Greek Word Study: “Eautois”
Eautois comes from the Greek word “Eautou” which means “of himself” or “his own.” It is in 3rd person, its plural, and masculine. Eautois is also a reflexive pronoun which basically means it ends in “selves” or “self” and refers back to the original agent. In English, Eautois is usually translated “themselves” or “yourselves”, or “your own selves,” depending on the context.
Why is it important to look this word up? When translated as “yourselves” Eautois can be looked at in two different ways. Either the collective whole doing some sort of action to each other (one another), or the collective whole doing some sort of action to their own selves. In Eph. 5:19 we have a verse that tells us to sing. It says “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” The words “one another” is in the verse because the translation feels the context demands it. The better translation is “yourselves”.
There are two different concepts one could get from interpreting this verse. 1) “Speak to yourselves as a collective whole (aka: ‘one another’) in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…” or 2) “speak to your own selves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (as in, each person in group speaking to themselves ‘individually’ as opposed to one another).” The context of Ephesians both, immediately and as a whole, does not seem to be exclusively “assembly.” This is especially true in chapter 5.
The purpose is to figure out (if possible) if the word Eautois is meaning “own self” or “one another” so that, theologically, we can determine if the praising we are doing is assembly only (in this context) or a general “Christian living” situation that one might do on their own. It is of my belief that Paul is telling the readers to speak to their own self. This word is plural not because they are commanded to speak to each other, but because Paul is giving a command to a collection of people to do to themselves as individuals. Practically speaking, I rarely hear the words other people are singing whenever I sing at the same time. It makes more since to me practically, contextually, and semantically that he is only giving a suggestion here for self-edification. Does this mean that I believe one cannot sing to/with another? Not at all. I am simply speaking of this specific context. – Jesse
Also see: Sing and Make Melody in Your Heart