Posted by: Veroni Kruger | February 28, 2023

Must the Bible be translated into everyone’s language?

February was International Mother Language month, with February 21 celebrated as International Mother Language Day. International Mother Language Day highlights the importance of everyone’s mother language, as well as multilingualism, to build sustainable and inclusive societies.  “Mother language” is also known as “mother tongue”.  Some prefer the phrase “heart language” or “first language”.

International Mother Language Day slipped by largely unnoticed this year, amid all the crises that the world is facing.  To The Word for the World Bible Translators (TWFTW) the day is quite important as it underlines some of the core values of the organisation.  

The stated vision of The Word for the World Bible Translators (TWFTW) is the glory of God through transformed lives by the power of His Word in everyone’s heart language.

TWFTW sees its mission as empowering indigenous persons and organisations for Bible Translation.  Our activities are centred around empowering nationals to translate the Bible for their own people. 

The core values of TWFTW include respect for all cultures and languages.  


Travelling in the United States I struggled with this question. After a long day I felt a great need to hear from the Lord.  I looked around at the collection of English Bibles my host had very considerately placed on my bedside table.  Then I knelt down and rummaged through my suitcase under my bed to find my small Afrikaans New Testament.  I sensed it was the Lord that asked me “But don’t you understand English?”  

Just there I learnt the lesson:  God speaks to us most clearly when He does so in our mother tongue.  

The great Church Reformer prayed that the Bible should be available and accessible in every language in the world, so as to impact every person.

Nelson Mandela said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

We all know the description of events in Genesis 11.  People had devised a plan to build a tower that would enable them to reach heaven.  God disrupted their arrogant scheme by bringing about a confusion of languages.  Suddenly they could not understand one another!

Acts 2 tells how God reversed this visitation through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.    

When the disciples were enabled by the Holy Spirit to speak in other languages, people speaking the languages in the long list of languages mentioned in Acts 2 were amazed the hear the disciples speaking about the works of God in their own language.    

In Genesis 11 God caused division among people, leading to the existence of different nations.  In Acts 2 God broke through these lines of division, proving that He wanted to speak to everyone in their own language.  This was the beginning of the outreach to all peoples.    

The triumphant hymn in Revelation 5 confirms this truth.  The Lamb of God is praised because He was slain and with his blood “purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (NIV).

John writes in Revelation 7.9 and 10:  “After this I Iooked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…And they cried out in a loud voice:  ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and the Lamb.’ ”      

Paul asks “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10.14.)

Mother tongue Bible translation answers this question with the logo:  The Bible for every person in his or her heart language.

This what we dedicate our lives to, and this is what we ask you to support and pray for.



  1. God speaks everyone’s language. Thank you for writing these thoughts! F


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Alexander F. Venter

Live a life of love as Jesus loved us...

Attempting Authenticity

real life. real writing.


Life worth living

Martha Elizabeth Kruger

creativity, passion, love

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