The Bible is a wonderful and curious book, full of wisdom and challenges. But we can often miss the full power of the text because of one fundamental problem – our Bibles are in English. Often, significant things get a bit lost in translation.
One example that I will talk about in this blog is the use of the word ‘you’, specifically in 1 Cor 10:13 –
You have never been tempted to sin in any different way than other people. God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted more than you can take. But when you are tempted, He will make a way for you to keep from falling into sin.
Understanding the right context for this verse helps us to not take it out of the original context. But the nerdy bit first; let’s learn some New Testament Greek. This will help us understand what is really being said here.
You – σύ (su) is singular
You – ῡ̔μεῖς (humeis) is plural
What we really need is a Texan translation that includes the word ‘Y’all’, but that might be a bit tricky so it is important that we try and be aware for ourselves as we read scripture. Paul was often writing to groups of people or churches, so would often be referring to the group. With this in mind, some of these verses become a lot more about the body of the church rather than the individuals in it. Often, we read verses like this in the context of our own lives, and think ‘God won’t put anything in front of me that I can’t handle!’. Ten minutes later you’re drowning in guilt because you’ve done that thing again that you were trying so hard not to do. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point!
What does it all mean!
So then what does this verse really point to? I think it is the importance and value of the community you are a part of, like your church, and what true accountability looks like. Paul gets that in order to overcome the things that are hard you have to overcome them together. This is particularly difficult for us Brits that are the head down, keep calm and carry on-ers.
True accountability and support is hard. It requires sacrifice and a willingness to admit that we are failing or struggling. But the benefits of small groups that you can grow with can have a massive personal impact. Personally, finding close friends that I could talk to about areas of my life that were not ‘submitted to Christ’ have been the most influential part of my faith development.
I realise that there are many of you that have been hurt in churches. But my plea to you is; try again. Maybe not the same place or with the same people, find a community that is right for you. The ‘y’all’ is more important than we realise, and we need to improve this in UK churches. Paul was definitely on to something when he wrote these letters, his passion for the church would not have changed even 2000 years later. Do faith together because it gets tough in isolation.
Rob is a Regional Development Worker for the Midlands, and he takes a lead on the SCM Connect Project. A former student, Youth Worker and musician, he’s a big fan of community (the concept and the US sitcom).