Tyndale had cracked the foundation. Common people began reading the New Testament, for the first time, in their own language . . . and they acted with righteous indignation. They realized they had been kept in darkness, for centuries, from the light of Holy Scripture. A movement swept through England which already was sweeping through Europe: The Protestant Reformation. This reformation spawned denominations we know today as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Lutherans, and many others who are having an enormous impact on societies all over the world.
William Tyndale was taken to a high platform in public view. Bishops flanked him, robed in their priestly vestments. Anointing oil, symbolically, was scraped from his hands. The Lord’s Supper was placed before him and then quickly removed, tauntingly. Tyndale was wearing priestly vestments. They were stripped away from his body. Finally, he was handed over to the hangman. In his last moments, he cried-out, “Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes.” They strangled him above a pyre of brush. He was burned. Gunpowder had been placed in the brush. His body was mutilated by the explosions. All for what? What was his crime?
He translated the NT into the English language.
Tyndale, the Man
William Tyndale was brilliant. He was fluent in 8 languages: Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and of course, English. He was, first and foremost, a translator, but he was much more than that: A defender of gospel truth, a parser of words, a coiner of terms, a pitcher of phrases, a genius in language, a man of steely conviction. He was God’s English wordsmith. He not only gave us the Bible in our language. He “gave us a Bible language.”
He coined a litany of now-famous phrases:
- Let there be light.
- Am I my brother’s keeper?
- The salt of the earth.
- Fight the good fight.
- Let not your heart be troubled.
- A city that is set on a hill.
- As sheep having no shepherd.
- Ask and it shall be given.
- Twinkling of an eye.
He invented English words never before used: scapegoat, Passover, atonement, etc. His gift for language was magnificent, so much so that 90% of the King James Version Bible comes from Tyndale, directly transposed.