If you want an accurate translation of the Bible, you need a version which distinguishes the singular of ‘you’ by the use of thee/thou.
Almost all languages have this distinction between the singular and plural, but English has lost it in common speech. Indeed, a new plural ‘yous’ is beginning to emerge in slang culture among the young, and perhaps this will develop so that English may recover this essential distinction between the singular and plural.
In the meanwhile, the King James Version is one of the few Bible versions in current English use which shows the reader the difference between the singular and plural.
A godly person wants to quote Scripture in prayer, not least because we wish to bring God’s promises before Him and to plead: “Do as Thou hast said” 2Sam 7:25. Quoting an accurate English version means using Thee and Thou in prayer to God. Some people object to these archaic forms, but they are happy enough to use them in their hymns.
One example of the value of noticing the distinction between the singular and plural is in the Saviour’s warning to Peter about his impending denial. There are many lessons drawn from Peter’s denial of his Saviour, but one that is frequently overlooked is the primary one in the passage.
“The Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you (plural), that he may sift you (plural) as wheat: but I have prayed for thee (singular), that thy (singular) faith fail not: and when thou (singular) art converted, strengthen thy (singular) brethren.” Lk 22:31-32.
Many preachers major on Peter’s failure to confess his Lord, while they themselves fail to notice the Saviour’s primary teaching. Satan desires to have all the disciples. How many sermons on this passage open up this thought? Usually only Peter’s denial is mentioned, but “they all forsook Him and fled” Mk 14:50. So Jesus prayed for Peter that Peter, when he is converted and restored, will strengthen the other disciples.
Both Satan and Jesus knew that Peter was the spokesman, and if Satan could get his faith to fail, it would affect them all.
Peter was in Satan’s sieve like the others, but in his case it would equip him for helping the other disciples. The Lord planned to use Peter to strengthen the others. So all the disciples had to hear the Saviour’s words, and not simply Peter. Nowadays, many Christians would not listen to such a ‘failed’ preacher, thinking that he is the last person to tell others what to do. So they should listen again to what the Saviour said to Peter, ponder His message and re-evaluate their prejudicial thinking.
24 May 2013: the Texans have their own solution, using “y’all” and “yinz” for the plural. I think they pronounce y’all as ‘yowl’, rhyming with ‘owl’.
26 Jan 2019: gender fluid pronouns are now being suggested and even demanded by legislation, a feature of secular repentance. This topic brought Jordan Peterson to worldwide attention. If pronouns are up for debate, how about re-creating the difference between the second person pronouns in the singular and plural. It is very useful and one of the great advantages of the King James Version of the Bible.
17 Jun 2019: the advantages of the King James Version.
3 thoughts on “Thee and Thou – You and Yous”
So too, some parts of America have “y’all”, short for “you all” as a plural form of you.
You say that “Nowadays, many Christians would not listen to such a ‘failed’ preacher, thinking that he is the last person to tell others what to do.”
Actually, it more often the opposite. As JI Packer observes, “The number of North American leaders (and other Christians too) who in recent years have been found guilty of sexual and financial shenanigans, and who when challenged have declined to see themselves as accountable to any part of the body of Christ, is startling. Much more startling is the way in which, after public exposure and some few slaps on the wrist, they are soon able to resume their ministry and carry on as if nothing had happened, commanding apparently as much support as before. To protest that Christians believe in the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of sinners is beside the point.
N.B. “What I am saying is that the speed of their reinstatement shows that we value them more for their proven gifts than for their proven sanctity, since the thought that only holy people are likely to be spiritually useful does not loom large in our minds.”
It all depends on the nature and type of the offense. If it was a rash, angry speech, then perhaps it can be forgiven after genuine repentance is observed. But if the offense is a breach of the 7th commandment, then the sad fact is that the minister will have “A wound and dishonour” and “his reproach shall not be wiped away” (Prov. 6:33). Never again will he be blameless, never again will he have a good report of them that are without, and therefore, never again can he be a minister.
Thanks for this contribution.
I said “many” Christians, not “most”. I think your post proves my point.