The Precious Word of God

How valuable is God’s written Word to me? Before the printing press, copies of the Bible were made by hand. One estimate is that it would take one copyist 3 years to copy the entire Bible. If copied onto vellum (animal hide), it would take 250 sheep to make one Bible. Such would make it extremely expensive to own an entire copy of the Bible.

Do we appreciate the great sacrifices of those who brought the Word of God to us? The English scholar William Tyndale was the first to translate the English Bible directly from the Greek and Hebrew. In 1526, his New Testament was printed in Belgium by the recently invented printing press and smuggled into England and Scotland. His goal was to bypass the clergy telling the people what God’s Word means by giving each person the word of God in clear English, so each can study it for themselves. He said, “I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou [a priest] dost!” He was charged with heresy, among other things, “that the traditions of men do not bind the soul.”

In 1536, the ecclesiastical authorities killed him by strangulation and his body was burned at the stake. His last words, with a loud voice, were, “Lord, open the King of Engl and’s eyes!”It is estimated that about three-fourths of the 1611 King James translation by 54 scholars was drawn directly from Tyndale’s translation. In AD 200, the Bible was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek into seven languages; by 1400, 28 languages; by 1900, 537 languages; by 1980, 1,100 languages; by 2006, 2,426 languages have some portions of the Scripture. Indeed, God’s truth “is the living and abiding Word” (1 Peter 1:23).Someone has said, “Someone who does not read the Bible is no better off than one who cannot read.” When we read the Scriptures, we are reading the mind of God in human language. When we study the Scriptures, we can think the thoughts of God. This, when received by a heart of submissive faith, is the power of human transformation. “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7-8).

~Frank Walton