October 6, 1536: William Tyndale martyred
On this day, 476 years ago, William Tyndale was martyred for translating the entire Bible into English.
Up until this point, the Bible was only available in Latin, which limited its readability to the scholars of the Roman Catholic Church. Many priests could not understand Latin, much less the average population who were too poor to afford the education required to learn a dead clerical language. The RCC, who already decreed the death penalty for anyone found in possession of John Wycliffe’s shorter English sections, considered this full translation a blatant defiance against their authority. Tyndale’s response?
I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!
Tyndale’s dying prayer was for God to open the eyes of the king of England so God’s Word could be made accessible to the public. God answered these prayers years later, when king Henry authorized the Great Bible, made up largely of Tyndale’s work. He would also influence the Geneva Bible, a driving force in the Reformation, and, of course, the King James Version in 1611.
His reward was conviction for heresy, strangulation, and burning.
The road to the English Bible was paved with the blood of martyrs. The saints who died, so firmly believed in the efficacy of God’s Word, that they were willing undergo torture and death to get it to you in your native language. Spirit of God! Let our hearts come alive to Your Word once again.