That Blessed Hope - The Glorious Appearing Of Jesus Christ

Ed. F. Sanders

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”
Titus 2:13 (KJV)

Titus 2:13 is unusual in that it has 2 instances of Greek syntax that fit the Granville Sharp rule of exegesis. The Granville Sharp rule is important to theologians and translators because of it's impact on NT doctrine (for example it is used to prove Christ’s deity in Titus 2:13b, cp 2 Pet 1:1).

Unfortunately the KJV makes two additions to the original text of Titus 2:13 that have caused some to completely misinterpret and subsequently misrepresent what the verse says. The KJV translators placed a comma between ‘blessed hope’ and ‘glorious appearing’ and a definite article (the) before ‘glorious appearing’, neither of which are in the original Greek.

The ‘left behind’ pretribulational theology takes this verse to mean that the ‘blessed hope’ is the rapture and the ‘glorious appearing’ is the Second Coming seven years later. They are right that the ‘glorious appearing’ is the Second Coming but wrong in seeing two different events separated by years.

Dr. Kenneth Wuest, a well-known conservative Greek scholar says of this passage:

The AV makes "that blessed hope" and "the glorious appearing" to be two different things, whereas the Greek text requires that they be construed as one. We have Granville Sharp's rule here, which says that when there are two nouns in the same case connected by kai (and), the first noun having the article, the second noun not having the article, the second noun refers to the same thing the first noun does and is a further description of it. Thus, that blessed hope is the glorious appearing of our Lord. The translation should read,

"that blessed hope, even the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ."

The same rule applies to the words, "the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Both expressions refer to the same individual. The deity of the Lord Jesus is brought out here by a rule of Greek syntax….the Christian's God and Saviour is Jesus Christ”[1].

Is the rapture our blessed hope as the 'left behind' teachers insist? NO, Jesus Christ is our hope! "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope" (1 Tim. 1:1, emphasis added) and we await his glorious appearing[2] .

And when is this appearing? Doug Milne commenting on Titus 2:11-15 expresses Paul's meaning well[3]:

All this takes place while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ (verse 13). Christian morality is driven by Christian eschatology, the confident expectation of the visible coming in glory of Jesus Christ at the close of this age. Believers are saved in this hope (Rom. 8:24f.), because the final events of the history of salvation have still to be played out when Jesus comes again. So believers wait for the hope of righteousness (Gal. 5:5; Col. 1:4f.). Their hope is blessed because it will bring in their perfect blessedness in the enjoyment of the presence of their Lord forever.

Christ's coming in glory will actually be his re-appearing (Paul uses the same word here as in verse eleven for Christ's first coming), for it is the same Jesus who rose to heaven at his ascension (Acts 1:9ff.) who will descend from heaven at his return (1 Thess. 4:16ff.). That promised coming is the continuing focus of the Christian's faith and hope, whether in the meantime he departs through death to be with Christ (the experience of most believers), or lives to see the actual event of Christ's return.

The Lord's coming will be a "glorious appearing" because the full extent of his personal glory as God and Saviour will be revealed on that day for the very first time. The glory of Christ, that is hidden from creation now, will then become universal knowledge, so that every knee will bow to him and every living thing proclaim him Lord (Phil. 2:9ff.). It will be as God and Saviour that Jesus Christ will be revealed in that day. He is God no less than Saviour, a Saviour because he is God. Paul is consistent in his ascription of deity to Jesus (Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:5f.; Col. 1:19; 2:9), as are the other writers of the New Testament (John 1:1 ff.; Heb. 1:3; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 5:6). The glorious appearing of Jesus will only confirm believers in what they already know. Christians have always sung hymns and said prayers to Christ as God.

For further study:

[1] From Dr. Kenneth Wuest's Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, © 1961, Eerdmans Publishing Co. (italics added for emphasis). Also see Dr. Wuest's translation in The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, © Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1961. Interestingly, even though Dr. Wuest was a hard-core pretribulationist he does not let his theology color his exegesis of the Greek text in this case.

[2] The Greek word for "appearing" is epiphaneia (epiphaneia) which was used by the Greeks of Paul's day when they spoke of the glorious appearing of their gods. In this passage it is used of the glory that will accompany the coming of Christ. Some translations say "glorious appearing", an alternate translation is "the appearing of the glory."

[3] Focus On The Bible, Commentary on Titus by Douglas J. W. Milne, The Ephesians Four Group Electronic Version.