TRANSCRIPT: Good morning, Five Minute Families! Do your kids ask you to tell them jokes? What about riddles? Riddles are especially fun because of the play on words. How do you make a library bigger? How? Add another story.
English grammar fascinates me. Word use and history, sentence structure and syntax. All of it. And, recently, we have read a few articles that dive into the history and use of the word y’all and its regional siblings of ‘you ‘uns’ and ‘you guys.’ The study of these words and their usage is fun. And, since the word ‘you’ is the technically correct word for both the single AND plural in English, applying these regional plural uses of the word ‘you’ can help us better understand biblical texts because the original Greek used in what became the New Testament Scripture had both a singular and plural version of ‘you.’
As Ryan Martin of The Gospel Coalition points out, Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” and 1 Corinthians 3:16 states, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” In both of these passages, the ‘you’ is the plural form in the original Greek, not the singular, though we often apply them in singular contexts. In Corinthians God is addressing the divisions within the Corinthian church and how they are not properly witnessing about the oneness of God.
You and y’all, him and them, she and they. Individual or Community focus. When you take a look at some small details, it can make a big difference.
From an individual perspective, Jesus specifically demonstrates in Luke 19 how we are each held accountable for our own actions. Another person’s sin may affect us but it will not condemn us. Likewise, the Bible celebrates the one when Jesus tells the parable of leaving the 99 sheep to find the one. From a community focus, we see in Acts 2 how the believers shared all they had willingly with one another. There are also well over one hundred one anothering verses. We are to be in community and take care of each other. As you can see, individualism and collectivism are both presented positively in the Bible.
As we have said many times, our earthly lives are about finding balance. Ultimately, we are not to live for others always or live for self always. We are to live to glorify God always and love Him forever, which means at times we will focus on others and at times we will focus on ourselves which is the true proper balance with God as the guide and foundation. Ok, so what does all this mean for the Five Minute Family? Well, it means that we need to understand the difference of individual application of Scripture AND biblical community application of Scripture, which, remember, biblical community starts in the family. We cannot read the Bible from our own personal perspectives; we must look to see what God wants us to learn through His perspective.
To kick off a study about the biblical ‘you’ and ‘y’all’ occurrences we suggest:
- Discuss the ‘me-first’ mindset so many Americans have today. Globally, many cultures, and even subcultures in America, are more communally focused.
- Choose a few passages that use the word ‘you.’ Pay attention to context and guess whether you each think the passage is about the individual you or the group you.
- Ask your kids what they think changes about a passage if it is ‘you’ singular or ‘y’all’ plural.
- Study the original language together. One great resource we use often is the Blue Letter Bible. It doesn’t have to be an overly involved study. Just simply click the interlinear tool to see if the singular or plural version of ‘you’ is being used and see if your guess based on context was correct.
- Review Philippians 2:3-4 together. Different versions convey the sentiment with words such as merely or also, but fundamentally, we are called to not only look to our own interests but also to “think of others better than ourselves,” so challenge your family to think about how they can individually and collectively change a common mindset so that you will have the biblical focus needed for yourselves, others, and God’s perspective.
One thing we appreciate about prayer to our Father in Heaven is the ability to lift up others to Him. We would love to pray for you and your family and would appreciate your prayers for our family as we minister to others. Contact us at email@example.com or on our Facebook page and let us know how we can serve you and yours. Be blessed!