The Riches OF GRACE
“hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
Thee’s and Thou’s
in the King James Bible
In this article I want to point out one of the tactics the devil is using to discredit the Word of God; that is, by belittling the use of the thee’s and thou’s in the King James Bible. According to II Corinthians 11:3 the Bible is clear that Satan will use any means to deceive the hearts of people. He has turned many away from the King James Bible by saying it is archaic and out of date. The Pharisees of our day have promoted the modern translations by proclaiming they are more up to date with our modern times. These new translations remove the thee’s and thou’s from them and thereby destroy doctrinal truth. So, any bible that removes the thee’s and thou’s from them should not be trusted. (Deuteronomy 4:2).
In our King James Bible, thee, thou, thy and thine are the singular forms of the second person pronoun and ye, you and your are the plural forms. In other words, if the pronoun starts with a “t” it is singular and if it starts with a “y” it is plural. The old English as we have in our 1611 King James Bible is able to distinguish between the singular and plural pronouns. So the use of thee’s and thou’s always has reference to one person, and ye and you refers to a group or at least more than one person. This is true in the language of the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament and also is true in many of the languages of our day. But our modern English makes no distinction- both singular and plural are translated you. So, the old English that is used in the King James Bible gives a far more accurate translation than any of the new versions in our modern English. When the King James Bible was translated, it fixed the English language in its purest form.
Now, the use of these singular and plural pronouns is a great study aid for the Bible believer; for, he can always determine whether one person is being addressed in the passages or more than one. This will help in better interpreting the scriptures.
One example of this can be seen in the way the Apostle Paul writes his letters. In the epistles addressed to an assembly or church, he always uses the pronouns ye and you in their context (Please check the books of Romans, Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians). The only time the pronoun thee or thou shows up in them is when an individual is singled out. But, in the epistles addressed to Titus and Timothy where he is speaking to only one person, the pronouns thee and thou are used without any reference to the plural forms.
Another example of this is found in Matthew 16:18-19 where our Lord speaks to Peter only about the keys of the Kingdom and this can be seen by the use of the singular pronouns even though all the Disciples are present. But, in Matthew 18:18 the plural pronoun you is used showing that God also gave all the Disciples power and authority pertaining to that Kingdom.
Our third example is found in Luke 22 where the Lord is together with His Disciples in the upper room (verse 14). Now, in verses 28-30, Jesus Christ uses the pronoun you when He told all the Disciples that they were appointed a Kingdom and they would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. According to verse 31, Jesus said that Satan had desired to have them, that he may sift them as wheat. But in verses 32-34 the Lord uses the singular pronoun thee in addressing Peter only in his prayer for him to strengthen the brethren after his conversion. Now, in comparing verse 34 with Matthew 26:34-75, Peter is the only one who denied the Lord thrice before the cock crowed. But, in verses 35-37, the Lord’s conversation turns from Peter back to all the Disciples again which is seen by the use of the plural pronouns.
Our fourth and last example is found in John 3:7 where Jesus said “Marvel not that I said unto thee [Nicodemus], Ye [the nation Israel] must be born again.” Israel as a nation was born the first time when God led them out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 32:18, Exodus 4:22), for they were called His “first born.” But, according to Jesus Christ, even though they were the seed of Abraham they still must be born again in order to get into the Kingdom of God. According to verses 10-11 Nicodemus should have known Israel's spiritual condition and the need of salvation. For in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekie136:25-31, the Old Testament scriptures foretold of the restoration and regeneration of the nation Israel (which will take place at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, Israel will be born again (Isaiah 66), and Nicodemus should have known this truth, for it was written down. The point I am trying to make is that the Lord addresses Nicodemus about the condition and need of salvation for the whole nation and not just himself. And this is clearly seen by the use of the singular and plural pronouns.
It is through ignorance that some say we need a new translation today because we don’t talk the way people did in the 1600’s when the King James Bible was translated into English. For God Almighty’s Word was not written in a manner just to accommodate the people at that time. It was written in a way that could be understood and appreciated in many generations to come. If you were to study history, you may be surprised to find out that many people in the 1600’s talked very much the way we do today. Many of them in their every day conversation used the plural pronoun you in both the plural and singular context as we do. A lot of people made no distinction between the two even though the old English of their time made that distinction. God Almighty is not interested in pleasing the public, but He is interested in preserving His Word in the English language (Psalms 12:6-7).
To illustrate this even more, here's some information that was taken from “The Oxford Book of English Talk”. In this book are stories such as A Brave Bishop (1529) and William Tyndale Tricks a Bishop (1529). Also, there are many court cases (for example, in the years of 1554 and 1603). In both the stories and court cases the singular second person pronouns thee and thou are hardly used, but the word you is used many times in the singular and plural context. My point is that many people in the 1600’s did not use the grammatical rules of the old English in their every day conversation, but God’s Word does and should not be changed in any way.
Our subject before us also explains why God is never addressed in the scriptures by the word you. For there is only one God and He is to be addressed only in the singular. This is illustrated clearly in our King James Bible in Psalms 8:1-3 where thee, thy and thine is used in reference to God Almighty. The scriptures in Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6 declare that there is only one God. Satan in his subtilty has taken away this wonderful truth from millions of people (lost and saved) by convincing them the new translations are better. So when we read in the preface of the New King James version “that the only changes that have been made were to genuinely improve the understanding of God's Word for our time,” don’t you believe it for one minute. This version, as well as nearly every English translation since 1611 has removed the thee’s and thou’s from them (Proverbs 30:5-6).
I am amazed at the Pharisees of our day that criticize that old archaic book by saying it is hard to understand because of those thee’s and thou’s, and yet, these same people stand proud in their religious services and sing songs like “How Great Thou Art.” Now I ask you- isn’t this just a little hypocritical or what?
Just a note of importance before we close our study- in contrast to the opinions of most people, you should know that the word you is used in the King James Bible about 2,000 times, but is never used in the singular form. Again I remind the reader that the thee’s and thou’s are used for doctrinal significance and accuracy of translation.
If you have a King James Bible, you have God’s precious and Holy Word in your possession. Psalms 138:2
Deuteronomy 4:2 - Proverbs 30:5-6 - Revelation 22:18-19
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523