5374 languages
Dictionary of Bible Themes

Dictionary of Bible Themes  »  5000 Humanity  »  5200 Human civilisation  »  5374 languages

The means of communication shared in common by groups of people. Scripture teaches that the diversity of languages in the world is a result of sin, but the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts broke down the barriers of language and nationality.

The origin of different languages

Genesis 11:1-9 See also Genesis 10:2-5,20,30-31

The close relationship between language and national identity

Isaiah 19:18 See also Nehemiah 13:23-27; Zechariah 8:23; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 10:11; Revelation 11:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 17:15

Language barriers

Nehemiah 13:23-24 See also Deuteronomy 28:49-50; Psalm 81:5; Jeremiah 5:15; Ezekiel 3:5-6; Daniel 1:4; 1 Corinthians 14:10-11

The diversity of languages in the Persian empire

Esther 8:9 See also Ezra 4:7; Esther 1:22; Esther 3:12

God's revelation not limited to any single language

Acts 2:1-11 See also Psalm 19:1-4; Acts 10:44-48


Aramaic in the OT

2 Kings 18:26 pp Isaiah 36:11 Aramaic is a language related to Hebrew, known from Assyrian times. Under the influence of the Persian empire Aramaic was the diplomatic language in later OT times. In Palestine, by the time of the NT, it was spoken widely, having largely displaced Hebrew as the everyday language of the Jews. See also Ezra 4:7 The text of Ezr 4:8-6:18 and 7:12-26 is in Aramaic; Jeremiah 10:11 The text of Jer 10:11 is in Aramaic; Daniel 2:4 The text of Da 2:4-7:28 is in Aramaic.

By NT times Aramaic had become the common language of Palestinian Jews

John 20:16 See also John 5:2; John 19:13,17,20; Acts 21:40-22:2; Acts 26:14

Aramaic expressions found in the NT

Matthew 27:46 pp Mark 15:34 See also Matthew 5:22; Mark 5:41; Mark 7:34; Mark 14:36; John 20:16; Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 16:22 fn; Galatians 4:6


2 Kings 18:26 pp Isaiah 36:11 Hebrew was the language of Israel in the period of the OT. By the time of the NT, it had been partially displaced in everyday use by Aramaic. See also 2 Kings 18:28 pp 2 Chronicles 32:18 pp Isaiah 36:13; Revelation 9:11; Revelation 16:16


John 19:20 Greek was the major cultural and commercial language of the eastern Mediterranean world. The NT was written in this language, ensuring the rapid spread of the gospel in this region. See also Acts 21:37-39; Revelation 9:11

See also

1440  revelation, creation
3242  Holy Spirit, baptism with
3251  Holy Spirit, filling with
3257  Holy Spirit, gift of
5547  speech, power of
5585  towers
5627  word
7972  tongues, gift of

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