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Heroes of the Faith: William Tyndale

How many Bibles do you own? Do you take them for granted? Do you find them to be dull instead of saying with the Psalmist in Psalm 119:24, "Your testimonies are my delight"? William Tyndale (1494–1536) was a man who passionately loved the Word of God and wanted others to also. May his story stir our hearts to appreciate and love God's Word as well.

Burying the Bible

In the 1500's, England had buried the Bible. They did not allow it to be translated into English, and even went so far as outlawing children from reciting the Lord's Prayer in English! The priests themselves knew little of the Bible. In the name of protecting the Bible, the Roman Catholic leaders had removed its influence and saving truth from so many in England.

William Tyndale (along with others like John Wycliffe) worked to unearth the Bible. This began as he was exposed to the scripture at Oxford and then Cambridge. During this time he was saved and in his own words believed the counter-cultural truth that "Faith alone justifies before God". Because of this precious message of Scripture, he was convinced that the people of England needed the Bible in their own language. So, he appealed to the King and began to speak more openly about his convictions. On one occasion, a catholic scholar said to Tyndale, “We were better without God’s law than the pope’s” And Tyndale responded, “I defy the Pope and all his laws…. If God spare my life ere these many years, I will cause a boy that drives the plow to know more of the scripture than you do.”

Tyndale’s Mission

So, after being rejected by the king, Tyndale fled to a town in Germany and began to translate the Bible into English even though this was punishable by death throughout Europe. Through toil and danger and fear, Tyndale translated all of the New Testament and much of the Old.

Eventually he was captured and thrown into a prison cell for 18 months until his death. And despite the cold, dark, and terrible conditions, Tyndale's main request was that he have a light, the Hebrew Bible, and the Hebrew grammar and dictionary because he wanted to continue his mission of translating the Bible. After refusing to recant, he was killed, and his body was burned at the stake. But just before death he cried out one final prayer, “Lord open the eyes of the King of England!”

Tyndale’s Impact

To our great benefit, Tyndale's prayer was answered shortly after his death and the King of England allowed the Bible to be translated into English. Many years later, 50 scholars came together to make the King James Translation, and the KJV followed Tyndale's translation word for word for 75% to 90% of his work. When the Bible was put in the hands of the common person, it lit the flame of reformation in England. So, we have our Bibles and even our church today because of the way God used William Tyndale.

But how should Tyndale impact us specifically?

  1. Treasure the Scripture Yes, you may have 15 Bibles, and 100's more online, but they are a priceless treasure. Like William Tyndale, may we know deep in our souls that these words are true, and they are worth dying for. They are breathed out by God and able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ. Many died so that we could have the Bibles we have today, so do not neglect to read and study the Bible on your own. I would encourage you to create a habit of Bible reading, but don’t just read the Bible. Love it! And meditate on it. Let it sink into your bones and your heart and change what you love, how you think, and how you live.

  2. Pray For the Spread of Scripture There is a local need for the Word of God, but an even greater global need. Both are important. Our community needs to understand and value God's word, and we can help by reading and talking about it with them. Even sadder, 1.5 billion people don’t even have access to the Bible in their native language. One fantastic organization that addresses this issue is the Wycliffe Bible Translators. If you would like to give or get involved, visit And please join me in praying that the Word of God would reach the hands and hearts of people in our community and around the world!

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