Hey, y'all! (Discovering the plural "you" in the New Testament)

groupoffreinds.jpg

By Steve Simms

In English, the word "you" is both singular and plural. (Y'all, yous, you guys, are all colloquial.) This fact often causes confusion, especially in written material. (Is the writer referring to all the members of a group I belong to, or to me as an individual?)

This is true when you are reading the New Testament in English. Much of it is using "you" as plural, not singular. For example: When Jesus is speaking to His disciples, that's plural; and when Paul is writing to a city-wide group of Christians in the Epistles, that's also plural. Also when James and John are writing their letters to the entire body of Christ, that's plural. (However, when Jesus is speaking to an individual, or Paul is writing to Titus or Timothy; that's singular.) Confusing isn't it?

The lack of an adequate plural "you" in English often causes us to read the New Testament with an individualistic mindset. It's all about me. (Like the old country song said: "Me and Jesus, we got our own thing going.")

It's so easy to read a plural "you" as singular. For instance "Christ in you, the hope of glory" can easily be taken as "Christ in me, the hope of glory." Now Christ does live in individual Christians, but Paul wrote that statement to a group of Christians, the Colossians, not just to one individual. Therefore, Paul meant it as, "Christ in y'all (yous or you guys) the hope of glory." 

That's why, in John 17, Jesus prayed for all His followers to be one. Because Christ is in y'all. When y'all come together in Jesus' name as one, He is present and working among y'all and His glory is manifested in y'all's midst. 

In the unity of the Spirit we discover and experience the glory of the plural "you" in the New Testament! Have you every experienced the glory of the plural "you"?

That's also why Paul exhorts us to be "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Because when we separate from other Christ-followers, we split up the plural "you" into "us and them" thus dividing Christ. 

For more insight, try this. Read what Jesus says to all His disciples and what Paul and James and John say in their epistles to the body of Christ as plural -- to a group of believers and not just to you. Simply insert "y'all" or "yous" or "you guys" (whichever you are most comfortable with) for "you." 

Then go to our ONE Body Life Facebook page and/or Facebook group and share your experience with us. Thanks.