Saturday, March 4, 2017


Reformation 500 WEEK 10    William Tyndale

     “Four months after Luther published his theses Erasmus sent them to his English friends John Colet and Sir Thomas More. Thereafter many books were imported into England. Lutheran doctrine invaded the two great English universities of Oxford and Cambridge” (Kuiper, 221). In the town of Cambridge, “there was a pub called the White Horse Inn which served as a gathering place where intellectuals discussed the latest in Reformation thinking. Because of the popularity of Luther’s work there, the pub was given the name ‘Little Germany.’ A number of English reformers were at Cambridge at this time: William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Miles Coverdale. All these men played important roles in establishing the Reformation in England. But the person who had the greatest long-term impact on developing the English Reformation was William Tyndale, ‘the father of the English Bible’.” (Gary DeMar, Reformation to Colonization, 216-217).

     For a century and half, Wycliffe’s English translation of the Latin Bible had circulated in England. But “copies of Wycliffe’s translation into English were not numerous” (Kuiper, 222). Tyndale, who “came to saving faith in Christ by reading the New Testament in Greek” (Richard Hannula, Trial and Triumph, 127), was determined to translate the Bible into English from the original Greek and Hebrew. This he did “in an era when the English Catholic church had in effect a law that made it a crime punishable by death to translate the Bible into English” (Christian History, Vol.16).

     “Once, in Coventry, England [in 1519], some parents were burned to death for teaching their children the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments in English. Such atrocities drove Tyndale to tears” (Trial and Triumph, 127).

     Tyndale testified that ‘some of the papists say it is impossible to translate the Scriptures into English, some that it is not lawful for the lay people to have it in the mother-tongue, some that it would make them all heretics’ (quoted in Schaff, 6:726). Tyndale argued that the pope had locked up the plain meaning of the Bible ‘with the false and counterfeited keys of his traditions, ceremonies, and feigned lies’ (Ibid.,718).

     Once a rich and learned man, “fed up with Tyndale’s habit of quoting the Bible, shouted, ‘We would be better off without God’s law than the pope’s.’ ‘I defy the pope and all his laws,’ Tyndale answered. ‘If God spares my life, in a few years a farm boy shall know more of the Scriptures than you do’.” (Trial and Triumph, 128).

     In 1524, Tyndale’s bishop refused to let him translate the Greek NT into English. So, he fled from England to the German provinces to translate [along the way he met briefly with Luther]. In 1525, in Cologne, as he prepared to print an English New Testament, he was discovered and escaped with only a few printed portions. In 1526 a printer in Worms, published 6,000 copies of Tyndale’s first edition of the English New Testament. Three months later, smuggled copies were being circulated throughout England. In 1527 English bishops bought and burned thousands of Tyndale’s testaments. Yet Tyndale used the money to finance a revision of his NT. “The revised testaments were smuggled into England in flour sacks” (Church History Made Easy, 115). From 1527–1530 Tyndale kept moving, and writing, and hiding. Exciting things were also happening with Luther and Zwingli. 

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation500 William Tyndale

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 10

Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

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