Next, as to the words τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Undoubtedly, as in Titus 2:13, in strict grammatical propriety, both θεοῦ and σωτῆρος would be predicates of Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. But here, as there, considerations interpose, which seem to remove the strict grammatical rendering out of the range of probable meaning. I have fully discussed the question in the note on that passage, to which I would refer the reader as my justification for interpreting here, as there, τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν of the Father, and σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ of the Son. Here, there is the additional consideration in favour of this view, that the Two are distinguished most plainly in the next verse):
Comments pertaining to Tit 2:13:
And we now come to consider the meaning of these words. Two views have been taken of them: (1) that τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος̣ ἡμῶν are to be taken together as the description of Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ,—‘of Jesus Christ, the great God and our Saviour:’ (2) that as given above, τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ describes the Father, and σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ the Son. It is obvious that in dealing with (1), we shall be deciding with regard to (2) also. (1) has been the view of the Greek orthodox Fathers, as against the Arians (see a complete collection of their testimonies in Dr. Wordsworth’s “Six Letters to Granville Sharp on the use of the definite article in the Greek text of the N. T.” Lond. 1802), and of most ancient and modern Commentators. That the former so interpreted the words, is obviously not (as it has been considered) decisive of the question, if they can be shewn to bear legitimately another meaning, and that meaning to be the one most likely to have been in the mind of the writer. The case of ἵνα in the preceding verse (see note there), was wholly different. There it was contended that ἵνα with a subjunctive, has, and can have, but one meaning: and this was upheld against those who would introduce another, inter alia, by the fact that the Greek Fathers dreamt of no other. The argument rested not on this latter fact, but on the logical force of the particle itself. And similarly here, the passage must be argued primarily on its own ground, not primarily on the consensus of the Greek Fathers. No one disputes that it may mean that which they have interpreted it: and there were obvious reasons why they, having licence to do so, should choose this interpretation. But it is our object, not being swayed in this or any other interpretation, by doctrinal considerations one way or the other, to enquire, not what the words may mean, but what they do mean, as far as we may be able to ascertain it. The main, and indeed the only reliance of those who take (1), is the omission of the article before σωτῆρος. Had the sentence stood τοῦ μεγ. θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰ. χ., their verdict for (2) would have been unanimous. That the insertion of the article would have been decisive for (2), is plain: but is it equally plain, that its omission is decisive for (1)? This must depend entirely on the nature and position of the word thus left anarthrous. If it is a word which had by usage become altogether or occasionally anarthrous,—if it is so connected, that the presence of the article expressed, is not requisite to its presence in the sense, then the state of the case, as regards the omission, is considerably altered. Now there is no doubt that σωτήρ was one of those words which gradually dropped the article and became a quasi proper name: cf. 1Timothy 1:1 (I am quite aware of Bp. Middleton’s way of accounting for this, but do not regard it as satisfactory); 4:10; which latter place is very instructive as to the way in which the designation from its official nature became anarthrous. This being so, it must hardly be judged as to the expression of the art. by the same rules as other nouns. Then as to its structural and contextual connexion. It is joined with ἡμῶν, which is an additional reason why it may spare the article: see Luke 1:78: Romans 1:7: 1Corinthians 1:3 (1Corinthians 2:7; 1Corinthians 10:11): 2Corinthians 1:2, &c. Again, as Winer has observed (edn. 6, § 19, 5 b, remark 1), the prefixing of an appositional designation to the proper name frequently causes the omission of the article. So in 2 Thessalonians 1:12: 2Peter 1:1: Jude 1:4: see also 2Corinthians 1:2; 2Corinthians 6:18: Galatians 1:3: Ephesians 1:2; Ephesians 6:23: Philippians 1:2; Philippians 2:11; Philippians 3:20 &c. If then σωτὴρ ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς χριστός may signify ‘Jesus Christ our Saviour,’—on comparing the two members of the clause, we observe, that θεοῦ has already had its predicate expressed in τοῦ μεγαλου; and that it is therefore natural to expect that the latter member of the clause, likewise consisting of a proper name and its predicate, should correspond logically to the former: in other words, that τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰη. χρ. would much more naturally suit (1) than τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμ. Ἰη. χρ. In clauses where the two appellative members belong to one expressed subject, we expect to find the former of them without any predicative completion. If it be replied to this, as I conceive on the hypothesis of (1) it must be, that τοῦ μεγάλου is an epithet alike of θεοῦ and σωτῆρος, ‘our great (God and Saviour),’ I may safely leave it to the feeling of any scholar, whether such an expression would be likely to occur. Let us now consider, whether the Apostle would in this place have been likely to designate our Lord as ὁ μέγας θεὸς καὶ σωτὴρ ἡμῶν. This must be chiefly decided by examining the usages of the expression θεὸς ὁ σωτὴρ ἡμῶν, which occurs six times in these Epistles, once in Luke (1:47), and once in the Epistle of Jude. If the writer here identifies this expression, ‘the great God and our Saviour,’ with the Lord Jesus Christ, calling Him ‘God and our Saviour,’ it will be at least probable that in other places where he speaks of “God our Saviour,” he also designates our Lord Jesus Christ. Now is that so? On the contrary, in 1Timothy 1:1, we have κατʼ ἐπιταγὴν θεοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν, καὶ χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τῆς ἐλπίδος ἡμῶν: where I suppose none will deny that the Father and the Son are most plainly distinguished from one another. The same is the case in 1Timothy 2:3-5, a passage bearing much (see below) on the interpretation of this one: and consequently in 1Timothy 4:10, where ἐστιν σωτὴρ πάντων ἀνθρώπων corresponds to θέλει πάντας σωθῆναι in the other. So also in Titus 1:3, where the σωτὴρ ἡμῶν θεός, by whose ἐπιταγή the promise of eternal life was manifested, with the proclamation of which St. Paul was entrusted, is the same αἰώνιος θεός, by whose ἐπιταγή the hidden mystery was manifested in Romans 16:26, where the same distinction is made. The only place where there could be any doubt is in our ver. 10, which possible doubt however is removed by ver. 11, where the same assertion is made, of the revelation of the hidden grace of God (the Father). Then we have our own ch. 3:4-6, where we find τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ in ver. 4, clearly defined as the Father, and διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν in ver. 6. In that passage too we have the expression ἡ χρηστότης καὶ ἡ φιλανθρωπία ἐπεφάνη τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμ. θεοῦ, which is quite decisive in answer to those who object here to the expression ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης as applied to the Father. In the one passage of St. Jude, the distinction is equally clear: for there we have μόνῳ θεῷ σωτῆρι ἡμῶν διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. It is plain then, that the usage of the words ‘God our Saviour’ does not make it probable that the whole expression here is to be applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. And in estimating this probability, let us again recur to 1Timothy 2:3, 1Timothy 2:5, a passage which runs very parallel with the present one. We read there, εἷς γὰρ θεός, " εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων, ἄνθρωπος χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς, ὁ δοὺς ἑαυτὸν ἀντίλυτρον κ.τ.λ. Compare this with τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ " καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, ὃς ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἵνα λυτρώσηται κ.τ.λ. Can there be a reasonable doubt, that the Apostle writing two sentences so closely corresponding, on a point of such high importance, would have in his view the same distinction in the second of them, which he so strongly lays down in the first? Without then considering the question as closed, I would submit that (2) satisfies all the grammatical requirements of the sentence: that it is both structurally and contextually more probable, and more agreeable to the Apostle’s way of writing: and I have therefore preferred it. The principal advocates for it have been, the pseudo-Ambrose (i.e. Hilary the deacon, the author of the Commentary which goes by the name of that Father: whose words are these, “hanc esse dicit beatam spem credentium, qui exspectant adventum gloriæ magni Dei quod revelari habet judice Christo, in quo Dei Patris videbitur potestas et gloria, ut fidei suæ præmium consequantur. Ad hoc enim redemit nos Christus, ut” &c.), Erasm. (annot. and paraphr.), Grot., Wetst., Heinr., Winer (ubi supra, end), De W., Huther (the other view,—not this as stated in my earlier editions, by inadvertence,—is taken by Ellicott). Whichever way taken, the passage is just as important a testimony to the divinity of our Saviour: according to (1), by asserting His possession of Deity and right to the appellation of the Highest: according to (2), even more strikingly, asserting His equality in glory with the Father, in a way which would be blasphemy if predicated of any of the sons of men), who (our Saviour Jesus Christ), gave Himself (“the forcible ἑαυτόν, ‘Himself, His whole self, the greatest gift ever given,’ must not be overlooked: cf. Beveridge, Serm. 93, vol. iv. p. 285.” Ellicott) for us (‘on our behalf,’ not ‘in our stead:’ reff.), that He might (by this assertion of the Redeemer’s purpose, we return to the moral aim of verses 11, 12, more plainly indicated as in close connexion with Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice) redeem (λυτροῦσθαι, ‘to buy off with a price,’ the middle including personal agency and interest, cf. καθαρίσῃ ἑαυτῷ below.