Thought for Thursday

Now, when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. Acts 2:6

In the third century, BC, King Ptolemy II of Egypt, a man deeply interested in collecting books of all kinds, was told of the Scriptures used by the Jews. He determined, not only to obtain copies of the Scriptures, but also to have them translated into Greek, because many of the Jews at that time were more conversant in Greek than in their own tongue. Besides, Hebrew was of no use to Ptolemy. Various stories are recorded, by Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, and others, of the translation work by six learned scholars from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Because of its 72 translators, the new Greek version became known as the Septuagent. It was apparently a good translation, because it was used by Jesus in His teachings, and quoted by several New Testament writers. The Septuagent served a great need at the time, enabling many more people access to the Scriptures. That was also the purpose of the languages provided at Pentecost.

God has always desired that His Word be in the hands of His people. This was true of Old Testament days, of New Testament times, and of our modern era. Although none of the New Testament was written at the time of today’s text, the apostles and the rest of Jesus’ followers had the teaching of their Lord to impart to those around them. Even when many of those around them could not understand the commonly spoken language and dialect in Jerusalem. It is significant that one of the first acts of the Holy Spirit when He came to dwell with Believers was to make the Word available to as many as possible. Down through the centuries, attempts have been made to restrict and limit availability of the Scriptures, and the leaders of medieval Roman Catholicism face great judgment for such a heinous crime. Alternatively, translators and reformers such as Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Luther face great reward for their efforts and sacrifices to open the Word of God to the people.

Because of the gift of languages, the Gospel was enabled to go forth in an all encompassing way at Pentecost. The miraculous means for it to be provided was impressive, catching the attention of many. God is still unfolding His Word to more of the world’s population, as translators reach new languages with the Scriptures. And His people are seeking to spread the Word to those who have not yet heard it. Gospel efforts around us are part of His great desire to reach those who need to hear it in their own language.

The God Who desires all men everywhere to be saved is interested in having all men everywhere familiar with His Word. Let us pass it on to those in our language. – Jim MacIntosh

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