Did Jesus Speak in Tongues?

Have you ever considered the question: "Did Jesus speak in tongues?" Let's dive into the controversy surrounding this thought provoking question and examine the evidence from language experts and biblical passages. Explore the languages Jesus likely spoke, from Aramaic to Greek, and look at instances where His words were translated.

We'll also dive deeper into moments when Jesus groaned, sighed, and rejoiced, and consider whether these could be indications of exercising the gift of speaking in tongues. Join me on this journey to uncover the truth behind this fascinating aspect of Jesus' prayer life.

What Languages Did Jesus Speak?

By Don Bell | Reading time: 6 minutes.

Concept Photo for Topic Did Jesus Speak in TonguesUncovering the Mystery: Did Jesus Speak in Tongues?
(Source: © shyrokowa/Depositphotos.com)

Many Christians wonder if Jesus prayed in tongues, as some Bible teachers formerly taught that certain Scriptures indicate Him speaking in non-translatable, languages that required interpretation.

However, most biblical language experts now agree that Jesus was most likely being quoted in languages He had learned which were translated for Greek readers of the gospel accounts.

During His childhood, Jesus would have learned to speak the Galilean dialect of Aramaic. It's also known that he was fluent in reading Hebrew from a Torah scroll at the synagogue (Luke 4:16).

Moreover, It's highly likely that Jesus spoke Greek while working as a craftsman in Nazareth. This is because Greek was a commonly used language for commerce in the surrounding region.

In addition, He would have turned to the Septuagint (LXX) for both Torah study and personal reading. The Septuagint was the affordable, commonly used Greek translation of The Old Testament then.

Evidence of Jesus Speaking Learned Languages

Jesus Speaking Hebrew and Aramaic

The following scriptural passages reveal Jesus speaking in known languages that He had learned, not unknown tongues:

  • Matthew 27:45-46 records Jesus crying out in Hebrew, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"1 which means "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
  • Mark 5:40-42 records Jesus saying in Aramaic, "Talitha, cumi,"1 translated as "Little girl, I say to you, arise." Also in Mark 7:31-35, Jesus says, "Ephphatha"1 in Hebrew/Aramaic meaning "Be opened," when healing a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech.

The Translation of Rabboni

According to certain Bible scholars, if Jesus had not spoken in tongues, there would be no need for a translation.

However, that's not the case. John 20:16 recounts Mary Magdalene meeting the resurrected Christ at the Garden Tomb, where she addresses Him as "Rabboni." Mark translates this Aramaic title as "Teacher" for Greek readers, knowing that Mary was not speaking in an unknown tongue.

Therefore, scholars cannot assume Jesus spoke in unknown languages in Matthew and Mark simply because His words were translated.

Did Jesus Speak in Tongues? Possible Evidence

Jesus Groaning in John 11

The account of Lazarus' death and resurrection in John 11 may offer some indication that Jesus prayed in tongues. We read in verse 33 that Jesus "groaned in His Spirit" and was troubled when He saw Mary weeping. This could be taken to mean a form of intercessory prayer in tongues.

Paul teaches, "The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26).

While we cannot conclude with absolute certainty that Jesus spoke in tongues, His groaning in His Spirit may suggest it. Why else would John have recorded it? It must have held significance.

Later, "Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. … Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me'" (John 11:38, 41).

What had the Father heard? There's no mention of Jesus praying audibly before this. Could Jesus have been referring to His groaning (interceding in tongues)?

Jesus' Sighing in Mark 7

In Mark's detailed account of Jesus healing a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, a notable detail stands out: "Then, looking up to heaven, HE SIGHED, and said to him, 'Ephphatha,' that is, 'Be opened'" (Mark 7:34, emphasis added).

Additionally, it's worth noting that Greek word στενάζω (stenazō) that's translated as "sighed," carries the connotation of "groaning" or "praying inaudibly." Interesting.

Jesus' Rejoicing in Luke 10

There is one instance in The New Testament that could possibly hint at Jesus exercising the gift of tongues. Luke records that "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth …" (Luke 10:21).

Whether Jesus "rejoiced in the Spirit" by praying or singing in tongues is open to personal interpretation. However, it is reasonable to consider that Jesus rejoiced in a heavenly tongue based on this verse. I'll leave it for you to decide.

While there's no clear-cut evidence of Jesus praying in tongues, Scriptures hint of the possibility that He did after the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him, following His water baptism by John.

Consider Jesus' Prayer Life

Some people question, "If Jesus is the Son of God, why would He need to pray in tongues?" However, if that's the case, why would Jesus need to pray in His learned languages? Why would He need to pray at all?

Scriptures record that Jesus spent long hours in solitary prayer. Moreover, there are more mentions of Jesus praying to God the Father than anyone else in entire The New Testament!

It can be challenging to believe that we can actually follow in Jesus' footsteps and do His works as He commands, when we view Him purely in a mystical religious context. However, if we can relate to the MAN Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5), we will have the faith to minister to others.

Sometimes, it's difficult for us to picture Jesus living on Earth. We rarely envision Him sweating in the scorching desert or covered in dust from His travels. We may even push aside the thought of Him needing to use a restroom.

We need to envision Jesus living out His life on Earth without becoming so devoutly religious that we cannot relate to Him as a man who understands our frailties.

I once had a disagreement with a pastor who claimed that Jesus was never tempted by the sight of a beautiful woman, nor did He experience any sexual desires. However, if his claim is true, how can we align it with the teachings in the following Scriptures?

"For we do NOT have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in ALL POINTS tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15, emphasis added).

"Therefore, IN ALL THINGS He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews: 2:17-18, emphasis added).

Jesus experienced temptations as we do, with one significant difference: He never ever sinned.

So, Did Jesus Speak in Tongues?

Jesus lived with human needs and experiences. He prayed and relied on the fullness of Holy Spirit to fulfill His mission. The same Holy Spirit that descended upon Him is the same Holy Spirit that He sent to us.

Jesus serves as our example of how to live and minister empowered by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it's NOT UNLIKELY that He would have spoken in the tongues of men and angels. In fact, I believe it's highly likely.


1 Bivin, David N., and Tilton, Joshua N. "LOY Excursus: Greek Transliterations of Hebrew, Aramaic and Hebrew/Aramaic Words in the Synoptic Gospels." jerusalemperspective.com. Jerusalem Perspective, 28 May 2014, Web. 23 Apr. 2024.

Don Bell of Kingdom Anointing

By Don Bell, follower of the Christ.

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