The Wycliffe Era passed, but the cold, calculated, and cruel hand of the enemy pursued relentlessly to crush what was previously achieved by the Wycliffe and Lollard revival that stirred England and Europe. Many decades passed before the windows of heaven opened once again to bring revival.
Tyndall the Faithful
William Tyndall was born in 1484 and in early life was admitted as a student in Oxford. While there, he was irresistibly drawn to the excellent Erasmus Greek New Testament. While other books touched his great intellect, this Book regenerated his heart. He had discovered the inestimable treasure, “the Word of God.” This greatly changed him, making him eventually an inspiration to many.
He was conversant in seven languages so that each seemed to be his native one. He surrendered his mind and body in total sacrifice to God. This man gave the English world a translation of the Holy Scriptures, the Tyndall translation, superior to all that went before. It was a major contribution in revivals. William Tyndall’s faith was tested, tried, and triumphant. He was faithful unto death! To read his biography is thrilling, heart-warming, and indeed humbling to the heart.
Tyndall the Fearless
He was raised up to revive a nation! His first translation of the New Testament was issued in 1525. In 1534 Tyndall’s noblest accomplishment was completed, a New Testament that demonstrates strength and the beauty and flexibility of the English tongue in a manner undreamed of up to that period. Tyndall had one burning ambition, and it became his life’s work: to give the English a Bible in their native tongue. When told that the Pope was to be obeyed above the Word of God, he replied; “I defy the Pope and his laws,” then followed with these memorable words: “If God spares my life I will before many years cause the boy that drives the plough to know more of the Scriptures than the priests do.” To accomplish this tremendous task, Tyndall led a vagabond’s life of hardship and poverty with no fixed abode. With a price on his head, he was, like David, hunted continually by enemies. He was God’s man for this invaluable work. He had to flee to Europe to fulfill his ambition. Tyndall became sympathetic with the German monk Luther when in Germany. He was an outcast, yet he overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Although Tyndall never translated the whole Bible, another vessel was used to complete it. How true the words; “God buries His workmen but carries on His work.”
Tyndall the Fruitful
Finally the Tyndall translation poured into England from Europe, hidden in flour bags. This literally turned England upside down as the good news from the Bible echoed throughout England and into others lands. The Bishop of London vehemently proclaimed that all Bibles were to be burned. He agreed to pay Augustine Packington a great amount of money to to buy every Tyndall Bible in Europe and transport them to England to go up in flames! This order was fulfilled, but Packington, a friend of Tyndall, gave the money back to William Tyndall to produce four more for every one burned. To paraphrase Exodus 1:12, “The more they burned, the more they multiplied!” God reigns! Interestingly, the good KJV (Authorized Version) contains ninety percent of Tyndall’s translation! Tyndall once stated, “If a Luther Bible caused so much stir in Germany, what would an English Bible do to an English-speaking world?” Revival! Eternity alone will reveal the results of the mighty work accomplished through William Tyndall. Many thousands will rise to call him blessed in “that day” and from the Master he will receive the “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Tyndall the Fragrant
At the close his life, the shadows of martyrdom fell across his damp dungeon in the castle of Vilvorde. During his last days in that cold dungeon, he was like his Master Whom he devotedly and loyally served. God was with him, as with Joseph, and the keeper of the prison showed Tyndall favor. Tyndall (like Paul) had the joy of seeing the keeper, his wife, and others of the household converted. He wrote from the dungeon, “I believe, Right Worshipful, that you are not ignorant of what is determined concerning me; therefore I entreat your Lordship, that if I am to remain here during winter, you will request the Procureur to be kind enough to send me my goods which he has in his possession, a warmer cap, for I suffer extremely from the cold in the head, being afflicted with a perpetual catarrh, which is considerably increased in the cell. A warmer coat also, for that which I have is very thin; also a piece of cloth to patch my leggings; my overcoat has been worn out; my shirts are also worn out. He has a woolen-shirt of mine, if he will be kind to send it. I wish also his permission to have a candle in the evening, for it is wearisome to sit alone in the dark. But above all I entreat and beseech your clemency to be urgent with the Procureur that he may kindly permit me to have my Hebrew Bible, Hebrew Grammar, and Hebrew Dictionary, that I may spend my time with that study. And in return may you obtain your dearest wish, provided always it be consistent with the salvation of your own soul. But if any other resolution has come concerning me, that I must remain during the whole winter, I shall be patient, abiding the will of God to the glory of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose spirit, I pray, may ever direct your heart. Amen.”
It would appear that Tyndall completed the O.T. translation to the end of Chronicles. In October 1536 he was brought to the place of execution, fastened to the stake, and, with the Bible tied around his neck, uttered his last words, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” Before the year concluded this payer was answered. The king’s signature was on the fly-leaf of the translation. This noble warrior gave so much to a dark world, advancing the Bible that brought revival and everlasting blessing to thousands.