In addition to the people of faith recorded in the Bible, there have been countless followers of Jesus, down through history, who have been both visible and invisible witnesses to the truth of God, men and women who have left a precious Christian legacy. Their stories can be such an encouragement to us, not least in these days of aggressive humanism and growing hostility to biblical Christianity.
Today, I would like to thank God for William Tyndale. Whilst, I’m sure, he was far from perfect, he was the first person to translate and print the Bible into common English. Sadly, he died a martyr, in today’s Belgium, in 1536, through betrayal by a supposed friend. He had been seeking refuge there, as well as access to the new printing houses of Europe. During his lifetime, he was inspired by the Lord to make the Word of God more widely available, even to the most ordinary of people in his country of birth, England.
One day, William Tyndale was strongly challenged by a powerful theologian. Making the Scriptures available to all believers, through new Bible translations, was seen by this theologian, and by many others, as a threat to the authority of both Church and monarchy. William responded, “If God spares me … I will cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Bible than thou dost.” Thankfully God did indeed spare his life sufficiently to allow him to translate and print several thousand copies of the New Testament, which were able to be shipped from Belgium to England.
When he was eventually martyred, it was reported that Tyndale’s last words were, “Open the king of England’s eyes.” Amazingly, just three years later, Henry VIII, who had been so hostile to this new translation, published his own English ‘Great Bible’, based largely on Tyndale’s work. Indeed many of the Bible words and phrases, that we so familiar with today, come from Tyndale’s faithful translation.
I even have one more reason to be thankful for the life of William Tyndale. Just recently, I was reading a commentary by him on the parable of the unrighteous steward (Luke Chapter 16), and I discovered, unexpectedly, an enlightening explanation of this difficult story, where the commended behaviour of the steward appears to be so ungodly. I’ll share that one another day!
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for so many faithful followers of Jesus, down through history, the men and women who have enriched my life through their lives. Amen.
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