Saturday, March 17, 2018

Granville Sharp's Rule And Christologically Significant Verses

If any “rule” can exist in Koine Greek, the Granville Sharp Rule must qualify as the most contested yet most proven. Granville Sharp was the 18th century son of the Archbishop of York. He is best known for his work as an abolitionist but has left us a great legacy in his theological writings. Sharp had no formal education but, while working as a young apprentice to a London linen-draper, he taught himself Greek.

In his studies, Sharp discovered an important Greek idiom – the rule which now bears his name. He noticed that whenever an article+noun+“kai”+noun construction occurred, both nouns always referred to the same person. This construction is commonly called the “TSKS construction.” A key point to this rule is that only the first noun has the article (“the”) and the second noun is anarthrous. Additional points include that the nouns must be singular, personal, and not proper names.

The rule sounds more complicated than it really is. Here is an example in English so that you can see how the construction works: 2 Peter 2:20, “the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ σωτῆρος ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ). This short clause has the article (“the”), noun (“Lord”), kai (“and”), and noun (“Savior”). Therefore, according to Sharp's rule, both of these nouns refer to the same person. In this context, they obviously both refer to Jesus.

Here are a few more instances:

Matthew 12:22, τον τυφλον και κωφον (the blind and dumb)

2 Corinthians 1:3, ὁ Θεὸς και πατηρ (the God and Father)

Ephesians 6:21, ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἀδελφὸς και πιστος διάκονος (the beloved brother and faithful minister)

Hebrews 3:1, τον αποστολον και αρχιερεα (the Apostle and High Priest)

Revelation 16:15, ὁ γρηγορῶν καὶ τηρῶν (the one watching and keeping)

The context of these examples clearly demonstrates that both nouns in each verse are references to the same person. Setting aside textual variations, the TSKS construction occurs some 80 times in the NT and most scholars agree there are no exceptions to Sharp's rule.

Sharp's rule takes on considerable, theological significance when applied to two verses: Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. Here are the verses in the Greek:

Titus 2:13, τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ).

2 Peter 1:1, τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (our God and Savior Jesus Christ).

In both of these verses, “God” has the article and “Savior” is anarthrous so, according to Sharp's rule, they are references to the same Person. In these contexts, that Person is Jesus. Therefore, this explicitly means that Jesus is both God and Savior.

Those who deny the divinity of Christ refuse to see what should be obvious. The usual objection raised is to question the intent of the original authors: was this “rule” in the minds of the writers as they penned the New Testament? Considering the frequency where the TSKS construction appears and the large number of unambiguous examples that exist in the NT, I would say the writers understood well and precisely meant to say that Jesus is God and Savior. Indeed, where such a large number of unambiguous examples exist, to insist that these two passages are exceptions is nothing more than special pleading.


  1. First, you present some examples, and you say that the context establishes that the referent of the two nouns is one person. Then you present some more examples, and you say that the one article establishes that the referent of the two nouns is one person, and you don't say anything about the context. Why does the context no longer matter to you? It is obvious to me that the context requires the referent of the two nouns in Titus 2:13 and in 2 Peter 1:1 to be two persons.

  2. Anonymous,

    Yes, context is important. The grammar of the sentence is also a part of the interpretive backdrop. That factor cannot and should not be overlooked. This excerpt spells out Granville Sharp's Rule clearly:

    "The grammatical construction of the Greek makes it plain: definite article + singular noun + copulative conjunction + singular noun = the same person."

    In addition, that same source from which the above quoted excerpt was taken illustrates the point by using Titus 2:13 as an example:

    "...the words for “God” and “Savior” are joined by kai, and the definite article ho is only used once, preceding “God”; according to the Granville Sharp Rule, both God and Savior must refer to the same person, namely, Jesus Christ."

    I would not be surprised if you are one of those types who would break basic Greek grammar rules for the sake of some underlying theological bias. The context of Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 does not "obviously" require that we translate the texts how you want them to read.

  3. The Granville Sharp rule is not a grammatical rule. It is a false teaching. What Mr. Sharp teaches is the opposite of how the grammar actually functions. See .

  4. Anonymous,

    The article that you linked to makes an argument based on a misunderstanding or misapplication of the Granville Sharp Rule. It does not apply to things, plurals, or proper names. Daniel B. Wallace gives these pertinent remarks here:

    "In native Greek constructions (i.e., not translation Greek), when a single article modifies two substantives connected by kai (thus, article-substantive- kai-substantive), when both substantives are (1) singular (both grammatically and semantically), (2) personal, (3) and common nouns (not proper names or ordinals), they have the same referent."

    The following excerpt has been taken from the same source as the previous one:

    "...solid linguistic reasons and plenty of phenomenological data were found to support the requirements that Sharp laid down. When substantives meet the requirements of Sharp’s canon, apposition is the result, and inviolably so in the NT. The canon even works outside the twenty-seven books and, hence, ought to be resurrected as a sound principle which has overwhelming validity in all of Greek literature. Consequently, in Titus 2:13 and 2 Pet 1:1 we are compelled to recognize that, on a grammatical level, a heavy burden of proof rests with the one who wishes to deny that “God and Savior” refers to one person, Jesus Christ."

    The NET Bible has this footnote:

    "Sharp and others who followed...demonstrated that a proper name in Greek was one that could not be pluralized. Since both “God” (θεός, qeos) and “savior” (σωτήρ, swthr) were occasionally found in the plural, they did not constitute proper names, and hence, do fit Sharp's rule."

    We know that the terms "God" and "Savior" are both applied to Jesus Christ in Titus 2:13 because the next verse says the following:

    "who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds."

    Christ is the One who gave Himself up on our behalf as a sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. There is no contextual evidence for the "who" reference in Titus 2:14 being plural. Dr. James White gives this commentary on Titus 2:13:

    "It might also be mentioned that verse 14, while directly referring to Christ, is a paraphrase of some Old Testament passages that refer to Yahweh God. (Psalm 130:8, Deuteronomy 7:6, etc). One can hardly object to the identification of Christ as God when the Apostle goes on to describe His works as the works of God!"

  5. The article to which I directed you states that Titus 2:13-14 is no different than Galatians 1:3-4. In both of them, Paul refers to two persons (Father and Son), and then Paul identifies the second person (the Son) as the one who gave himself for us.

    The article to which I directed you also states that when Granville Sharp says that the genitive phrase in Acts 4:13 is a mere exception to his teaching regarding the genitive phrase in Titus 2:13 instead of being an actual refutation of his teaching, he is doing what every false teacher does. Every false teacher sidesteps the proof that his or her teaching is a false teaching by falsely stating that the proof is a mere exception to his or her teaching instead of being the refutation of his or her teaching that it actually is.

    Everything that Granville Sharp SAYS is based solely on what Granville Sharp SAYS, which is circular reasoning. Nothing that Granville Sharp SAYS is based on actual fact. The people who believe what Granville Sharp SAYS have to take Granville Sharp's word for everything, because there is no factual basis for any of it.

    How do we know that the genitive phrase in Titus 2:13 functions differently than the genitive phrase in Acts 4:13 functions? We know because Granville Sharp SAYS SO. How do we know that Granville Sharp is right? We know that Granville Sharp is right because Granville Sharp is NEVER WRONG and NEVER LIES.

    All of this is circular reasoning. It's true because it's true, because he says so, and because he's never wrong and never lies.

    If the answer to every challenge to what Granville Sharp SAYS is that Granville Sharp SAYS SO, then we know that what Granville Sharp SAYS is a circular argument.

    1. Anonymous,

      Your entire reply simply ignores the qualifiers provided in my second comment above. The necessary arguments have already been provided. You have been adequately answered, yet you adamantly refuse correction.

      You dismiss without any amount of consideration the citations from renowned scholars. You did not even care to interact with any of my points. You must be incredibly arrogant in order to do something like that.

      It seems absurd and foolish that you would even mention circular reasoning, since you are the one who picks and chooses what best accommodates your cultic ideology. Allow me to form a parallel of your rhetoric:

      "Everything that Mr. Anonymous SAYS is based solely on what Mr. Anonymous SAYS, which is circular reasoning. Nothing that Mr. Anonymous SAYS is based on actual fact."

      The irony of your own sarcastic remarks should be embarrassing to you. But hey, no shame, you went totally anonymous in this discussion. You never really had integrity or substance to begin with. Take your mean-spirited protests to some other blog.

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  7. Okay, so I have decided to add one more comment here.

    I decided to consult with Dr. Daniel B. Wallace due to Mr. Anonymous making a few citations from his work, and it turns out that this scholar's views have been grossly distorted.

    Even though this is more specifically dedicated to Anonymous, interested folks can see a summary statement from Wallace here.

    So, Anonymous, you have been exposed for the lying cultist that you are. The character and nature of your "research" is anything but trustworthy. There are plenty of Granville Sharp constructions found in the New Testament.

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