What are the differences between "unto" and "to"? It seems that in many contexts where the word "unto" is used, "to" could be substituted and would be perfectly correct. It reminds me of flammable/inflammable, where "flammable" came into use because the "in" in "inflammable" caused people to think that it meant not inflammable. Is this a similar situation?
The origin of unto, as reported from the Oxford English Dictionary is the following:
ORIGIN: from until preposition with to preposition replacing northern equivalent till preposition.
Therefore, the relation between to and unto is not the same relation there is, e.g., between touchable and untouchable.
One of the meaning of unto reported from the same dictionary is until, till. The dictionary reports also that unto indicates "regular recurrence within specified units of time, as day unto day."
Doctor Manley…praises Kate unto this day.—I. Maclaren
In the King James "unto" seems a bit like placing something like a gift or idea or anything with some kind of substance unto the person, place or thing/idea of acceptance. exp..."the river flows over the banks and unto the road" or "I wrote a letter unto you" Now the word "to" is more of an expression in grammer in which the person, place or thing/idea is directly or indirectly expressed. exp..."I went into my room to write a letter unto you" I went to write unto you.