Week commencing 12th November 2017   With a PDF found here

Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on 2 Tim 3:10-4:5 “A Bible that deserves to be read.”

This week we will be considering the place that the recovery of the Bible had in the Reformation.

DAY 1: Read 2 Timothy 3:10-13

As Paul addresses up and coming leader Timothy, he wants him to have a realistic picture of what ministry may mean for him. Paul speaks firstly of his passion and focus and how that in turn meant hardship and persecution. If Timothy also wants to lead a godly life, he should expect nothing less! But Paul’s confidence is to be Timothy’s confidence – that as the Lord rescued Paul, so will he rescue Timothy. Sadly, Paul’s prediction that evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, we see so very clearly in the church of our time!

We’ve seen over these past weeks how the church of the middle ages was lost and corrupt – full of people who were deceiving and being deceived. One clear reason was because people did not have access to the Word of God. During the medieval era (AD 500-1500), the Western church and the pope possessed immense spiritual and political authority. The Bible of the West was the Vulgate, a translation adapted from Jerome’s fourth- century Latin revision. Access to the Bible was limited primarily to scholars, clergy, and the wealthy. Most people could not read Latin, and books were rare and expensive, produced by hand. The church taught that popes, councils, the Bible, and tradition were all considered sources of spiritual authority. The church also asserted it had the sole authority to interpret the Bible, and prohibited vernacular (common language) translations. [1]

The reformers engaged with the Bible in new ways, studying the original Greek and Hebrew texts, and teaching and preaching the Bible to the people. They taught that the Bible was the word of God, the highest spiritual authority. They believed the Bible was clear and understandable, full of truth and wisdom. They worked tirelessly to translate the Bible into the languages of the common people. The German reformer Martin Luther wrote that “we must ask the mother in the home, the children in the street, the common person in the market about this. We must be guided by their tongue, the manner of their speech, and do our translating accordingly.” The English Bible translator William Tyndale desired “to have all the scripture unlocked and opened before thee; so that if thou wilt go in, and read, thou canst not but understand.” The Bibles of the Reformation were meant to be opened, read, and studied so that all could engage with the Bible. [2]

DAY 2: Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Note v12 – that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. And this we are seeing all over the world especially now in the 21st century!

In the light of such persecution, Paul urges Timothy to continue in what he has learned – because he knows those from whom he learnt it and how he has become convinced of the Holy Scriptures from early on! Then note what he says about the Scriptures! – they are able to make people “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”!! The Bible will lead us to salvation and the only means of salvation – faith in Christ Jesus!

John Wycliffe, sometimes called the “morning star of the Reformation,” struck a spark that ignited the flame of an impending revolution. In the 1380s, Wycliffe’s followers produced the first complete translation of the Bible in English. Then another momentous development impacted Europe. In the 1450s, Johannes Gutenberg developed a metal movable-type printing press, allowing for faster and cheaper book production. His first major printed work was the Latin Vulgate.

Martin Luther came to believe that the Bible, not the church, was the highest spiritual authority. Luther also wanted a vernacular Bible that was accessible to common people. From 1521 to 1522, he translated the New Testament into German from Greek, using Desiderius Erasmus’s recent edition of the Greek New Testament. With the help of other colleagues, Luther finished the translation of the entire Bible in 1534.

The Reformation spread into England during the reign of King Henry VIII. In 1526, William Tyndale, inspired by Luther, illegally printed his English New Testament. Henry ordered every copy collected and burned. William Tyndale was tried for heresy in 1536, and was strangled and burned at the stake. Just one year before, in 1535, Myles Coverdale had printed the complete English Bible. Coverdale then helped publish the Great Bible, the first and only authorized English translation of the Bible in 1539.

After the death of the Protestant king Edward VI in 1553, Mary Tudor, a devout Catholic, ascended the throne of England. She sought to return England to Catholicism. Several English Protestant leaders and scholars fled to the European continent during her reign, and produced many significant works. About 300 of the exiles settled in Geneva, the home of John Calvin. The English exiles in Geneva produced the 1560 Geneva Bible, translated into English from the Hebrew and Greek texts. In the preface, the translators encouraged the reader to “earnestly study it and in your life practise it.” It was intended to be a study Bible, and included illustrations, charts, and marginal notes with commentary. These notes were controversial, as they contained principles of Calvin’s theology, and adopted a somewhat anticlerical and antimonarchical position. When they returned to England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, these exiles became the core of the Puritan movement.

DAY 3: Read again 2 Timothy 3:14-17

When we pick up our Bibles to read them, we often fail to grasp the significance of the persecution people faced in their effort to bring the Bible to us! It is a Bible that deserves to be read primarily because it is the Word of God. But it also deserves to be read, to honour those who fought to bring it to us in our own language. Of course, it is vital to remember that our Bibles now, are not just up-to-date English versions of those produced at the time of the Reformation, but fresh English translations ‘from scratch’, from the Hebrew and Greek, from the latest manuscripts discovered and authenticated in the last 400 years. How thankful we should be and how foolish are we to neglect the Word of God!

DAY 4: Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5

The Protestant Reformation changed how the Bible was read in the West. People all over Europe could now read the Bible in their own language and listen to the Bible preached in their own language. Bibles were available in all shapes and sizes, with chapters and verses, illustrations, maps, prefaces, and marginal notes; features intended to help a person read and interpret the Bible for themselves.

The Bible has been translated for over 2,000 years as people brought it to new places and new cultures. The sixteenth century experienced a significant increase in the number of new Bible translations, due to the Protestant Reformation. Modern missionary efforts, starting in earnest in the 1800s, sparked massive translation efforts. 1450-1519: 56 editions of vernacular Bible translations were printed; 1520-1599: Over 624 vernacular Bible editions and 346 Latin Bible editions were printed; during the Reformation era, the Bible was translated into 15 new languages; over 7,000 languages are known to be in use today; more than 1,400 languages have access to the New Testament and some portions of Scripture in their language; more than 600 languages have the complete translated Bible; up to 160 million people need Bible translation to begin in their language; approximately 2,400 languages across 165 countries have active translation and linguistic development work happening right now; yet more than 1,600 languages (not including sign languages) still need a Bible translation project to begin! [3] How amazing and wonderful!! And how massively important it is that our ministers today preach this word, and not what modern itching ears want to hear!

[1] https://www.museumofthebible.org/reformation

[2] https://www.museumofthebible.org/reformation

[3] https://www.museumofthebible.org/reformation