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-The First Words of Jesus in the Gospels?

by Dr. D ~

Q: Can you tell me the first spoken words of Jesus in the gospels.  What version you used? Thanks Brad

A: The first words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are found in Luke 2:49. The context is Luke 2:41-52. 

Jesus was 12 years old at the time and he and his family went up to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When his family left to travel back home Jesus stayed behind and conversed with the teachers in the Temple for three days. His parents finally discovered that he was not traveling with their caravan and went back to Jerusalem looking for him.

The First words spoken by Jesus were his response to the query of his parents. basically Jesus told his parents that he is where he should be doing the things of his Father (God). Here’s two versions of the answer:

49 And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? NKJV

49 And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?" ESV

After reading the two versions, you might be asking which is it? The Father’s business or his house? Actually if you look at the original Greek, either translation is correct. There is no specific Greek word in the phrase that identifies the subject. Literally the Greek reads:

“Not know that in –(that or the things)- of my Father I must be?”

This leaves the context to determine the meaning. Is the reference about “doing” the things of my father or being “in” that which my father owns?

In the vernacular of the day, the unstated reference in this verse usually would have meant the residence or business and most of the time in that culture they were one and the same. Therefore either house or business is correct.

Personally I prefer ‘business’ since that is the way I memorized the passage as a child. In that case he is doing the things or business of His Father.  However, the Early Church Fathers (2nd-4th century) understood the passage to be pointing to the Temple or House of God. The emphasis in that understanding is on location. In that case, Jesus is telling his earthly parents that they should have known where he would be- in His Father’s House-the Temple.

Most of the modern versions have chosen to interpret the passage as being “in” the Father’s house following the earliest understanding of the Church Fathers. It also makes the most sense in the context of the question Jesus poses to his parents- “Why did look for me?” -which naturally points to a subject of location rather than action. The KJV and NKJV interpret the context to be one of action or doing.

In final analysis, I believe that a possible double meaning here in the vernacular actually brings a fuller and more complete meaning to the passage. On one hand, Jesus was doing the things or business of his Father in his conversations with the Priests and Rabbis while at the same time he was literally in his Father’s House.            *Top

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11 Responses to -The First Words of Jesus in the Gospels?

  1. Mark

    Actually, the first *recorded* and spoken words of Jesus are in Mark 1:15, as Mark was the first Gospel that was written.

    Mark 1:15: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. ??????????, and believe in the gospel.”

    ?????????? means: “Change what (you think) you know.” It is often mistranslated from medieval times as “repent,” which literally means to re-punish.

  2. Mark

    Looks like this website can’t handle Greek. The question-mark word in English is: “Metanoeite”

  3. Dr. D

    Maybe, but Luke 2:49 is recording something Jesus said at 12 years of age while in Mark 1:15 he is at least 30. It depends on what you mean by earliest ‘recorded.’ Also the first published ‘spoken words’ of Jesus might well have been been contained in 1 Cor 11:24 rather than Mark since it might well have been written earlier.

  4. luis

    i’ve contemplated this, and prefer to use the kjv which says:

    [Luk 2:49 KJV] 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

    His eternal word was applicable for the times of the kjv inspired translation then and now… how is it that ye sought, being why… and how is it that ye sought, being how. now it is applicable for us to consider how we are seeking Him as many are doing so in diverse manners. we are to seek Him in His word. the infallible word for us now is kjv, preserved and purified 7 times. it is the strait gate… it is the narrow path. so many are going the broad way and i pray they change course.

  5. luis

    furthermore, what is His Father’s business? has it not been His word from the very beginning?

    God bless.

  6. Rob Angle

    Why is it that our grip on our free will that a believer or not we must put the letters, words of God and Jesus under our limited microscope to magnify the simple into the complicated for ourselves but to every mind that begins as a man made curiosity of Bible minutia? KISS. keep it simple salvation. Any further examination fosters an opinion which is entirely of human nature. Remove our so called free will removes our propensity for obstacles of interpretation. This is exactly why tongues and languages and ideologies confound the Bible into a layman and theological quicksand of opinions. No one is right and no one is wrong. In the meantime the real-true message is lost in the translation.

  7. Kim Burgess

    Thank you, for supplying information that is so easy at hand for us to visit your website to obtain. I wish others could appreciate and yes have their input without attacking your effort and work. We ALL interpit parts of the Bible in different ways.I believe God has meant it to be that way since the first of HIS words was recorded. Because those who seek his word in thirst and love for of himself, gains the meaning he has meant for us. Those who just do it out of chore of feeling they must do it receives different meaning. I myself have read the Bible just to read it Ignore the times I read it and the Holy Spirit falls on me..it is a different understanding. It speaks to me… Praise Jesus His word is just as He…so much better when seeking Him in thirst for him..I truly believe Our Lord and savior fulfills us with what we need at that moment. But there are facts I am curious about as I go through my day, a nd I am Lucky to have found a friend in Christ that makes it easy for me. Again Thank you, may the Lord bless you for helping those who are curious and want to know His word ,especially a specic question.


    No actually His first words were ” I’m here about my fathers business” and His last words before He commended His spirit into the hands of God were ” It is finished”. It’s important to know this because this was his mission. To do the work of the father and He successfully completed it. Done deal “IT IS FINISHED “

  9. Sheila

    Jesus was Jesus at 12 years old and at his death. He is Jesus and will always be Jesus. The first recorded words he spoke is Luke 2:49.

  10. Rob

    I love the lord

  11. Michael

    In studying the Greek, repent, in Mark 1:15 is the word: metanoeo which means to “think differently or afterwords i.e. reconsider. The word consists of the words, meta, ek, didaskalia, apo. All of these together connote an overall beginning to and carry on unto completion the act of changing one’s mind, to think and act differently. It does in no way indicate “re-punish” as suggested above. Romans 8:1 slaps the face of this idea.

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