THE GOD OF JESUS: PART TWENTY
Seeing Things in Context
There are a number of Scriptural passages that are used as “proof texts” to establish the Doctrine of the Incarnation and Trinity. A “proof text” is a passage of Scripture taken by itself to establish a particular point of doctrine. “Proof texting” is a dangerous way to establish doctrine. While specific passages of Scripture can provide helpful information in the establishment of a doctrine, it is vital that such passages are examined and compared to what the whole context of Scripture reveals as to a particular doctrinal issue. In this two-part chapter we will examine Scriptural passages often used as “proof texts” (texts that prove) Jesus is God as God is God.
Scripture #1: Matthew 1:23: Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (KJV).
This statement about Mary’s son being called Emmanuel which means “God with us” is often seen as straightforward evidence Jesus is God. If His name is “God with us” He must be God. Let’s examine this conclusion by studying the original context from which Matthew’s statement is taken.
Isaiah 7:14. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah chapter seven shows Ahaz was king of Judah. Kings Rezin of Aram and Pekah of Israel were in alliance and came up to fight against Ahaz and Judah. The Lord, through Isaiah, told Ahaz this alliance would not succeed against Ahaz and Judah. It’s recorded the Lord then gave a sign to Ahaz to show him the alliance would not succeed. The sign is that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son who will be named Immanuel which in Hebrew means, “God is with us” or “God with us.” In referring to this son who would be called Immanuel, Isaiah went on to say the following:
Isaiah 7:15-16: He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.
Isaiah 8:3-8: Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said to me, "Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Before the boy knows how to say `My father' or `My mother,' the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria." The LORD spoke to me again: "Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the River -- the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, O Immanuel!”
The sign given to Ahaz was directed to Ahaz and the house of David (Judah). The naming of the child Immanuel relates to the events at hand in Isaiah’s time. The context of Isaiah 7 and 8 clearly shows the son spoken of is a boy living at that time and behaving in a certain way relative to the two kings being laid waste. The son being named Immanuel (God with us) doesn’t mean this boy was God. Ahaz was given a sign from God that God would intervene on his behalf to defeat the alliance. The sign was the boy named Immanuel. God was telling Ahaz He would be with him and his people.
Matthew is using this OT event to show that through Jesus, God would be with His people Israel. Just as the son born to the prophetess and called “God with us” was not actual God, neither was the son born to Mary actual God but signified God as being with His people Israel. Israel never viewed the promised Messiah as an incarnation of the one God. There was no thought in Israel’s theology that Messiah would be actual God. Such a conclusion would run contrary to everything Israel understood about God and Messiah. Matthew is not seen as introducing a new concept of God by saying the one God of Israel was going to be incarnated in the son born to Mary. While the religious leaders of the first century rejected Jesus as Messiah, many of the people saw Jesus as a great prophet through whom God had come to help His people and in this respect God was with them.
Luke 7:16: They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people."
Scripture #2: Matthew 3:3: This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, `Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"
The “he” Matthew refers to is John the Baptist. The quote is taken from Isaiah 40:3 where the word Lord is translated from the Hebrew YHWH. John is seen as making straight paths for YHWH.
Isaiah 40:3: A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD (YHWH); make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God (Elohim).”
Because Isaiah speaks of preparing the way for YHWH and a highway for our Elohim, it is believed Matthew is telling us John the Baptist is preaching a message of preparation for the coming of YHWH Elohim. Since it is Christ who came, it is believed Christ is YHWH Elohim. Jesus, however, sheds more light on what Isaiah said. In speaking about John the Baptist, Jesus said this:
Matthew 11:10: This is the one about whom it is written: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”
The key to understanding this passage is to determine who the “I” is and who the “you” and “your” is. The “I” appears to be YHWH speaking and the “you” and “your” appear to be referring to Jesus. YHWH is speaking of sending a messenger to prepare the way for the coming of the Christ (YHWH’s anointed one). YHWH is not speaking of John preparing the way for His (YHWH’s) coming. This prophecy has to do with John preparing the way for the coming of the anointed of YHWH and not a coming of YHWH Himself. In calling people to repentance, John was acting as YHWH’s agent to prepare and establish the conditions and environment YHWH wanted to be extant for the arrival of His anointed.
The focus here is not on the person who was coming but on a messenger preparing the way for the person who was coming by turning people back to YHWH. Jesus is the recipient of this preparation. It allows Jesus to begin His ministry among people who have begun to turn to God. In essence, YHWH is preparing the way for His anointed through the efforts of John. This is what Jesus is saying in the Matthew 11:10 quote. Mark’s rendering of what Isaiah wrote shows this as well.
Mark 1:2: It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I (YHWH) will send my messenger (John) ahead of you (Jesus), who will prepare your (Jesus’) way"
Isaiah is saying that YHWH will send a messenger ahead of Jesus to prepare a way for Jesus. If Jesus is YHWH, this passage would have to read: "I (YHWH) will send my messenger (John) ahead of you (YHWH), who will prepare your (YHWH’s) way." As can be seen, such a reading makes no sense. It should be evident John the Baptist was YHWH Elohim’s agent to prepare the way for the appearance of the anointed of YHWH, not the appearance of YHWH. In Luke 2:26, Jesus is referred to as the Lord’s Christ which is to say Jesus is the anointed of YHWH and not that Jesus is YHWH (see my discussion of Psalm 110:1 in Chapter Three).
Scripture #3: Matthew 9:2-6: Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."
It is believed only God can forgive sin and since Jesus had authority to forgive sin, Jesus must be God. What is overlooked is the Scripturally stated reason Jesus had authority to forgive sin and do all that He did.
Matthew 9:8: When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.
God the Father gave the man Jesus extraordinary power and authority on earth to do many things that could not be done by other men. Jesus turned water into wine, walked on water, calmed a raging storm, fed thousands of people from a few morsels of food, healed the sick, raised the dead and forgave sin. Matthew recorded the reaction of the people when they saw how Jesus healed the paralytic.
God had given great authority to the man Jesus. Jesus was God’s unique human agent sent to facilitate His will on earth. The authority granted to Jesus included He being able to give power and authority to His disciples. The Scriptures show Jesus giving authority to His disciples to heal the sick. In Luke we read, “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases” (Luke 9:1). After His resurrection He even gives them authority to forgive sin.
John 20:21-23: Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
The ability to forgive sin or do anything else Jesus gave his disciples power and authority to do did not make those disciples God or equal with God. It did not make them equal with Christ. What we are seeing here is granted power and authority. God granted power and authority to Jesus which included giving Jesus the ability to grant power and authority to others. The fact Jesus did everything His Father empowered Him to do does not make Him equal to His Father anymore than Jesus empowering His disciples made them equal with Him.
Athanasius, in his treatise entitled, “The Incarnation of the Word of God,” written in the early fourth century, argued that Jesus must be God because only God could make the blind see, cast out demons, turn water into wine, walk on water and raise the dead. What Athanasius failed to mention was that Peter, James, John and Paul also performed great supernatural acts. This didn’t make these men God. Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. The power of God manifested in Apostle Peter was so pronounced that in Acts 5:15, it is implied that even the shadow of Peter passing over someone was enough to facilitate healing. These men were imbued with power and authority because God gave it to them. This did not make them equal with God. Why should it be assumed Jesus was equal with God because he performed miracles? In Acts 19:11-12 we read, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” Did this make Paul God?
Look at what God did through Moses. Moses turned the water of the Nile River into blood. He brought plagues of frogs, gnats, flies, locusts, darkness and hail upon the people of Egypt. He brought a plague upon the animals of Egypt and took ashes from a furnace, threw them into the air and caused boils to break out on the Egyptian people. Finally He brought about the death of the firstborn of Egypt. Moses wasn’t God. Moses was a servant of God through whom God did many mighty works. In like manner, Jesus was a servant of God through whom God did mighty works.
Scripture makes it clear God the Father granted Jesus great power and authority. It does not follow from this that Jesus is co-equal, co-eternal and con-substantial with the one granting Him such authority and power. Jesus plainly said that all He did came from the Father and it was the Father doing the works through Him (John 5:19). The Apostles did great works by the power of God the Father. The source for their power was the same source from which Jesus received power. The great works Jesus did were enabled by the power of God the Father. That same power that flowed from the Father into Jesus flowed from Jesus to the Apostles. The one and only Supreme God is the source of the power and authority displayed by Christ and the Apostles. Their exercise of God's power doesn't equate with their being the source of that power.
Scripture #4: John 5:16-18: So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Here we see the Jews accusing Jesus of breaking the Sabbath and also making Himself equal with God by calling God His Father. Keep in mind it is the Jews who are accusing Jesus of breaking the Sabbath and making Himself equal with God. Jesus never admitted to breaking the Sabbath and neither did He ever claim to be equal with the Supreme, Most High God. Jesus answered the Jews by saying the following:
John 5:19: Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
Trinitarianism teaches the Son is a person or distinction of a Triune God and is God as the Father and Spirit is God. It is believed “God the Son” became incarnate in a human body and was God in the flesh. Trinitarianism, also teaches there is no separation in the Triune God. All three distinctions of the Triune God are equal in every way except that of being each other. Because they indwell each other, they are a single Being.
This perspective of God is problematical for the doctrine of incarnation. If there is no separation in God and God is a single Being, how can it be said the Son distinction of the one God became incarnate in Jesus? If there is no separation in God, God as Father, Son and Spirit would have to incarnate Jesus. If there is no separation in God, how can it be said God incarnated Jesus through the Son? The Scriptures consistently speak of the Son of God. How can the Son be of God if the Son is God? I am the son of my father John. As the son of my father John, I am a separate individual from my father John and certainly not of the same Being as my father.
As previously pointed out, we consistently read in the Scriptures of the Son of God and the Spirit of God. Since it is the Father who is consistently identified as God in Scripture, this is the same as saying the Son of the Father and the Spirit of the Father. You do not find in Scripture any reference to the Father of God which would be equivalent to saying the Father of the Father. This should be very instructive as to who God actually is. Jesus spoke of His Father being in heaven and consistently related to His Father as a separate Being. Jesus plainly said He could do nothing by Himself. If Jesus is co-equal with the Father, why is he dependent on the Father for everything He does?
Since Jesus is seen as totally God and totally man in Trinitarian thought, it is argued His dependence on the Father is only a dependence necessitated by His humanity. Yet the consistent Scriptural view is that the Father, as the one and only Supreme God, is superior to the Son, always has been and always will be (1 Corinthians 11:3 and 15:28). Jesus plainly said the Father is greater than He (John 14:28). Jesus clearly said the Father is the only true God (John 17:3). Jesus never said He was the one God or that He was equal with God. The Jews, in accusing Jesus of making Himself equal with the Father, were as mistaken in this accusation as they were in accusing Jesus of breaking the Sabbath because He healed on the Sabbath. All of NT Scripture teaches us Jesus related to the Father as his superior, both during His earthly ministry and after His ascension.
Scripture #5: Romans 9:5: Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
Is Paul identifying Jesus as God in this passage? Greek manuscripts of the NT do not contain punctuation. Punctuation was added by the translators based on their understanding of the context in which a word or passage is found. Interpretation, as well as doctrinal predisposition, has always played a role in determining how translators transfer meaning from one language into another. This is especially true of ambiguous passages. Romans 9:5 can be punctuated either with a period or a comma after the word Christ depending on what the translator feels the writer is saying. While a number of translations place a comma after the word Christ, others do not. For example, the Revised Standard Version has it this way:
“to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.”
How can we know what is the correct way to punctuate this passage? Looking at Paul’s letter to the Romans as a whole, it will be seen Paul always distinguishes between Jesus Christ and God. The word God (Greek Theos) appears 153 times in Romans in addition to its appearance in 9:5. In all these 153 occurrences, it can be clearly seen Paul associates the word God with the Father. This pattern is seen overwhelmingly in all of Paul’s letters. Therefore, it appears extremely unlikely Paul changes his manner of expression by suddenly calling Jesus God when in every other instance he associates God with the Father.
A number of commentators have focused attention on what appears to be a doxology at the end of 9:5. Doxologies are closing statements, hymns or prayers directed to the praise of God. Paul’s statement in 9:5, “God who is over all be blessed (Greek: ulogeetos) for ever. Amen” (RSV) is seen as a clear doxology in the same vain as others found in the writings of Paul. Paul’s use of the Greek ulogeetos is instructive. He consistently uses this word in praise to God the Father in his writings. If Paul is using this word in reference to Christ in 9:5, it would be a noted departure from the manner in which he uses this word in the rest of his writings. Here are some examples of doxologies and Paul’s use of ulogeetos.
2 Corinthians 1:3: Praise (ulogeetos) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
2 Corinthians 11:31: The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised (ulogeetos) forever, knows that I am not lying.
Ephesians 1:3: Praise (ulogeetos) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
In view of Paul’s consistent use of doxologies in praise to God the Father, it is very unlikely Paul suddenly uses a doxology in praise to “God the Son.” As previously pointed out, nowhere does Paul use the phrase “God the Son” nor is this phrase found anywhere in Scripture. Paul consistently writes in terms of the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus.”
It should be noted, however, that even if it could be shown Paul is calling Jesus God, this would not necessarily mean Jesus is the one and only God in a Triune relationship of Father, Son and Spirit. It is a common tendency on the part of Trinitarians to draw such a conclusion when viewing Scriptures that may reference Jesus as being God. As previously discussed, there is nothing inherent in the Hebrew elohim or the Greek theos that requires these words are limited to only identifying the one and only Supreme God. These words are used to identify angels, prophets, judges, Kings of Israel and even possibly Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). These words are used to identify individuals having, or having been granted, power, authority and leadership. Concluding that Jesus is God as the Father is God should not be done strictly on the basis of Scriptural passages where Jesus appears to be called God. We must look at the whole of Scripture when examining apparent references to Jesus as God.
Scripture #6: Titus 2:11-14: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
I discussed this passage in Chapter Eight in association with “Sharp’s Rule” but want to revisit this discussion here because of its importance to the thesis of this book. The NIV translates verse 13 of this passage in such manner as to show there to be one subject (God) and that subject to be Jesus Christ, seen as the great God and Savior who’s appearing is anticipated. Other translations show two subjects and therefore could be read with God being one referent and Jesus being another.
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (KJV).
“Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (ASV).
As previously discussed, scholars are divided as to how best to render this passage. Some see it referring only to Christ and some see it referring separately to God the Father and to Jesus Christ. The presence of the Greek kai (and) between the first noun (God) which is proceeded by the definite article tou (the) and the second noun (Jesus) preceded by no article has led some to conclude that God and Jesus are being identified as the same person in this passage. It is believed that if Jesus is to be identified as separate from God a definite article would precede His name. Others cite Scriptural passages with similar Greek grammar construction where a definite article precedes the first noun but not the second noun and where context clearly shows two different individuals being referenced.
Those who believe this passage refers only to Jesus believe Jesus is identified as YHWH. Verse 14 of this chapter speaks of how Christ gave Himself to redeem us and purify a people for His very own. Since the OT speaks of God (YHWH) as Savior and redeemed people are spoken of as being God’s possession, it is felt that similar language in the NT testifies of Jesus being YHWH. However, Jesus plainly says that those given to Him were given to Him by God His Father. This shows Jesus being the subordiant agent of the Father unto whom the Father has given a redeemed people. In praying to the Father Jesus said:
John 17:6-7: I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.
It is important we look at the entire context of Paul’s letter to Titus in order to understand what Paul is saying in the passage under consideration. Paul begins his letter by writing, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Titus 1:1). He goes on to write that the preaching entrusted to him is by the “command of God our Savior” (Verse 3). He continues his greeting to Titus by writing, “Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Verse 4). Paul proceeds to give instruction in Christian living and concludes this instruction by writing, “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10). Paul then makes the comments quoted above in Titus 2:11-13. Paul finishes his letter by continuing to instruct in matters of Christian living and then writes the following:
Titus 3:4-6: But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he (God) saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his (God’s) mercy. He (God) saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he (God) poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.
As Paul consistently does in his letters, he begins by distinguishing between God and Christ (Titus 1:1). In his greeting to Titus, he also distinguishes between God the Father and Christ Jesus as Savior (Verse 4). In verse 3 he writes about preaching by the “command of God our Savior.” In Titus 2:10, Paul writes of practicing proper behavior in order to make the teaching of God our Savior attractive. In Titus 3:4-6, it is evident Paul is referring to the Father in speaking of the “love of God our Savior” which He generously poured out through Jesus Christ our Savior.
In chapter one of a letter to Timothy, Paul clearly distinguishes between God and Jesus by saying he is an apostle by “the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope.” In chapter two of this letter the context shows it is the Father Paul calls God our Savior in distinction from the man Jesus who is seen as a mediator between the Father and men. Jude also writes in terms of God our Savior in distinction from Jesus as Lord. Both Paul and Jude write in terms of God the Father being the one God.
1 Timothy 1:1-2: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (2b).
1 Timothy 2:3-5: This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Jude 1:25: to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
In the passages we have been reviewing it is evident both God the Father and Christ Jesus the Son are seen as Savior. The phrase “God our Savior” appears seven times in the NT. In four of these passages (Titus 3:4-6, 1 Timothy 1:1-2, 2:3-5 and Jude 1:25), it can be seen by context it is God the Father who is being referred to as “God our Savior.” The most definitive passage is 1Timothy 2:3-5, where the phrase “God our Savior” refers to the one and only God in distinction from the man Jesus. Titus 3:4-6 is also definitive in identifying “God our Savior” as the one who gives us salvation through Jesus. In view of Paul’s use of “God our Savior” in clear association with the Father in Titus 3:4-6 and 1 Timothy 1:1-2 and 2:3-5, it is reasonable to conclude Paul is referring to the Father as God our Savior in Titus 1:3 and 2:10 as well when he writes about preaching at the command of God our Savior and making the teaching about God our Savior attractive.
The whole focus of the salvation message is that God the Father loves us and because He loves us He provided for our deliverance from eternal death through the Christ event. Scripture clearly shows salvation comes from God the Father and is facilitated through Jesus. Therefore, God the Father is our ultimate Savior and Jesus is the agent through whom the Father’s salvation is accomplished. Therefore, when Paul writes of waiting for the “blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” he is in all likelihood referring to the Father as the Great God who facilitates salvation through Jesus (Titus 2:13). Paul writes in Titus 2:11 that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Paul’s reference to the grace of God in this passage is a reference to the grace of the Father. Now let’s examine Hebrews 2:9-10.
The majority of surviving Greek texts renders Hebrews 2:9-10, to show it is by the grace of God that Christ became the author of salvation. We know it is the grace of God the Father being spoke of because the whole of Scripture shows it is God the Father who has facilitated salvation through Christ Jesus. Remember, Christ Jesus means anointed Savior. Salvation is derived and flows from God the Father through his anointed facilitator of salvation, Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 2:9-10: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God (The Father) he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God (The Father), for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
I mentioned that the majority of extant Greek manuscripts say “that by the grace of God.” It’s to be noted, however, that several very ancient manuscripts of the NT Scriptures read “that apart from God” in place of “the grace of God.” This variant was acknowledged by Origen as the reading present in the majority of manuscripts of his day. It is quoted in this manner by various Christian writers down to the eleventh century and is rendered as such in some Greek to Latin translations. Some scholars, such as Bart Ehrman, believe there is strong evidence for seeing this variant as what the writer to the Hebrews actually wrote. If this is the case, it gives further evidence to Jesus and God being separate entities and not homoousios.
Scripture #7: 2 Peter 1:1-2: Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
I discussed this passage in Chapter Eight in relationship to “Sharp’s Rule” but want to add to that discussion here because of its relevance to the overall focus of this book.
It should be noted that while the majority of Greek manuscripts show “of our God (Theos) and Savior Jesus Christ,” there are nine extant manuscripts that show “of our Lord (Kurios) and Savior Jesus Christ.” A review of Peter’s epistle reveals the phrase “Lord and Savior” is more in sync with who Peter understands Christ to be as he uses the phrase “Lord and Savior” four times in this epistle (1:11, 2:20, 3:2,18).
It is instructive that in verse 2 is found the exact same grammatical construction where Peter says, “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Here a definite distinction is made between God and Jesus because Jesus is identified as Lord in distinction from God. What is of greater significance in our quest to determine what Peter is saying is the fact Peter clearly distinguishes between Jesus and God the Father in all his other writings. He refers to Jesus twelve times as Lord and forty-five times to God as Father. There is no reference to Jesus as God found in Peter's writings other than the possible reference in 1 Peter chapter one. The weight of references to the Father as God and the one single possible reference to Jesus as God makes it highly unlikely Peter is calling Jesus God in verse one.
As discussed in Chapter Eight, the Greek grammatical construction of “our God and Savior Jesus Christ” is the same as in Titus 2:13 except here the writer does not refer to God as the “great God.” The same grammatical construction is repeated in 2 Peter 1:11 where Peter writes, “and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” In this verse, one person is clearly in view, namely Jesus Christ.
The grammatical construction found in 2 Peter 1:1-2 and in Titus 2:13 does allow for having just one person in view. It also allows for having two persons in view and is so rendered in a number of translations of 2 Peter 1:1-2 such as in the following:
“to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (KJV).
“to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ:” (ASV).
“to those who are chancing upon an equally precious faith with us, in righteousness of our God, and the Savior, Jesus Christ” (Concordant Literal New Testament).
Apostles Paul and Peter refer to God as Father 99% of the time and only on a few occasions is there a possible reference to Jesus as God. Such tremendous disparity in the way the word God is used by these Apostles in association with the Father as opposed to the Son is instructive to say the least. Therefore, it is vitally important we consider the whole of Scripture in determining how its authors use the word God in association with Jesus in the few instances where the Greek grammar allows for such association.