« Main Search

Trinitarian Apologetics: A Case Study Involving Rob Bowman and Granville Sharp

By Greg Stafford

Part 2 of 2.

Bowman-Sharp, page

"If epexegetic then 'Jesus Christ' defines who our Savior is, but the whole expression, in view of our previous discussion, is best understood as a proper name. . . ." What Stafford seems not to understand is that, in a compound name, no one part is epexegetical of another part; the expression is understood and treated as a unity. For example, it would make no sense to say that "Jesus" is "added in epexegesis" (to use Harris's words) to "Christ" in the compound name "Jesus Christ."



Stafford-Response

First, I would like to say that Bowman issued a public apology after I drew his attention to this horrible error, but now he seems to have backtracked, and does not consider it an "apology," but an admission that he misunderstood my point. It sounds like an ego thing to me, an attempt to save face. Whatever the case, you can read his apology and my response to it by clicking here.



Bowman-Sharp, page 18

To justify the claim that "(our) Savior Jesus Christ" or some variation functioned in the New Testament as a compound proper name, we would need a significant number of examples of the New Testament writers using that expression as a complete expression referring to Jesus.



Stafford-Response

No, not necessarily. If the expression is such that it could only properly be applied to one person (as in the case of "the only true God"--John 17:3), then the words have the same restrictive force as a proper name. That is what I am arguing. However, with regard to the expression, "Savior Jesus Christ," the word "Savior" need not be considered a quasi proper name, and that is not the position I take. It is the the use of this word together with the proper name "Jesus Christ" that I am highlighting.



Bowman-Sharp, page 19

There is insufficient basis here for the claim that "our Savior Jesus Christ" was used by Paul, much less the other New Testament writers, as a compound proper name.



Stafford-Response

Not at all. On the analogy of "Christ Jesus" and "Lord Jesus Christ," when terms like "Savior" are similarly used together with the proper name "Jesus Christ," there is no reason why we should not expect that "Savior Jesus Christ" had evolved into a compound proper name. In any event, the proper name "Jesus Christ" restricts the application of "Savior," and so either way the article is not needed.



Bowman-Sharp, page 19

. In addition to the five texts using str mentioned so far, 2 Peter has three references to "our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (tou kuriou hmn kai stros Isou Christou, 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:18). Far from supporting Stafford's claim, these absolutely disprove it as far as 2 Peter is concerned. For the whole idea of a compound proper name in this discussion is that its unity was so recognizable because of its stock character (like "Lord Jesus Christ") that a reader would be expected to construe it as a separate semantical unit even where grammar might suggest otherwise. Thus, if "Savior Jesus Christ" were being used as a compound proper name, we would have to construe "our Lord" as one person (the Father, presumably) and "Savior Jesus Christ" as a second person. Of course, Stafford accepts the fact that in these texts the titles "Lord" and "Savior" both refer to the one person, Jesus Christ. So these three instances provide proof positive that Peter, at any rate, did not use the expression "Savior Jesus Christ" as a compound name.



Stafford-Response

No, just as article-noun-kai-article-noun phrases can sometimes apply to one or two persons, so it is true with article-noun-kai-compound proper name constructions, or with constructions that have a proper name in the second position, used appositionally. That is why such constructions should not be included in the general category of article-noun-kai-noun constructions, for they are not the same. Also, as we noted earlier, the most frequent example of Sharp's rule, ho theos kai pater ("the God and Father"), has the equivalent of a proper name in one (probably both) positions, and yet the nouns apply to the same person. Even Bowman states that theos is used as a proper name when it is not accompanied by adjectival modifiers, and this creates problems for his view of 2 Peter 1:1 (see below).



Bowman-Sharp, page 19

In Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, then, we have two singular personal nouns of the same case, "God" and "Savior" (theos and str), linked by kai, with the definite article appearing before the first noun but not before the second. Neither of these two nouns can be construed in either text as a proper name or as part of a compound proper name. Both of these texts, then, are evidently perfect examples of the construction governed by Sharp's rule.



Stafford-Response

Again we find Bowman picking and choosing according to his delight. Is it not he himself who claims that "God" by itself can be used as a proper name? And yet that is precisely what we have in 2 Peter 1:1! See my book for more details on this verse.



Bowman-Sharp, pages 19, 20

III. Jesus as "God" in Titus 2:13 . . . A. Theological Question-Begging . . . Thus G. B. Winer denied that Titus 2:13 calls Jesus theos "for reasons which lie in the doctrinal system of Paul." Such an approach, however, is subjective and circular reasoning. The proper method is to interpret the text as it is, and then determine from this text along with other texts what Paul's "doctrinal system" really was. Moreover, the argument that Paul does not call Jesus theos in any other passage is refuted if Romans 9:5 be taken in its most natural sense.



Stafford-Response

There is no need to enter into a discussion of Bowman's misunderstanding regarding the "natural sense" of Romans 9:5, for that will be dealt with elsewhere. But even he admits that there is no unambiguous example in Paul's writings where Jesus is called "God." However, I find it interesting that proponents of the Trinity selectively emphasize the grammar of a passage in one instance, and the theology in another. For example, Bowman, in his book Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and that Gospel of John, page 62, states regarding John 1:1: "For JWs to translate `a god' is in one sense grammatically possible, but only if they are willing to adopt a pagan interpretation of the entire verse." Well, Mr. Bowman, we could say the same thing for you with regard to Titus 2:13, especially in view of the post-biblical meaning you pour into the term theos as applied to Jesus. Grammar is not the absolute basis for interpretation. The theology of the author and his/her habitual use of language is just as important, maybe even more important. It is definitely a key in ambiguous passages. But trinitarians will not admit this in most cases, because the Bible does not present a theology consistent with their interpretation of the passages under discussion!



Bowman-Sharp, page 20

Another form of this argument is Ezra Abbot's. He insists that the interpretation that makes "the great God" the Father rather than Jesus Christ "is imperatively demanded by a regard to Paul's use of language, unless we arbitrarily assume here a single exception to a usage of which we have more than 500 examples." What this means is nothing more than that, because Paul uses "God" over 500 times to refer to God the Father, it is arbitrary to assume a single exception in Titus 2:13. Again, this argument ignores the evidence of Romans 9:5.



Stafford-Response

We note here that the only evidence offered by Bowman to contradict Abbot is Romans 9:5, a text that is at best ambiguous, but most likely refers to the Father, as Abbot's own studies reveal. See his two articles in the 1883 volume of the Journal of Biblical Literature.



Bowman-Sharp, page 20

It also errs logically, in assuming (arbitrarily!) that Paul could not have made an exceptional use of the word theos.



Stafford-Response

There is nothing arbitrary about assuming that an author who uses a term some 500 times of only one person, should remain consistent with this usage in a passages that, to us, may appear to be grammatically ambiguous.



Bowman-Sharp, page 20

It is the grammatical construction and the context, not some arbitrary whim, that is the basis for understanding Titus 2:13 to be calling Jesus "God."



Stafford-Response

I would hardly call Abbot's astute observation concerning the author's habitual use of language a "whim"! And both the grammatical construction and the context (Bowman seems to discount the fact that Abbot's observation is based on the immediate and larger context of Paul's writings) favor understanding "the great God" of the same One given this title in the OT, the Father, Jehovah, the One who is Jesus' God. (Eph. 1:3; Micah 5:4)



Bowman-Sharp, page 20

Yet another, more sophisticated form of the argument comes from Joachim Jeremias, who contends that the title "the great God" was too "firmly rooted in late Judaism" as a designation of God to have been given to Jesus. Again, this assumes that the New Testament writers did not believe that Jesus was God.



Stafford-Response

No, it assumes that he is not "the great God" based on the usage of this term. You misrepresent what Jeremias is saying. Even he realizes that the title was "firmly rooted" so that it clearly could carry the restrictive force of a proper name.



Bowman-Sharp, page 21

C. The Exegetical Evidence . . . The first and most important contextual clue is to be found in the expression "our Savior" (stros hmn). This expression occurs six times in Titus, three times with reference to God (1:3; 2:10; 3:4), and evidently three times with reference to Christ (1:4; 2:13; 3:6). Three times in Titus, then, Christ is called "our Savior" immediately following a reference to God as "our Savior." To argue that in 2:13 "our Savior" is not "Jesus Christ" (as does view "E") violates the evident pattern that can be seen in 1:3-4 and 3:4-6, where "our Savior, Jesus Christ" clearly makes Jesus Christ the Savior. View "E," then, may be eliminated as highly unlikely.



Stafford-Response

I agree with Bowman that this view is unlikely, but I see no reason to suppose that there is some rotating pattern where "Savior" is used in tandem with both God and Christ. The fact is, there is no justification for reading "him who is," and it denies what is either an appositional use of "Jesus Christ" for "Savior," or a what may be construed along the same lines as "Lord Jesus Christ" as a compound proper name. But there is another reason why this view is untenable (see below).



Bowman-Sharp, pages 21, 22

Another important clue is that the definite article tou is used with stros hmn five of the six times that the expression occurs in Titus, the only exception being Titus 2:13. The simplest explanation for this exception is that the article before theou ("of God") governs stros hmn as well, which is what we should expect based on Sharp's rule.



Stafford-Response

Of course, Bowman here fails to recall what I stated in my book. Titus 2:13 is the only example where "Savior" follows kai. In the case of the compound proper name "Lord Jesus Christ," it always (with one exception--see Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, page 237) lacks the article when it follows kai. The reason for this is because, being a compound proper name, "Lord Jesus Christ" does not need the article to make it definite in such constructions. The same is true of "Savior Jesus Christ," regardless of whether it is a compound proper name, because the use of "Jesus Christ" restricts the application of "Savior."



Bowman-Sharp, page 22

The only way around this bit of evidence is to argue that "our Savior Jesus Christ" lacks the definite article because it is functioning as a compound proper name. As we have seen, this claim cannot be substantiated from the New Testament usage.



Stafford-Response

All we have seen is a desperate attempt to avoid the obvious conclusion that the addition of "Jesus Christ" to "Savior" removes this example from Sharp's rule, which does not cover proper names or nouns used together with proper names. The context is the determining factor in such instances, just as it is when the article is repeated before both nouns.



Bowman-Sharp, page 23

The use of the word epiphaneia ("appearing," "manifestation") constitutes another piece of evidence that must be considered. This word is used by Paul six times (five times in the Pastorals), always with reference to Christ (2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1, 8; Tit. 2:13), unless one counts Titus 2:13 as the lone exception. Of course, such an exception might be possible, but there is additional evidence that this text is no exception. 2 Timothy 1:9-10 makes reference to the "grace" (charin) that appeared "through the appearing [epiphaneias] of our Savior, Christ Jesus [tou stros hmn christou Isou]." This statement closely parallels Paul's words in Titus 2:11-13, where after speaking of the appearance of grace, he tells us that Christians await the "appearing of . . . our Savior, Jesus Christ," using the same words as found in 2 Timothy 1:9-10. . . . The fact is, however, that Paul always used the specific word epiphaneia of Christ alone, and there is no reason to make Titus 2:13 an exception.



Stafford-Response

I find it rather strange that Bowman discounts the infrequent use of "the great God" in the LXX and NT as evidence against "the great God" functioning as a title recognizable only of Jehovah (though Bowman later hedged and agreed that such a concept would be created in the minds of Bible-believing persons when they heard or read about "the great God"), and yet he uses 5 occurrences of a term to allegedly establish that Paul could not have used this eschatological term for the appearance of the Son in the Father's glory, which is precisely what Mark 8:38 and Matthew 16:27 teach, and what the Paul is talking about in Titus 2:13. Abbot puts the matter succinctly:

The expression here is not "the appearing of the great God," but "the appearing of the glory of the great God," which is a very different thing. When our Saviour himself had said, "The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels" (Matt. xvi. 27, comp. Mark viii. 38), or as Luke expresses it, "in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels" (ch. ix. 26), can we doubt that Paul, who had probably often heard Luke's report of these words, might speak of "the appearing of the glory" of the Father, as well as of Christ, at the second advent?--quoted in Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, page 243.


Bowman-Sharp, page 23

The question is not, what Paul could have said, or how Paul could have used the word epiphaneia. Of course, Paul could have spoken of the appearing of the Father's glory. But the question is what Paul did say and what he did mean. In the light of Paul's actual usage, especially in the parallel passage in 2 Timothy 1:9-10, we conclude that Paul used the word epiphaneia always with reference to the appearing of Jesus Christ.



Stafford-Response

No, the question is not what Paul could have said, but what he did say. Bowman completely ignores what Paul actually says. See Abbot's comments above and my book, page 242-244. The fact that "no man may see [Jehovah] and yet live" is strong testimony that the Father Himself will not appear. But, as was the case with Moses, His glory will be manifested, this time along with that of His Son.--Ex 33:20-22; Mt 16:27.



Bowman-Sharp, pages 23, 24

Yet another bit of evidence that the two nouns theos and str are intended to be taken as referring to a single subject is the fact that a parallel construction is used earlier in the same verse, and there the two nouns refer to a single subject. Paul writes that we are awaiting "the blessed hope and appearing of the glory" (tn makarian elpida kai epiphaneian ts doxs, Tit. 2:13a). . . . Now, of course this is not strictly speaking an exemplar of Sharp's first rule, since the two nouns are abstract nouns, not personal nouns. . . . Given that Paul has just used this article-adjective-noun-kai-noun-genitive construction in this way in the first half of verse 13, it would be most peculiar if the same construction were employed using personal nouns and yet the nouns referred to distinct subjects.



Stafford-Response

If Bowman's point is allowed, then there is nothing wrong with arguing that the two nouns in 2 Peter 1:1 should be separated since in 2 Peter 1:2 the same construction is employed but with different types of nouns! But Bowman will not have that, for proper names do not apply universally to Sharp's rule, but neither do abstract nouns.



Bowman-Sharp, page 24

Next, the natural connection and identity that would be made by Paul's readers between the two nouns theos and str further strengthens the case for the identity of their referent. In 18 out of the 22 times that str is used in the Old Testament Septuagint, it refers to the Lord God (i.e., Yahweh), and in all but one of these texts the noun str is directly linked with the noun theos.



Stafford-Response

Bowman here forgets that no other example in NT unambiguously calls Jesus "God" and "Savior." He also fails to explain his claim regarding the Hebrew term for "Savior" when applied to human Judges, in his footnote (note 60). The fact that it is applied to human Judges reveals that the term can be used with a sense other than that understood in reference to Deity. The fact that that term is used of a heavenly referent (Jesus) and earthly referents (Israelite Judges) does not mean the sense is different. It is a difference of reference, not necessarily sense. In fact, the NT teaching is quite clear that just as Jehovah sent forth the human Judges, so He also "sent forth his Son as Savior of the world." (1 John 4:14) This argues for a similar, dependent sense when the term is used for those who are instruments of Jehovah's purpose for salvation. God remains the source of salvation in both cases.



Bowman-Sharp, page 24, 25

Because the two terms theos and str were so commonly linked in biblical usage, as well as in the general culture, readers encountering the terms linked grammatically in a way easily taken as referring to a single subject would naturally be expected to construe the terms in that way. Stafford misses this point when he complains that "we must not arbitrarily assume that just because the two titles 'God' and 'Savior' are used together in such close proximity that they ipso facto apply to one person." It is not their mere "close proximity," but their linkage in a construction that, at the very least, was easily construed as applying the two titles to one person, that leads us to that conclusion. There is nothing arbitrary about the argument: Sharp's rule, combined with the natural linkage of the two titles, establishes a strong presumption in favor of the two titles applying to the same person. If anything, it is arbitrary to assume otherwise.



Stafford-Response

Speaking of "missing the point," Let us consider a section of my book that Bowman obviously "missed":

Additionally, Harris tries to establish a connection between the use of the expression "God and Savior" by first-century Jews in reference to Jehovah, which, he says, "invariably denoted one deity, not two," and the use of "God" and "Savior" in Titus 2:13. But this is quite beside the point, as the situation in Paul's writings is such that the title "Savior" is applied to two individuals, namely, God and Christ. Therefore, sensitivity must be given to each instance where "Savior" is used; we must not arbitrarily assume that just because the two titles "God" and "Savior" are used together in such close proximity that they ipso facto apply to one person. Even Harris acknowledges: "If the name ["Jesus Christ"] did not follow the expression, undoubtedly it would be taken to refer to one person; yet ["Jesus Christ"] is simply added in epexegesis." If epexegetic then "Jesus Christ" defines who our Savior is, but the whole expression, in view of our previous discussion, is best understood as a compound proper name, separate from "the great God" in identity, but related in connection with the manifestation of the Son in his Father's glory.--Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, pages 241-242.

We will discuss Bowman's mishandling of my comments on "epexegesis" below, but can we see that, in addition to dealing with a much different expression than that commonly used in Greco-Roman society (that is, "God and Savior"), we are dealing with an expression that uses a title that the LXX restricts to God ("the great God"), and where the second noun contains a proper name ("Jesus Christ"). Again, when we see the terms "God" and "Savior," particularly in a body of literature that uses one or both terms of two separate beings, it would be foolish to conclude that they must apply to one person. And I agree with Harris: If the text did not restrict "Savior" to Jesus Christ then there would be nothing wrong with identifying just one being, but the text does use the proper name in the second instance, and a description with the force of a proper name in the first position. Bowman conveniently decides that these things are not important, and it is not hard to see why.



Bowman-Sharp, page 25

IV. Jesus as "God" in 2 Peter 1:1 . . . It is undeniable that in 1:2 "God" and "Jesus our Lord" are two different persons, for the reasons given earlier in answer to the Oneness misuse of Sharp's rule.



Stafford-Response

No, it is clear that they are two separate beings. The Bible nowhere articulates the trinitarian distinction between "person" and "being." It is a self-serving distinction that cannot be sustained.



Bowman-Sharp, page 25

("Jesus" is indisputably a proper name, and "God" may be as well.)



Stafford-Response

If "God" is not a proper name here, then where is it? Bowman earlier made a completely unsubstantiated qualification for recognizing when "God" is used a proper name: When it is not accompanied by adjectival modifiers like "great." But this, then, as stated above, would put 2 Peter 1:1 outside the pale of Sharp's rule. The fact is, since "God" is usually contextually limited in its application to the Father it can usually be understood as having the force of a proper name, without actually being one. The word "God" is, in fact, a title, not a name. But its application is so often restricted to one individual that it serves as a semantic signal for the Father, unless the context specifies otherwise. To refer to "the great God," as in Titus 2:13, only further restricts the application to the One to whom this title is elsewhere restricted, according to the LXX OT.



Bowman-Sharp, page 25

Therefore, the fact that 1:2 speaks of two persons cannot be counted against Sharp's rule.



Stafford-Response

Whether one speaks of "Savior Jesus Christ" or simply "Jesus," is there really any difference? Is the description less ambiguous in its application in one instance than the other? No. They are both restricted in their application by the use or inclusion of a proper name, and thus do not require an article to make them definite. Also, "God" is certainly recognizable as a title for the Father, particularly in Peter's writings (see my book, page 245). Thus, no confusion could possible arise through Peter's use of the article in verse one, even as there is no confusion concerning his use of the article in verse two. Bowman does not seem to understand (or he selectively uses) the restrictive force of key expressions, particularly when they include a proper name. Also, Bowman again uses the word "person" in a sense that the Bible writers never articulate. Thus, he reads his views back into the Bible in an attempt to legitimize his view, which is not supported by this or any other text, regardless of how it is translated. Bowman's entire concept of "God" is based on later, non-biblical articulation. In fact, he continues to read his views into the Bible by stating the following:



Bowman-Sharp, page 25

If Sharp's rule is valid - and the evidence clearly supports it - then 1:1 does say that Jesus is God; and if 1:2 is meant to say that Jesus is not God, then 1:2 does not "clarify" 1:1, it contradicts it. Since it would be highly arbitrary to assume that Peter would contradict himself in the space of a single sentence (not to mention the fact that positing contradiction in Scripture is unthinkable for a biblical Christian), some other understanding of 1:1-2 must be sought.
It would be better, therefore, to view 1:2 as adding the additional information that not only is Jesus Christ our God and Savior, but he is a second person distinct from the One commonly spoken of as "God," namely, God the Father. Thus, in 2 Peter 1:2 "God" would mean specifically the person of God the Father, while in 1:1 "our God and Savior" would mean the person of "God the Son," as he is called in trinitarian language. Thus, 2 Peter 1:1 rules out any "Arian" doctrine of Christ (e.g., the Jehovah's Witnesses' view), while 1:2 rules out any "modalist" doctrine of Christ (e.g., the Oneness view)



Stafford-Response

First of all, Sharp's rule does not apply to proper names, and it does not always apply to nouns that are used with the force of proper names, or expressions that contain a noun and a proper name. When such words are used in what might otherwise be considered a Sharp construction, they function like the examples where the article is repeated before both nouns. Sometimes they apply, and sometimes they do not. It all depends on the nouns used, the context, the author's habitual use of language, as well as their clearly articulated theology.



Bowman-Sharp, page 25, 26

As a further insight, it has been pointed out that in 1:2 Peter gives his salutation, which uses the same stylized formula found in Paul's letters. In each case, the writer wishes "grace and peace" to his readers, from the two persons of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (see Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; etc.). This fact suggests that in 1:2 Peter simply follows the usual formula with its reference to the two persons of the Father and the Son, whereas in 1:1 he writes more freely and takes the opportunity to refer to Christ with the more exalted title theos



Stafford-Response

This, then, would not be in keeping with the same style used by Paul. Also, again, notice that Bowman uses the term "person" in a manner consistent with later theology, but which has no biblical support. This is important, for the truth is trinitarians are actually arguing for a concept of God different from their own when they argue for a one-person translation of passages like 2 Peter 1:1, since the Bible writers regularly distinguish the Father and Son in terms of being, not "person" as understood by trinitarians. This point is critical, for it strikes at the heart of trinitarian apologetics. So, at most, Peter would be using the term theos of Jesus with a different sense than when it is used of the Father, the One Peter identified as the God of the Son.--1 Pet. 1:3



Bowman-Sharp, page 26

That Jesus is being called "God" in 2 Peter 1:1 is confirmed by four parallel expressions applied to Jesus in 2 Peter: "our Lord and Savior" in three texts (1:11; 2:20; 3:18), and "the Lord and Savior" once (3:2). There can be no question but that these texts follow Sharp's rule perfectly, and that the expression "Lord and Savior" is meant to be applied to one person, Jesus Christ. When, then, we find that Peter uses precisely the same construction in 1:1, with the simple substitution of "God" for "Lord," it becomes obvious that he wishes "our God and Savior" to be applied to Christ, just as "our Lord and Savior" applies to him later in the epistle.



Stafford-Response

Bowman fails to appreciate that the difference between "God" and "Lord" in the writings of Peter. In my book I pointed out:

The question we ask is, why would Peter call Christ "God" in verse 1, but in 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, and 3:18 use "Lord"? That he might do just that is, of course, not impossible. But he uses "Lord" for Jesus in a number of instances. In addition to the four passages above, he refers to Christ as kyrios in 1 Peter 1:3, 2:3, 13, 3:15, 2 Peter 1:2, 8, 14, 16, a total of 12 times. Yet nowhere else in his letters does he call Jesus "God." However, when referring to the Father, Peter uses theos 45 times, excluding 2 Peter 1:1 (1Pe 1:2-3, 5, 21 [twice], 23; 2:4-5, 10, 12, 15-17, 19-20, 3:4-5, 17-18, 20-22; 4:2, 6, 10-11 [three times], 14, 16-17 [twice], 19; 5:2 [twice], 5-6, 10, 12; 2Pe 1:2, 17, 21; 2:4, 3:5, 12).--Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, page 245.

It is clear, then, that for Peter, the term "God" stood as a semantic sign for the Father (the One who is the God of the Son--1 Pet. 1:3), and "Lord" stood as a semantic sign for Jesus. See below for my comments on Bowman's attempts to explain away Peter's habitual use of language. But if "God" means basically the same as "Lord" then why would Peter only use "God" once for Jesus? Of course, I am not at all suggesting that he could not have done so, but his habitual use of language and the fact that in the parallel constructions he uses a completely different noun ("Lord"), points away from identifying Jesus as theos in verse 1, which would conflict with Peter's view in verse 2. Unless Peter is using the term theos with a different sense than that which was tied to the description when used of the Father. This could be true in view of the fact that Jesus was known as "a god" and the "only-begotten god." (John 1:1, 18) Also, the fact that the Father is the God of the Son shows that whenever the term is used of the Son, it must carry a different sense than when used of the Father.

Bowman does not seem to understand how the same word can be used of different referents with different senses. Not only have we seen this to be true with regard to the word "God," but in his book Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses: Why They Read the Bible the Way They Do (Grand Rapids, Baker: 1991), page 120, he makes the same mistake regarding the word "Lord": "Moreover, the Bible in more than one place explicitly says, `Jesus is Lord,' which is the clearest way the New Testament could confirm that Jesus is Jehovah." Again, Bowman fails to recognize the New Testament sense attributed to the word "Lord" when applied to Jesus. God "made" Jesus "Lord." (Acts 2:36) Thus, since the Father is not "Lord" because of someone else, the sense attached to the word when used of the Father is quite different. That is no doubt why the NT practically restricts the term "God" to the Father and "Lord" to the Son. The Lordship of the one is contingent upon the Godship of the other. If we fail to appreciate the different articulated senses these and other words (like "Judge") have when applied to either the Father or the Son, but instead read post-biblical understandings into the different texts where these and other words are used, we cannot expect to be successful in capturing the meaning of the original message.

Not only does Bowman show confusion over the different senses for the word "Lord" in his book, but in his article he goes on to state:



Bowman-Sharp, page 26

Ernst Ksemann attempted to turn this evidence on its head by arguing that the use of theos in 1:1, rather than kurios ("Lord"), is meant to distinguish this text from the others as speaking of two persons rather than one. Stafford makes the same argument, asking why Peter would call Jesus "God" in 1:1 but "Lord" in the other verses. But this argument ignores the fact that "God" and "Lord" were both divine titles in Greek (and indeed in Hebrew and Aramaic as well), so that their use in the expression "our Lord/God and Savior" is precisely parallel.



Stafford-Response

Again, it is not necessary for them to be parallel when applied to different referents. The terms "God/god" and "Lord" are not used with the same sense when applied to the either the Father or Son, in view of the use of these terms in passages that describe the relationship between the Father and his Son. When the Bible calls the Father "God" it is understood as "the only true God," the One God," the "Most High," and, most important in terms of this discussion, the "God of our Lord Jesus Christ." (John 17:3; Acts 16:17; 1 Cor. 8:6; Rom. 15:5-6; Eph. 1:3, 17; 2 Cor. 1:3, and many others) When Jesus is called theos he is understood as a divine being who existed with God, the "only-begotten god," and the one who is under the authority of his God. (John 1:1, 18; Rev. 3:12) Again, Christ's position as "Lord" is dependent on the Father's authority, and is to the glory of the Father! (Acts 2:36; Php. 2:11) Thus, there is no way a reader/writer of the first century could have understood the terms "God" and "Lord" to have had the same sense when applied to the Father and the Son. This is why trinitarians have to interpret the scriptural use of such titles in light of post-biblical trinitarianism, for that is the only way they can make sense out of the different senses (pun intended)! Well, really, what they do is ignore the different senses and act as if there can only be one positive sense for the word "God," even though they hedge on what it means when it comes to humans and angels.



Bowman-Sharp, page 26

In a variation on the preceding argument, Stafford argues that since Peter never calls Jesus "God" unless we count 2 Peter 1:1, while he calls the Father "God" 45 times (excluding 2 Peter 1:1), it is most likely that his readers would understand that "God" referred to the Father. This is really the same type of argument we encountered concerning Paul's usage: since he uses the word "God" some 500 times where it does not refer to Jesus, it is ruled a priori unlikely that it refers to Jesus in Titus 2:13. The argument really begs the question.



Stafford-Response

What question does it beg? I am not using the aforementioned use of language to prove anything other than that Peter (and the rest of the NT writers, for that matter) regularly use the title "God" for the Father and "Lord" for the Son. No one challenges that assertion. Thus, unless there is some other factor, as is the case with John 1:1 and 1:18, that points to a different referent and sense for the word "God," we should take it as it is primarily understood. In the case of Peter, we have a use of the word "God" in a location of a discourse where we usually find a reference to and distinction between God and Jesus, and, in fact, it is agreed by all that such is the case in the immediate context of 2 Peter 1:1. There is no articulation in Peter's writings or anywhere else in the NT for a distinction in terms of "person" that is not at the same time a distinction in being, so that at best we have a reference to Jesus as theos in 2 Peter 1:1 with a sense different from that which was recognized with regard to the use of theos for the Father, who is the God of Jesus. (1 Pet. 1:3) There is no room for a trinitarian understanding of this text regardless of how it is translated.



Bowman-Sharp, page 26

Moreover, most of these 45 occurrences in Peter's epistles do not unambiguously refer to the Father in distinction from the Son. Only about 14 of the 46 occurrences of theos in Peter refer unambiguously to the Father (1 Pet. 1:2, 3, 21 [twice]; 2:4, 5; 3:18, 21, 22; 4:11 [twice]; 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:2, 17). Still, it must be admitted that Peter's use of theos explicitly as a title for Jesus is comparatively rare. But that does not make it impossible.



Stafford-Response

Let's put it this way: There is no unambiguous example of Peter calling Jesus "God." No one said that because Peter elsewhere restricts this title to the Father, that it would be impossible for him to call Jesus theos in 2 Peter 1:1. In fact, in my book I state: "The question we ask is, why would Peter call Christ `God' in verse 1, but in 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, and 3:18 use `Lord'? That he might do just that is, of course, not impossible."--Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, page 245.



Bowman-Sharp, page 26

If there is strong grammatical and syntactical reason to believe that 2 Peter 1:1 is an exception, then it should be accepted as such.



Stafford-Response

And here Bowman again fails to include the importance of the author's theology and habitual use of language, for grammar is not the sole criterion by which a passage should be translated. Trinitarians emphasize the grammar when they think it suits their purposes, but in other passages, like John 1:1, they are quick to appeal to the theology of the author as somewhat decisive in translating the passage, but even here they misunderstand the theology of the author and read later trinitarian theology back into the text.



Bowman-Sharp, page 27

V. What "God" is Jesus? Faced with the evidence that in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 Jesus Christ is called God, some antitrinitarians, while denying that such is the case, argue that it doesn't matter even if it is true. . . . Greg Stafford, for example, writes, "It would be another qualified reference to Jesus as theos, with the understanding that Jesus has one who is God to him." Stafford, like all Jehovah's Witnesses, assumes that because Paul and Peter elsewhere speak of the Father as Jesus' God (e.g., 2 Cor. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3), in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 they cannot mean that Jesus is himself the one true God, Jehovah.



Stafford-Response

No, what we assume, based on clear biblical articulation, is that Jesus is not the same God as the Father, for the Father is his God. Thus, since Jesus cannot be God over himself (such a view would require clear biblical articulation, for it contradicts every other use of the term "God of" someone, as denoting two or more separate beings) he must be a different god, and the Bible states this quite clearly.--John 1:18.



Bowman-Sharp, page 27

A. The Antitrinitarian Alternatives In reply to this claim we must first point out that the argument based on references to the Father as the God of Jesus really begs the question. That is, antitrinitarians assume that if the Father is Jesus' God and yet Jesus is also called God, one of two conclusions must be drawn. (1) Jesus is a different God from the Father, i.e., they comprise two separate and different Gods. This is the explanation given by Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. (2) Jesus is the same God as the Father because somehow Jesus is the Father. This is the explanation given by Oneness Pentecostals. None of these antitrinitarians even considers the possibility of a third explanation: (3) Jesus is the same God as the Father, and yet somehow Jesus is not himself the Father. This explanation is assumed to be impossible, generally without even mentioning it, nearly always without any consideration or debate.



Stafford-Response

That is because you are suggesting a view that was developed long after the Bible was completed. The Bible nowhere articulates a view suggesting that Jesus is the same God as the One who is God to him (!) and yet somehow distinguished from the Father, as understood by trinitarians. This is reading later theology back into the Bible, instead of understanding the terms and expressions in a manner consistent with how they are used and understood everywhere else in Scripture. When one refers to "the God of" someone, the Scriptures provide no other explanation than that the person spoken of as "God" is higher than and distinct from the one over whom he is God! Trinitarians cannot accept this, of course, because it does not fit with their preconceived views. However, they also misuse other areas of Scripture to try and get their point across. Consider:



Bowman-Sharp, page 27

The second point to be made is that both of the antitrinitarian solutions to the problem mentioned above have insuperable biblical difficulties. The plurality of Gods explanation founders on the simple fact that the Bible repeatedly asserts that there is only one God (Deut. 4:35, 39; 32:39; 2 Sam. 22:32; Isa. 37:20; 43:10; 44:6-8; 45:5, 14, 21-22; 46:9; Jer. 10:10; John 17:3; Rom. 3:30; 16:27; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; James 2:19; 1 John 5:20; Jude 25). It says this in just about every way that the Hebrew and Greek languages permit. The biblical passages cited here use three different Hebrew words for God (the singular el and eloah as well as the intensive plural form elohim) as well as the singular Greek theos. They not only contain the simple expressions "one God" or "only God" but also make such assertions as "there is no other God." Attempts to circumvent this plain, explicit, and repeated teaching of Scripture are unsound, as I have argued elsewhere.



Stafford-Response

And I have argued that Bowman's view on this matter is unsound and unbiblical. See Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, pages 185-201. Also, before I get to my main point on this matter, notice that the Bible does use the expressions "one God" and "no God but one" for the Father! (1 Cor. 8:4-6) It never uses them explicitly for the Son. So, to use Bowman's logic, then, the Father is the only God, or, as Jesus puts it, the "only true God." (John 17:3) However, Bowman will then say that Jesus is called theos in John 1:1, etc., and yet he fails to realize that, as is the case with angels and some humans, Jesus can be called "god" with a sense different than that understood for the Father. In fact, as noted in Jesus' words in John 17:3, the Son himself gives the term a different sense when used of the Father. See my book for details. So when the Bible says there is but one God, we must first determine the sense for the term when used in this restrictive manner. Bowman does not believe the "one God" is the Father (even though that is what the Bible says!). Bowman believes the One God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yet the Bible never says this. What he does is take verses which he believes predicate "God" for each of the three "persons" and then concludes, "Well, see here, the Bible does teach the Trinity after all, for there is only one God, and these three are called God." Not only does he fail to understand the different senses for the term "God" but he self-servingly excludes other applications of the term "god" when used of those whom he would not (due to doctrinal presupposition) include in his "Godhead."

The fact is the Bible nowhere denies that the angels are gods. It does, however, specifically identify them as such. (Ps. 8:5, and others). So, how do we understand the repeated denials of the existence of gods other than Jehovah? Why, just as they were intended! In addition to noting that the "multiplicity of Old Testament terminology for a body of divine beings subordinate to Yahweh is not an indication that the Hebrews meant quite different things when they referred to Yahweh's `host,' `council,' `assembly of gods,' to `the sons of (the) God(s)' [all references to angels], etc," Gerald Cooke observes:

We have found the conception of lesser divine beings around Yahweh was known and utilized throughout Israel's biblical period, beginning possibly as early as the Yahwist in the early Genesis references and in Ps 29 and Dt 33 . . . and extending to the book of Daniel. . . . The functional distinction of the gods of the peoples among this heavenly company is made clearer, however by II Isaiah and Ps. 82. II Isaiah denies the existence of gods other than Yahweh; yet it is quite likely that II Isaiah himself continued to make use of the conception of the heavenly company. . . . It seems to the writer equally likely that it is to be explained in terms of a distinction within the heavenly company as a living reality of Israelite faith, for the poet-prophet condemns and denies existence to the gods of Babylon which have led the community into idolatry and apostasy. The gods of a foreign people, and perhaps the gods worshipped by all the nations, are denied existence by one who is seeking to meet an immediate and critical religious need. None deserves the worship which is due Yahweh alone; none can perform the role which belongs to Yahweh alone, for there is none like Yahweh. The denial applies not to the entire heavenly company, but to the gods of a foreign people, gods that claim the worship due Yahweh alone.--quoted in Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, page 195.

Similarly, Yehezkel Kaufmann states: "We are constrained to offer the embarrassing reply that nowhere in the Bible is the existence of gods denied, neither explicitly nor implicitly. Even the polemic of Second-Isaiah attacks the idols with no word at all for the gods." (Yehezkel Kaufmann, "The Bible and Mythological Polytheism," JBL 70 [1951], page 196) It is only "embarrassing" to those who attempt to read later theology back into the Bible and misuse the context and meaning of the aforementioned denials, in order to try and sustain their otherwise biblically unfounded views. Instead, why not simply accept what the Bible says about God and his Son, recognize the different senses for the word god/God and give the denials of other gods their proper referents?



Bowman-Sharp, page 28

B. Jesus as Yahweh in Titus 2:13-14 . . . 1. "Appearing" (Epiphaneia) . . . The use of epiphaneia itself, in light of the OT background, must be referring to the appearing or manifestation of Yahweh himself.



Stafford-Response

We have already pointed out Bowman's misunderstanding of this point: The Bible speaks of the Son appearing in the glory of his Father, and it is the glory of God (the Father) that is spoken of in Titus 2:13. (Matt. 16:27; Mark 8:38) See above for more details.



Bowman-Sharp, page 29

In verse 25 [of Psalm 118] the Psalmist prays, "O Lord, save [sson] now"; this cry is quoted by the Jews when Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when they cry, "Hosanna" (a transliteration of the Hebrew "save"; see Matt. 21:9; Mark 11:9-10; John 12:13). Thus, Psalm 118 is clearly treated in the NT as a Messianic text. But Psalm 118 also says, "God is the Lord, and he has shined [epephanen] on us . . . and you have become my salvation [strian]" (Ps. 117:27, 28 LXX). This is exactly what Paul is saying in Titus 2:13 - that God has become our salvation in Jesus Christ, who was God manifested among us and who will come again to manifest his divine glory for the consummation of our redemption.



Stafford-Response

Bowman fails to understand that Jesus came "in the name of [his] Father" (John 5:43) and that the Father is doing his works through the Son. (John 14:10) And, of course, the Father sent forth the Son as Savior, so the Father is really the originator and provider of salvation, while the Son is the instrument or means by which the Father fulfills His promises. (1 John 4:9, 14) These are very basic and often repeated teachings in the NT, and trinitarians regularly fail to recognize their significance.



Bowman-Sharp, page 29, 30

2. "The Great God" (Tou Megalou Str) Earlier we discussed Greg Stafford's claim that Titus 2:13 might be calling Jesus "God" without meaning that he was Jehovah. This claim, however, is contradictory to his own exegesis of Titus 2:13. As we saw earlier, Stafford argued that the expression "the great God" was "such a fixed title of the Father" that Paul's readers would have recognized it as referring to no one other than Jehovah. "In light of the OT description of Jehovah as 'the great God' it is equally possible, if not more likely, that 'the great God' was understood as the equivalent of a proper name, and a clear reference to the Father." Now, we argued that the specific expression "the great God" was too rare in the Old Testament, since it occurs only four times. (Neh. 8:6; Ps. 85:10; Dan. 2:45; 9:4), to take on the semantical qualities of a proper name. . . . However, if Stafford were right about the expression "the great God" functioning as a proper name for Jehovah, that would rule out the possibility that the noun "God" in Titus 2:13 could be used for anyone other than Jehovah. But then it would make no sense to say that Titus 2:13 could be calling Jesus "God" in the qualified, secondary sense of a deity subordinate to Jehovah. Stafford is clearly hedging here.



Stafford-Response

This is related to a point that we already considered with regard to whether or not "the great God" could be considered the equivalent of a proper name in view of the LXX OT usage. We noted how Bowman initially objected to this conclusion, but then hedged and agreed that only one person could be understood in relation to the use of this term. In my book, as Bowman states above, I suggest that even if "the great God" were not the equivalent of a proper name, that is, it did not, based on its usage in NT times, necessarily create a concept restricted to the Father, but, because of the exaltation of Jesus to the glory of his God and Father, was applicable in a qualified sense to Jesus, then we could translate Titus 2:13 as referring solely to Jesus. The fact is descriptions that may have at one time been understood exclusively of one person or entity may through time acquire a new referent with a new sense. We may use as an example the word "Christ" or "Messiah."

If the first-century Christians used the expression "the great God" in reference to Jesus in view of his divinity and exalted position, then there is no problem accepting this within the biblical teaching that Christ is the "only-begotten god," and has one who is God to him. In other words, the sense that would be associated with the description "the great God" depends on the referent. For example, if I were to refer to "the greatest president" only those who share the same presupposition pool as I do, or who thoroughly recognize the context of my statement as relating to the history of the corporation for which I work, would know that I am not referring to any United States President. This underscores the need to understand and utilize the articulated theology of the Bible writers when trying to understand the meaning of certain terms in relation to different individuals. In this case, the Bible writers are so clear on the matter of Jesus' relationship to his Father that they cannot be considered the same God.



Bowman-Sharp, page 30

3. "God and Savior" (Theou kai Stros) Earlier we argued that the two nouns "God" and "Savior" were so closely and regularly linked in the OT (specifically the Septuagint) that Jewish readers or Gentile Christians familiar with the OT would easily and naturally link the two in Titus 2:13 and apply them to one person. In the OT, of course, these two nouns when used together in the OT always refer to Yahweh (Deut. 32:15; 1 Sam. 10:19; Ps. 23:5 [Heb., 24:5]; 24:5 [25:5]; 26:1, 9 [27:1, 9]; 61:3, 7 [62:2, 6]; 64:6 [65:5]; 78:9 [79:9]; 94:1 [95:1]; Isa. 12:2; 17:10; 45:15, 21; 62:11; Mic. 7:7; Hab. 3:18)



Stafford-Response

First, Bowman forgets that we are not dealing exclusively with the nouns "God" and "Savior," but with "the great God" and "Savior Jesus Christ." Bowman also assumes that the two terms in Titus 2:13 are used together in a manner similar to the OT. Of course, the situation in the NT is such that Jesus is identified as the Father's principle means of salvation (1 John 4:14) and the Father is considered the "one God" of Christianity. Thus, for the two terms to be used in close proximity with modifying terms that clearly limit their application, and in a context which is consistent with the synoptic tradition that one would appear in the glory of the other (see above), is not at all surprising.



Bowman-Sharp, page 30

In this passage (which Stafford did not mention in his discussion of the expression "great God"), the "great God" is, of course, the Lord, Yahweh; and he is clearly equated with the God who is also "our Savior." This passage illustrates well the fact that when anyone steeped in the Old Testament wrote or spoke about "our great God and Savior," they could only mean Yahweh.



Stafford-Response

Which, again, supports my point that you at first rejected, and then accepted. Of course, Jehovah is the God of Jesus. (Micah 5:4), and anyone who understood "the great God" in Titus 2:13 to be a reference to Jehovah would recognize that this One is the God of the person who is next referred to as "Savior," namely, "Jesus Christ," which is a reoccurring theme throughout Paul's writings. (Rom. 15:5-6; 2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3, 17, and others) Thus, as the Psalm above states, Jehovah is "king over all gods," including His Son.



Bowman-Sharp, page 30

If Jesus Christ is at all a God who can save, then he must be Yahweh, because Yahweh himself says there is no other such God.



Stafford-Response

The context of Isaiah 45:21-22 deals with the idol gods of the nations, as noted previously. See, for example, verse 16 and especially verse 20. Isaiah 45:21-22 is not talking about the angelic gods who serve Jehovah or His Son whom He "sent forth as Savior of the world." (1 John 4:14) Jesus is the instrument of salvation Jehovah's offer to all mankind. (John 3:16) Jehovah is at all times the principle source of salvation. Bowman conveniently ignores both the context of Isaiah 45 and the over-all teaching of Scripture concerning salvation.



Bowman-Sharp, page 31

4. "Redeem Us from Every Lawless Deed" (Lutrstai Hmas apo Pass Anomias) . . . In fact, it would not be too strong to say that even if we did not have verse 13, verse 14 alone as applied explicitly to Jesus Christ would be sufficient proof that Paul thought of Jesus as Yahweh. The line to be considered here, "that he might redeem us from every lawless deed," is essentially a quotation from Psalm 129:8 LXX (130:8 Heb.). The Psalmist expresses the hope that the Lord "will redeem Israel from all his lawless deeds" (kai autos lutrsetai ton Isral ek pasn tn anomin autou). Paul applies this in the first-person plural to we who believe in Jesus Christ, i.e., the church. Once again, what the OT said Yahweh would do, the NT says Jesus Christ has done.



Stafford-Response

And that is because, again, Jehovah is doing His works through the Son (John 14:10), and the Son comes in the Father's name. (John 5:43) John 14:10 is especially significant here, for Jesus says that the Father is doing His works in the person of Christ. Thus, it is indeed the Father who fulfills that which was prophesied to occur in connection with His people, but He did His works through His Son, who acknowledged time and again that he did nothing of his own originality. (John 8:26; 12:49-50) Jesus' teaching is not even original to him. (John 7:16-17) If trinitarians would simply accept what Jesus says and recognize the work of the Father in him, they would take a giant step forward in coming to know the Jesus of the Bible, and his Father.



Bowman-Sharp, page 31

5. "Purify for Himself a People" (Katharis Heaut Laon) . . . Woven together with the quoted words of Psalm 129:8 LXX are words taken from Ezekiel 37:23. There Yahweh says, "I will deliver them from all their lawless deeds [apo pasn tn anomin autn], in which they sinned, and I will purify them [kathari autous], and they will be my people [laon], and I the Lord will be their God [theon]." . . . What is startling here is that whereas in Ezekiel, Yahweh is the one who will cleanse them to be his people, in Titus it is Jesus Christ who cleanses us to be his people. Now we have Jesus not only doing what the OT said Yahweh would do - save and redeem and purify us - but doing it to make a people for himself, whereas the OT said that Yahweh would do these things to make a people for himself, i.e., for Yahweh. In short, what the OT said would be done by and for Yahweh, Paul says was done by and for Jesus Christ.



Stafford-Response

The same comments I made above apply here, also. Additionally, we note that the "people" can be spoken of as belonging to Jesus because the Father gave them to the Son. (John 17:6) Notice that in John 17:6 Jesus says that the people whom the Father gave to him previously belonged to the Father, but now they belong to the Son. Well, if they are both Jehovah, then there was really no change of possession, as far as "God" is concerned. But here we can see that there is a change of possession, not in terms of the unbiblical distinction of "persons" in a biblically unknown "Godhead," but that Jehovah, of whom Ezekiel speaks, now gives the aforementioned "people" to His Son. Since the Son serves as an extension of the Father's will and action, and since Jesus represents the fulfillment of God's promises to His people. There is no problem at all with referring these expressions to the work of Christ, in whom the Father is doing His works. (John 14:10) Completely absent from these verses, however, is any articulation of trinitarianism.



Bowman-Sharp, page 31, 32

6. "A People for His Own Possession" (Laon Periousion) The Greek word periousios ("own possession"), used in the NT only in Titus 2:14, appears only five times in the OT, always as a modifier of laos ("people"), and always with reference to Israel as a people for Yahweh's own possession (Ex. 19:5; 23:22; Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 26:18). . . . In Titus 2:13-14, then, Paul applies the title "God" to Jesus Christ. Paul characterizes the nature of Christ in the way the OT characterizes the nature of Yahweh (as the "great" God).



Stafford-Response

Bowman fails to demonstrate how the above is in any way supportive of his view concerning Titus 2:13-14. Ownership of the Christian congregation has been given to the Son, who fulfills his Father's will in relation to them. Even though the Christians belong to Christ, they are still spoken of as under the protection of the Father. (John 10:29)



Bowman-Sharp, page 32

C. Jesus as Yahweh in 2 Peter 1:1 . . . First of all, everything that was said with reference to Titus 2:13 about the significance of the expression "our God and Savior" also applies here. As in Titus 2:13, the expression identifies Jesus as Yahweh because of the frequent association of the two titles for Yahweh in the LXX. Again it must be emphasized that the OT uses these two titles together for no one other than Yahweh.



Stafford-Response

Again, this assumes that Peter meant to use these two titles together for one person, which is the case in the OT examples. In the NT Jesus is identified as Jehovah's means of salvation, the one sent forth as "Savior." He is also spoken of as having one who is God to him, even by Peter (1 Peter 1:3), and Peter shows an overwhelming preference for restricting "God" for the Father and "Lord" for the Son. Of course, this does not prove that he could not have called Jesus theos in 2 Peter 1:1, but the fact that he distinguishes between the two in the very next verse, as well as the fact that we regularly find Jesus and God distinguished from one another in the opening verse of an epistle, points in a different direction. Also the term "God," in view of Peter's usage, would likely have been taken as a reference to the Father, and the addition of "Jesus Christ" is either used as part of a compound proper name ("Savior Jesus Christ") like "Lord Jesus Christ," or "Jesus Christ" is epexegetical to "Savior," in which case it still restricts the application of "Savior," and therefore a determiner (article) is not required before "Savior." But even if theos is here applied to Jesus, the sense is not the same as when theos is used of the Father, for the Father is Jesus' God, and the Son is a different theos than the Father. (John 1:18) The fact that the Father is the Son's God also proves that the two are not the same theos, according to the Bible.



Bowman-Sharp, page 32

There is at least one other reason from the context in support of understanding Peter to be identifying Jesus as Yahweh. In the very last verse of 2 Peter, after urging his readers to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," (3:18a), Peter adds immediately, "To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen" (3:18b). As Harris notes, there is absolutely no ambiguity about the fact that the closing line is a doxology to Jesus Christ. To this observation we would add one additional point. This doxology, coming at the very end of the epistle, completes what is known as an inclusio with the reference to Jesus as God at the very beginning of the epistle. In an inclusio the opening and closing of a text are closely related or parallel, resulting in the text coming "full circle" back to where it began. This inclusio strengthens the argument for applying the noun theos to Jesus.



Stafford-Response

It does nothing of the kind. It assumes that we have such an inclusio and it also fails to recognize that theos is not used at the end of this epistle, but "Lord." Of course, Peter knew that Jesus was Lord because the Father made him "Lord." (Acts 2:36)



Bowman-Sharp, page 33

Conclusion . . . the importance of knowing Jesus Christ as "God" goes beyond the mere acknowledgment that he has a right to that title. Rather, as God, he is our Savior, the source of eternal life. Those who would be saved by him and receive eternal life must not shrink from worshipping him as truly God.



Stafford-Response

Strange, the Bible never tells that such is the case. It does tell us to acknowledge all of his God-given titles/positions to the glory of his God and Father. Also, Bowman does not really mean that Jesus is God; he means, as we discussed previously, that Jesus is God the Son, the second person in a consubstantial Triad, a Triad that is nowhere articulated in Scripture.

    Previous Top
1999 - 2007 Jehovah's Witnesses United. All rights reserved. Terms of Service
home-icon.gif (1K) Home:
About
Congregations
General News
Human Rights
Theocratese
Bookshelf
Study Tools
Site Search
Web Search
Webring
Contact
genexe-icon.gif (1K) EXEGESIS:
General
Greek
Hebrew
Patristic
Translation
Discussion
Study Links
genexe-icon.gif (1K) GENERAL:
Legal
Holocaust
Freedom
resources-icon.gif (1K) Resources:
Official
Defense
Trinity
Bloodless
Businesses