Did Jesus ever speak in tongues during His earthly ministry? If so, where is in in Scriptures?
Tongues as a Language
The Greek word used for “tongues” is “glōssa” and means “the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations” so it is a distinct and established language. Some people still use the vernacular of “Do you speak the native tongue” and everyone knows they mean “Do you speak the native or local language.” This is the context of the word tongue when used on the Day of Pentecost where there were “devout men from every nation” (Acts 2:5) when suddenly “at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6) and the crowd couldn’t figure it out why because they knew that these men were Galileans and ask, “And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues (languages) the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:8-11). They were all speaking a known tongue and understood only by those who also happened to speak it. This is the fulfillment of Isaiah 28:11 which Paul quotes in 1st Corinthians 14:21: “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” The Jews, for the most part, did not listen to the gospel of Christ nor would they hear Jesus command to repent and believe (Mark 1:15).
We know that Jesus could read Hebrew because He read out of the Book of Isaiah once (Luke 4:17) and so He must have known Aramaic as He said “eloi eloi lama sabachthani” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matt 27:46). Using Aramaic was not at all uncommon then and Jesus used it from time to time during His earthly ministry (Mark 5:41; 7:34; 14:36) and Aramaic was more common in Nazareth where Jesus lived. A Jewish boy’s education must have included learning the Hebrew language because that’s what the Scriptures were written in. It is possible that Jesus also knew the Greek language since there were a considerable number of Greeks in Judea at the time. He may have known more languages than these but we just don’t know beyond what has already been mentioned. We do know that in the first century, there were many different people and languages and Aramaic may have been the primary language used because like the Hebrew and Arabic languages, they are closely related, both being a Semitic language.
I could not find any Scriptural support for Jesus ever speaking in tongues. We do have Scriptural support for Him speaking in Aramaic and He must have known how to speak the Hebrew language because that’s the language the teachers taught it in. Beyond that, Jesus never spoke in tongues or in an unknown language. He spoke in the known languages of Aramaic, Hebrew, and probably Greek, but we have no biblical evidence for Jesus ever speaking in tongues.
The Bible is plain enough to understand and it speaks to us. By His Word we know that God tells all men “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31) and no one knows when that “fixed day” is. Jesus told His disciples and He tells us “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47) even if you have to start with your next door neighbor.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.