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What Languages did Jesus Speak?

Jesus, during His earthly life, spoke primarily Aramaic, a Semitic language that was the common tongue of the people in Judea and Galilee. Aramaic had replaced Hebrew as the everyday language of the Jews in Palestine, although Hebrew remained the language of religion and scholarship. Jesus’ use of Aramaic is evident in several instances in the Gospels where His words are preserved in Aramaic, such as “Talitha koum” (Mark 5:41), which means “Little girl, I say to you, arise,” and “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34), meaning “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Additionally, Jesus likely knew Hebrew, as it was used in the reading and teaching of the Scriptures in synagogues. This is supported by instances in the Gospels where Jesus reads from the Hebrew Scriptures (e.g., Luke 4:16-21) and engages in discussions that reflect a knowledge of the Hebrew text.

It is also plausible that Jesus spoke Greek, the lingua franca of the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider Roman Empire. Greek was widely spoken in the regions of Hellenistic influence, and parts of Galilee were significantly Hellenized. The New Testament, including the quotes of Jesus, was written in Greek, suggesting that Greek was well understood in the areas where Jesus taught.

Relevant Bible Verses (Bolded for emphasis):

  • Mark 5:41: “Taking her by the hand, he said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!'”
  • Matthew 27:46: “About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'”
  • Luke 4:16-21: “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him…”

Three Main Takeaways:

  1. Jesus’ Use of Aramaic reflects His connection to the common people of His time, making His teachings accessible to them.
  2. Knowledge of Hebrew underscores Jesus’ deep engagement with the Jewish Scriptures and traditions, highlighting His role as a teacher and a prophet within His community.
  3. Possible Understanding of Greek indicates the broader context of Jesus’ ministry within the Hellenized world, allowing His message to transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries, setting the stage for the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.


  • Greg Gaines

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