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Versions, Reverence, Modernism,
Phariseeism & Authority
Richard Fox

Editor's Note:  This review of the editor's October editorial entitled Binding Archaisms is printed here with the permission of the author.  A rejoinder penned by Joe R. Price can also be found in this issue of Watchman Magazine.

Not A Writer

I must apologize for things such as wordiness, poor sentence structure, and etc. as I do not consider myself a writer.  Writing is not my "cup of tea" - however, after some have took upon themselves to "coach" with the writings of those who must be uninformed or unlearned; I feel compelled to put some thoughts in writing concerning, versions, (or in some cases perversions) of the Bible; reverence, modernism, phariseeism and authority.  Liberal, modernistic, and sectarian preachers often write showing their ignorance of things that concern spiritual concepts.  Sometimes I am amazed at what some, who call themselves brethren, write and print that shows immediately either their lack of study, misunderstanding or failure to consider all the facts.  Their arguments are "shallow" to say the least and I , not being a writer, had much rather contend with these errors and mis-statements orally.  However, please carefully consider the following words and ideas.

Versions of the Bible

One writer, Stan Cox states, "unfortunately, some are rather superficial in their understanding of these matters, and are guilty of binding upon men the archaic language of the King James Bible.  We are aware of some who exalt the King James version as the only acceptable English version of the Bible.  There is no legitimate argument for this, but tradition can be a strong motivation for binding the opinions of men (cf. Matthew 15:9)".

I do not argue for the "King James only".  The American Standard Version translated in 1901 is another reputable English version of the Bible.  However, the 2nd person pronouns thee, thou, thy and thine are retained in the American Standard Version for accuracy of the word of God and directness of translation.  English versions that pervert these pronouns with the common "you" are not reputable versions of the Bible.  I am aware that many, including Stan Cox in his writing, contend for the so-called New King James Version.  The NKJV is not a version but a perversion when pronouns are considered.

The greatest Hebrew, Greek and English scholars of the world, about 300 years after the King James translation, were gathered for the American Standard Translation.  They retained these pronouns of "High English" (not archaic, as Cox contends) for accuracy of translation of the Word of God.

In 1901 (or 1611 for that matter) the English speaking people of the world did not speak in "High English".  They did not use the "thee's and thou's", but their common pronoun was the common "you" as it is today.  "High English" had not been spoken since the end of the 13th Century.  However, the Hebrew and Greek languages of the original Bible have different words that are either singular or plural pronouns.  Most people fail to recognize that in the two reputable versions of the English Bible, (the KJV and the ASV) the pronoun "you" is found over 2,000 times.

The translators of the two reputable versions desired an accurate word - for word translation of the original languages of the Bible.  If they used the common language spoken by English speaking people in 1600 or 1900 this would be impossible.  The reason being, that singularity or plurality of 2nd person pronouns could not be distinguished with the use of the common word you.  These translators recognized that in the "High English" there is this distinction.  The words thee, thou, thy, and thine are always singular and the word you is plural.  If the singular and plural of the Hebrew and Greek are both translated with the common you, then singularity or plurality cannot be determined.  For this reason "High English" is the only way to correctly translate the Word of God that the proper sense is recognized.  We can see this truth throughout the Bible.  One example is found in Luke 22:32. KJV

"The Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have YOU that he may sift YOU as wheat,"

You, here not only refers to Peter but to all others present as you is plural.  It is plural in the original Greek.

"But I have prayed for THEE, that THY faith fail not; and when THOU are converted strengthen thy brethren."

"Thee, thy, and thou" are singular and refer to Peter only.  The Devil wanted all the apostles but the Lord prays for each individual. 

These distinctions are lost and truly perverted when you is used throughout.

Now, it is true that some words of the KJV and ASV are archaic or out of date and other words may better convey the sense.

Example: conversation = manner of living

However, the "High English" pronouns are not "olde English" not "archaic" but are proper in our modern English.  True, we do not use them on the street in common language but these pronouns are not out of date anymore than the word baptism is out of date.

If one contends for an accurate translation of these words, that are on almost every page of the Word of God; and contends for a substitution of the words of men instead of the actual word of God then he is contending for the word of man and not the Word of God.  Friends, anyone who would contend for the dismissal of the proper pronouns to translate God's word from Hebrew and Greek into English and then would suggest that those who insist on accuracy in these things are somehow (Mt. 15:9) binding translations of men; need to repent concerning this comment his has made toward countless numbers of brethren who know different and are concerned.  I am confident that the Devil truly does hate the King James and the American Standard English translations of the Word of God.. He uses his agents everyday to besmirch and belittle these reputable translations and replace them with the words and ideas of men.


It is true that the pronouns thee, thou, thy and thine are not in our normal secular use.  However, they have been universally retained among English speaking Christians in the prayers and hymns of the church until recent times.  Today, modernist in the church and many sectarian people are working hard for there dismissal.  Prayers uttered in the assembly of saints have used these pronouns where Deity was addressed in the 2nd person for centuries.  Wonderful songs such as Have Thine on Way Lord and How Great Thou  Art and I am Thine O Lord and I have heard Thy voice have been sung and loved by faithful people for years.  Though the songs and prayers of brethren (and even sectarian people for that matter) these pronouns have taken on a special significance in our present language when addressing Deity.  Because of this you see that these show reverence when addressing Deity in song and prayer.  I was taught in high school English that these pronouns were reserved for all time in the English language when addressing Deity.  This is recognized in all good English dictionaries when the pronouns are used to address Deity in the second person (ie when Deity is spoken to in song or prayer).  These pronouns are not "archaic" but are proper and up-to-date when used in this manner.  Any dictionary or English language reference that would suggest that only some group such as the Quakers use these words are very misinformed.  It may be true in common use but it is not true concerning reverence as we well would observe in any assembly of faithful Christians.  To take such a reference source and attempt to show that the words are not proper or archaic; and only used by Quakers, then to come to the assembly and sing song after song that includes these words; thus using them over and over, makes on wonder about about the thinking of any individual in citing these types of sources.

Modernist in the church who contend for the perversions of the Word of God (in regard to pronouns) and teach that they have nothing to do with reverence are not consistent in their thinking.  Modernist (such as Stan Cox) say that the reasoning of faithful people in regard to these things is "faulty".  He accuses them of being Pharisees and spying out liberties and binding commandments of men.  So, let us reason together.


These, who are often mentioned in the NT scriptures can be viewed in both a good and bad sense.

The Good sense:

The Pharisees were known for their desire of strict observances of the law.  The intra-biblical history (ie Malachi to Matthew) teaches us that their beginning was noble as their great desire was to keep the priesthood pure.  The great apostle Paul states himself; "circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee"; Phil 3:5.

He states that he lived, "according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers", Acts 22:3.  He said "I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee" Act. 23:6.  He said "after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee" Acts 26:5.  The Pharisees wanted strict observance of the law and a pure priesthood.  They truly were the conservatives in the 1st  Century Jewish religion.  The Sadducees, on the other hand didn't care.  The Sadducess were the liberals of the 1st Century Jewish religion.

Don't misunderstand me!  The Pharisees were not what they should have been.  Jesus condemned them for their hypocrisy, He told people "all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works for they say and do not" Mt. 23:3.  However, they were the best and not the worst of the Jews.

I have been called a legalist and Pharisee for years by liberal brethren and sectarian people; and now by modernistic brethren, but with the apostle in this good sense of the word Pharisee, I find myself in good company.

The Bad Sense:

The bad sense of  Phariseeism is hypocrisy ie "they say and do not".  The context of Mt. 15:9 and Mk 7:1-11 (vain worship) is hypocrisy (ie not obeying - Honor of father and mother Mt. 15:4 and excusing their disobedience by laying it off on the thought that they had given to God and thus couldn't provide for their parents) Verse 7 - "ye hypocrites".  The prophecy "their heart is far from me" was of their hypocrisy.  They play - acted.  They served God with traditions; yet at the same time did not obey and not only did not obey but said their disobedience was because of their service to God.  Mt 23 over and over condemns the Pharisees because of  their hypocrisy.  If one does something in religion simply on the basis of tradition and is hypocritical in regard to other matters when serving God then in this bad sense he is the Pharisee. (more later on this bad sense of Phariseeism as it has to do with reverence and who truly are the Pharisees in the bad sense of hypocrisy).


The article by brother Jerry Fite does not have one word that I would disagree with.  I have taught and preached this for years.  In fact brethren from several churches have asked me to come for gospel meetings and preach on bible authority.  At the Hillside church in Greenville, Texas we usually have about a 3 hour period once every year devoted to a discourse on Bible Authority.  This subject is included either directly or indirectly in almost every Bible study.

The Bible authorizes certain things and forbids other things by command, example and necessary inference or an expedient of a command, example or necessary inference.  We must have book, chapter and verse for the command, example or inference.

The Bible book, chapter and verse for commands, examples and inferences can also; and often times are; taught in principles and patterns.  Bible commands, examples and inferences on the subject of reverence are clear.  It should be easy for anyone to grasp that the principle of reverence is taught throughout the Bible.  One NT passage for reverence is Heb 12:28 - In the kingdom we serve God with "reverence and Godly fear".


We show reverence by our actions which include our dress and speech.  Let us look at these two subjects and how some may or may not think about them.

In the matter of dress.  Possibly, some would see no difference in an individual attending worship and waiting on the table with baggy shorts, a muscle shirt and flip-flops and another with a coat and tie.

A secular thought:
If your son did some great heroic deed and you were invited to the White House to a reception, where the President of the country, was to present your son the Medal of Honor, what would you wear?  Would you think the muscle shirt, flip-flops and baggy shorts would be acceptable; or would you think a nice suit would be more acceptable and respectful?

To ask this question is to answer it.  You know the answer and so do I!

Now, we are not going before a puny president of a world country but are assembling before and to worship the ruler of the entire universe - NO comparison!.

A principle is established here.  That principle is when we go before the King we wear that which is appropriate in accord to our ability and the standard of society.

If you recognize the principle of reverence you admit the flip-flops, muscle shirt, and baggy shorts are irreverent attire.  The reason I mention this is that I say this very attire at the table in a local, so-called, sound church of Christ this past year.  Well, maybe he had on tennis shoes.  I can't remember about the shoes, but you get the idea.

Now, I realize that some would say this makes no difference and one kind of attire is just as appropriate as another for the assembly of the saints.  Some must feel this way; or they have not given thought to reverence in dress; or haven't been taught.

Casual has overwhelmed modern America.  There is not one, single, solitary thing, casual about the assembly of the saints!  The Bible says; "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints and to be had in reverence by all those about Him" Psm 89:7 and if it makes a difference in the attire of the example: then you understand that dress has something to do with reverence.

If you see a difference you also must see that to dress in that which is the most appropriate would be the most reverential.  Flamboyant dress to the other extreme would also possibly be considered not appropriate and irreverent.

By whose standard you ask?  Man's standards of course! There is no standard for reverential dress in this context, as far as I know in the Bible.  However, if you understand the principle of reverence and can see that some attire is probably irreverent; then it has to be by man's reasoning and standard that determines what man views as reverent dress or irreverent dress.  God gave men the ability to reason.  Man has a "knogin" and it is to be used for more that a hat rack.  So, we reason as to reverence and irreverence.  Reverence probably has much more to do with how man views Deity and shows respect than how Deity views man.

Some would cry Pharisee, legalist, and you are binding the traditions of men and spying out our liberties, but others would say the Bible teaches the principle of reverence and I believe we should adhere to this principle in every way we know, including our dress.

If you see a difference and you know it has to do with respect at the White House reception then you can see reverence in the assembly where dress is concerned. Reverence is defined as honor and profound respect.

Donnie Rader in an article entitled Legalism states of some brethren who believe in the use of thee and thou in prayer that this is "based upon their use of the KJV (old English) translation".  He is uninformed.  This is not so.  It is not based on the KJV of the bible.  The ASV, as pointed out earlier, used the same.  All English versions of the bible that I am aware of before about 1970 maintain these pronouns.  Brethren, do not use these pronouns because of any particular version but because of reverence in speech while addressing Deity.  They think it proper and the other shows lack of respect.  However, notice some thoughts.


1. When Deity is spoken of in the 1st person in the Hebrew many times the plural Hebrew word Eloheem is used.  Many times the word Jehovah is found which is singular 1st person or El which is also singular 1st person.  However, when Deity is addressed in the 2nd person every single time in both OT and NT it is always singular.  Even when 1st person is plural or singular or both; 2nd person (Deity spoken to) is always singular in the same sentence or context.

Examples of this:

Gen 17:18 - And Abraham said unto God O, that Ishmael might live before thee.

1st person God is Eloheem - plural
2nd person thee is nah - singular

Psm 69:5-6 - O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.  Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of host -

1st person God Eloheem - plural
2nd person thee nah - singular
1st person Lord God Jehovah - singular

English teachers tell me that in our language 1st person in the same sentence with 2nd person must agree. (ie 1st person plural then 2nd person plural or 1st person singular then 2nd person singular) It seems that this rule would be so in any language.  However, it is not so in the original Bible language.  Deity is never addressed in 2nd person plural as are men.  Why, I do not know.  I can think of two possible reasons.  One reason possibly is to show a plurality in one where Deity is concerned.  I don't believe this to be the reason as many times the singular 1st person is used with the singular 2nd person as shown above in Psm 69:5-6.  Another reason possibly could be reverence.  I can find no source to explain this.  However, the fact remains that in God's word Deity is never addressed in the 2nd person plural!

Modernist, who contend for the perverted versions (in pronouns) must also recognize that even the modernist translators recognized the need to distinguish reverence in 2nd person as they capitalize the Y in you when Deity is addressed.

In some of these perversions the Y is lower case when the Son of God is addressed.  It is interesting that they would deny the Deity of the Son of God in this way.  And I wonder with the perverted pronouns of the modernistic versions if it has not contributed to the denial of our Lord's Deity by some.  But the questions truly arises. How are we going to capitalize the Y in your, you to show reverence when you address God orally?  The created speaks up to the Creator not down to Him or on the same level.  The only way this can be done in our English language is to use proper pronouns that are set aside to address Deity.

In the 1st person we address God as our Father.  However, when growing up I never called my Dad father.  I called him Dad or Daddy and addressed him in the 1st person as Dad or Daddy.  My wife did the same.  I have asked a number of brethren in this part of the country if they called their parent father.  I have not yet found one in this area that said yes.  All say they called him Dad or Daddy.  This is a name of endearment, respect and honor for our earthly parent.  This is our common way to address this man.  In the second person our common address to this individual is you.

Now, do you believe addressing the Heavenly Father as Dad or Daddy is okay?  Some would say yes as I have heard that some have begun public prayer in local churches of Christ (liberal) as "Hello Dad" and "sir" and "Dear Daddy" and "Good morning God".  I heard of ( I suppose a sectarian) that called the Father "Our cool Daddy".

Now, all of these may sound okay to you.  To me they smack of irreverence and not only alarm me but disgust me.  If you don't see a difference in the way we address Deity in the 1st person I cannot help you.  But if you see a difference, then you realize that even though the way we speak to our earthly fathers which shows respect and honor; the same words dishonor Deity.  You also see that we do not address Deity in speech as we address men.

So, who says we should not address Deity as Daddy or Dad or in some other term.  Is it a standard of men? It sure is!  But can't we see that when we address Deity some words we use are more reverential than others?  By whose standard? Man's of course.  So some would cry Pharisee, binding traditions of men, spying out our liberties, legalist.  Others would say some terms are just more reverent that others.  Surely, we see that we do not address Deity as we do men.

Well, what about the 2nd person? The singular personal pronouns thee, thou,thy and thine are not the way we address men but have been reserved for addressing Deity.  By whose standard?  Man's of course.  (Unless and except you respect the way the Bible addresses Deity in the 2nd person with the different Greek or Hebrew word that is singular).  There are two reasons for using the most reverential 2nd person words.  The fist reason is reverence.  Now, I am aware that some do not think the words thee and thou etc are more reverent that You.  I also am aware that some think Daddy is just as reverent as Father.  Consistency demands that you would think both, Daddy and you are reverent or irreverent.  If not then why not?  Some say "it just don't sound good to use Daddy.  Precisely the point!  We see in the 1st person that Daddy is not as reverent as Father and that if we are concerned with reverence in speech we will not address Deity as we do man.  This would be true in the 1st person or the 2nd person.

Insert Daddy for Father in Jesus' prayers in Jn 17 and Matt 6 and see if it sounds any different to you!  If modernist truly wanted the more modern and up-to-date NKJV they should have changed Father to Daddy.  At least this only slaps at reverence and does not pervert the singular and plural of the original Hebrew and Greek.  Only one error (irreverence) would have been involved in changing Father to Daddy.  However, 2 errors are committed in changing the thee, thou, thy and thine to you. (irreverence and perversion of plurality and singularity).

It is strange that the you-God people who sing the songs with thee and thou will many times say things like "we thank you for thy word". People must learn the you-God manner of praying and singing just as they learn the more reverent.  I believe reverence in speech (song and prayer) must be taught that people can learn.  To teach others what is reverent and what is not; and to teach others the great necessity of reverence is somehow considered wrong by modernist and binding archaisms.  They do not want to hear it.  They seem to think other things are more important.  They condemn those who want them to observe these things that are reverent up-to-date speech and dress where serving God are concerned.

Now, back to Phariseeism and hypocrisy.  If we would dress to show reverence and not speak to show reverence who is the hypocrite?  If we would dress to show reverence and condemn other brethren for insisting on the most reverential speech who is the hypocrite?  If we would decry calling the Father, Daddy and then condemn brethren for wanting the most reverent 2nd person words who is the Pharisee?  Verily the legs of the lame are not equal Prov 26:7.

Traditions of men?  One brother boast " I obeyed the gospel when I was 17 years old.  My Dad was an elder and my Grandad was an elder and I have always said (you in prayer)". This sure sounds like a tradition of men to me. You see, friends what's good for the goose is good for the gander.  If one is a tradition of men so is the other.  This is not the issue!

Surely, we see a difference in speech and dress where reverence is concerned.  If you truly can not see I don't believe you need to worry about missing heaven, because you must not be responsible.  But if you do see, and would strive for that which is most reverential you will seek the most reverential when approaching Deity.

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