Sunday, May 6, 2012

Singular vs. Plural Signitification

Jason Brown recently argued that the singular implied pronoun "thou" in Eph. 5: 14 showed that not all who are "among the dead" are addressed, for had they been, the plural would have been used.  He says this is a call to a special group within the larger group of "the dead."  But, he does not see how this argument backfires on him.  His interpretation still interprets the singular as applicable to more than one!  Does he not say that Christ is speaking to all the elect?  Is that more than one?  Does he not say that this command to awake and to rise up from among the dead is directed to all sleeping elect?   To all who are asleep among the dead?

Brown's argument is found in these words:

"As can be seen from the textus receptus of Ephesians 5:14, 'ho' (looks like the 'o'), which is before katheudon, and katheudon itself, are singular. 'Ho' is the singular version of the article 'the'. However, 'ton nekron' is plural, 'ton' being the plural form of the article. This alone proves that the command to 'awake' and 'arise' is directed discretely among the dead to them that sleep, the grammar does not allow that these commands are made to all the dead."

The reason for the singular use of "thou" is because the call is personal and directed at the individuals within the group called "the dead."  Christ says to you, said Paul, who are among the dead, i.e. who are dead, to rise and awake from that condition.  The address is to anyone who is asleep among the dead, i.e. to anyone who is dead.

Many examples in Scripture can be given that show how the singular is used to designate a singular compound group, or as a plural noun, and yet the does not exclude the many who compose the group.  I will give these examples that come to my mind.

"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel (singular) is, that they (plural - all Israelites) might be saved."  (Romans 10: 1)

"Notwithstanding she (singular) shall be saved in childbearing, if they (plural - the women) continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." 

Further, all through I Cor. chapter eleven Paul uses the singular "the woman" when what he says is applicable to all women.  So, the fact that the words of Eph. 5: 14 is addressed to the one (singular) who is dead, it is applicable to any who are dead.

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