What Will be our Language in Heaven? (Q&A)

Q:  Someone in our small group asked this question when we were going through Revelation, “What will be our language in heaven?” referencing Revelation 7:9-10:

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (ESV)

Will it be that we will be worshiping and singing to the Lord in our own language? And will we be communicating with our own languages yet understanding each other and never needing any translation? (I’m thinking of 1 Corinthians 13:12 on this.)

Could you enlighten me please? I want to know your thoughts. —Jean R.

A:  I can’t think of any verse in the Bible that addresses directly the question of what language we will use after we die and go to Paradise to be with the Lord (as in Rev. 7:9-10), or then again in the Millennium after the resurrection, or then again after the Final Judgment in the New Heavens and New Earth (see our teaching:  https://totheendsblog.blogspot.com/2013/11/hell-hades-and-gehenna-list-of-verses.html also https://newchurchsermons.blogspot.com/2014/06/what-is-eternal-destiny-of-human-soul.html).

I did have a Hebrew professor one time who assured us that we would all be speaking Hebrew.  But I’m not sure he was entirely serious about that, and he certainly didn’t offer any proof. 

As far as indirect evidence goes, the best I can think of comes from Peter’s statement that at Jesus’ return from heaven there will be a “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21).  This is the time that Jesus called the “regeneration” (in Matt. 19:28), which can also be translated “renewal” or “rebirth” (palingenesia in Greek).  If “all things” are going to be restored, I would assume that this includes the ability people had before the time of the Tower of Babel to all speak with “one language” (Gen. 11:1).  Which language that was or will be, I have no clue.  But it does mean we will all be able to understand one another, and that the divisions that so often create conflicts in our world today will be gone, including linguistic divisions. 

I believe this is an important part of the symbolic meaning of the Day of Pentecost, when Jewish pilgrims from many different nations and language groups were supernaturally hearing the disciples speaking in their own language (Acts 2:4-6).  Whether that’s because the disciples were actually speaking other languages (a miracle of speaking) or because God enabled them to hear in their own languages (a miracle of hearing) or both, I can’t say.  But this, I believe, was pointing towards God’s intention to reverse the judgment that took place at the Tower of Babel and restore unity among the nations in his son Jesus.  Whether this restoration of a single language will be done through supernatural means, as on the Day of Pentecost, or through everyone actually speaking one language in the way we commonly speak languages today, I don’t know.  But this is only speaking about the time of the resurrection, which includes both the Millennium and the New Heavens and New Earth.

When it comes to our time in Paradise before the resurrection, which is what I believe Revelation is talking about in Rev. 7:9-10, this will be a different situation.  Why?  Because Paradise is not a physical but rather a spiritual place.  It’s where the souls of the righteous await the resurrection.  We will have no physical bodies during this time, and so we will not have the ability to speak mechanically as we do now.  Our bodies will still be in the grave.  So this means that some other means of communication will be necessary.  I would assume it would be much like when we speak to God in private prayer, or he speaks something into our hearts, as many believers have experienced at different times in their lives, not to mention the prophets of old (John 16:13).  I suppose we can call that spiritual communication.  And since it appears to operate independent of any mechanical means, these thoughts clearly have the ability to penetrate directly into our souls independent of ordinary language production, even though in the Bible they are always understood as being spoken in a real human language (again, whether it’s a miracle of speaking or of hearing or both is unclear).  So it seem quite likely, as Revelation indicates, that we will be able to communicate with each other this way at that time. 

Otherwise, better brush up on your Hebrew.    

(For more on this topic, see our book The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John.)

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