I was reading the letter to the Ephesians when it dawned on me that Paul almost always uses the plural form of the word you. It was one of those forehead-smacking moments: Paul was, after all, writing to a community of believers. I had to go back and start reading the whole book again.
That plural you sure changes things! It highlights how unaccustomed I am (or perhaps we are?) to thinking collectively. When Paul says, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1), he ’s saying, “All of you, together, are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you as a church have been called.” That’s a far bigger command than just saying I need to watch my behavior. I am responsible for more than my own spiritual health.
When we read, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31), it means we’re on the hook for putting away bitterness, wrath and anger within the body of Christ. You can start with you, and I can start with me—but neither of us can end there. We’re called to something bigger.
Today individualism is king. It’s challenging to read Paul’s epistles with a plural you. They’re not merely missives that show how I can serve God better, but guides to how we as Christians should live together, and how we can grow in faith.
Note: The quick way to find out if you is meant to be plural or singular is to check the KJV. Thou is singular and means you personally; you and ye are plural, and are meant in the collective sense.