Reformer of the Week: William Tyndale

This past Sunday at Providence we talked about Sola Scriptura, the Latin phrase that means, “by scripture alone.” We learn about it first because it is the bedrock on which the Protestant Reformation stands, and has huge personal implications for our lives as we try to be disciples of Jesus.

If the Bible is the authority over us pertaining to all of life and godliness, then reading it and understanding it is a big deal. You and I can read our Bibles in English because of William Tyndale, our first Reformer of the Week. No one person in history, besides maybe William Shakespeare, is more responsible for the language you and I speak today. That is largely because the very same King James Version of the Bible that millions still read is more than 75% the work of William Tyndale. It is amazing that the 47 scholars who translated the King James Version, working in peace and prosperity, could not improve on the work of a young man who was a fugitive and declared a heretic!

And so we are grateful for William Tyndale. A hundred years before an English king would endorse a Bible translation with his own name, another English king launched a manhunt that stretched into the European continent, all for a man who was writing and smuggling English copies of the New Testament into England.

Tyndale risked and ultimately lost his life so that English-speaking people had the Word of God in their own language. He had the audacity to disobey the most powerful people in the world because he knew that the truths of God’s Word contained our only hope.

So when you see that dusty Bible on your shelf, find one long hidden under all the junk in your car, or count the copies you have at your disposal – remember William Tyndale. Remember him and countless others who died so we could have the Bible. Remember those who didn’t have Lifeway or Amazon or the Gideons. Without the hope of the gospel, we are lost. And as time passes and culture changes like it always does, one thing remains. We must know God’s Word and be able to share it in a way people can understand – making, growing, and unleashing disciples – until finally languages and words on a page are made obsolete, and we see Jesus face to face.

More Resources on Tyndale:

Tyndale on Wikipedia

Desiring God on Tyndale

Tyndale Biography on Amazon

The Gospel Coalition’s Tyndale Resource Page