In Luke 22:31-32, it is written,

English Translation

31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you (ὑμᾶς), that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee (σοῦ), that thy (σου) faith fail not: and when thou (σύ) art converted, strengthen thy (σου) brethren. KJV, 1769

Greek Text

ΛΑʹ εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος, Σίμων Σίμων ἰδού, ὁ Σατανᾶς ἐξῃτήσατο ὑμᾶς τοῦ σινιάσαι ὡς τὸν σῖτον ΛΒʹ ἐγὼ δὲ ἐδεήθην περὶ σοῦ ἵνα μὴ ἐκλείπῃ ἡ πίστις σου καὶ σύ ποτε ἐπιστρέψας στήριξον τοὺς ἀδελφούς σου TR, 1550

What is the significance of the 2nd person, plural number, personal pronoun ὑμᾶς when the remainder of the pronouns are all in the singular number? The Lord Jesus Christ was speaking to Peter, so to whom does ὑμᾶς refer?

2 Answers 2


I think the answer to your question is very simple: in verse 31 Jesus is referring to the disciples as a whole (ὑμᾶς, “you” plural), while in verse 32 he is addressing Simon/Peter (σύ, “thou” singular). You are aware, I trust, that in KJV the words “to have”, and the second “you” (in “to sift you as wheat”) are printed in italics, indicating that they are not in the original text, but were added by the translators to clarify the meaning.

  • 1
    You might edit this post to include the NET Bible's translation: 31 “Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Oct 9, 2015 at 13:59
  • @rhetorician. Thank you for the reference. I personally prefer Jacobean English ("thou/thee" singular, "ye/you" plural"), to Southern US English ("you" singular, "you'll" plural).
    – fdb
    Oct 9, 2015 at 18:46
  • Thou mayest doest whatsoe'er thou wilt! (Smiley face emoticon!) Don Oct 9, 2015 at 21:16

“Do you not see that St. Peter is the foundation of the church, selected to shepherd it, that those who believe in his faith will never lose their faith, and that he was ordered to have compassion on his brethren and to strengthen them? As for Christ’s words, “I prayed for you, that you not lose your faith; but you, have compassion on your brethren, at that time, and strengthen them,” [Luke 22:32-33] we do not think that he meant St. Peter himself. Rather, he meant nothing other than the holders [bishops “popes”] of the seat of St. Peter, that is, Rome.” Theodore Abu Qurrah, bishop of Harran (Modern Turkey near Syria Border) who lived in the 9th century AD, Discerning the True Church, B164, trans. John C. Lamoreaux

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    Interesting comment -- but the problem here is that it has no bearing on the ὑμᾶς of Lk 22:31, which is the entire point of the question.
    – Dɑvïd
    Oct 8, 2016 at 8:50

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