Are You Speaking the “Pure Language” Fluently?
“I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah.”—ZEPH. 3:9.
1. What wonderful gift has Jehovah given us?
THE gift of language did not originate with mankind but, rather, with man’s Creator, Jehovah God. (Ex. 4:11, 12) He gave the first human, Adam, the ability not only to speak but also to coin new words and thus expand his vocabulary. (Gen. 2:19, 20, 23) What a wonderful gift this has proved to be! It has even enabled mankind to communicate with their heavenly Father and to praise his glorious name.
2. Why do humans no longer speak one common language?
2 During the first 17 centuries of human existence, everyone spoke just one language, having “one set of words.” (Gen. 11:1) Then came the rebellion of Nimrod’s day. Contrary to Jehovah’s instructions, disobedient humans gathered at what later came to be called Babel, determined to remain in one location. They started to build a massive tower, not to give Jehovah glory, but to “make a celebrated name” for themselves. So Jehovah confused the original language of those rebels and caused them to speak various tongues. Thus, they were scattered over all the surface of the earth.—Read Genesis 11:4-8.
3. What happened when Jehovah confused the speech of the rebels at Babel?
3 Today, literally thousands of languages—some say over 6,800—are spoken in the world. Each of these languages requires different thought patterns. It appears, then, that when Jehovah God confused the speech of those rebels, he blotted out all memory of their previous common language. He not only introduced into their minds new vocabularies but also changed their thought patterns and produced new grammars. No wonder the location of that tower came to be called “Confusion,” or Babel! (Gen. 11:9, ftn.) Interestingly, only the Bible gives a satisfying explanation of the origin of the diversity of languages that we see today.
A New, Pure Language
4. What did Jehovah foretell would happen in our time?
4 As fascinating as the Bible account about God’s intervention at Babel may be, something even more interesting and important has occurred in our time. Through his prophet Zephaniah, Jehovah foretold: “Then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zeph. 3:9) What is that “pure language,” and how can we learn to speak it fluently?
5. What is the pure language, and what has resulted from this change of language?
5 The pure language is the truth about Jehovah God and his purposes as found in his Word, the Bible. That “language” includes a correct understanding of the truth about God’s Kingdom and how it will sanctify Jehovah’s name, vindicate his sovereignty, and bring eternal blessings to faithful mankind. What results from this change of language? We are told that people will “call upon the name of Jehovah” and will “serve him shoulder to shoulder.” Unlike the events of Babel, this change to the pure language has resulted in praise to Jehovah’s name and unity for his people.
Learning the Pure Language
6, 7. (a) What is involved with learning a new language, and how does this apply to learning the pure language? (b) What will we now consider?
6 When someone sets out to master another language, he has to do more than memorize new words. Learning a new language involves learning a new way of thinking, new thought patterns. Logic and humor may be different in another language. Pronunciation of new sounds will require a different use of the speech organs, such as the tongue. The same is true when we start to learn the pure language of Bible truth. More is required than just learning a few basic Bible teachings. Mastering this new language involves modifying our thinking and transforming our minds.—Read Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23.
7 What will help us not only to understand the pure language but also to speak it fluently? As with learning any language, there are some basic techniques that can help us to attain proficiency in speaking the language of Bible truth. Let us consider some of the basic steps used by people to learn another language and see how those steps can help us to learn this new figurative language.
Speaking the Pure Language Fluently
8, 9. What must we do if we want to learn the pure language, and why is this so important?
8 Listen carefully. At first, a new language may sound completely foreign to the untrained ear. (Isa. 33:19) But as a person learns to concentrate on what he is hearing, he will start to recognize individual words and recurring patterns of speech. In a similar way, we are admonished: “It is necessary for us to pay more than the usual attention to the things heard by us, that we may never drift away.” (Heb. 2:1) Repeatedly, Jesus admonished his followers: “Let him that has ears listen.” (Matt. 11:15; 13:43; Mark 4:23; Luke 14:35) Yes, we need to “listen and get the sense” of what we hear in order to progress in our understanding of the pure language.—Matt. 15:10; Mark 7:14.
9 Listening requires concentration, but the effort is truly worthwhile. (Luke 8:18) When at Christian meetings, do we find ourselves concentrating on what is being explained, or are we distracted? It is vital that we do our utmost to concentrate on what is being presented. Otherwise, we could actually become dull in our hearing.—Heb. 5:11.
10, 11. (a) In addition to listening carefully, what must we do? (b) What else is involved in speaking the pure language?
10 Imitate fluent speakers. Students of a new language are encouraged not only to listen carefully but also to try to imitate, or mimic, the pronunciation and speech patterns of fluent speakers. This helps the students to avoid developing a heavy accent that may later hinder their efforts to communicate. In a comparable way, we should learn from those who have mastered the “art of teaching” the new language. (2 Tim. 4:2) Ask for help. Be willing to accept correction when you make mistakes.—Read Hebrews 12:5, 6, 11.
11 Speaking the pure language involves not only believing the truth and teaching it to others but also harmonizing our conduct with God’s laws and principles. To assist us in doing this, we need to imitate others. This includes imitating their faith and zeal. It also includes imitating the whole life course of Jesus. (1 Cor. 11:1; Heb. 12:2; 13:7) If we persist in doing this, it will result in unity among God’s people, allowing them to speak, as it were, with the same accent.—1 Cor. 4:16, 17.
12. How is memorization involved with learning a new language?
12 Memorize. Students of language need to commit many new things to memory. This includes new vocabularies and expressions. For Christians, memorization can be a powerful help in mastering the pure language. Certainly we would do well to memorize the names of the books of the Bible in their order. Some have made it a goal to memorize the wording of a certain number of Bible texts or citations. Others have found it beneficial to memorize Kingdom songs, the names of the tribes of Israel and of the 12 apostles, and the qualities that make up the fruitage of the spirit. In ancient times, many Israelites learned the psalms by heart. In modern times, one young boy memorized over 80 Bible verses word for word by the time he was just six years old. Could we make better use of this valuable skill?
13. Why is repetition so important?
13 Repetition helps the memory, and repeated reminders are an integral part of our Christian education. The apostle Peter said: “I shall be disposed always to remind you of these things, although you know them and are firmly set in the truth that is present in you.” (2 Pet. 1:12) Why do we need reminders? Because they deepen our understanding, expand our viewpoint, and strengthen our determination to stay on course spiritually. (Ps. 119:129) Constantly reviewing God’s standards and principles helps us scrutinize ourselves and counteracts the tendency to be “a forgetful hearer.” (Jas. 1:22-25) If we do not keep reminding ourselves of the truth, other things will influence our hearts and we may no longer speak the pure language with fluency.
14. What will help us when we are studying the pure language?
14 Read aloud. (Rev. 1:3) Some students try to study a new language silently by themselves. This does not produce the best results. When studying the pure language, we may at times need to read “in an undertone” to help our concentration. (Read Psalm 1:1, 2.) Doing this impresses indelibly on our minds the material we are reading. In Hebrew, the expression “to read in an undertone” is closely related to meditation. Just as digestion is needed if we are to benefit fully from the food we eat, meditation is needed if we are to absorb what we read. Do we allow enough time to meditate on what we study? After reading the Bible, we must think deeply about what we have read.
15. How can we study the “grammar” of the pure language?
15 Analyze the grammar. At some point, it is beneficial to study the grammar, or word patterns and rules, of a new language that we are learning. This allows us to understand the structure of the language, enabling us to speak it properly. Just as a language has a pattern of words, the pure language of Scriptural truth has “the pattern of healthful words.” (2 Tim. 1:13) We need to copy that “pattern.”
16. What tendency do we need to overcome, and how can we do this?
16 Continue to make progress. A person may learn enough of a language to get by in normal conversation but then stop making progress. A similar problem may arise with those speaking the pure language. (Read Hebrews 5:11-14.) What can help us to overcome this tendency? Be willing to expand your vocabulary, as it were. “Now that we have left the primary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation again, namely, repentance from dead works, and faith toward God, the teaching on baptisms and the laying on of the hands, the resurrection of the dead and everlasting judgment.”—Heb. 6:1, 2.
17. Why are regular study habits important? Illustrate.
17 Assign definite study times. Shorter study periods on a regular basis are better than longer periods held spasmodically. Study at times when you are alert and not easily distracted. Learning a new language is like cutting a path through the jungle. The more often the path is traversed, the easier the journey becomes. If the path is unused for any length of time, the jungle will soon encroach upon it. So persistence and constancy are vital! (Dan. 6:16, 20) Prayerfully “keep awake with all constancy” when it comes to speaking the pure language of Bible truth.—Eph. 6:18.
18. Why should we speak the pure language at every opportunity?
18 Speak! Speak! Speak! Some who are learning a new language may hesitate to speak it because they are shy or afraid to make mistakes. That will hold them back from making progress. When it comes to learning a language, the old adage is true, Practice makes perfect. The more the student speaks the new language, the more comfortable he becomes with using it. We likewise need to speak the pure language at every opportunity. “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” (Rom. 10:10) Not only do we make a “public declaration” at the time of our baptism but we also make it when we speak about Jehovah at every opportunity, including when we engage in the ministry. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Heb. 13:15) Our Christian meetings allow us to make clear, concise expressions in the pure language.—Read Hebrews 10:23-25.
Unitedly Use the Pure Language to Praise Jehovah
19, 20. (a) What amazing thing is being accomplished by Jehovah’s Witnesses in our day? (b) What is your resolve?
19 How exciting it would have been to be in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, Sivan 6, in the year 33 C.E.! Early that morning, just before nine o’clock, those gathered in an upper room miraculously “started to speak with different tongues.” (Acts 2:4) Today, the gift of tongues is no longer available to God’s servants. (1 Cor. 13:8) Nevertheless, Jehovah’s Witnesses declare the good news of the Kingdom in over 430 different tongues.
20 How grateful we are that no matter what language we normally speak, we are all united in speaking the pure language of Bible truth! In a way, this is a reversal of what happened at Babel. As with one tongue, Jehovah’s people bring praise to his name. (1 Cor. 1:10) May it be our resolve to continue serving “shoulder to shoulder” with our brothers and sisters earth wide as we learn to speak that one language ever more fluently, to the glory of our heavenly Father, Jehovah.—Read Psalm 150:1-6.
How Would You Answer?
• What is the pure language?
• Our speaking the pure language involves what?
• What will help us to speak the pure language fluently?
[Box on page 23]
Improve Your Fluency in Speaking the Pure Language by
◆ listening carefully.
◆ imitating fluent speakers.
◆ memorizing and repeating.
◆ reading aloud.
◆ analyzing the “grammar.”
◆ continuing to make progress.
◆ assigning definite study times.
◆ speaking it.
[Pictures on page 24]
Jehovah’s people unitedly speak the pure language