Granville Sharp's rule

Granville Sharp's Rule is a grammatical principle applied to the translation of New Testament Greek whereby the deity of Christ is explicitly affirmed. This is specifically associated with the translation of Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1.

Titus 2:13:

  • KJV -- "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Similarly in the 1901 ASV, RSV, and also in the New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • NASB -- "Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." The same sense is also seen in NIV and ESV.

In the above translations, the first implies a reference to two persons, while the second (applying the Granville Sharp rule) sees the reference to one person who is both God and savior. The same contrast may be seen in 2 Peter 1:1:

  • KJV -- "to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
  • NASB -- "To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ."

Statement of the rule

"The following rule by Granville Sharp of a century back still proves to be true: `When the copulative KAI connects two nouns of the same case, if the article HO or any of its cases precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle; i.e., it denotes a further description of the first-named person.'" (A Manual Of The Greek New Testament, Dana & Mantey, p. 147)

"Basically, Granville Sharp's 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 the two nouns 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." - James White

The basic formula (in the Greek word order) may be seen in this manner:

  • Article (ho) + noun1 + and (kai) + noun2

Granville Sharp's rule says that since the definite article (ho, or its variant) precedes only the first noun and not both, then the reference is to one person -- this being the case in the verses quoted above.

Cautions in application

Detractors maintain that there are numerous examples in the Greek where Granville Sharp's rule fails to hold up, i.e. where two distinct referents are obviously intended. However, as pointed out by Daniel Wallace, this is due to a misapplication of the rule.^ [1]^ What is often overlooked is that Granville Sharp distinctly noted that the rule applies when the two nouns are singular and apply to persons, not things. When these restrictions are considered, there are no exceptions to be noted in native Koine Greek constructions.

Wallace has restated Granville Sharp's rule in order to explicitly state all the restrictions and to enhance the readability of the rule.

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. ^[2]^


  1. ? Daniel B. Wallace, Sharp Redivivus? A Reexamination of the Granville Sharp Rule
  2. ? Daniel B. Wallace, The Article with Multiple Substantives Connected by kai in the New Testament: Semantics and Significance (Ph.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary), 134-35.

See also