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The Greek Anaphora vs The GSR In Titus 2:13

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

A grammatical analysis: θεοῦ The Father? Or θεοῦ the Son?

A short examination of a overlooked rule with no apparent exceptions:

The Anaphoric Article:

A written amplification to a recent YouTube response to Dr. James White’s view of Titus 2:13 and a "rule" that he presents as infallible. Nevertheless, recently a good friend of mine proposed a counter-theory that the GSR & the Greek Anaphora can simultaneously co-exist. In this article I will attempt to show why his theory creates a conflict with the respected antecendents in the GSR and the Anaphoric first mention. His theory also suggests that it is in its purest form compatible with Modalism and incompatible with Trinitarianism. I suspect that if Modalism is true, then indeed he is on to something. Please enjoy!

A Brief Analysis and Definition of the Anaphoric Semantic

When Anaphora is present (in Greek, ‘to bring back, to bring up’), it simply is a word or phrase which depends upon another for identification. For example, “Pronouns are anaphors.” When one says, “They refer back to a noun,” the word “they” is a pronoun that is anaphoric and the word “Pronouns” is its antecedent. Pronouns are very useful in exegesis. In ancient Greek, they developed before definite articles. Eventually articles were derived from them. That is why the Greek definite article still retains its use as an anaphoric pronoun, in fact, Thomas Franshaw Middleton in his “Doctrine of the Greek Article,” says that the definite article ὁ and pronoun ὁ are identical in function. While modern grammars document the anaphoric use of the Greek article, it is not commonly used in exegesis in the same way as the pronoun. This study will apply what is taught about the article in order to help interpret passages which are ambiguous and hotly debated in Christological controversies.[1]

A survey of both ancient and modern treatments on the Greek anaphoric article leads into an analysis from Daniel Wallace’s Exegetical Grammar on anaphora. An application is made for Titus 2:13, a text that is interpreted by some to refer to two persons (e.g. The American Standard Version, ASV), while others see Jesus identified there as God. (E.g. the New International Version, NIV). The result of applying what scholars like Wallace and Middleton say about the anaphoric definite article is shockingly different than their own, Dr. White's and my good friend from Facebook conclusions and contrary to what they teach on the subject. In the often debated passage, the anaphoric article identifies the Father as God.


According to the rule of Anaphora, the article in “The Great God” at Titus 2:13 clearly identifies him as the Father from Titus 1:1,4 based upon the Greek anaphora in the exact same way that a pronoun identifies its antecedent.

The article τοῦ that modifies μεγάλου Θεοῦ [great God] in vs 13 has an anaphoric origin in the most clear sense in the very first chapter of Titus. [1:1,4]

When an articular substantive (noun) is present it will likely have an anarthrous (without the article) first mention in the same book, chapter, or verse. When applied to Titus 2:13 we have a live example of the Greek individualized anaphora providing us with exegetical proof for the seemingly ambiguous mention of "the Great God” in vs 13 as to its proper antecedent.

Interestingly, Dr. Dan Wallace, who is a well-known and highly respected evangelical Greek grammarian gives a detailed treatment in TBNTS:

"Amplification. Most individualizing articles will be anaphoric in a broad sense. That is, they will be used to point out something that had been introduced earlier—perhaps even much earlier." [Excerpt from: "The Basics of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar" pg. 171 by Daniel B. Wallace.]

Can the GSR and the anaphoric article co-exists?

A good friend from social media produced a article to nullify my conclusions. He believes that the two rules syntactically can be applied to the exegesis of Titus 2:13. He even suggested that Dr. White (and other deity of Christ proponents) read his article in hopes of an agreement. I'm not so sure my good friend realizes how anti-thetical his suggestion is to a Trinitarian such as James White. I highly respect his recommendations but would otherwise respectfully disagree.

If the Trinitarian position applies the Greek anaphora it would unequivocally dismiss the GSR.

Initially, it would point to antecedents who are personally distinct from one another. According to Trinitarian theology, the Father and Son are not the same person and are distinct. The Anaphoric article in Titus 2:13 (the Great God) reaches back to its anarthrous first mention in 1:1. [θεου]. We know that God in 1:1 is indeed God the Father because the author mentions Jesus by name "ιησου χριστου" preceded by the adjunctive conjunction δε (and). The adjunctive semantic tells us that the anarthrous θεου & δὲἸησοῦ Χριστοῦ are two separate subjects. It would be unnecessarily redundant to have introduced Jesus there simultaneously. Instead, 1:4 seems to be associated with the first mention in 1:1. It reads in 1:4 θεου πατρος "God the Father".

This same God has a renewed mention in 2:13. "του μεγαλου θεου". The του in the text grammatically acts as an individualized pronoun that searches for its antecedent in the same book, chapter, or verse. When applied to 2:13, there is only one possible antecedent. The God who was introduced in the first chapter.

The proponent of this view also provided counter texts in his favor to demonstrate that the GSR and the anaphoric article can operate in cohesion. He cites Mark 6:3.

"When Mark calls Jesus “the Son of Mary and brother of James” (6:3), he is referring back to the same Son he had already mentioned in 1:1 and 5:8."

Aside from the variant in Mark 1:1 and a clear antecedent to the Son of God, his suggestion of the anaphora semantic seems to be misplaced predicated on a fundamental misunderstanding of the rule. "the Son of God" is not anarthrous in 1:1. Wallace [p. 208] says "The first mention of the substantive is usually anarthrous because it is merely being introduced." In 5:8 (I'm going to assume that my good friend meant 5:7?), υιε του θεου "thou Son of the Most High God" is neither anarthrous.

He also cites Luke 20:37

"When Luke calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (20:37), he is referring back to the same God Zecharias worshipped in 1:6."

Even here, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob is a celebrity title applied to only God. This will suggest contextual warrant for my good friend's suggestion. It would not necessarily be relied upon from the Greek anaphoric semantic. Yes, these are legitimate examples of the GSC, but fails to support the full form of the aforementioned rule he posits to include.

But again, this would not be a viable example because according to the Greek, though being introduced , του θεου would not technically be anarthrous. In “The Greek definite article across time,” (Guardiano, 2013), anaphor is recognized where “textual anaphora" (i.e. an anaphor found in the text itself and not a mere concept) is prominent, or where there is a “Referent accessible on the basis of contextual/textual evidence,” or with an indefinite “first mention.” (p. 86). This would also apply to his other listed examples in his article here

My good friend then goes on to say,

"It is debatable whether the Greek article in Titus 2:13 is anaphoric. But even if Titus 2:13 does contain an Anaphora, the GSC is still in play. If Titus 2:13 is indeed anaphoric, the force of the expression would be something like “the great God—the same God I already mentioned in 1:1-4—who is also our Savior Jesus Christ.”

With carefulness, if I were a Trinitarian, I would vehemently disagree with my friend's conclusion here and abandon the anaphoric application to Titus 2:13. As the rule would not support the idea "who is our Saviour Jesus Christ" as the identical referent in 1:4, which reads "Grace and peace from God the Father". In examining his article, I did not see a clear argument as to why the article in Titus 2:13 would not be anaphoric. Nevertheless, such a construction would erroneously read,

"looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God the Father who is also our Saviour Jesus Christ;"

This phrase would be quite unnatural for the writer of Titus to abruptly make, let alone it would be a strange expression in the entire NT corpus.

My good friend closes;

"Another attempt to discount the deity of Jesus collapses under the weight of careful examination"

With all things considered, I don't think my good friend (who I believe has a Oneness ideology), properly represented the Greek Anaphora article usage in its natural form adequately. To date, proposed “exceptions” have been due to a misunderstanding of the rule or by mistakenly including articles in syntaxes that fall outside of the “individualizing article,” or “are capable of linguistic explanation.”

[Ps. See “Individualizing Article”, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, (Wallace, 1996, p. 216), and with respect to a single person.]


Another grammatical element that halts the GSR

A verbal Idea

Greek lexical and grammatical resources teach also that when και is adjunctive, it has an adverbial force and “stresses an important idea, usually the idea set forth in the word that follows.” (Smyth, p. Adverbial και 2881) This is also the view of the Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek.

An example of the adverbial και is John 14:1"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also [και] in me. (English Standard Version, 2001). Note that the main semantic function of the adjunctive και does not necessarily add two nouns together as does the copulative. Instead, it adds an idea to the previous one.

Also, note that the verbal idea, “believe in” is repeated with both terms. (Cp. Romans 1:16;2:9, 10; 6:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12,). The word appearing (epiphaneian/ἐπιφάνεια) is a verbal noun which is the head noun of a verbal genitive. Taken as subjective, it unpacks to “the glory of the Great God appears”. Furthermore, Jesus Christ does not seem to be appositional to “great God” but rather is in simple opposition to “glory of the great God”. See Matthew 16:27.

Applying the concepts from the Smyth and Cambridge Greek grammars, and applying the verbal concept from the “adverbial και” to the word or phrase that follows can be expressed as:

“looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and [the appearing of] our Saviour Jesus Christ;” A more emphatic way of expressing the addition of the verbal idea might be “also the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

One barrier to understanding the text in the non-traditional way is that some English bibles deliberately shift the possessive pronoun “our” (I-mon/ ἡμῶν) from the second phrase to the first. Does this change the meaning, and is there a valid grammatical reason for moving it? Apparently not.


My feeling is that the relatively impersonal τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ is sufficiently distinct from the more personal σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ as to eliminate the possibiity that these are intended to have the identical referent. Rather, they are being contrasted.I take τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν to mean that the appearing is what the hope consists of (as in English 'nice and tasty' means 'nicely tasty') and hence not semantically two co-ordinated nouns.

More importantly, the καὶ connecting θεοῦ with σωτῆρος is governed by ἐπιφάνειαν in the same way: in other words, this is not an example of co-ordination of nouns but of concepts: the appearance of the great an impersonal glorious God is manifested by the appearance of the person named individual Jesus Christ who is our saviour. This is much the same idea as in Colossians chapter 1 where the Jesus is described as the image (eikwn) of the invisible (aoratou) God. And again, the idea comes through in 1 John 1 where Jesus is spoken in terms of what our eyes have seen and our hands handled.

One further minor point, the ἡμῶν clearly belongs with σωτῆρος not with μεγάλου θεοῦ. I would have expected in the normal TSKS structure that this would appear immediately after θεοῦ. This would lend credence to the view that this verse is not such a structure and that really, ἡμῶν is actually functioning as a definite article anyway.

The Greek anaphora to this date apparently has no real exceptions, as opposed to the Granville Sharp rule [that has many exceptions e.g. plurals, proper names, secular Greek literature, absolute rules (rules without exceptions), etc. Therefore, rules without exceptions when applicable by default overrides rules with exceptions, thus the Greek Anaphora has a higher priority and greater influence to the exegetical outcome of a text than the GSR. Rendering the rule ineffective to be used as a proof text for the deity of Christ. Pronouns are pronominal, and thus refer to another noun, generally the previous noun that matches its case, number and gender. Since to Middleton the article and the pronoun are identical, we would expect that the article would be anaphoric and refer to the previous instance of that noun. Middleton also states that we would look for the same noun occurring earlier, something he calls “renewed mention,” and that this could be a synonym as well, if the same noun is not found.

When the smoke clears, a plausible literal reading should read as follows, "while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the [same] great God [previously introduced in the Salutation (Cp. 1:1-5)] and of our Savior [used as the instrument of God (Cp. 3:6), Jesus Christ.”

See relevant video here:

See article I'm responding to here:


[1] The Greek Anaphoric Article Applied to the Exegesis of 2 Peter 1:1 and Related Texts - A Fresh Grammatical and Contextual Analysis] By Gregory Blunt:2019

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