Q&R: “Saving Grace Appeared to All People”: Offer or Gift? (Titus 2:11) Brad Jersak
When ideology presses you to change the Bible to dumb down salvation:
NIV – For the grace of God has appeared that *OFFERS* salvation to all people. – Titus 2:11
*OFFERS* appears nowhere in any manuscripts. Not anywhere. Why add it?
NT Wright lays out what’s actually there in the Greek:
God’s saving grace, you see, appeared for all people (NTE).
See? There’s nothing there at all about it being offered. Christ IS the saving grace who appeared to everyone.
But surely “offered” is “understood.” Is it? How about context? Why not instead of “offering,” use David Bentley Hart’s suggestion, “Giving”:
For the grace of God appeared, *GIVING* salvation to all human beings (DBH).
Is there any justification for that? As a matter of fact, yes! Read on! In verse 13, the author continues,
Awaiting the blissful hope, and the appearing of the glory, of the great God and of our savior, the anointed one Jesus… (DBH).
And NT Wright renders vs. 13, As we wait for the happy *FULFILLMENT* of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus.
Why add “fulfillment” (also not there in the Greek). Is it necessary? In this case, probably. Wright wants us to see that this “hope” is not “doubtful” or even “hopeful” but that Christ himself is a sure hope that will definitely be fulfilled. The emphasis of “hope” in Titus is not that Christ might come, but on the fact that he will come. “Hope” is about the future. Christ has already come, continues to come but also, apparently, will come again.
Similarly, in verse 11, Wright assumes that the first appearing is the arrival of salvation for all and Hart openly declares it as a given. Both translators are consistent.
In verse 13, the NIV wisely opted to stick with the Greek, more simply and literally, While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Nicely done. That’s what it says. No messing with the manuscripts or dumbing down of appearing this time.
So we have appearing in both verses. So if the NIV thought it necessary to reduce the appearing to an “offer” in verse 11, why not in verse 13? Why didn’t they translate it consistently, While we await the blessed hope–the appearing of Jesus Christ to OFFER the glory of …
No, they know that would be dumb. A perversion of the author’s intent. But that is exactly what they did to verse 11. As if the power of salvation in the Incarnation was any less an appearing than the power of his glory in the Parousia.
In truth, the first arrival of Christ ensures the salvation of all people no less than the second. That’s the “plain reading of the text” for the biblicists among us.
But these are inconvenient verses for those who cannot imagine they are true as they are written. Cannot because a presupposed theology cuts off such sure “hope” and must obscure what Paul (or whoever) actually wrote.
Yes, other texts must be taken into account. Verses describing an offer and summons to a free and willing response of faith. But those verses don’t negate these verses, much less require us to alter them to pry them into our presuppositions.
Maybe we should raise our expectations to the text rather than lowering the text to our expectations.