What Does Thou Mean In The Bible

The Literary Use of Thou

Thou is one of the oldest and most commonly used pronouns in history and can be found in literature as far back as the Middle Ages. The pronoun is used to express familiarity and solidarity between author and reader or speaker and listener. In the Bible, the use of thou is a way of addressing the divine and creating a sense of closeness, faith, and intimacy between the reader and God. While other English pronouns, such as he and she, reflect a certain distance between the speaker or writer and those they are referring to, thou connotes a sense of closeness and familiarity.

Thou’s Contextual Use in the Bible

In the King James Version of the Bible, thou is mainly used in the books of Psalms and Prophets, which is understandable given the importance of prayer in these books. Throughout the Bible, thou is also used to convey intimate details of conversations between God and other characters. Examples of this can be seen in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, God uses the pronoun to express his love and protection of the Hebrew people, while in the New Testament, Jesus often refers to God using the pronoun thou. By using it, Jesus emphasizes his closeness to God.

Thou as an Imperative Address

Another way in which thou is used frequently in the Bible is as an imperative address. This use of thou is often done as a means of expressing strong emotions such as anger or disappointment. For example, in the book of Revelation, God uses thou when addressing the people of Israel, in an effort to admonish them for their bad behavior. The use of the imperative address serves to emphasize the urgency of the situation and to compel the listener to take immediate action.

Thou as an Inclusive Pronoun

In addition to being used as an imperative address, thou is also used in the Bible as an inclusive pronoun. This use of the pronoun is meant to unify a group of people, both in terms of identity and action. By using the pronoun “thou,” God is reminding the reader that they are all a part of one body and that everyone must come together in order to fulfill a desired outcome. This use of thou is quite powerful and is often used to emphasize the importance of faith and belief in God.

The Significance of Thou in the Bible

The frequent use of thou in the Bible implies its great significance. By using the pronoun, God is emphasizing his closeness with the reader and emphasizing the importance of faith and belief. The pronoun expresses both God’s love and his desire for justice. It also serves to emphasize God’s desire for people to come together and be unified in their faith, trust, and loyalty. As such, the use of thou in the Bible should be seen as not only expressive of a close relationship between God and the reader, but also indicative of a unifying philosophy that believers should strive to live by.

The Importance of Language in Expressing Beliefs

The use of thy in the Bible also speaks to the importance of language in expressing beliefs. A language, like any other living entity, is constantly evolving. It is only through our use of language that we are able to express and convey our beliefs and values, and to evolve further. In using the pronoun “thou” in the Bible, God is expressing the importance of language and the significance of using words to communicate both intimately and effectively.

Thou in Contemporary Times

Though thou is no longer as commonly used in contemporary English as it was in centuries past, it is still used by some religious individuals as a sign of respect and closeness. The pronoun is often used in hymns, prayers, and other forms of spiritual expression and serves to remind believers of the close relationship that God desires with them. Additionally, the pronoun has been embraced by those who study and write poetry. Because the pronoun is so nostalgic, it is often incorporated into lyrical writing as a means of expressing strong emotions.

Using Thou to Foster Compassion and Intimacy within Communities

Given the various uses of the pronoun thou outlined above, it is easy to see why it has remained so popular within religious and spiritual circles. Aside from being expressive of a close connection between God and the reader, the pronoun also serves to foster compassion and intimacy within communities. By using the pronoun in everyday conversations, believers are able to remind one another of the shared values of faith, trust, and loyalty that often define religious communities.

Using Thou to Honor Historical Figures and Events

In addition to its use in everyday conversations, the pronoun thou is also used to honor prominent figures and events throughout history. This use of the pronoun is especially common in speeches, sermons, and other forms of religious expression, as it serves to remind people of the importance of faith and trust. By using the pronoun to honor heroes and important events, the speaker is able to remind their listeners of the hope and faith that was once present, and the shared values upon which their communities were built.

Using Thou in Poetry to Express Emotions

Since thou is no longer in common usage, many contemporary poets take the opportunity to make use of its nostalgic properties. Often, the pronoun is used to express strong emotions such as grief, sorrow, and joy. By using the pronoun, poets are able to evoke a sense of nostalgia, while still capturing the underlying emotions of their poem. Additionally, the use of the pronoun emphasizes the timelessness of the emotions being expressed, reminding readers of the shared experiences that can be found across generations.


Though thou may no longer be in common usage, its importance in the Bible is undeniable. By using the pronoun, God is emphasizing the importance of faith and trust, as well as the closeness between him and the reader. While the pronoun may not be used as often in contemporary English, its nostalgic properties make it particularly powerful in expressions of emotion, religious expression, and honoring of historical figures. As such, thou remains an important part of religious and spiritual discourse, even in the present day.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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