Wait, so I have finally become a heretic with a headline like that, right?
It is perhaps a slight overstatement of my point, but if I added the word “only” then I hope you would see my point entirely.
A couple of days ago, an article was going around the Internet proposing that the Southern “y’all” could help us move away from the independent “personal” approach to our faith that is so rampant throughout the English-speaking world.
In the past, we used “thou” as a plural for “you,” but unlike many languages, outside the Southern states of America there is no way of explaining whether you are speaking to an individual or to a group.
So, for example, as part of a family of seven, it is kind of crucial for me to know if someone says “you are invited to … ” whether they intended just me or the whole lot of us!
If I lived in the Bible belt, they would say, “Y’all are invited.” When speaking in the first person, we use “I” or “we,” and in the third person, “he” or “she” and “they.” Only in the Southern states of the U.S. is it possible to communicate precisely what you mean when speaking in the second person. We are so familiar with this that it doesn’t even seem strange to us.
But it would seem very peculiar to the writers of the Bible.
Interestingly, this word “y’all” is also explained in the movie God’s Not Dead, which releases here in the U.K. this Friday.
Perhaps we would all do well to adopt this usage. All too often, we read the Bible through individualistic eyes.
We fail to see that it was written to the community of God’s people. If we read it in the original Greek, we can pick up on where the writers intended us to see that it is US as a people that God is at work in. The short answer is that this is the case all over the place.
One way to easily study this if, like me, you only know a little Greek is to read the “y’all version which in the “y’all” version of the NET reads:
Think about the circumstances of y’all’s call, brothers and sisters.
Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.
God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence.
He is the reason y’all have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” READ MORE VERSES IN Y’ALL VERSION
Two things jump out immediately.