Volume. XXXIV, No. 19
Sunday, 10 November 2019

William Tyndale “The Apostle of England” (Part 1)

Under the portrait of William Tyndale# which hangs in Hertford College, Oxford, the following inscription in Latin, which translated is as follows:


This canvas represents (which is all that Art can do)

The likeness of William Tyndale, formerly student and pride of this Hall;

Who after reaping here the happy first-fruits of a purer faith,

Devoted his energy at Antwerp to the translation

Of the New Testament and Pentateuch into the native language:

A work so beneficial to his English countrymen, that he is,

Not undeservedly called the Apostle of England,

He received the crown of martyrdom at Vilvorde, near Brussels, 1536.

A man (if we may believe his opponent, the Procurator-General of the Emperor) very learned, pious, and good)


# The portrait was first published by Henry Holland in his Herwologia’ in 1620.  There is, however a strong suspicion that the accepted portrait of Tyndale is not of Tyndale at all!  It bears an unmistakable likeness to the engraving of John Knox found in Beza’s ‘ICONES’ of 1580 made from a painting commissioned from an artist named VENSAOUN. (Lupton: Tyndale the Translator: opp. Title page)


The first printed English edition of the New Testament from the Greek was that of William Tyndale, one of England’s first Protestant martyrs.


  • There was a persistent family tradition described in a letter from one Tyndale to another in 1663 claiming that a certain man by the name of Tyndale came out from Northumberland[1] (Dale of Tyne, hence the name Tyndale) during the wars of the Roses (1455-1485) into Gloucestershire where he changed his name to Hutchyns or Hychins for safety, and revealed his true name to his children on his deathbed!
  • It is thought that the location was in the valley of the South Tyne, somewhere on Alston Moor in the Dale of the Tyne, not too far distant from the birthplace of John Wycliff, and Miles Coverdale.
  • Tyndale describes himself in the opening lines of his “Obedience to the Christian Man,” as: “William Hychins unto the Reader.” Upon the death of his father, the name of Hychins was afterward abandoned, and the family resumed their old and rightful one of Tyndale.
  • It was on the 6th October 1536 that William Tyndale, having spent a very uncomfortable year in Vilvorde Castle, near Antwerp, Belgium, was escorted to the stake; and there they tied him to the stake and strangled him to death, and then in that public place, they burned his body. And if you love the Authorised Version, well under God, humanly speaking, 90% of this wonderful and majestic translation of the New Testament, comes from the pen of William    He was a great and mighty Bible translator, who wrote from his prison cell to his friend, John Frith, who himself was awaiting martyrdom in England,


For I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus to give a reckoning of our doings, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would this day if all that is in the earth, whether it be pleasure, honour or riches might be given me.  Moreover I take God to record to my conscience, that I desired of God to myself, in this world, no more than that without which I cannot keep His laws”.2


  • When a high-ranking and learned Roman Catholic priest uttered those blasphemous words, “We were better to be without God’s laws than the Pope’s.” Tyndale responded with those memorable words, “I defy the pope and all his laws…If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost”.3


[1] Lupton, Tyndale  the Translator, Vol. XVIII p.7

2 Demaus, William Tyndale A Biography, Religious Tract Society, 1904, p. 415

3 Foxe, Chap XII, Book of Martyrs.

  • Tyndale like Calvin, and Luther had been brought up in the Roman Catholic system, brought up in a country in which the Church was at its lowest ebb of spiritual vitality, and the County of Gloucestershire where Tyndale lived was a hive of Popery! The clergy and people were shrouded in a mist of superstition. 
  • The Bible was an unknown book, but there developed within Tyndale a burning and compulsive burden to translate the Bible into our mother tongue, and that, against the prohibition imposed by the Convocation of Canterbury. He entered Magdalen Hall (now Hertford College), Oxford in 1505, but even there the study of Scripture was discouraged, for we find Tyndale writing,


they have ordained that no man shall look on the Scripture until he be noselled in heathen learning eight or nine years, and armed with false principles; with which he is clean shut out of the understanding of the Scripture”.4


  • The ten years he spent in Oxford before his graduation in 1515, were years of transition from medieval Romanism to the doctrines of the Reformation. Tyndale grew and increased in the knowledge of the Scriptures, so much so, that he began to expound the Scriptures to the Fellows of Magdalen Hall.  Everything was brought to the touchstone of Holy Scripture, and it was this attitude to the authority, sufficiency, and supremacy of the inspired word, which characterised the strength and vigour of his intellect.  Foxe tells us that his mind was singularly addicted to the knowledge of the Scriptures.
  • Leaving Oxford, he moved to Cambridge, where Erasmus had taught from 1511-1514, and the influence of the learned Dutchman was still powerful at Queen’s College. Tyndale came under this influence, and according to Foxe he was “further ripened in the knowledge of God”.5
  • He left Cambridge, in that year of 1521. That was a glorious year.  In that year that mountain of a man, Martin Luther was summoned to Worms, and on that wonderful occasion, Martin Luther stood before the Diet of Worms, and made that wonderful stand against the might of Rome,


“Since then your serene Majesty and your Lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed: unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.  I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen."6


  • And that cry was heard throughout Europe, “Here I stand, my conscience is captive to the Word of God”. In that very same year, William Tyndale left Cambridge, and God led him to Little Sodbury Manor.  It was the Manor House of Sir John Walsh, and William Tyndale was asked to be the tutor to Sir John Walsh’s children. 
  • Gloucestershire was the stronghold of the Roman Church, having six mitred abbys within its borders, and possessing the most famous relic in Christendom, “The Blood of Hailes,” said to be the blood of Christ, contained in a phial, preserved in the Abbey of Hailes, near Winchcombe, the very sight of which was guaranteed to ensure the salvation of the beholder! It was later shown that this blood was that of a duck which was regularly renewed, but the income received from this duck’s blood, was sufficient to rebuild the abbey at Hailes on a grand scale!



4 Works of Tyndale, Exposition Vol.II (Parker Society, 1849), p.291

5 Quoted by Marcus Loane in “Masters of the English Reformation,”CBR Press 1954, p.49

6 Fuller David Otis, ‘Valiant for the Truth,’ Oliphants Ltd, 1962, p. 136


To be continued in the next edition……


Editor’s Notes: Last week’s article on Martin Luther (Part 2) was written by Dr David Allen. Lively Hope Team apologises for the omission of the author’s name.

More Lively Hope



  • Hope Bookshop Christmas Cards available for $1 each. Buy 5 get 1 free.
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  • Combined Ladies’ & Seniors’ Fellowship Meeting & Activity @ 10am, Sat, 30 Nov @ Fellowship Hall followed by Potbless Lunch.
  • Visitation to Rembrandt Living Oaklands Park, Sun, 1 Dec @ 2:45pm. 
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  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); and others who are unwell.
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Praise & Thanksgiving

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