When it was a Crime to Read the Bible #1619

Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” (1 Timothy 4:13, NKJV)

William Tyndale had already been on the run for five years by the start of the third decade of the 16th century. The king of England, Henry VIII, had declared him a felon. Fleeing Roman Catholic authorities of London (never to return to England), he first went to Cologne, France, and then Worms, Germany. What crime had this “evil” man committed? Of what rebellious act of treason was he guilty? He dared to translate and print the New Testament in the English language! Yes, it was a crime to read the Bible (William Manchester, A World Lit Only By Fire, 204-205)! Tyndale was eventually arrested and imprisoned in a castle near Brussels. In 1536, after being tried and convicted for heresy, he was publicly executed (tied to a stake, he was strangled to death and his corpse burned). Reflecting on Tyndale’s struggles and sacrifices to provide Englishmen with the word of God in their own language cause us to thank God for the accessibility of the Bible today. It has been translated into many hundreds of languages. Men died to give us the opportunity to read God’s word, the Bible. We really have no excuse for not giving attention to reading it and obeying it (Ephesians 3:3-4; 5:17; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 3:18).

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2 thoughts on “When it was a Crime to Read the Bible #1619”

  1. For what its worth, the reading in 1 Timothy 4:13 was public explanatory reading due both to illiteracy and the Gentiles’ lack of familiarity with the Old Testament scriptures. The passage is not actually talking about private personal reading. There are many passages which exhort us to engage in the personal study of God’s word and pondering (aka “meditation”)

    1. Thank you for your comments, I appreciate them and agree. I’m sure you’d agree that public explanatory reading of God’s word provides an opportunity for personal pondering and meditation upon what is heard. Since the exhorter (Timothy) was to “meditate on these things” of which the apostle reminded him, we do well to also meditate on what the apostle(s) wrote, considering ourselves just as Timothy was told to do (1 Tim. 4:15-16). Thanks for your clarification on the text, and for reading Sword Tips.

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