I want you to mentally travel back in time to the 14th century AD. As we travel back in time, we notice that all of our English translations have disappeared. How’s your Greek, Hebrew, or Latin? Upon arrival in the 14th century, not only are there no English Bibles, but the religious leaders of the day regard allowing the “common man” to have a Bible to be a great danger. John Wycliffe produced an English translation in 1382 prior to the invention of the printing press. But the reaction to translating was so severe, that the Council of Constance in 1415 ordered Wycliffe’s remains to be disinterred and burned, and the ashes thrown on the River Swift.
In 1525, John Tyndale was the first to translate and produce a printed English New Testament. He was incensed by the prejudice of the religious clerics of his day. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs tells of Tyndale having a argument with one of these “learned” men:
Not long after, Tyndale happened to be in company of a certain divine, and in disputing with him he pressed him so hard that the doctor burst out into these blasphemous words: “We were better to be without God’s laws than the pope’s.”
Tyndale full of godly zeal, replied: “I defy the pope and all his laws;” and added, that if God spared him life, ere many years, he would cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than he did.
Tyndale made good on this, but he had to leave England to do it because of opposition. And irony of ironies, the English Bible had to be smuggled into England in bales of cloth. Religious leaders burned copies of it, and Tyndale was later imprisoned and finally executed.
Your English Bible is a priceless possession. Not everyone has been so fortunate as to be able to read for themselves the Word of God. Regrettably, the dream that even the plowboy shall know scripture can be lost today, not for lack of a Bible, but for lack of a Bible reader.