The Language of Authority

The instructor was discussing the various concepts advanced about the beginning of languages. She explained the “Bow-wow” theory as well as the “Ugh, ugh” theory. When the evolution of man from primates reached a certain degree of sophistication, she taught, the beastly humans began to form verbal communication. Her view would have had a convergent evolution of language, just as evolutionary biologists believe that the eye evolved separately yet in a parallel way in a whole variety of species. As an aside, she commented that special creation of man with one language could not be true since there are languages in existence which have no apparent link to other languages.

As I listened to her logic, I had a problem. If God confused the languages at Babel, as the Bible declares, why would there be any link to the original language? The Bible describes confusion of such nature that people groups of different languages moved away from each other because they had no common basis in their languages. I didn’t see her objection to Bible history as being valid. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more logical it seemed that languages did not evolve from one word, like “bow-wow” into a full blown mode of communications of human thought patterns.

That was back in the 1960s. Since then, linguists have been studying languages and some have been making more attempts at discerning the evolution of languages much after the pattern discussed by my instructor. But they have come up with nothing that indicates any relationship between animal sounds and human speech. The link is still missing.

To my personal discredit, some of their imaginary rationale must have rubbed off on me, because several years after I graduated I was visiting with a cousin who had been a missionary to a tribal area. “Do they have a primitive language or is it developing?” He was less than impressed with my question, as he should have been. There are no languages that are not developed. Languages change over time, but there are no emerging languages of the evolutionary (animals to man) kind.

My instructor was engaging in speculation, not facts. But what about the Bible? Is it speculation on the same level? Is it putting forth ideas that are merely a stab in the dark about what might have happened? Or is the Bible speaking on a different level than mere theory? In my mind, the Bible was speaking authoritatively, while the instructor was just theorizing. I have not changed my thinking in the five decades since then.

In Revelation, John describes the multitude in heaven as coming from “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (7:9). Where did those tongues, or languages, come from? They originated at Babel. That is what the Bible authoritatively proclaims. That we see languages, fully developed, all over the world confirms that the Bible gave us the facts of the matter.

Where did the nations come from? They came from the descendants of Noah’s sons. They had been instructed to populate the whole earth, but instead they congregated at Babel. The confusion of languages forced them to separate and thus move to the various areas of the world that are known as nations. This is what the Bible authoritatively sets forth. That the nations are all related through Noah is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul who was inspired to proclaim that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:25).

This has a direct bearing on the whole subject of racism. Instead of reflecting the Darwinian concept of evolution somehow resulting in “favored races” (Darwin’s term), the Bible authoritatively declares that we are one race, all related by blood, and all equal in value before God. To intimate that because of differing physical characteristics some people are less human than others is to deny the authority of God’s holy word. We are one race. One blood. One human family.

But are not some people favored? Yes. “For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield” (Ps. 5:12). God will protect the righteous. That has nothing to do with Darwin’s imaginary favored races. The Bible authoritatively speaks of a people who seek to please God as receiving favor. It also speaks about individuals being favored. “A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn” (Pr. 12:2). David was singled out as a man who was favored by God. So was a young Jewish maiden named Mary, who was startled by an angel. “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Lk. 1:28).

People are neither favored nor cursed because of physical characteristics, but are blessed by God if they are righteous. Which is why Jesus came into the world. He came because of what had happened long before the confusion of Babel. Man fell from grace by his disobedience in Eden. That is what the Bible authoritatively declares. He lost his relationship with God. On his own, man is not righteous. He is a sinner out of favor with God. Man needs a savior. So God sent His only begotten Son. Who can find favor? All those for whom Christ died can find his favor. They will come from all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.

For whom did Christ die? For a select group or for everyone? There are some who, believing in limited atonement, say that Christ only died for some. But look at the Bible. John the Baptist saw him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). But, some argue, it was only the elect of the world for whom He died, he did not die for the non-elect. But listen to the Apostle John when he made a distinction between believers and others. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”( 1 John 2:2). This is the authoritative word of God. Jesus died for the sins of not part of the world, not a select group of the world, but for the whole world. Does that mean that Jesus died for every individual person? Let the writer of Hebrews give the authoritative answer. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb.2:9).

Here is the great invitation for all men, regardless of nation, kindred, tribe or tongue. It is not merely theoretical. It is not conjecture of what may be. It is an invitation given by the authority of God Himself. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).

Here is the authoritative language of God. It is the language of grace and it is for every person on the face of the earth.


  1. Reply
    Ignacio Palacios says

    Both the Wave Theory (interrelatedness of dialects) and the Family Tree Models (genetic interrelatedness) offer convincing evidence for a “Mother Tongue” of all languages.

    • Reply
      Dr. David Gordeuk says

      Writing about the evolutionary origin of language, and the effort to find the original language that gave rise to the present language groups,Stanford Genetics professor L. L. Cavilli-Sforza said, “It is not certain that all languages have a common origin. Most linguists consider both problems insoluble.”

  2. Reply
    Randy Miley says

    Thank you for your comments about the scope of Christ’s atonement for all, not just certain groups or individuals. Sometime ago I heard a Calvinist preacher saying that the atonement Jesus provided was “sufficient for all, but only efficient for the elect”. Oh, what type of gymnastics some people engage in as it relates to the teachings of the Bible, causing Scripture to be twisted.
    Think about this that I saw on a bumper sticker just a couple of days ago:
    ” T
    T T E R S ”
    (THEOLOGY MATTERS)-Yes, indeed it does. And God has given it to us in plain language!

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