Apr 18

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The New Testament is not just for reading, but for study. In the years which I have given to study, I have had to change my mind about a number of things due to having studied. Please keep in mind, by study, I do not mean just reading. Reading is necessary and good, but it is not study.
Before a person sits down to study, it is good to read the material two or three times. This allows you to become acquainted with the material you intend to study. But, just what is this thing called study? The word “study” as used here means: 1) the devotion of time and attention to acquiring knowledge and 2) a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or material. In order to really know a subject, to really know a book, or to really know some material; many hours of study, devotion of time and attention given to a detailed investigation and analysis must be done. There are no shortcuts!
When I write there are no shortcuts, it is not meant to imply that there are no helps which may cut the time. For instance, you may read what another has written on the subject, but you still must read and study the material for yourself. In doing this, you are using their time spent in studying the material.
Now to study the subject of pronouns. At times we read through a chapter of one of the books of the New Testament any number of times; while never noticing a change in pronouns. Then, we pick up a book written by another and the writer points out the change in the use of pronouns. We go back and read the material again and there it is, only this time, it jumps out at us. We look at it and wonder how we could have missed it all those times we read it before.
So, what about the pronouns? How many times have you read Acts chapter sixteen? As you start to read verse one, reading through verse one notice the pronoun used by Luke the writer of “The Acts of the Apostles.” In verse four he writes: “And as they went through the cities, …” This pronoun does not include Luke, as he was not with Paul at this time. Luke does not say so in so many words, but by the simple use of the pronoun “they,” he excludes himself. Luke was not with Paul at this time! As you continue to read, verse 6 has the pronoun “they,” the same is true of verse seven and in verse eight it reads: “And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.” In verses nine and ten Paul has the “vision,” then, in verse eleven, notice a change in pronouns: “Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia,…”
In studying these few verses, did you learn anything? If you read, or more correctly, if you studied, you noticed that Luke the writer included himself by using the personal pronoun “we” for the first time in verse eleven, when he wrote: “Therefore loosing from Troas, we …” Now here is a simple question: Where did Luke join the apostle and his company? Answer, it was at Troas! Luke has told us a story in pronouns! How unlikely is this, Luke will use this same method to teach us again. If we continue to read through Acts of the Apostles, Luke will continue to use the personal pronouns “we” and “us” for some time.
Before continuing to read, let me ask this question: “Who was the first located preacher in Philippi?” The first thought that comes to mind, how could anyone know just a thing? Would it surprise you, if I were to say, I know who the first located preacher was in the city of Philippi? Unless you have studied, or read what another has written on the subject, you are surprised that I would write such a thing, you may even think that I am mad! However, Luke identifies the first located preacher in Philippi by his use of pronouns! Just how important is it to notice and understand the use of pronouns that appear in a text? Well, that is the point of this first article in this series.
As we continue to read through Acts chapter sixteen, Luke will continue to use the personal pronouns “we.” In verse twelve he wrote: “And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.” I have bolded the personal pronoun just so you will not miss it! This means that Luke is with Paul as they enter the city of Philippi. The last personal pronoun, which included Luke, is found on verse seventeen: “The same followed Paul and us, …” Paul and Silas were then put in jail, the conversion of the jailer and family takes place; then, the chapter ends with these words: “And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed” (Verse 40). Luke never uses the personal pronoun which includes himself, but Paul and company departed Philippi without him. Thus, Luke stayed behind and became the first located preacher in Philippi.
Finally, once more by noticing the personal pronouns, we also learn that Paul went back to Philippi and Luke joins the company; read these words: “And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days” (Acts 20:6). Did you know that Luke was part of that worship upon the first day of the week, when he wrote: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (verse 7)? No, more than likely you have never thought about Luke being part of this before!
You see, so much can be learned simply by noticing pronouns! What else can we learn? We shall see in the following articles.

— Frank R. Williams

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