This is the fifth article in a twelve-part series that develops a theology of language by examining what the Bible says about this topic.
Language is meaningful. There are numerous examples in Scripture about how people responded to hearing their mother tongue (the language they grew up speaking). Acts 2 records the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, they became able to speak in the languages of the people who had come to Jerusalem from all across the known world. In verse 8 the people stated how amazed they were that they were all able to hear the apostles speaking in their own language. That event preceded Peter’s sermon, which resulted in three thousand people being saved that day (v. 41). In Acts 21 there was rioting in the temple which resulted in Paul’s arrest. Paul was able to silence the rioters by speaking to them in Hebrew (21:40; 22:2). The most powerful way to communicate with someone is in the language they know best. These are two examples which confirm to me the importance of reaching people through their heart language. These stories demonstrate the importance of translating the Bible into all the languages of the world. No matter how many languages you learn, none will be as meaningful to you as your native language.