Pastor's Blog

Monday
Dec162013

Mind Your T’s & Y’s: Understanding King James Pronouns

Pastor Hammond

Living according to “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4) requires that we make an effort to learn to understand every word of scripture.  Yet, any honest pastor will admit that the Elizabethan-era English of our King James Bible can be challenging. One of the first challenges that we face is the so-called Elizabethan pronouns, i.e. thou, thee, thy, thine, ye, and you.

It is fair to ask if these so-called “old fashioned” pronouns really matter – especially given that most modern Bible versions have replaced them with simpler, more familiar words.  For example, modern translations typically replace “ye” with “you.”  While that change may seem reasonable, readers must understand that dropping the use of the Elizabethan pronouns necessarily obscures the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words that underly our English translations.  In fact, when translators change “ye” to “you,” they are necessarily changing God’s words!

Let’s take a closer look at the issue.   Recall that the New Testament is translated from Greek.  Biblical Greek differentiates between singular pronouns that refer to one person (thou, thee, thine) and plural pronouns that refer to multiple people (you, ye). Biblical Greek also differentiates between pronouns that serve as subjects and objects in a sentence.  Unfortunately, modern English no longer maintains a system of pronouns that bear the same level of precision.  Fortunately, however, the Elizabethan English of our King James Bible utilizes a system of pronouns that perfectly reflects the precision of the original Greek. 

You may be wondering if this level of grammatical precision is actually important.  Consider the King James translation of John 3:7.  There, Jesus said, "Marvel not that I said unto thee (singular, object form), ye (plural, subject form) must be born again."  The use of these precise pronouns in our  King James translation makes it clear that, while Jesus was speaking to one man (Nicodemus), his message was that all people must be born again.  However, the New International Version (NIV) obscures the fact that all must be born again; It translates  John 3:7 as  “You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again.”  Because the NIV says "You must be born again," a modern reader would not likely understand that Jesus was actually telling Nicodemus that all must be born again. 

Similar distinctions are made in the Biblical Hebrew underlying our King James Old Testament. Consider Exodus 4:15:  "And thou (2nd person singular, subject form) shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy (2nd-person singular,  possessive form) mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you (plural, object form) what ye (plural, subject form) shall do" (KJV).

One commentator notes that, in the above verse, we see the pronouns "thou," "thy," "you," and "ye," all fulfilling a specific grammatical function.  Modern translations are more likely to read:  "You shall speak to him ...and I will be with your mouth,... and will teach you what you shall do."  In choosing to simplify the translation, they obscure the precision and clarity of the underlying Hebrew words.  However, our King James Bible makes it clear that the LORD told Moses that he (Moses) was to speak to Aaron, and that He (the LORD) would then teach both of them (not just Moses) what they were to do.

Ok, so how can I remember the meaning of each pronoun?

Here’s a simple rule:  In our King James bible, pronouns that begin with “T” are always singular (i.e. they refer to one person); Pronouns that begin with “Y” are always plural (i.e. they refer to multiple people).   Someone observed that a helpful way to remember this rule is that “t” resembles one "stick" whereas “y” pictures two (or more) sticks stacked together.  

Going a step further:  Biblical Greek also uses different forms of pronouns to identify subjects and objects in a sentence.  Recall that, in a sentence, a subject is the person who is performing an action.  The object is a person or thing that is receiving action.  Consider this sentence:   “Mary is feeding the baby.”   “Mary” is the subject, i.e. the one performing the action.   “Baby” is the object, i.e. the one upon whom the action is being performed.  

Praise God for our Authorized King James Bible – an accurate translation of God’s preserved words.

A Helpful Chart of King James Bible Pronouns: 

  1.  “T” pronouns  are singular (and always 2nd person)
    1. Thou = subject form
    2. Thee = object form
    3.  “Thy” & “Thine” show possession
  2. Y” pronouns are plural (and always 2nd-person)
    1. Ye = Subject form
    2. You = object form
    3. Your(s)” shows possession

Remember:  "T" pronouns are always singular. "Y" pronouns are always plural.

Friday
Dec062013

On the Life of Nelson Mandela

Pastor Bob Hammond

On December 5, 2013,  Nelson Mandela died.  He is lauded for "dismantling the legacy of apartheid (by) tackling institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation."

Back in the 1980s, I was briefly caught-up in the movement to free Mr. Mandela from his long-time imprisonment; His seemed like a just cause.

But, back then, there were some thing that I didn't know.  For example, I didn't know that, in 1961, Mr. Mandela co-founded a militant group with the Communist Party of South Africa. And I honestly didn't know that this group had led a violent campaign of terror against the government of South Africa.

Neither did I didn't know that, on April 13, 1986, Mr. Mandela's wife endorsed the practice of so-called necklacing -- the "summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tire, filled with petrol, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire."

These are facts that, back in the 1980's, I should have taken time to know. And these are facts that those who would celebrate Mr. Mandela's life today should also take care to know. 

Let's be clear about this:  Racism is abhorrent.  And racism on the part of others is no excuse for racism on our part.  The answer to racism is found neither in Mr. Mandela's racial terrorism nor in his alignment with self-proclaimed communists.  Rather, the answer is found only in the renewing of our minds that occurs when we repent and receive Christ.

In our small church, we are blessed to have members who are either immigrants or first-generation children of immigrants from places as varied as: Antigua, Jamaica, Malaysia, Russia, Thailand, (and Puerto Rico - which is like another country!)  I praise God that, in our church,  these people of tremendously varied backgrounds find genuine commonality in Christ.   It is because of Christ alone that this is possible. 

Christ is the answer, indeed! 

We would do well to remember that all men are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).  In Matthew 28:19, Christ commands, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..."  The word underlying "nations" is ethnos;  It refers to distinct people groups.  We are called to glorify Christ by reaching all the people groups for Him.  Let us repent of any lingering racism - no matter how little.  And let us be about His business!

Friday
Oct112013

Should Christians Read Bill O'Reilly's book, "Killing Jesus"?

According the Bible, as Jesus hung on the cross, he said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," (Luke 23:34).

I've read a review which states that, in his book,  Mr. O’Reilly asserts that “It wouldn’t have been physically possible (for Jesus to make that statement from the cross).  O'Reilly states, "You die on a cross from being suffocated...You can hardly breathe. We believe Jesus said that, but we don’t believe he said it on the cross because nobody could have heard it.”

Here, we may observe that Bill O'Reilly does not accept the Bible.  As such, I urge Bible-believers to have nothing to do with this book.

Friday
Oct112013

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Regardless of how one views the origin of Halloween, there's no escaping the fact that, today, Halloween is inextricably associated with witches and witchcraft. If you're unsure about that, ask anyone who has been deeply involved in witchcraft or Wicca.  (Sadly, it's not difficult to find someone who has this experience). 

In the Bible, God repeatedly warns his people to have no association with witchcraft (De 18:10-11; 1Sa 15:23; 2Ch 33:6; Ga 5:19-21).  In De 18:12, the Bible says that "...all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD."  In Gal. 5:21, the Bible states, "...they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Importantly, the LORD commands us to separate from sinful, worldly practices. 2 Corinthians 6:17 reads, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."

You may view Halloween as harmless fun and games.  However, it's clear from the Bible that God does not view it that way.  As such,  I urge believers to refrain from celebrating Halloween.

Sunday
Jan062013

The Bible Says Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven!

Pastor Hammond

One of the clearest teachings of the Bible is the teaching that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. 

  • In John 14:6, Jesus said he is THE ONLY WAY.  There, we read, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
  • In Acts 4:10-12, The Bible states that salvation is offered through NO OTHER NAME but “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…”  Verse 12 states,  “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
  • In 1 Corinthians 3:11, the Bible states that Christ is the ONLY FOUNDATION:  “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
  • In Romans 1:16, the Bible says that the Gospel of Christ is THE POWER unto salvation.  There, we read, “ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” 

Importantly, the Bible also says that we cannot be “the way” for ourselves.  Our good works are not good enough for God. In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Bible reads, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

For more information about knowing Jesus Christ as your savior, please see LHBaptist.com/salvation.  You may also contact Pastor Hammond at 203-268-5104.