The Bible Study with Steven Lawson

William Tyndale and the English Reformation

Episode Notes

William Tyndale

and the English Reformation


• Philip Schaff called the Reformation of the sixteenth century “the turning point of modern history.”

• He added the Reformation was,


“next to the introduction of Christianity, the greatest event in history...the

chief propelling force in the history of modern civilization.”



1330—John Wycliffe born in England

• Oxford professor

• Became leading intect in England, Europe

1382—Wycliffe Bible translated into English

• from Latin into Middle English,

• Stiff, wooden translation, handcopied

1384—Wycliffe dies, Lutterworth, England

1401—"On the Burning of Heretics”

• legislation passes by Parliament

• Translating, owning English Bible, death

• Attempts to suppress the influence of Wycliffe

1408—"Constitutions of Oxford”

• It’s a “dangerous thing” to translate Scripture in English

1415—Council of Constance

• John Hus burned as martyr

• Leader of Bohemian church

• Pastored Bethlehem Chapel, Prague


Steven J. Lawson

Men’s Bible Study

English Reformation




• Wycliffe condemned, body exhumed

• Wycliffe removed from sacred ground in church yard

1428—Wycliffe’s body dug up, burned

• Ashes scattered into Swift River

1450—Johannes Gutenberg perfects printing press

1455—Gutenberg Bible printed


1483—Martin Luther born, Eisleben, Germany

1483—Ulrich Zwingli born, Switzerland

1494—William Tyndale born, near Gloustershire, England

1506—Tyndale enters Magdalen Hall, Oxford

• Age 12, normal for that time

• Studies here for next ten years

1509—John Calvin born, Navon, France

• His father, lawyer in the Catholic Church

• Raised in Catholic church, to be priest

1512—Tyndale earns Bachelor of Arts, Oxford

1514—John Knox born, Scotland

1515—Tyndale earns Master of Arts, Oxford

• Stunningly brilliant, linguistic genius

• Would become proficient in eight languages


1516—Erasmus compiles Greek New Testament

• Leading humanist of his day


Steven J. Lawson

Men’s Bible Study

English Reformation




• Cambridge professor

• Travels Europe, collects Greek manuscripts

1516—Tyndale studies at Cambridge

• Continues intellectual pursuit

1517—Pope Leo X authorizes indulgences

1517—Luther posts 95 Theses

• In response to sale of indulgences by Rome

1519—Luther converted reading Greek New Testament

1520—Tyndale joins White Horse Inn

• Small group Bible study

• Studying Luther’s writings

• Called “Little Germany”

• Produced leaders of English Reformation

• 8 martyrs from this group

• Tyndale converted, becomes Reformed

1521—Luther, Diet of Worms

• Stands heresy trial before authorities

• Condemned as heretic, death sentence

1521—Tyndale becomes private tutor

• Leaves Cambridge to study the Scripture more carefully

• Realizes all England is lost

• Must translate Bible into English

• “plough boy in field know more than pope”


Steven J. Lawson

Men’s Bible Study

English Reformation




1522—Luther translates New Testament into German

• Produced while he was kidnapped in Wartburg Castle

1523—Tyndale denied translation into English

• Travels to London to receive permission

• Refused, must leave England

• Businessman agrees to support him


1524—Tyndale leaves England for Europe

• Nowhere in England to do the work

• Never to return, never to marry

1524—Tyndale arrives in Hamburg, Germany

1524—Tyndale travels to Wittenberg

1525—Tyndale translates English New Testament, Cologne, Germany

• Largest city in Germany, easiest to hide

• Finished New Testament

• Raid on print shop at Matthew 22:13

1526—Tyndale publishes English New Testament, Worms, Germany

• Travels to Worms, Germany on Rhine River into North Sea

• Smuggles Bibles into England, Scotland

1528—Tyndale writes The Parable of the Wicked Mammon

• Teaches justification by faith

1528—Tyndale writes The Obedience of a Christian Man

• Teaches obedience to the king


Steven J. Lawson

Men’s Bible Study

English Reformation




1528—Three agents dispatched, find Tyndale

• Returns empty handed without Tyndale

1528—John West dispatched, find Tyndale

• Returns without Tyndale

1529—Tyndale translates Pentateuch into English, Antwerp

• Monumental effort

1529—Tyndale sails for Elbe River, shipwrecked, translation lost

1529—Tyndale retranslates the Pentateuch, Hamburg, Germany

• Reunited with Miles Coverdale, Cambridge classmate

• Requires ten months to complete the project

1529—Tyndale moves to Antwerp, Belgium

• Remains elusive, anonymous

1529—More, A Dialogue Concerning Heresies

• Sir Thomas More unleashed brutal public attack

• Called Tyndale captain of English heretics, hell-bound in devil’s kennel, new Judas, worse than

Sodom and Gomorrah, idolater, devil-worshipper, beast out of whose brutish, beastly mouth

comes filthy foam

1530—Tyndale publishes Pentateuch in English, Antwerp

• Uses pseudonym Hans Luft, Marburg

• Includes glossaries, introductions

• Smuggled into England, distributed

1530—Tyndale, The Practice of Prelates

• Attacks rites, doctrines, corruptions of Rome

1530—Stephen Vaughan dispatched, find Tyndale

• English merchants, sympathetic to Reformed cause


Steven J. Lawson

Men’s Bible Study

English Reformation




• Offered Tyndale safe passage back to England, salary

• Tyndale agreed on one condition

• If Henry VIII choose another translator

1531—Vaughan returns empty handed

• “I always find him always singing one note”

1531—Sir Thomas Elyot dispatched to Europe

• Apprehend Tyndale, return him to the king

• Tyndale not to be found

1531—Tyndale translates Jonah into English

• Desires it be preached to England

• “Forty day, London destroyed”

1531—Tyndale writes Answer, defends translation

1532—More, Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer

• Massive writing, half million words

• Calls Tyndale traitor to England, heretic

1534—Henry VIII named Head of Church of England

• Denied annulment of his marriage

• Pulls England out of Catholic Church

• Parliament passes Act of Supremacy, monarch head of church

1534—Tyndale moves into house of English merchants, Antwerp

• John Rogers joins Tyndale, Coverdale

• Rogers converted under Tyndale’s witness

• Rogers will complete Tyndale’s translation


Steven J. Lawson

Men’s Bible Study

English Reformation




1534—Tyndale revises Pentateuch, Antwerp

1534—Tyndale revises New Testament, Antwerp

• 4000 edits to his 1526 printing

• Called “the glory of his life’s work”

1535—Tyndale re-edits New Testament, Antwerp

• Makes yet more edits, though fewer

1535—Tyndale translates Joshua-2 Chronicles

• Completes historical section of Old Testament


1535—Henry Phillips dispatched, find Tyndale

• Had gambled away father’s estate

• Church of England promises to repay

1535—Tyndale arrested, Antwerp

1535—Tyndale imprisoned, Vilvoorde Castle, Belgium

• Held 500 days, 18 months in castle

• Miserable conditions

1535—Coverdale Bible published

• Unknown to Tyndale, Coverdale completes Old Testament

• But not from Hebrew

1536—Tyndale tried, charged, martyred

• Mock trial, charged with heresy

• God, open the eyes of the king

• Tyndale hung, burned, blown up


Steven J. Lawson

Men’s Bible Study

English Reformation





1536—Calvin writes Institute of the Christian Religion

• Greatest work of Reformation

• Explains true Christianity to French King

1536—Calvin enters Geneva

• Road detour, unintentional destination

• Recognized as author, Institutes

• Charged to stay or be cursed

1537—Rogers publishes Matthew Bible

• Edits Old Testament portions translated by Coverdale

• Publishes entire Bible, Tyndale’s work, his edits

1538—Calvin expelled from Geneva

• For fencing Lord’s Table

• Departs for Geneva

1541—Calvin returns to Geneva

• Geneva begs Calvin to return

• Begins with next verse of last exposition

• Preaches there for next 23 years


1545—Council of Trent meets

• Meeting of Roman Catholic leaders

• Launches Counter Reformation

• Produces first Catholic doctrinal statement

• Declares anathema on Reformers, believers of gospels of grace


Steven J. Lawson

Men’s Bible Study

English Reformation




1546—Luther dies in Germany

• “I want to be as well known in hell as in heaven”

• Preaches last sermon in Eisleben

• “God put the power in the Word.”

1547—King Henry VIII dies

1547—Edward VI, King of England

• Boy king, age 9

• Protestant king, makes Reformed policies

1549—Book of Common Prayer published

1549—Act of Uniformity passed

1553—Edward VI dies

• Dies at age 15

• Reformed cause halted

1553—Mary I, Queen of England

• Bloody Mary assumes throne

• Staunch Catholic

• Begins martyrdom of Protestants

1553—John Knox leaves England for Europe

1555—Rogers martyred, Smithfield, London

• Charged with heresy

• Fist Marian martyr

1555—Latimer, Ridley martyred, Oxford

• Burned to death at same stake


Steven J. Lawson

Men’s Bible Study

English Reformation




• Latimer, “Play the man Master Ridley”

1558—Mary I dies, age 42

• A mercy of relief to Reformed believers

1558—Elizabeth I, Queen of England

• Half-sister assumes throne

• Chooses halfway house, compromise

• Combines Reformed truth, Catholic worship

1559—John Knox returns to Scotland

• Launches Scottish Reformation

1560—Geneva Bible published

• Translated into English

• First English Bible with chapter divisions

• Included study notes

1560s—Puritan Age begins

• Attempt to purify worship within Church of England

1564—Calvin dies in Geneva

• Concludes 25 years pastorate

1572—St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

1603—Elizabeth I, dies, age 69

1603—James I becomes King of England

1611—King James Version

• 90% of New Testament was Tyndale’s work

1618—Synod of Dort, refutes Arminianism