May 30

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In this article about pronouns, attention is called to the words of the apostle Peter. However, before looking his at words, here is a question: “How many times have you read a passage and not noticed that the writer changes pronouns?” More than likely you do not know, having not noticed the change. Just a change in pronouns, also changes what the writer is saying.
At times the overall truth is not changed, but our understanding of the truth being written is changed. Such changes are important to the person who truly desires to know the truth. Let us remember the words of Jesus to those Jews who believed on him: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Realizing it is truth and only truth that has the ability to make us truly free; truth is all important to the lover of truth. Therefore, even if we understand the overall truth on a subject, but fail to see the truth being taught in a verse, we must be willing to learn and change our minds about what the writer is teaching. So, with this challenge before us, we are ready to study the words of Peter.
In the open verses of Second Peter, he wrote: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:3-4). So, how many times have you read these verses? Maybe you have read these verses hundreds of times or even more? Have you ever noticed that Peter changes pronouns as he writes? He goes from “us” to “ye” and this change makes a big difference in what he is saying! It has been said, that confession is good for the soul, so allow me to confess, I have failed to see this change in years gone by, but then one day I read with more care and there it was, “us” and “ye” and what Peter was writing became clearer.
First, we need to identify the antecedent to the first pronoun “us.” There is no one else with Peter as he writes: “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (verse 1). The pronoun “ye” must refer to those to whom he wrote; therefore, they are not included in the “us.” Would it surprise you, if I were to write, there is no antecedient in the context for the plural pronoun “us?” Therefore, it must be an understood antecedent! It is understood by the action of what Peter writes: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” Let us stop just here and notice the words “hath given,” (doreomai) which expresses the perfect tense, indicating past completed action with an ongoing effect, where the emphasis is on the effect. The past action is when the Holy Spirit guided the apostles into “all truth,” which continues to have a present effect. To whom did the Lord give “all things that pertain unto life and godliness?” Your first response might be, well, don’t we today have “all things that pertain unto life and godliness?” Yes, we do, but it was not given unto us in the way it was given unto the apostles of Christ, and this is the key to understanding Peter’s words. You see, the apostles of Christ were guided, directly and personally, into all truth, “all things pertain unto life and godliness” by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the pronoun “us” refers to the apostles of Christ!
Second, this brings us the pronoun “ye,” of which Peter writes: “that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” That is, by “all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” which the apostles of Christ received directly by means of the Holy Spirit; we (“ye”) having heard are able to become “partakers of the divine nature!” Thus, our being able to “become partakers of the divine nature” is by means of the words the apostles preached, as they were guided by the Holy Spirit! Here once more is the past action with the present effect!
Therefore, by means of the preaching and writing of the apostles of Christ, the New Testament, we today have “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” and by these things we have the ability to become “partakers of the divine nature!” You see, the end result has not changed as to your understanding of this great text, but you now, hopefully, have a better understanding of the context by noticing Peter’s change in the uses of pronouns!
Yes, pronouns have a story to tell as they lead to a better and fuller understanding of the truth which shall make us free when obeyed.

– – Frank R. Williams

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