Have you ever appreciated having the Bible in a language you can understand? If you don’t, you need to! Do you know there was time in history when it was a crime having an English translation of the Bible? Those in possession of whole or any part of the English translation were condemned to death.
I didn’t love autobiographies, my ignorance to history has in the past robbed me an opportunity to learn and appreciate things as we see them today. Thanks to iServe Africa where I have been nurtured in reading about the lives of early church fathers who risked their lives for the gospel.
John Piper in his book, Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ connected me to William Tyndale, an English scholar who became a leading figure in Protestant reform in the years leading up to his execution. Tyndale risked his life to translate the Scriptures into English, giving us a reason to appreciate God that we can read the Bible in our own vernacular languages.
Passion for Bible Translation
William Tyndale at the age of 28 had a great passion to translate the New Testament to ordinary English that all his compatriots would read and understand the scriptures. He sought permission and funds from the bishop of London, and instead the church opposed his idea of translating the Bible. He even had to ran away to exile for 7 years, in fear of his life.
King of England then, King Henry VIII, desired that Tyndale would come back to England out of hiding, but Tyndale would insist that he would go back to England if only the King would authorize him and give his official endorsement to a vernacular Bible for his subjects to read. John Piper notes that ‘Vernacular Bible for English subjects’ was the note that Tyndale always sung.
Tyndale efforts bring reformation
In 1525, while in exile, Tyndale managed to produce the first English translation of New Testament from Greek and smuggled it into England in bales of clothes. The translation was the beginning of a transformation, people were able to read and understand the scriptures in their language! They no longer depended on their priests to read the Bible for them. This was against the early church tradition where it was believed that only the priests were given the divine grace to understand the scriptures.
Tyndale efforts were able to give many a chance to understand scriptures. For many years, the only translation of the Greek and Hebrew Bible was Latin Vulgate, and a few people could understand it, even if they had access to it. At 42 years, Tyndale was tied to the stake and then strangled by the executioner; afterwards the fire consumed him. He died with a prayer, that the Lord would open the eyes of the King of England. And yes God did answer his prayer and King James I ordered translation of the Bible that had nine tenths of Tyndale’s work giving rise to the famous King James Version.
Suffering for the Gospel
William Tyndale shows what it means to suffer for Christ. He who laid down his life for us; therefore we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren. “In times of suffering, we ought to have faith and pray to the Father in the Name of Jesus, and he will ease our pain, or shorten it,” Tyndale advises us.
All Glory to God in that the Bible has been translated into many languages from the biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. As of last year, the full Bible was translated into 531 languages, and 2,883 languages have at least some portion of the Bible.
Article by Kenneth Irungu iServe Africa Apprentice Serving at DOVE Christian Fellowship, Kawangware.