Last week, I posted a video response to a YouTube video I saw of a Oneness Pentecostal preacher named Pastor Gino Jennings and his attack on the Trinity. As I normally do, I prepared my response in general before I began my rebuttal of his criticisms, and as I prepared for one of his arguments, I decided it might be useful to post this response in a blog article; perhaps it may be useful in blog form for some fellow believers in how to respond to this particular criticism of the Trinity.
Pastor Gino’s attack on this particular point is aimed at Titus 2:13, and as a side note, this is probably the only point in his entire video where he actually attempted to deal with a very key passage about the deity of Christ. The passage reads as follows:
[waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,] -Titus 2:13 (ESV).
As can be seen in the text, it seems very clear that Paul calls Jesus directly the God of the universe, making him deity. If this is allowed to stand, it presents clear problems for anti-trinitarians.
What such persons, such as Pastor Gino did, will do in response, is go to this passage and attempt to separate the God and Savior part, essentially saying that the appearing is of God, and also Jesus, as if God and Jesus are two separate individual beings as well as persons. That’s all that is meant here, according to them. In particularly Gino’s case, he connects Titus 2:13 with Acts 7:55, where Stephen, as he is being martyred, looks into heaven and sees Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, and this clearly indicates two separate beings (as well as persons) is in view, and therefore when we come to Titus 2:13, there is all the warrant to suggest two distinct individuals: God and then also Jesus, who is not God, but comes with Him.
The Granville Sharpe Principle
How do Christians respond to this counter-attack on our arguments for the deity of Christ? It would appear, based on this, that anti-trinitarians are completely justified in rejecting the deity of Christ. It is in a situation like this that it is very useful to know Greek, or at least, to know a technical rule in Greek linguistics we call the Granville Sharpe Construction. Fortunately, you don’t need to know Greek to know what this principle is, and how it functions. What is it?
The Granville Sharpe Construction (what we will abbreviate as ‘GSC’) is a rule named after its founder, the English philanthropist and linguist in 1798.
“Sharpe pointed out that in the construction article-noun-kai-noun (where ‘kai’ = ‘and’), when two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper names), they always had the same referent. Illustrations such as ‘the friend and brother’, ‘the God and Father,’ etc. are abound in the NT to prove Sharpe’s point.”Translator’s Commentary; NET Bible, Full Study Notes Edition on 2 Peter 1:1
To condense the quotation above into a straightforward statement, the anti-trinitarian’s attempt to separate the two nouns (God and Savior) is simply invalid, and reflects an ignorance of proper exegesis of the Greek. We shall use examples to prove our point. Let’s first look at Titus 2:13, and the phrase in question (“Our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”) in the Greek:
“θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ”
The literal translation here is “God (θεοῦ) and (καὶ) Savior (σωτῆρος) of us (ἡμῶν) Jesus Christ (Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ)”, pronounced “theou kai soteros hemoun yesou cristou”. Notice the conjunction “kai” (which means ‘and’) in the passage, and how, just as the GSC says, connects the two nouns that the conjunction sits between as being about the same person. There are numerous points in the New Testament that we see this same construction take place,. We are going to look at three here to make our point–2 Peter 1:1, 1:11 and 3:18. We will begin first with 2 Peter 1:11 which reads:
κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
Notice the construction is the same as Titus 2:13 (the only difference being where “ἡμῶν” meaning ‘us’ is–before the conjunction “καὶ”); this once again is the Granville Sharpe Construction/Rule. However, notice one word difference. Instead of theou (θεοῦ) you have “kuriou” (κυρίου) which means Lord, which of course reads, “Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”. Now for 2 Peter 3:18:
κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
Once more, the same construction as 2 Peter 1:11, as well as Titus 2:13. Now for 2 Peter 1:1:
θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
Again, exactly identical with 2 Peter 1:11 and 3:18; the only difference is instead of ‘Lord’, you have ‘God’. The question then to ask each anti-trinitarian, including Pastor Gino about this is, are you going to be consistent and separate Lord and Savior in 2 Peter 1:11 and 3:18 as you would do in 2 Peter 1:1 and Titus 2:13? Not even the most vehement anti-trinitarian cults deny that Jesus is Lord, and that’s because it’s impossible to do such and be taken seriously. But shouldn’t they deny him as Lord since, just as it says “Lord and Savior” it says “God and Savior”?
What is the warrant to make two distinct individuals in Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, yet not in 2 Peter 1:11 and 3:18? There is absolutely no warrant in the text to see these passages differently. The reason is because they have a tradition they are defending, and it is not faithfulness to the revelation of God.
It is clear then, based on this evidence, that anti-trinitarians cannot be consistent on this point in any stretch of the imagination, and are caught in a situation of using different forms of interpretations based on their presuppositional denial of the Trinity and deity of Christ.
Further difficulties arise for the anti-trinitarian when you consider that the prophet Isaiah declared in Isaiah 43:3, 11 and 45:21 that there is no savior other than God Himself. Hence, to call Jesus Savior under an anti-trinitarian perspective would attribute to Jesus the greatest form of blasphemy, and that to follow him would be an act of idolatry (since in each passage of Isaiah cited, looking to other saviors/gods was tantamount to idolatry).
Clearly then the anti-trinitarian cannot remain consistent in this attack which, on the surface appears to be valid, but upon closer examination, fails to produce results, and it presents the anti-trinitarian further dilemmas of committing idolatry on biblical standards, since Christ, who is not God in their view, is nevertheless called the Savior, when only God can be the Savior.
As we can see, knowing something of Greek can help us immensely in dealing with anti-trinitarian attacks on the Trinity. It’s important to know about the languages; for myself, I am only a beginner in Greek, but I do rely on authorities that are very helpful to me, particularly here, and I hope that what I have presented here is also very helpful to other Christians and laypeople in defending the faith against heresies that threaten their foundations.