Three names are associated with the history of the translation and publication of the Bible into the language of the people; John Wycliffe (died 1384), John Hus (died 1415), and William Tyndale (died 1536). Others championed this cause and helped in the effort. You can find many good articles on these men online.
This history is fascinated and inspiring. Some of these translators showed great courage, evening dying, in the struggle to read God’s word and bring it to others. But this history is more than inspirational. It is God’s work for our salvation.
The motivation behind the translation work of these scholars was the conviction that everyone should be able to read the Bible in his own language. For centuries, the Bible was read only in Latin, and by only the church clergy. This meant the Bible was unavailable to the average person. Wycliffe, Hus, Tyndale, and others wanted to change this, and they did. God used them to get his word to us.
The translation of the Bible into common languages is God’s gift to us. The Bible is God’s word. The early translators did not invent the word of God. They used their understanding and acted on their conviction to bring God’s word to us. God was behind this Bible translation movement. He brought light to us in the form of a book that reveals his Light to us – his Son, Jesus.
The translation of the Bible into common languages is God’s way forward for us. Looking back on the history of the Bible’s translation helps us know how to walk into the future. What will guide us in the days ahead? What will we bring with us into the decade to come? God’s truth is marching on, so we march on with it in our heads, hearts, and mouths.
The translation of the Bible into common languages is God’s missionary strategy for the world. “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) The word of Christ is authoritatively and clearly given to us in the pages of the Bible. In the Bible, we see God and his plan for the nations and peoples of the world. The Bible shows us the way of salvation in Christ. In the Bible, we read of God’s future, a new heaven, and new earth with a
new people from all the nations worshiping him forever.
I will not ask you to image a world without the Bible, for that world will never be. God’s word is forever and will always be. I will ask you to image your world without the Bible. As you do, thank God for using the faithful Bible translators of the past to bring the Bible to you in your language. Ask God to help you to use the Bible faithfully as you follow Jesus into the future. This Sunday at Grace, we will take up the Bible, open it together, and thank God for its message to us. Join us.