South African Bible Believers



The Use of "Thee" and "Thou"
by K. L. Cooper (Wirral, England)

Thus saith the Lord,
Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths,
where is the good way, and walk therein ,
and ye shall find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous,
and His ears are open unto their prayers.
1 Peter 3:12


My Personal Conviction
    1. A distinction should be maintained between addressing Divine Persons and addressing our fellow men. The use of distinctive pronouns allows for this.
    2. The discussion on this matter is not just about textual accuracy (although this is of course very important) but about reverence.
    3. There is generally these days an undue familiarity when speaking about and in addressing, the Lord. It is far better to use His full title "Lord Jesus Christ" rather than just using His human name "Jesus". Every opportunity should be taken to show He is superlatively different whether by the name we use or the form of address.
         Secular practice should not govern my approach to God. Indeed quite the opposite. To use "Thee" and "Thou" is a positive act of non-conformity and would be recognised as outwith the spirit of the age. Further the use of these pronouns is not just for public prayer but should be our exercise in private prayer as well.

        What then should my attitude be to Christians who address the Lord as "You"?

        Firstly a distinction should be drawn between an uninstructed or young believer and one who should be more learned about these matters. I would not necessarily expect to hear one new to the Christian faith using "Thee" and "Thou" until they have been taught on the subject. It is very sad to hear an older Christian who once used "Thee etc." speaking to the Lord in another way. This is often a reflection of the circles in which one mixes. For one to be brought up spiritually on "Thee" and "Thou" and then to change requires great effort. Conversely the writer of this article has known brothers come amongst the local assembly and to adopt the use of "Thee" in recognition of the majesty of God.

        It is also necessary to take account of the fact that if someone's native language is not English then they are unlikely to use "Thee" and "Thou" so easily at first. However very many languages do distinguish between the singular and plural in the use of personal pronouns.

        Ultimately the matter is one of individual exercise. In discussing this subject therefore it is not the intention to impose a restriction on the public participation of any brother. Nor is it suggested that a brother is being deliberately irreverent.

Some Common Questions
    1. Does it matter how we address Divine Persons?
    2. Are not "Thee and Thou" archaic terms?
    3. What has prompted the change in recent years?
    4. Is the use of "Thee" purely a traditional or cultural thing linked with certain minority groups?
Does it matter how we address Divine Persons?  
Are "Thee and Thou" Archaic Terms?  
What has Prompted the Change in Recent Years?
Modern Translations  
In defence of the AV  
A Brief History of the Development of Translations  
Is the Use of "Thee Purely a Traditional or Cultural Thing Linked with Certain Minority Groups?  
To Summarise  


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