God Our Savior
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
"But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared" (Titus 3:4).
Six times in the pastoral epistles Paul refers to God (evidently meaning the Father) as our Savior (I Timothy 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4). Usually, however, he and the other New Testament writers identify Jesus Christ as our Savior. "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18, for example). In the same fashion, Paul relates that his commission to preach the gospel came from "God our Savior" (Titus 1:3), while elsewhere he says his commission came "by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:12).
Is this a contradiction? No! In fact, references to God as our Savior should not surprise us, for it is found in numerous places in the Old Testament. (See, for example, Psalm 106:21.) Furthermore, our understanding of the Trinity insists that all three persons of the Godhead are One in God. Of course, Christ made many references to the fact that He was not acting on His own, but came to do "the will of Him that sent me" (John 6:38). Paul himself seemed to be comfortable with this seeming overlap, for in one sentence he wrote, "God our Savior; . . . Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 1:3-4). Such usages further confirm also that Jesus is God.
While Christ was the primary instrument of salvation as the perfect sacrifice for sin, God the Father is the source of all human salvation, and the application of the title Savior to Him is proper. Indeed, we derive great comfort as we see the role of all three Persons of the Godhead involved in our salvation.
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10). JDM