Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Of course, he could speak Hebrew and from such examples like preaching the gospel in Athens it seems that he had no problem speaking Greek. He also wanted to visit Rome, while there were no Jews living in Rome at that time, so does it mean that he could also speak Latin? Also he wanted to go to Spain. Does it mean that he could also speak Spanish? Was Spanish existent at that time?

share|improve this question
Interesting question, I never stop to think about that ? –  David Laberge Jan 26 '12 at 11:58
Spanish had not yet developed from Latin at the time (Old Spanish is at least 900 years later). In Spain at the time you would have had Latin, maybe Greek, and probably some Phoenician/Punic from the civilizations who'd colonized it, as well as Aquitanian (an ancient relative of Basque), some ancient Celtic languages, and a few other indigenous languages that have not survived. –  Muke Tever Jan 26 '12 at 14:15
@Muke Tever - WOW!!! Thank you for this input. –  brilliant Jan 26 '12 at 23:55
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

We know that He spoke Greek, Hebrew. May be Latin, but there is not reference about that. The Latin guess is made on the fact that he was Roman and the official langue of Rome was Latin.

Proof text for Hebrew:

14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ac 26:14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Proof text for Greek :

37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek?

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ac 21:37). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

share|improve this answer
A point against him needing to know Latin is his epistle to the Romans, which was written in Greek. According to 16:22 the person who wrote it for him was called Tertius - which is a Latin name. If Tertius knew Latin and Greek and didn't see the need to translate Romans into Latin, then the Romans it was written to probably didn't mind it being in Greek to begin with. (I understand that educated Romans were expected to know Greek, which was the language of most literature worth reading at the time.) –  Muke Tever Jan 26 '12 at 14:08
Latin is simply a guess. Just like some American do not speak English. –  David Laberge Jan 26 '12 at 22:35
@DavidLaberge Actually, Greek was at the time the lingua franca of the Empire -- not Latin, which was more the local language of Rome. –  John Peyton Aug 15 '13 at 15:08
Note also: It's possible that "Hebrew" in Acts refers to what we would now call Aramaic. Still, I would guess that Paul knew Hebrew, given that he was steeped in the Torah. –  John Peyton Aug 15 '13 at 15:10
As for Hebrew, see also Acts 21:40 and 22:14. –  kmote Apr 8 at 18:55
add comment

In Paul's day, Greek was still widely used in Rome, so knowledge of Latin was not crucial. Besides Hebrew and Greek, he most likely spoke Aramaic.

share|improve this answer
No doubt that he knew Aramaic, having studied under Gamaliel. He even used it on occasion in his epistles, one such occurrence that I can recall being "Maranatha" (1 Cor. 16:22 A.V.). –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 7 '12 at 3:30
I'm sure you're right. His interactions with the Jews in Jerusalem was much more likely to have been in Aramaic than in Hebrew. I'm thinking Hebrew in that day was more of a liturgical language rather than a language used for everyday speech. –  Greg Graham Mar 5 '13 at 15:40
add comment

There are speculations in some quarters that Latin is extant - this was perhaps slumbering in the embryo of time, because of the four languages: Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and Latin; Latin is the likeliest Paul could not speak regardless he was a Roman citizen

share|improve this answer
This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Feb 19 at 16:47
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.