My Bible is one of my prized possessions. Nothing brings me peace quite like sitting down and meeting God in its pages.
What a beautiful thing we so easily take for granted, access to a Bible.
They’re easy to find on Amazon or on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, yet in other countries in the world smuggled across borders under threat of death.
By 2015 an estimated five billion Bibles were printed! Billions of people have access to the Word of God, and we can thank William Tyndale for that.
On this day in 1536, William Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake for believing that ALL people should be able to read the Bible, and translating it into English with mass production for the very first time.
“Back in the fourteenth century, John Wycliffe was the first to make (or at least oversee) an English translation of the Bible, but that was before the invention of the printing press and all copies had to be handwritten. Besides, the church had banned the unauthorized translation of the Bible into English in 1408.”Citation
In Tyndale’s time common people could not read the Bible. While being educated at Oxford and then Cambridge, he became passionately convicted that any person should be able to read the Word of God– not just Church leaders or those with higher educations.
Once he left university and began work he would see just how dire this situation was; as he met country clergyman he learned many were completely ignorant of what the Bible actually said.
Tyndale would attempt approval to translate the Bible from the Bishop of London, but he was denied. There is no happenstance with God, and while he was in London William Tyndale met several merchants who helped smuggle Martin Luther’s articles into England.
They would help smuggle his Bibles too.
Thanks to their encouragement, a plan was hatched. Tyndale left for Germany and thanks to the Guttenburg Press began translating and producing the New Testament! The first time ever translated from the original Greek.
This proved to be a very difficult feat; his endeavor was plagued by those against him and so, he was on the run…
Obeying God and disobeying the governing authority.
His contacts smuggled several thousand copies of the New Testament into England where the bishops gave their all to destroy them, including burning them.
William Tyndale was a wanted man, in hiding while Henry VIII had his men on the hunt for the person who dared believe everyone should learn God’s Word for themselves.
In 1534 Tyndale was betrayed by someone he thought a friend, someone he trusted who would willingly hand him over to the authorities.
While on trial for breaking the law he was also accused of heresy, for standing by biblical truths that are foundational to this day.
On October 6, 1536 William Tyndale was put to death for giving the common people the Word of God, because the church and government wanted absolute control, free thinking was dangerous…
Reading and coming to personal convictions aside from what people were told was dangerous.
In his dying breath he prayed that the King of England’s eyes would be opened, a prayer answered within a few short years as Henry VIII required all parishes to have an English bible available for their congregations.
Despite being hunted down and abused by those in authority, Tyndale stuck by his convictions and obedience to God without faltering. Even to the point of death.
The effects of his bravery and disobedience ripple outward even today, as we have such easy access to the Scriptures and others step forward in their own acts of bravery and disobedience to people desperate to read the Word themselves.
Today we honor a life that ran with fervor into scary and unknown territory, so you and I today could read our Bibles without a middle man telling us what it said or what to think about.
Because of Tyndale we can read our Bibles and receive personal revelation and encouragement through them.
As you sit in your Bible study soon, take a moment to remember the heroes like William Tyndale that fought for the freedom we have today. The men and women who died for the Book we ignore so easily and “don’t have time” for.
That is some wild and crazy faith!
Going forward as we are reminded of stories like this, may we pray for the people who even now are disobeying governing authorities and other religions to bring people Truth. Please pray for those in the underground church who meet in secret ready to die for their faith, because death in Jesus is sweeter than a life without Him.