- TABLE OF CONTENTS
- WAR ROOM -
STUDY - MORAL
ISSUES - KING
JAMES BIBLE - CULTS
THOSE ARCHAIC THEES AND THOUS
Why those "thee"s and "ye"s are more accurate
By Will Kinney
Is archaic language always a bad thing? What about all those "Ye"s, and "Thee"s? Would you change all those words like "ye, thee, thine, and thy"? Do you know the difference in meaning and why they are actually more accurate than the modernized, generic "you" as found in the NKJV, NIV, NASB, Holman, and ESV?
The popular NIV introduction erects a strawman argument and gives misleading information regarding the use of "thou" "thee" and "thine". On page xviii of my NIV Scofield edition, the editors state: "As for the traditional pronouns "thou" "thee" and "thine" in reference to the Deity, the translators judged that to use these archaisms, along with the old verb forms such as "doest", "wouldest" and "hadst" would violate accuracy in translation. Neither Hebrew, Aramaic nor Greek uses special pronouns for the persons of the Godhead."
To put it kindly, this NIV introduction is pure baloney. First of all, the use of the words thou, thee, and thine are not used only in reference to Deity. They express the Hebrew and Greek singular "you" as opposed to the plural "you" which is rendered as "you", "ye" and "your". Thou, thee and thine are used not only when addressing God but also when speaking to the common man and even to the devil himself. "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get THEE hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Matthew 4:10.
Secondly, instead of "violating accuracy in translation", the fact is the use of such pronouns is FAR MORE accurate to the Hebrew and Greek languages than the generic "you" for both singular and plural.
Most languages have a singular and a plural form of the second person - the person being spoken to - "you". There is the singular "you" and then there is the plural, like "you all". This is found in the Hebrew and Greek languages as well as Spanish, French, Italian and many other world languages.
In English this distinction is expressed by "Thou" meaning "you singular, and you alone" and "Ye" meaning "all of you, plural". This distinction makes a big difference in hundreds of passages in the Bible.
For instance, in Luke 22:31-32 the Lord says to Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have YOU, that he may sift YOU as wheat: But I have prayed for THEE, that THY faith fail not: and when THOU art converted, strengthen THY brethren."
Here the word YOU is plural in both the Greek and the English, meaning Satan was going to sift all of the disciples, "you all"; but Jesus is letting Peter know that He had prayed for him (thee) specifically as an individual.
In John chapter four, the Samaritan woman at the well is speaking to Jesus and says: "Sir, I perceive that THOU art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and YE say (all you Jews) that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."
Then the Lord says to this individual: "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when YE shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. YE worship YE know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews." Here the YE means "all of you who are Samaritans", not just the individual woman to whom He was speaking.
One of many cases where a lot of confusion is caused by not following the "ye" and "thee" pattern is seen in Jeremiah 5:14. In Jeremiah 5:13-14 the Lord says: "And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them. Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because YE speak this word, behold, I will make my words in THY mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them."
God is referring to the false prophets when He says "because YE speak this word" but He is talking to Jeremiah, the true prophet, when He says "I will make my words in THY mouth fire".
The confusion is seen in such versions as the NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV. The NKJV says: "Because YOU speak this word, Behold, I will make my words in YOUR mouth fire."
Another among many verses that are cleared up by recognizing this difference between Thee and You is found in Acts 13:34. Here Peter is preaching in a synagogue about Christ, the Son of God. Peter says: "And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give YOU the sure mercies of David."
If you neglect this distinction between Thee and You, one would naturally think God is saying to the risen Christ "I will give YOU the sure mercies of David." But He isn't referring to Christ. God is speaking to all HIS PEOPLE - YOU.
In 2 Chronicles 7:17-19 after the dedication of the temple, God speaks to Solomon. He says: "And as for THEE, if THOU wilt walk before me..... and do all that I have commanded THEE..... Then I will establish the throne of THY kingdom..... But if YE turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments..... and shalt go and serve other gods..."
First God is speaking individually to king Solomon with THEE, THOU, and THY; but then He addresses all the people of Israel with "YE".
Matthew 26:64 - "Jesus saith unto him, THOU has said: nevertheless I say unto YOU, hereafter shall YE see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." THOU refers to the High Priest. YE and YOU are open to some interpretation, but AT LEAST include all those who were standing there IN ADDITION to the high priest.
John 3:7, 11, "Marvel not that I said unto THEE, YE must be born again." These words were spoken to the individual Nicodemus, but obviously have a wider application. So also at verse 11, "I say unto THEE, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen, and YE receive not our witness."
A subtle yet important nuance is found in king David's letter to Joab when he wanted Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, killed. "David wrote a letter to Joab, saying, Set YE Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire YE from him, that he may be smitten and die." 2 Samuel 12:15.
Here David writes to a single individual Joab, yet he uses the plural form YE. This use of the plural form lessons the personal guilt and responsibility of Joab and places it on the group who is in command of the army. These subtle distinctions are lost in most modern versions.
One more of hundreds of such examples that could be given shows this important distinction between "thee" (an individual) and "you" meaning "you all". The young shepherd David had gone out to meet Goliath the Philistine and he was speaking to one individual, the giant. David says to him: "THOU comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield, but I come to THEE in the name of the LORD..... for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give YOU into our hands." David was not just telling Goliath that God would deliver him up, but ALL the Philistines as well - "you all".
A simple rule of thumb is if the word begins with a T, as in thou, thy, thee, and thine, then it is singular; and if it begins with a Y, as in you, your, and ye, then it is plural, meaning "you all".
The use of "thou" and "ye" may be "archaic" because we don't speak this way today, but it is far more accurate and reflects the Hebrew and the Greek languages that underlie the King James text. In fact, not even in 1611 did they speak this way. Read the preface to the KJB and you will see they did not use the "thee"s and "ye"s as they are found in the Scriptures.
The second person singular pronouns in English had largely passed from the language by the time of the writing of the AV. Thus it was "archaic" then as well. So getting rid of it because it is "archaic" is ridiculous, because it was archaic in the first place. The important thing is not whether the word is archaic (for goodness sake, they can look it up in a dictionary or ask someone else who knows) but whether the word is the correct translation. It is, so use it.
The King James translators correctly used these words because it is Biblical language that more accurately expresses the thoughts of God in inspired Scripture.
Not only does the King James Bible use "thy" and "thee" and "ye" but so also do Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops' Bible, the Geneva Bible, John Wesley's New Testament, the Revised Version of 1881, Webster's translation, the American Standard Version 1901, the Jewish translations of 1917, 1936, the Douay version 1950, Young's, Darby's, the KJV 21st Century version and the Third Millenium Bible.
Even the RSV of 1952 and the NASB from 1960 to 1977 used "thee" and "thou" when addressing God in prayer, though the words "thee" and "thou" are not just used to show reverence for God, but rather express the second person singular of anyone, including the devil himself. The NASB, RSV both say in John 17:2 " THOU HAST given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom THOU HAST given him." But then in 1995 the NASB changed their texts again and now employ the generic "You". So were "thou" and "thee" not archaic in 1977, but then became so in the next few years?
In 2 Samuel 7:23 we read part of king David's prayer: "An what nation in the earth is like THY people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for YOU great things and terrible, for THY land, before THY people, which THOU redeemedst to THEE from Egypt."
Here David prays to God in the second person singular, but refers to the people of Israel as YOU. What confusion can result if this distinction in proper pronouns is removed? It could incorrectly be thought that David was praying in part to the nation, or that the land belonged to the people instead of to God.
Once you realize there is an important difference between "thou" and "ye" that exists in the English language as well as the Greek and Hebrew, then many passages are cleared up and more light is shed on the true meaning of the Holy Bible.
The King James Bible is more precise and accurate with its use of "thou" and "ye". When you "update and modernize" these "archaic" words to the generic "you", you do so at the expense of sacrificing an important distinction God has placed in His inspired words.
THEE-THOU AND THE DOCTRINE
Pastor Steve Van Nattan
In the Old and New Testament of the Bible the King James translators used a device to distinguish between "you" singular and plural. "THEE, THOU, AND THY" are for YOU SINGULAR. "YE, YOU, YOUR, WE, AND US" are for YOU OR US PLURAL. Hebrew and Greek do this, but modern English makes no distinction. Is this important? The answer is an emphatic, YES !
Without the THEE-THOU, YE-YOU DISTINCTION, which was not even common in 1611, the translators, in the Holy Spirit, could not have made any distinction for the English reader. We will now show that it is of the highest importance in understanding the doctrine of the Lord's Church.
STUDY OF THE "THEE THOU" AND "YE YOUR" PATTERNS IN GALATIANS, EPHESIANS, PHILIPPIANS, AND COLOSSIANS CONTRASTED WITH PHILEMON:
The reason I chose these Pauline Epistles is: 1. Paul was the Apostle who established many churches. 2. The Holy Spirit used Paul to establish the patterns of normal church life. 3. Paul taught the doctrine of the church in great detail. 4. These four Epistles without Philemon are the core of the doctrine of the Church.
Number of verses in Gal. Eph. Phil. Col. - - - 503 Number of verses in Philemon - - - - - - - - 25
Number of "thee, thou, and thy" in 4 Epistles- 17 Number of "ye, you, and your' in 4 Epistles- - 327
Number of "thee, thou, and thy" in Philemon- 25 Number of "ye, you, and your" in Philemon- - 3
So, 12% of the verses in the Philemon have "ye and you". 100% of the verses in Philemon have "thee and thou". PHILEMON WAS WRITTEN TO ONE MAN. IT IS A VERY PERSONAL BOOK. And, 3% of the verses in the Epistles have "thee and thou". 65% of the verses in the Epistles have "ye and you". THE FOUR EPISTLES WERE WRITTEN TO THE WHOLE CHURCH OF ALL AGES.
TOTALS OF ALL PRONOUNS:
"ye, you, your, yourselves, we, us, and our" versus "thee, thou, thine" in the Apostolic letters:
Personal pronouns [ thee, thou, thy, thine type ] - - - 1430
Collective pronouns [ ye, you, your, us, and we type ] - 5000
The Apostles clearly taught the Church as a Body, not individually !
CHRIST FOREKNOWS, CALLS, ELECTS, PREDESTINES, REDEEMS, SAVES, JUSTIFIES, SANCTIFIES, CLEANSES, WILL COME FOR, GIVES THE HOLY SPIRIT TO, USES TO WIN THE LOST, AND RESURRECTS WHOM ? ANSWER: THE LOCAL CHURCH DOCTRINE: - YOU ARE SAVED BY PERSONAL FAITH. - YOU ARE SAVED TO BE THE CHURCH. - IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SEPARATE THE TWO THOUGHTS IF YOU ARE SAVED. THE PERIL IS NOT THAT YOU WILL FORGET YOU ARE SAVED. THE PERIL IS THAT YOU WILL START THINKING IT IS, "A PERSONAL MATTER". IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BE SAVED AND NOT BE AN ACTIVE PART OF THE LOCAL CHURCH. YOU CAN LEARN THIS ONLY FROM THE KING JAMES BIBLE !
THE IMPACT OF THE "THEE-THOU"