Acts 2:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 2:6, NIV: When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.

Acts 2:6, ESV: And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.

Acts 2:6, KJV: 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, NASB: And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together and they were bewildered, because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.

Acts 2:6, NLT: When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

Acts 2:6, CSB: When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

What does Acts 2:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Days after Jesus' ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9), the Jesus-followers in Jerusalem receive the Holy Spirit and start talking in foreign languages (Acts 2:1–4). In the Roman Empire, multilingualism was common. Typically, Jews from Judea and Galilee could speak Aramaic, Greek, and some Hebrew. Considering the quotations of the Old Testament in the New, it seems Jews studied the Greek Septuagint more than the original Hebrew Scriptures. At the time of Acts 2, the population of Jerusalem has swelled ten times over because of the celebration of Pentecost with visitors from all over the Roman Empire and beyond (Acts 2:9–11). The crowd is baffled as to how Galileans (Acts 2:7) can speak their native languages.

After the flood, all the world still spoke the same language. God told the people to scatter all over the earth, but they settled together and built a great tower as if they could reach heaven through their own work. God reached down and confused their language, separating people-groups by their ability to understand one another (Genesis 11:1–9).

Now, in Jerusalem, God sets the linguistic precedence for missions by continuing to honor His own work at the Tower of Babel. The Holy Spirit doesn't cause the multitude to be fluent in Greek or Aramaic; He doesn't even tell believers in the early church to share one earthly language or earthly culture (Acts 6:1). He makes the evangelists or missionaries able to speak the people's native language. He leads Christians to meet unbelievers where they are, culturally and linguistically. One day, culture and language will be redeemed and all God-followers will be able to understand each other perfectly. But today, we are no more freed from the results of Babel than we are freed from weeds and pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16–19).

There is no record that Jesus regularly spoke a different language other than Aramaic. But He came, in His earthly ministry, to the Jews, to give them a chance to accept Him, not the Gentiles (Mark 7:24–30). Jesus promised the disciples they would do greater works than He (John 14:12), and this is an example. Jesus did not mean that there is any greater work than His' crucifixion and resurrection, but that the scope of their ministries as they travel the world and speak to people from all nations will be greater than Jesus' ministry in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee.