Our God and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1)

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on davidwilber.me. Tabernacle of David considers this ministry trustworthy and Biblically sound.

Author: David Wilber

Does Peter call Jesus “God” in 2 Peter 1:1? When we examine this verse from a grammatical standpoint, it is evident that he does. Let’s look at the verse:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
—2 Peter 1:1

In English, the phrase “our God and Savior Jesus Christ” is ambiguous and could be read in two different ways. One option is to take this verse as referring to one person, that is, Jesus (“our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”). Another option is to take this verse as referring to two persons, God and Jesus (“our God, and [the] Savior Jesus Christ”).

However, looking at this verse in Greek clears up the ambiguity. Here is the phrase in Greek:

τοῦ (the) θεοῦ (God) ἡμῶν (our) καὶ (and) σωτῆρος (Savior) Ἰησοῦ (Jesus) Χριστοῦ (Christ).

The phrase uses the following construction:

Article (τοῦ, “the”) – Noun1 (θεοῦ, “God”) – And (καὶ) – Noun2 (σωτῆρος, “Savior”).

Notice that a single article (τοῦ, “the”) governs the two nouns “God” and “Savior,” and these nouns are connected by καὶ (and). According to the Granville Sharp rule, this construction indicates that both terms “God and Savior” have the same referent: Jesus Christ.

Here is James White’s simple explanation of the Granville Sharp rule:

Basically, the rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Cephas, or Paul, or Timothy), which are describing a person, and are connected by the word “and,” and the first noun has the article (“the”) while the second does not, both nouns are referring to the same person.[1]

In 2 Peter 1:1, since “God” (θεοῦ) has the article and is followed by “and” (καὶ), which is then followed by “Savior” (σωτῆρος) without the article, both nouns apply to Jesus Christ. This rule can be observed numerous times in the New Testament and other Greek writings.[2] In fact, we see this same construction elsewhere in the epistle of 2 Peter itself. Here are three other examples where this construction occurs:

“…our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:11)
τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
Article (τοῦ) – Noun1 (κυρίου) – And (καὶ) – Noun2 (σωτῆρος)

“…our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 2:20)
τοῦ κυρίου καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
Article (τοῦ) – Noun1 (κυρίου) – And (καὶ) Noun2 (σωτῆρος)

“…our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)
τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
Article (τοῦ) – Noun1 (κυρίου) – And (καὶ) Noun2 (σωτῆρος)

In each of these examples, both nouns “Lord” and “Savior” refer to Jesus Christ. The constructions in 2 Peter 1:11 and 3:18 are identical to 1:1, the only difference being “Lord” (κυρίου) instead of “God” (θεοῦ). Nobody disputes that both nouns refer to Jesus in 1:11 and 3:18, so why would we doubt that both nouns refer to Jesus in the parallel construction found in 1:1? From a strictly grammatical standpoint, we shouldn’t.

Indeed, if Peter wanted to clearly distinguish between “God” and “Jesus” in 2 Peter 1:1, he could have easily done so by using a different grammatical construction (like the one he uses in 1:2), but he doesn’t. Instead, he uses a construction identical to the other grammatical constructions in his letter where the phrases refer entirely to a single person, Jesus. As Richard Bauckham writes:

Elsewhere in the letter the writer uses the similarly constructed phrase τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (“our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”: 1:11; 3:18; cf. 2:20; 3:2), where there is no doubt that the whole phrase refers to Jesus Christ. When, however, this writer wishes to distinguish the two persons, in 1:2, the construction is different: τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦκυρίου ἡμῶν (“of God and Jesus our Lord”).[3]

Thus, given the grammatical structure of the verse, it is evident that Peter calls Jesus “God” in 2 Peter 1:1.


While the text is clear-cut grammatically, some might object to the interpretation that “God” is applied to Jesus in 2 Peter 1:1 on the basis that 2 Peter 1:2 distinguishes between “God” and “Jesus our Lord.” However, this objection assumes that Jesus cannot be identified as God and yet also be identified as distinct from God. Several New Testament passages show that this assumption is unwarranted.

For instance, in the same verse, John 1:1 explicitly identifies the Word as God (“the Word was God”) and yet also distinct from God (“the Word was with God”). This “Word” is the same Word who takes on flesh as the man Jesus in John 1:14. Additionally, John 1:18 identifies Jesus as “the only God, who is at the Father’s side,” clearly identifying Jesus as God and yet distinct from the Father who is God. John 20 identifies Jesus as God in verse 18 and yet distinct from God in verses 17 and 31. Finally, Hebrews 1:8-9 once again identifies the Son as “God” and yet also distinct from God (“your God”).

Given these other New Testament examples of Jesus being identified as God while also being distinct from God, we have no reason to assume that the same thing couldn’t have occurred in 2 Peter 1:1-2. These statements affirming Jesus as God and distinct from God occur in tandem elsewhere in the New Testament, so 2 Peter 1:1-2 is not an unusual case. (For more on how Jesus is identified as God, see this article.)

Another objection to Jesus’s identity as “God” in 2 Peter 1:1 is simply that Jesus is rarely identified as God, so it seems unlikely that he would be so identified here. But this objection begs the question; it assumes that 2 Peter 1:1 cannot be calling Jesus God because such identification is rare. However, instead of already ruling out what the grammar indicates at the outset, we should interpret the text for what it plainly says. Moreover, “rarely” does not mean “never.” And as we’ve already seen above, Jesus is called God in several New Testament passages (also see Titus 2:13; Romans 9:5). Christian writings from the early second century also demonstrate that Jesus being called God was not uncommon by that time. Bauckham lists several sources:

Early extracanonical Christian literature shows that by the beginning of the second century the title was not uncommon (1 Clem 2:1?; Ign. Eph. Scr; 1:1; 7:2; 18:2; 19:3; Trall. 7:1; Rom. 3:3; Smyrn. 10:1; Pol. 8:3; Pol. Phil. 12:2; Ep. Apost 3 (Ethiopic); Apoc. Pet. E 16; cf. 2 Clem 1:1). (For Jesus Christ as “our God,” as in 2 Pet 1:1 see Ign. Eph. Scr; 18:2; Rom. 3:3; Pol. 8:3.) Thus there is no improbability in 2 Peter’s use of θεός (“God”) for Jesus, nor does the usage require a second-century date for the letter.[4]

A final objection to the interpretation that “God” is applied to Jesus in 2 Peter 1:1 is that the KJV seems to reference two persons: “God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” However, contrary to some fundamentalists’ claims, the KJV is not a perfect translation. After the KJV was translated, knowledge about the Greek language increased significantly, including the work of Granville Sharp. Had the KJV translators been aware of such developments, their rendering of 2 Peter 1:1 would undoubtedly align with modern translations.


In 2 Peter 1:1, Jesus is called “God and Savior.” This fact is evident grammatically per the Granville Sharp rule. Parallel constructions in Peter’s epistle consistently demonstrate the validity of the interpretation in 1:1 that Peter applies both nouns “God” and “Savior” to Jesus. Objections to this grammatical fact are based upon either the unwarranted assumption that the New Testament cannot identify Jesus as God and also distinct from God or the less-than-perfect KJV rendering of the verse, both of which are insufficient to overrule what the grammar clearly indicates.

Peter’s explicit affirmation of Jesus as “God” is what we would expect from someone concluding his epistle with a doxology to Jesus in language matching biblical doxologies to YHWH (e.g., Psalm 72:18-19; Romans 11:36; Philippians 4:20; Revelation 5:12-13). Peter says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). The parallel statements “our God and Savior Jesus Christ” and “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” frame Peter’s epistle, echoing Thomas’s declaration that Jesus is indeed Lord and God (John 20:28).

[1] James R. White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations? (Minneapolis, MN: BethantyHouse, 2009), 335

[2] For a technical examination of the validity of Granville Sharp’s rule, see this paper from Daniel Wallace.

[3] Richard Bauckham, Jude-2 Peter (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 1983), 168

[4] Ibid., 169

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