William Tyndale’s Gospel

Woodcut from John Foxe's  The Book of Martyrs. William Tyndale (1494-1536) cries out, "Lord, open the King of England's eyes."

Woodcut from John Foxe’s The Book of Martyrs. William Tyndale (1494-1536) cries out, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”

Are you willing to “go the extra mile” for someone?

If you know what I am talking about, you might know that this phrase,
go the extra mile“, comes from the Bible (Matthew 5:41). But
did you know how this phrase became part of the English language?

William Tyndale (1494-1536) was an energetic scholar, a real brainy
guy, kind of like his fellow yet modern Englishman, Tom Wright, who
wrote our study book for Lent on the Gospel of Matthew.

Tyndale was bothered that his typical neighbor was not able to read
the Bible in their native English language in the 16th century. So he
went about learning ancient Greek and Hebrew and began translating the
Bible into English. Unfortunately, the political and religious
establishment of his day opposed his efforts, so he took it all
underground, fleeing to mainland Europe to complete his work. To his
critics, he announced, “If God spare my life, before very long I
shall cause a plough boy to know the scriptures better than you
do!
” He kept pumping out Bible translations until he was arrested
and burned at the stake for his crimes.

But before he was killed, Tyndale had completely transformed much of
the English language with many of his unique turns of phrases and
idioms. Ironically, almost a good 90% of the famous King James
translation of the Bible from 1611 is all a result of William
Tyndale’s masterful mind. As I have been reading the Gospel of Matthew
these weeks, I come across these classic phrases we use in everyday
language:

salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13)
eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” (Matthew 5:38)
signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3)
all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26)
they made light of it” (Matthew 22:5)

So am I telling you this so that you can simply win some round of Bible Trivia? I sincerely hope not.

The point is that William Tyndale had an incredible passion for the
spread of God’s Word. His faithfulness to God’s calling on his life is
continuing to have an impact on generations of English speaking people
whether they know Jesus or not, hundreds of years after he lived.

Can you read the signs of the times today? We are living in
an increasing Biblically illiterate culture. Do we as believers have
such a desire for God’s Word that it just pours forth from our daily
speech, transforming the world around us?

Are we teaching our children to feast on the words of Holy Scripture,
or do we acquiesce to the lyrics of Lady Gaga that saturate their
minds instead?

We need more people like William Tyndale with a passion for God’s
Word. Tyndale challenges me to incorporate Scripture more and more in
my daily life. I hope that we will not make light of the task
that God has set before us. With Jesus, all things are
possible
when we fill our hearts and minds with God’s Word.

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2 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Veracity and commented:
    William Tyndale is one of the most important people in English history that few rarely ever know. Through his passion to get the Bible, God’s Word, into the hands of ordinary people, he gave us the linguistic structure of what we consider modern English, perhaps just as influential, if not more so, than William Shakespeare. The following blog post from our church’s Lenten series demonstrates the Tyndale legacy…

    Some dismiss William Tyndale and his followers as being hopelessly anti-Catholic, but such an assessment obscures his otherwise remarkable contribution to the history of the church.

    As an aid to better appreciate William Tyndale, I found the following documentary by BBC journalist Melyvn Bragg, one of Britain’s foremost public intellectuals, linked here below on Veracity. Bragg is not evangelical in his theology, as he embraces a high-minded form of Christianity as a type of “tribal” faith celebrating the history and grandeur of English culture over against an empty atheism. Nevertheless, his appreciation for Tyndale is something that I hope evangelically-minded Christians will find contagious.

  2. Thank you Clarke. Great reminders and really centered at the core of How grateful and reverant we are to be with Gods Word. Reminds me of how great we have it to have His Word and Holy Spirit. He speaks to us through them both, but mostly through His written Word. What a great post.

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