May 09

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Understanding the use of pronouns may become more difficult when, in the context, words appear which are amenable to those being personally spoken to, but also are amenable to all. In the last article, we studied John chapters fourteen through sixteen, and the subject was the “Comforter.” The text was: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). It was proven in the article, that the pronoun “you” does not refer to anyone living today. It referred to the apostles of Christ.
Yet, in this same context, Jesus spoke words which apply to all; those living then and all living today. As a matter of fact, the words could have been said in the Garden of Eden! In other words, the words which are here referred to are amenable and applied to people of all time. So, what are these words? “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). It is always true, the person who loves God (Jesus being Deity) will keep his commandments! This was true of Adam, of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Moses, of Daniel, of John, who baptized, of John the apostle of Christ, it was true of the churches of Christ in the first century, and it is true of those living today. It does not matter the context, it does not matter to whom the words are being spoken and neither does it matter who is saying them, it will always be true: ““If ye love me, keep my commandments,” when the “me” and the “my” refer to God, to Jesus!
This just points out the truth, as one reads and studies the word of God, be it the Old or New Testament, care must be given to the pronouns in the text. For example, Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to the “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:1-6). Clearly he is speaking and commanding the twelve, but are there things within the context which would apply to us today? What about these words: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16)? Is it not true, Christians should, as we do the work of the church (Eph.1:23; 3:9-10) in teaching the lost, are going “in the midst of wolves,” but we should be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves?” Yes we should! So once more we have found words spoken to one small group of men, the twelve disciples, which are also true of the church of our Lord today. There are a number of other points in this context which have application to us today, but there are also some things within the context which do not apply to anyone but the twelve disciples who are named in verses two through four. Look at verse 19: “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.” Personally, I confess that I would be a much better teacher and preacher if the Holy Spirit would put within my mind the words I needed and the “how” I should speak; but alas it is not to be! These words applied to the twelve and not to anyone living today. Yet, there are some who think otherwise, but the evidence is missing! So, what does this mean to the person reading and studying the New Testament? It means we must read and study with care; even great care, as we notice the pronouns appearing in the context!
Let us look at a few other statements in the context of Matthew chapter ten. Having seen that Jesus is speaking to the twelve disciples, of whom eleven would become the apostles of Christ; there are other very important points that apply to all the disciples of Christ today; the church of our Lord. Throughout history, Christians have suffered persecution, and some have been put to death. Therefore, fear has filled their hearts and Jesus addressed this subject with the twelve disciples, personally. He said to them: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (The word “hell” is “Gehenna,” the eternal place of punishment)” (Matt. 10:28). Do these words have any application to the Christian of today? Yes, very much! In our world today, Christians are persecuted and some are being put to death. Should these take the words of Jesus personally; or should they fear man to the point of denying their faith in Christ? You see, even though the words were spoken to the twelve disciples, they have application to all who would be faithful to Christ throughout the age of Christ.
So, we have learned that even in a context where the pronouns refer to others, we may find words within the context that have application to others; even those living today. We must read, but we must also study and as we do so, we must pay attention to the pronouns used in the text and context.

— Frank R. Williams

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