ascribed first to God, then to Jesus (Titus 1:3, 4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6). It is therefore evidently the purpose of the author of this epistle (namely, Paul!) to show that Jesus is fully divine, just as fully as is Jehovah or as is the Father.
The one-Person rendering must be considered the correct one. It is supported by the following considerations:
(1) Unless in any specific instance there are strong reasons to the contrary, the rule holds that when the first of two nouns of the same case and connected by the conjunction and is preceded by the article, which is not repeated before the second noun, these two nouns refer to the same person. When the article is repeated before the second noun, two persons are indicated. Examples:
- a. The article, preceding the first of two nouns and not repeated before the second: “the brother your and fellow-partaker.” The two nouns refer to the same person, John, and the expression is correctly translated, “your brother and fellow-partaker” (Rev. 1:9).
- Two articles, one preceding each noun: “Let him be unto you as the Gentile and the tax-collector” (Matt. 18:17). The two nouns refer to two persons (in this case, each representing a class).
Now, according to this rule the disputed words in Titus 2:13 clearly refer to one Person, namely, Christ Jesus, for when translated word for word the phrase reads:
“of the great God and of Savior our Christ Jesus.” The article before the first noun is not repeated before the second, and therefore the expression must be rendered:
“of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.”
No valid reason has ever been found which would show that the (Granville Sharp) rule does not apply in the present case. In fact, it is generally admitted that the words which in the original occur at the close of 2 Peter 1:11 refer to one Person, and must be rendered, “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” But if that be true, then why should not the essentially identical idiom in 2 Peter 1:1 and here in Titus 2:13 be rendered, “our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (or “Christ Jesus”)?
(2) Nowhere in the entire New Testament is the term epiphany (appearing or manifestation) used with respect to more than one Person. Also, the one Person to whom it refers is always Christ (see 2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 4:8; and 2 Tim. 1:10, where the reference is to the First Coming).
(3) The phraseology here in Titus 2:13 may well have been framed in reaction to the type of language that was often used by the heathen with respect to their own idol-gods, whom they regarded as “saviors,” and particularly to the phraseology in connection with the worship of earthly rulers. Was not Ptolemy I called “Savior and God”? Were not Antiochus and Julius Cesar addressed as “God Manifest”? Paul indicates that believers look forward to the Appearing of the One who is really God and Savior, yes “our great (exalted, glorious) God and Savior, namely, Christ Jesus.”
The real “point” of the passage, in connection with all that has preceded, is that our joyful expectation of the appearing in glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus effectively prepares us for the life with him. How does it do this? First, because the Second Coming will be so altogether glorious that believers will not want to “miss out on” it, but will want to “be manifested with him in glory” (Col. 3:4). Secondly, because the blissful expectation fills believers with gratitude, and gratitude produces preparedness, by God’s grace.
13. The last verse closed with a reference to this present age, but the Christian looks also to the future. In the New Testament hope does not indicate merely what is wished for but what is assured. It is a particularly joyful possession for the Christian, hence the description blessed.
The content of the hope is given as the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The force of the Greek is ‘the appearing of the glory’ (as in rv). The word appearing (epiphaneia) was commented on in verse 11, but its use here requires further discussion. It has been suggested that the whole expression is a citation from a credal formula or hymn (cf. Easton), and that throughout the whole section the emperor cult terminology is followed (cf. Dibelius). But the fact that such terms as ‘Saviour of all men’, ‘grace’, and ‘appearing’ were all part of the technical language of emperor-worship proves nothing in this context, which echoes sentiments which formed part of the very texture of primitive Christianity. In fact a difficulty here confronts exponents of a late date for the Pastorals, for the apocalyptic hope reflects a very early stage in Christian development. It is not acceptable to maintain that the primitive hope still lingers on from an earlier generation. There is no reason to deny that the statement here genuinely reflects a position relevant to the earliest Christian period.
The final words of the verse have perplexed commentators. There are two possible renderings: of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ (as niv, rsv), or ‘of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ’ (as av, rv mg.). The decision between these two renderings rests on a variety of considerations. Grammatically, the absence of the article before ‘Saviour’ supports the first translation, although the tendency to omit articles in technical terms and proper names lessens the weight of this consideration. The early versions all understand the words in the sense of the second, while the majority of Greek Fathers keep to the first. Of this double stream of evidence the former is probably more reliable than the latter, but neither can decide the matter. Doctrinally it is to be noted that only here is the adjective great applied to God, and for that reason the whole ascription must be regarded as unique. It may be considered more applicable to Christ than to God, since the greatness of God was assumed. Nor would it detract from the supreme greatness of God the Father if the adjective were applied to Christ. There is, moreover, no reason to suppose that the apostle would not have made such an ascription to Christ if the most reasonable interpretation of Romans 9:5 is followed (cf. Sanday and Headlam, Bruce, Metzger, Cranfield), or, indeed, if the general tenor of his teaching on the person of Christ is borne in mind. The use of the word appearing, which is never used of God, further supports the ascription of the entire phrase to Christ. Another factor which has influenced some commentators is the contemporary use of ‘God and Saviour’ for heathen objects of worship. There is a similar ascription applied to the Ptolemies, where one not two deities is meant (Moulton) This, at least, shows how the words would probably have been understood in contemporary Hellenistic circles. On the whole, therefore, the evidence seems to weigh in favour of the niv/rsv rendering.
13. Looking for that blessed hope. From the hope of future immortality he draws an exhortation, and indeed, if that hope be deeply seated in our mind, it is impossible that it should not lead us to devote ourselves wholly to God. On the contrary, they who do not cease to live to the world and to the flesh never have actually tasted what is the worth of the promise of eternal life; for the Lord, by calling us to heaven, withdraws us from the earth.
Hope is here put for the thing hoped for, otherwise it would be an incorrect mode of expression. He gives this appellation to the blessed life which is laid up for us in heaven. At the same time he declares when we shall enjoy it, and what we ought to contemplate, when we desire or think of our salvation.
And the appearing of the glory of the great God and Saviour. I interpret the glory of God to mean not only that by which he shall be glorious in himself, but also that by which he shall then diffuse himself on all sides, so as to make all his elect partakers of it. He calls God great, because his greatness—which men, blinded by the empty splendour of the world, now extenuate, and sometimes even annihilate, as far as lies in their power—shall be fully manifested on the last day. The lustre of the world, while it appears great to our eyes, dazzles them so much that “the glory of God” is, as it were, hidden in darkness. But Christ, by his coming, shall chase away all the empty show of the world—shall no longer obscure the brightness, shall no longer lessen the magnificence, of his glory. True, the Lord demonstrates his majesty every day by his works; but because men are prevented by their blindness from seeing it, it is said to be hidden in obscurity. Paul wishes that believers may now contemplate by faith that which shall be manifested on the last day, and therefore that God may be magnified, whom the world either despises, or, at least, does not esteem according to his excellence.
It is uncertain whether these words should be read together thus, “the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, the great God and our Saviour,” or separately, as of the Father and the Son, “the glory of the great God, and of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Arians, seizing on this latter sense, have endeavoured to prove from it, that the Son is less than the Father, because here Paul calls the Father the great God by way of distinction from the Son. The orthodox teachers of the Church, for the purpose of shutting out this slander, eagerly contended that both are affirmed of Christ. But the Arians may be refuted in a few words and by solid argument; for Paul, having spoken of the revelation of the glory of “the great God,” immediately added “Christ,” in order to inform us, that that revelation of glory will be in his person; as if he had said that, when Christ shall appear, the greatness of the divine glory shall then be revealed to us.
Hence we learn, first, that there is nothing that ought to render us more active or cheerful in doing good than the hope of the future resurrection; and, secondly, that believers ought always to have their eyes fixed on it, that they may not grow weary in the right course; for, if we do not wholly depend upon it, we shall continually be carried away to the vanities of the world. But, since the coming of the Lord to judgment might excite terror in us, Christ is held out to us as our “Saviour,” who will also be our judge.
2:13 / As in other places in the pe, Paul sets the Christian imperative in the context of “already/not yet” eschatology (see disc. on 1 Tim. 6:11–16; 2 Tim. 1:8–12). We are “to live godly lives in the present age,” while we also wait for its future consummation, the glorious appearing … of Jesus Christ. However, the way Paul expresses this hope in this passage has been the subject of lengthy discussion. Literally, the text reads: “awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” Some of the ambiguities in the clause can be easily resolved. The blessed hope probably means “the hope that brings blessing, or blessedness.” The first “and” is almost certainly equal to “even” or “namely” (thus, “the hope that brings blessing, namely, the appearing …”).
But after that there is wide disagreement at three points: First, how are we to understand “of the glory”? Is it descriptive (the glorious appearing, as niv)? Or is it objective, the “what” of the manifestation (as gnb, rsv, et al.). In this case the latter have the better of it. The Second Coming is the final manifestation of God’s full glory, as the first advent was the manifestation of God’s “grace” (v. 11) or, as in 1 Timothy 1:11, was the beginning of the manifestation of God’s glory through the gospel.
Second, did Paul mean to say our great God and Savior (niv, gnb, = a twofold designation of one divine Person) or “the great God and our Savior” (gnb margin, kjv, referring to the two divine Persons)? Here the niv (gnb, rsv) has the better of it, since (a) the single definite article before great God is best understood as controlling both nouns together, (b) the term God and Savior is stereotyped terminology both in the lxx and Hellenistic religions, and (c) nowhere else is God the Father understood to be joining the Son in the Second Coming.
Third, to what, then, does Jesus Christ stand in apposition? All who side with the kjv on the second question see it as in apposition to our Savior, as a kind of balance to the adjective great. Thus: “Our great God [the Father] and our Savior Jesus Christ:” Most of those who take the position of the niv on the second question see it as in apposition to our great God and Savior. It thus becomes one of the few unambiguous statements in the Pauline corpus that Jesus is God (cf. niv, rsv contra gnb on Rom. 9:5). If so, then Paul may well be using it in opposition to Hellenistic cults, including the imperial cult, as an affirmation that Jesus Christ alone is the great God and Savior (see Harris, Hanson). The third option, which resolves the difficulties and carries none of its own, is to see it in apposition to “the glory of God.” What will finally be manifested is God’s glory, namely, Jesus Christ. (On the use of glory, see disc. on 1 Tim. 1:11; cf. 2 Cor. 4:4, 6; for a similar grammatical construction see Col. 2:2 lit., “the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ himself.”)
In order to make his present point Paul would not have had to use the name of Christ at all. What he has said about the parousia is sufficient: We wait for the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, which all would automatically understand to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. But he then adds the personal name, Jesus Christ, because he has some more things he wants to say about him (as in Col. 2:2), which leads to verse 14.
13 The third element in this picture of Christian existence is a forward-looking hope. This attitude or posture of expectancy is expressed by the addition of a second participial phrase (parallel to 12b). In the present tense, the participle “while we wait,” in relation to the verb it modifies (“to live,” v. 12), denotes an ongoing activity that is to accompany and direct life in the present age (Jude 21).
The object of this expectation establishes the vitality of Paul’s eschatology. It is expressed by two thoughts that are essentially equivalent in this construction. First, that which is still ahead is described as “the blessed hope.” In various ways, with emphasis on one facet or another of the fulfillment of salvation, this sentiment recurs throughout Paul (Rom 8:23–24; Gal 5:5; Col 1:27; Eph 1:18; 1 Thess 2:19). Here, as elsewhere, “hope” requires further qualification by a phrase or a genitive that describes its referent or contents. This is understood here (and explicated in the phrase to follow), as “hope” points to a person or event that marks the fulfillment of something promised earlier (Eph 1:18).
Yet the additional term “blessed” does add peculiar definition. Within the NT only 1 Timothy ascribes “blessedness” to God. More frequently it is used of people who experience God’s benevolence in various ways (Matt 5:3, 4, 5, etc; Rom 4:7; 1 Pet 3:14). Both nuances make sense in this text, and they may both be present. If this phrase is actually equivalent to the person about to be described (see below), then “the blessed hope” is a way of describing Jesus Christ as the very embodiment of hope’s fulfillment. Thus “blessed” may be an appellation (such as we find in 1 Tim 1:11 and 6:15) that defines “hope” after the character of God. Or “blessed” may reflect on the event/person in which/whom hope is realized as the means of bestowing blessedness on God’s waiting people.34 In this elevated language it seems best to allow both senses to co-mingle.
Second, on the other side of the equation created by “and” comes a further description of this hope but now in terms of the person who will appear. “Appearance” (epiphaneia; see 1 Tim 6:14 Excursus) repeats the dominant epiphany language just used to refer to a past historical event in 2:11. In the letters to Timothy this language is reserved for reflections on the parousia (1 Tim 6:14; 2 Tim 4:1, 8) or incarnation (2 Tim 1:10) of Christ. The precise reference here will need to be discussed (see below), but the epiphany concept again reflects on the parousia as a powerful, divine intervention among humanity to bring help. The repetition of the language in this text intentionally links this future event with the past event, making of the two aspects a single complex whole—what began with the first epiphany (2:11) is to be completed in the second. But the epiphany is further described, and here two important interrelated exegetical questions must be addressed.
First, there is the question of what or who, given the complex chain of genitives following epiphaneian, we are to understand as the content of the “epiphany”; and solutions proposed will affect conclusions as to the number of persons envisioned in the statement. The nub of the problem is the first genitive “of glory” and how it qualifies the preceding epiphaneian: literally “the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior.” Interestingly, a comparison of the NIV and its recent revision, the TNIV, shows the two possibilities for translating the genitive. The NIV understands “of glory” to be a Hebraic way of saying “glorious,” yielding “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” And this rendering clearly intends the conclusion that “Jesus Christ” is the aforementioned “great God and Savior.” The TNIV (NRSV) adjusts this to the more straightforward rendering “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” While this translation may also be read to equate Jesus with God (theos), it leaves open the option that Jesus Christ is not in fact equated with God, but with “the glory of God” (see below).
The latter translation is to be preferred. The term “glory” (doxa) belongs to the analogical vocabulary by which qualities of the invisible God were “translated” into human thinking and language in (usually) visible imagery (see on 1 Tim 1:17). Thus “glory” is often manifested in unearthly bright light—in this context “glory” is the visible expression of God’s power and majesty. The analogical character of this sort of language—a strategy for making tangible the ineffable qualities of God—prepares the concept of “glory” for transference to other situations. But how is “glory” to be understood here?
In this case, the stringing together of genitive phrases makes the exact sense of “the appearance [epiphaneian] of the glory of the great God and Savior” somewhat ambiguous. On the one hand, if we start from the notion of “epiphany” as eschatological event, we are led to the well-known association of the second coming of Christ and the manifestation of “glory” (with all of the analogical resonances in “glory” of light, divine presence, etc.; e.g. Mark 13:26). Against such a background, the genitive “of glory” in this phrase could be seen to characterize the parousia (the whole cataclysmic redemptive denouement) as the climactic manifestation of “God’s” glory (1 Pet 4:13; 5:1)—the eschatological “coming of God” announced by OT and NT prophets. This way of qualifying epiphaneia also gives a nice parallel with 2:11, which, though with a different verbal construction, employs a genitive phrase to describe “epiphany”: “the epiphany of the grace of God.” To follow this interpretive path results in taking epiphaneia in the rather impersonal sense of an appearance of “glory,” the event itself being characterized as the full expression of the divine presence = glory. Yet notably throughout these letters (see also 2 Thess 2:8) the term epiphaneia consistently depicts the “appearing” of a person (1 Tim 6:14: “of our Lord Jesus Christ”; 2 Tim 2:10: “of our savior, Christ Jesus”; 4:1, 8; 2 Thess 2:8: “his”).
On the other hand, if we shift the focus in epiphaneia slightly from event to the person in the event (Jesus Christ) we might consider another background in Paul where the identification of God’s glory and the person of Jesus Christ is implied. In 2 Corinthians 3–4, where a number of key transitions are under discussion—from Old to New covenant, from the ministry associated with the law to the ministry associated with the Spirit—and where the resurrected Lord is being viewed in relation to the Spirit and in relation to God, the word “glory” (doxa) occurs 15 times. What most attracts our attention in this discussion of the Pauline ministry in the age of the Spirit is the equation implied in 4:4, 6:
2 Cor 4:4: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”;
2 Cor 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
4:4 employs an equally challenging string of genitives, describing the content of the gospel as “the glory of Christ,” then identifying Christ with “the image of God.” Continuing the imagery of light and glory, 4:6, with its own string of genitives (“the light of the knowledge of the glory of God”) describes (“the face of”) Christ as the repository of “the glory of God.” It is not a great distance from these thoughts (esp. 4:6) to a precise identification of Jesus Christ as “the glory of God.” And against this background, the reference to “the epiphany of the glory of [the great] God” in Titus 2:13 could well be the equivalent way of describing the personal “epiphany of Jesus Christ” (= the glory of God). That is, it is possible that “glory” (or actually the whole of “the glory of the great God and Savior”) and Jesus Christ are in apposition.
Marshall contends: (1) that as the sentence stands, apposing “Jesus Christ” to the preceding term “glory” results in an ambiguity (but it should be noted that actually the apposition is to the whole phrase: “the glory of our great God and Savior”; and to limit the apposition to the term “glory” creates a false impression of syntactical distance between apposed items); and (2) that the insertion of a relative pronoun or similar connective to secure the appositional link could easily have been done (and presumably would have been done if this apposition were intended). But in fact Col 2:2 provides a parallel example of apposition created in this manner. There Christ is set in apposition to “the mystery of God”:
Col 2:2: “that they might know the mystery of God, [that is] Christ” (eis epignōsin tou mystēriou tou theou, Christou).
In the Greek text and in the English gloss given, it is simply the comma, the case correspondence of nouns, and the position of “Christ” that indicate the obvious apposition. This structure is no different from Titus 2:13:
Titus 2:13: “the epiphany of the glory of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (epiphaneian tēs doxēs tou megalou theou kai sōtēros hēmōn Iēsou Christou);
at least, it is no different if we allow for (1) the addition of the adjective “great” and possessive pronoun “our,” (2) the expansion of the genitive noun “God” to the longer but still unified genitive noun-cluster “our God and Savior” (see below), and if (3) we insert a comma before “Jesus Christ” as I have done above. On this understanding of the syntax, “Jesus Christ” is in the only position it could be in and express apposition to the thought “the glory of [our great] God [and Savior].” Given the background in Paul that allows Christ to be thought of as “the glory of God,” the key here is simply to recognize that the cluster “the great God and Savior,” selected for its majestic resonance in this passage, was a clear enough titular reference to God (via the LXX; see below). There is no serious impediment to the apposing of “the glory of the great God and Savior” and “Jesus Christ.” If “Christ” can stand in apposition to “the mystery of God” in Col 2:2, then “Jesus Christ” can stand in apposition to the longer phrase “the glory of our great God and savior” just as easily in our text. Any serious ambiguity is avoided as long as the hearers/readers know the code.
In the matter of the reference in “glory,” we are left then with two possibilities. Either it describes “the epiphany” impersonally (and hugely) as being the full expression of all that Christ means and is, or Paul draws on a more precise identification of Christ as the personal manifestation of “the glory of God” that was already in the making (see Eph 1:17 with 1:3; Heb 1:3; cf. Phil 4:19). A decision between the two alternatives must await discussion of the next problem.
Secondly, the question that has attracted more attention divides into three elements: (1) how the final “Jesus Christ” is related to the preceding epiphany and reference to God; (2) whether one or two persons are indicated in the phrase “the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”; and (3) whether, indeed, the statement calls Jesus “God” (theos). Two basic options are still the most widely promoted, and these will be discussed before a third option is reconsidered.
In the text under consideration, all agree that “Jesus Christ” stands in apposition to some part of the preceding statement. Above I have laid the groundwork for arguing that “Jesus Christ” is in fact in apposition to “glory,” which by virtue of the genitive chain of connections means it is in apposition to the whole phrase “the glory of our great God and Savior.” However, most today regard the whole statement, “our great God and Savior,” as a reference to Jesus Christ. And their contest is mainly with some who still consider the appellation to be theologically (christologically) too advanced for Paul (or a Pauline student) and so tend to understand the statement as a reference to two persons—God the Father, and our Savior Jesus Christ.43 The greater exposure given to the two more widely supported views within the debate is, however, more a matter of numerical strength than exegetical persuasiveness. But we’ll let the argument run its course.
Several lines of evidence favor a single referent and severely weaken the case for multiple referents but do not decide whether Jesus is identified with God or rather with the glory of God: of these, three points are most important to note here. A fourth point is added, which, if convincing, requires the conclusion that Jesus is here given the title “God” (theos).
(1) “God and Savior” was a title current in Hellenistic and Jewish religious discourse and usually denoted a single deity. As such, in Jewish writings it was used of YHWH, while elsewhere it was used to express the claims of Greek and Roman rulers (Ptolemy, Julius Caesar), or in connection with cults constructed around worship of one or more of the gods. Given the currency of the title, it seems anachronistic and unwarranted to divide the items between two persons. We have already seen the apologetic potential of this whole presentation of theology—in the Cretan and perhaps also wider Imperial arena—which makes the adaptation of a current title all the more fitting. The surrounding language—“grace,” “epiphany,” “great,” “bringing salvation,” “hope”—is almost set vocabulary for the Imperial cult and numerous other local cults current at the time this letter was written.
(2) To the evidence for unity from popular usage may be added the grammatical argument. In the Greek sentence, one definite article preceding “God” governs the two nouns linked by the conjunction “and” (namely, “God and Savior”), which ordinarily would signify, then, a reference to a single person. The likelihood that the two terms together formed a traditional appellation explains the anarthrous second noun.46
(3) The term “epiphany” in the NT is mainly limited to Christ, and in these letters to coworkers, epiphany language is used in reference to both his past and future appearances (1 Tim 6:14; 2 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 1:10; 4:8). Moreover, no NT writer mentions a future epiphany/parousia of the Father. This corroborates what the language has already strongly implied—namely, that “the blessed hope” is the future appearance of one person, Jesus Christ, who in his appearing is the fulfillment of Christian hope and the embodiment of the glory of God.
In view of these three lines of evidence, the possibility that Paul is referring to the appearance of two persons (“the epiphany of the glory of our great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ”) can be ruled out. But a precise identification of the one to appear remains to be made. It is clearly “Jesus Christ” who is in view, but how does Paul’s language envisage him?
(4) The term “great” is used in connection with theos (“God”) only here in the NT, and so some allege that this pattern of use makes “great” a better description of Christ than God. But in fact apart from a very oblique connection of the adjective with Christ in 1 Tim 3:16 (“great is the mystery of godliness”) and one other use of the word group (megaleiotētos “majesty”) in 2 Pet 1:16, there is little in the NT to support the claim that “great” is more naturally applied to Christ. Against this, are the NT uses of the word group in reference to God (Luke 9:43; Heb 1:3; 8:1; Jude 25),and especially the overwhelming use of this language in the LXX as a divine appellation. Its omission as a description of God in the NT has been variously explained;50 most likely it was used cautiously due to its widespread use in reference to pagan deities and rulers. Whatever sensitivity may have been exercised by the early church in the use of common, current religious language, Paul has clearly thrown caution to the winds in Titus as he shapes his gospel message in a way that will challenge all claims to deity by lesser gods and people. Thus the attachment of “great” to the title “God and Savior” is best explained as a part of Paul’s intentional engagement with the cultural religious story. But the preponderance of the evidence favors linking the quality “great” with God not Christ.
Where does the evidence point? First, a single person is in view and this must be “Jesus Christ,” whose eschatological epiphany is the blessed hope. Second, the remaining question is whether Jesus Christ is in apposition to “our great God and Savior,” making this a rare Pauline affirmation of his deity and a rarer still Pauline application of the term theos to him (cf. Rom 9:5?), or in apposition to “the glory of our great God and savior.” For the former view: (1) in these letters we a significant sharing of the title “savior” is observable (e.g. 1:3/4; 3:4/6); (2) we are about to see the transference of activities associated with YHWH in the OT to Christ (see on v. 14); and (3) Paul’s predominant use of “Lord” (kyrios) for Christ and other hints suggest some level of reflection about the divine status of Jesus Christ (e.g. Col 1:15–20; 2:9). In view of these observations it is perhaps not improbable to think that Jesus Christ could be called “God” (theos), and the possibility that Titus 2:13 intends this identification should be left open. But the weight of the grammatical, syntactical and lexical evidence tips the scales in the other direction. Jesus Christ is equated not with God but rather with “the glory of the great God and Savior.” And the eschatological epiphany, “the blessed hope,” is thus depicted here as the personal appearance of Jesus Christ who is the embodiment and full expression of God’s glory.
Paul draws again from the rich OT/LXX reservoir as he plays with the popular religious and political language to describe the future parousia of Jesus Christ as the saving/helping epiphany of “the glory of our Great God and Savior.” In his return, God’s glory will be fully and finally revealed. The present passage exhibits again the theological and conceptual transition already observed, by which Jesus Christ comes to be thought of in terms of qualities and titles previously reserved for YHWH (Lord, savior and now “the glory of God”). God (v. 11) is seen to be executing his divine plan of redemption, from start to finish, through his son, Jesus Christ.
13 Paul concludes his series of exhortations with a doxology, seeking to motivate believers by putting their present efforts into eternal perspective. He does so by evoking their expectation of the “blessed hope” (elpis, GK 1828; cf. Col 1:5; Gal 5:5; see also Tit 1:2; 3:7) of the “glorious appearing [epiphaneia, GK 2211; cf. epiphainō in v. 11] of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Th 4:13–18). Since “blessed hope” and “glorious appearing” are governed by the same article, they refer to the same event. While Jesus appeared in lowly form at his first coming, his return will be glorious.
The final phrase in v. 13—correctly rendered in the NIV as referring to one person, “Jesus Christ” (cf. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996], 276; Knight, 321–26; Mounce, 426–31; Marshall, 277–82)—represents a remarkably high christological confession (cf. M. J. Harris, “Titus 2:13 and the Deity of Christ,” in Pauline Studies, ed. D. A. Hagner and M. J. Harris [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980], 262–77; Harris, Jesus as God [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992], 173–85, 301–13). While the Greeks were freely bestowing the epithets “savior” and “god” on human benefactors and rulers, the Romans were slower to deify emperors. Jews like Paul, in light of their strong monotheism, would never have done so apart from divine revelation (cf. Baugh, 506).
Salvation From the Presence of Sin
looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; (2:13)
One of the marvelous truths implied in this promise is that one day, when our salvation is perfected, we will be glorified, made fully like our Lord in purity and righteousness. “Beloved, now we are children of God,” John assures us, “and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. [But] we know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).
That future blessed encounter with our Lord will bring total and permanent removal of sin from our lives. Not even a trace will remain. Paul could therefore say to believers in Philippi, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” because he had the overwhelming “desire to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:21, 23). The apostle could also say to believers in Rome “that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:22–23).
Looking for translates a participle form of prosdechomai, which carries the meanings not only of longing and waiting but also of eager and certain expectation. Hope translates elpis, which, like prosdechomai, includes the connotation of confident certainty. It is an especially blessed, or happy, hope of believers because Paul is not speaking about a fond human wish but about a divinely promised certitude. That certitude is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. It is for that reason that the apostle calls it, and that Christians throughout the centuries have called it, the blessed hope, the hope that is above all other hopes.
Appearing is from epiphaneia, which has the root ideas of uncovering, unveiling, and disclosing. Paul uses the term both of Jesus’ first and second comings. At the first “appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,” He “abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). At His second appearing, He will “judge the living and the dead” and establish His earthly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:1). In the meanwhile, His people are to “keep the commandment without stain or reproach until [that second] appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6:14, emphasis added) and are to rejoice that “in the future there is laid up for [them] the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award … to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8, emphasis added).
I do not think Paul is speaking specifically of the Rapture—the time when, just before the seven-year Tribulation, Christ will appear and receive all believers, both living and dead, to Himself (1 Thess. 4:13–17)—as distinguished from His coming in judgment at the end of the Tribulation to establish His millennial kingdom, when “the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds” (Matt. 16:27). It seems rather that the apostle is here referring to Christ’s second coming in general, when He will appear in glory and power rather than in humility and submission as in His first coming.
Paul is focusing on the culmination of our salvation, which will be perfected and completed when our Lord calls us up to the place He has prepared (cf. John 14:1–3), when “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:51–53; cf. Matt. 24:30–31; 25:31). Paul therefore could assure us that “now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11). Even while we remain on earth, “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20–21). Even when we come back to earth to reign with Him, we will be untemptable and untouchable by sin. In the New Jerusalem, “there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:3–5).
The rendering of the nasb (the appearing of the glory) is a more accurate rendering than that of the kjv (“the glorious appearing”). In this context, glory, like “grace” (2:11), “kindness,” and “love” (3:4) is not simply a description of Christ but also a personification. In his incarnation, His first appearing, Christ was grace personified. In His second appearing, He will be glory personified. He will be the blazing Shekinah glory that Peter, James, and John saw partially revealed at Jesus’ transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–8).
Our great God and Savior is one of the many plain declarations in Scripture of the deity of Jesus Christ (see, e.g., John 1:1–18; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:1–3). Some interpreters hold that in this passage God and Savior refer to different beings, the first (great God) to the divine Father and the second (Savior) to the human Son, Christ Jesus. But that explanation has several insurmountable problems. Besides the other clear affirmations of the divinity of Christ in Scripture are several grammatical reasons found in this passage itself. First, there is but one definite article (the, tou), which indicates the singularity and identity of God and Savior. Second, both of the singular pronouns in the following verse (“who,” hos; and “Himself,” heauton) refer back to a single person. And, although the Old Testament makes countless references to God the Father as great, in the New Testament that description is used only of God the Son (see, e.g., Matt. 5:35; Luke 1:32; 7:16; Heb. 10:21;13:20). Perhaps most importantly, the New Testament nowhere speaks of the appearing or Second Coming of God the Father but only of the Son.
 Quarles, C. L. (2017). Titus. In T. Cabal (Ed.), CSB Apologetics Study Bible (p. 1518). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Van Neste, R. (2017). Titus. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1937). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Tt 2:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1771). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Tt 2:13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2350). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Tt 2:13). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2141). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 366). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 372–375). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 Guthrie, D. (1990). Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, pp. 221–222). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 320–322). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 195–196). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 750–758). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Köstenberger, A. (2006). Titus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 619). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1996). Titus (pp. 118–121). Chicago: Moody Press.