2 Peter 1:1
From four translations:
SIMON PETER, a servant and legate of Jesus the Messiah, to those who have obtained equally precious faith with us, through the righteousness of Our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus the Messiah. — Murdock’s Syriac Translation
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and [the] Saviour Jesus Christ. — American Standard Version
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. — King James Version
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. — Revised Standard Version
As can be seen from the above, there are several ways that translators have rendered this verse, so there is some dispute over how it should be viewed. If the Syriac is correct, then we should plainly see that this verse is not referring to Jesus as Yahweh. The Syriac is probably correct, since this is the expression that Peter used in 2 Peter 1:11; 2:20; 3:2 and 3:18, and it would seem that Peter would have also used this expression at the beginning of his letter.
However, if we lay aside the Syriac, and if Jesus is being called “THEOS” in this verse, this would not mean that Jesus is Yahweh, since the Greek word THEOS, based on the Hebrew words EL and ELOHIM, can take on a more general meaning than Supreme Being, or a false “god”.* Yahweh is the God and Father of Jesus. (Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3,17; 1 Peter 1:3) The Father of Jesus is the only true God who sent Jesus. (John 17:1,3; Deuteronomy 18:15-19) Jesus is not that only true God who sent him.
*See our study on the Hebraic usages of words for “God”:
However, the above translations (as well the translations presented later) show that there is not a general agreement as to how the verse should be translated, even from the so-called Textus Receptus (Received Text). Some translations make a total separation between “God” and “our Savior”, while others make it appear that Jesus is being called “our God and Savior”.
While we accept the Syriac, which would have Peter saying “our Lord and Savior” as Peter states several times in his letters, many dispute in this verse over whether Sharp’s “article+substantive-kai-substantive” rule should apply or not. (Of course, if the Syriac is correct, as we believe, there is no need for this dispute. Additionally, there is also the assumption that Peter would have such a rule in mind when he wrote 2 Peter 1:1, assuming that the Syriac is not what Peter wrote.) Sharp’s first rule of Greek grammar states: “When two personal nouns of the same case are connected by the copulative kai, if the former has the definite article, and the latter has not, they both relate to the same person.” In accordance with this, his rule #6 states: “If they are connected by the copulative, and both have the article, they relate also to different persons.” He then has other rules that give “exceptions” to these rules. We should note that his rules and exceptions cannot be applied to the Septuagint Greek with any degree of consistency, so we cannot be for sure how valid these rules are. Sharp’s purpose for his study was to prove that Jesus is God, and the manner in which he narrows the rules and exceptions as applied to the NT Greek seems to narrow these rules to suit the purpose he sought. For the first rule to apply, both must be personal, both must be singular, and both must be non-proper (i.e., common terms, not proper names). Sharp makes an exception to his rule #6 for John 20:28, on the grounds that the evidence shows that it is speaking of one person.
See our study on John 20:28:
Assuming the validity of Sharp’s rules, the question often raised is, are there proper names being used in 2 Peter 1:1, or does the context indicate that two persons are being referred to? Is there contextual evidence that shows that two persons, and not one, are being referred to? Was Peter trying to follow some alleged rule of Greek grammar to indicate that Jesus is God, or was he thinking of God and Jesus as two separate persons when he wrote 2 Peter 1:1? Sharp, of course, in accordance with the purpose of his study, concluded that Peter is definitely calling Jesus “God” in 2 Peter 1:1. Our question is, is his conclusion solid?
Many argue that in 2 Peter 1:1, “God” can be viewed as a proper name, and that “Savior Jesus Christ” can also viewed as a proper name, which would call for an exception to Sharp’s general rule, and mean that two different persons are being spoken of. Believing as we do, that the Syriac more than likely represents what Peter actually wrote, we can only address this from the their assumption that Peter actually wrote the phrase as it appears in the Textus Receptus (and other Greek texts), which assumption we do not share.
Another scriptural exception to Sharp’s rule is that provided by evidence and context. What does evidence and context demonstrate regarding Jesus and God in 2 Peter 1:1? We note a tradition found in the New Testament letters that show that it was usual to start their greetings by references both the Father and his Son, to Jesus and to the God of Jesus. (Romans 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2,3; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2,3; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2,3; 1 Thessalonians 1:1,3; 2 Thessalonians 1:1,2; 1 Timothy 1:1,2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:1; Philemon 1:3; Hebrews 1:1;2; James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 1:3; 2 John 1:3) This gives another reason to believe that, if Peter did actual use the word “God” here, rather “the Lord” (Syriac), then it should be viewed as applied to the God and Father of Jesus, not to Jesus.
Further evidence can be seen in the context, where Peter makes references to “God” as the Father, and distinguishes “God” from Jesus (1 Peter 1:2,3,21; 2:5; 3:18,21; 4:10; 2 Peter 1:17); thus it is highly unlikely that Peter would have meant anything different in 2 Peter 1:1. Even in the following verse Peter distinguishes between God and Jesus, thus the context does indicate two persons are being referred to. (2 Peter 1:2) This is the basis for some translations that render this in such a way so as to show a distinction between “God” and “Our Savior, Jesus Christ”.
Below are some other renderings of the phrase from 2 Peter 1:1, in some of which a distinction is indicated between God and Jesus:
the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ — Third Millenium Bible translation
of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ — New Revised Standard Version, margin
through the righteousness of our God and of our Deliverer Yeshua the Messiah — The Complete Jewish Bible translation
through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ — Webster’s Bible Translation
righteousness of our God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ. — Weymouth New Testament
the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ — New International Version
our God and the savior Jesus Christ — New American Bible translation, margin
the righteousness of our God, and the Saviour, Jesus Christ: — Concordant Literal New Testament
thro’ the veracity of our God, and of Jesus Christ. — Daniel Mace New Testament (1729)
the righteousness of our God and our Savior, Jesus Christ — Literal Translation of the HOLY BIBLE, by Jay P. Green, Sr.
the righteousness of our God and of our Savior Jesus Christ — Simple English Bible translation
share the faith that God in his justice has equally allotted to us; as well as that of our Saviour Jesus Christ. — 21st Century NT
Of course, as has already been stated, if the Syriac manuscript is correct — which is our first consideration, the word “God” does not even appear in 2 Peter 1:1.
At any rate, one can see that it is very questionable that Peter is referring to Jesus as THEOS. Of course, Jesus is our THEOS, our might, in the power and authority given to him by God, but this usage of THEOS does not mean that Jesus is God, thus, even if Peter did apply the word THEOS to Jesus in 2 Peter 1:1, there is still nothing in the verse that says that Jesus is God Almighty. Definitely, there is surely nothing there that gives any idea that Jesus is a person of God, or that there are three persons in God.
Below are some links we recommend, although we do not necessarily agree with all that is said.
Our Savior Jesus Christ by Greg Stafford
B-Greek: Sharp’s Rule and Quasi-Propr Names (Forum Discussions)
BGreek Discussion: Another Carson Question, Granville-Sharp Rule
BGreek: Final Thoughts on Sharp’s Rule – Greg Stafford; see also Correction
BGreek Forum Discussion: Sharp’s Rule
Titus 2:13 & 2 Peter 1:1, Granville Sharp vs Biblical Consistency