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Redemption: Languages, Pentecost, and God’s Plan


Microsoft is currently developing software that can translate to and from 26 different languages. You work with the device for about an hour so that it “learns” how to sound like you, and then it can translate anything you say into other languages, while still sounding like you. Many are eagerly awaiting the arrival of this software in the global marketplace.

God had His own way of addressing the multiplicity of languages present on the Day of Pentecost. As the creator of language, He empowered the believers to speak fluently in foreign languages (vv. 1–4), that is, languages that they did not previously know but which were known to the multinational pilgrims in Jerusalem (vv. 5–12). They had come for the Jewish holiday of Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks, a harvest festival that took place 50 days after the Passover Sabbath. Meantime, the believers were awaiting the promised Holy Spirit (see John 14:16–17). His arrival was manifested as a wind and as tongues of fire resting on each of them, and enabled them to preach the gospel in many languages. This was a historically verifiable event with thousands of witnesses, but that didn’t prevent some from offering absurd explanations (v. 13). Peter proclaimed that this event fulfilled a prophecy by Joel, and went on to preach about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Pentecost makes a fitting counterweight to the Tower of Babel (Oct. 4). At Babel, languages were multiplied in order to confuse and thwart human pride; at Pentecost, languages were multiplied in order to preach the good news of salvation in Christ. The diversity of languages demonstrated God’s love for all people—people of all languages will be praising God in heaven (Rev. 7:9).

Apply the Word

Sharing the gospel across cultures and languages is part of what Christians are called to do (Matt. 28:19–20). It was Paul’s driving “ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known” (Rom. 15:20), and it is the driving ambition of many missionaries, evangelists, and Bible translators today! How are you spreading the good news of Jesus?

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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