Martin Luther on Languages

02Nov09

Here’s an interesting idea from Martin Luther: What if your church’s services were in a different language every week? What impact might that have on missions and on your understanding of Scripture (if some weeks were in Hebrew or Greek)?

Here are his words:

I do not want in anywise to let the Latin tongue disappear out of Divine Service; for I am so deeply concerned for the young. If it lay in my power, and the Greek and Hebrew tongues were as familiar to us as the Latin, and possessed as great a store of fine music and song as the Latin does, Mass should be held and there should be singing and reading, on alternate Sundays in all four languages-German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. I am by no means of one mind with those who set all their store by one language, and despise all others; for I would gladly raise up a generation able to be of use to Christ in foreign lands and to talk with their people, so that we might not be like the Waldenses in Bohemia whose faith is so involved in the toils of their own language that they can talk intelligibly and plainly with no one unless he first learn their language. That was not the way of the Holy Ghost in the beginning. He did not wait till all the world should come to Jerusalem, and learn Hebrew. But He endowed the office of the ministry with all manner of tongues, so that the Apostles could speak to the people wherever they went. I should prefer to follow this example; and it is right also that the youth should be practised in many languages. Who knows how God will make use of them in years to come? (From the preface of  The German Mass and Order of Divine Service, 1526 A.D., emphasis mine)

Okay, so maybe a different language every week is a bit of a tall order. How about this: If you know a language, be it Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, or Chinese, why not start a class in your local church? I think you’ll be surprised at the interest.

And who knows how God will make use of your students’ new ability in years to come?

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One Response to “Martin Luther on Languages”

  1. Adam, I suspect that after next Teusday Aramaic will be on your list of languages for Sunday morning services.


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