Tuesday, July 15, 2008

William Tyndale on the Obedience of a Christian Man, the Supper of the Lord, Romans, & First John

Here are selections from William Tyndale's exposition of the First Epistle of John, which can be downloaded and read here; especially note Tyndales commentary on 1 John 4:12):

Tyndale on 1 John 2:22,

Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is Christ? The same is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

'Forasmuch as antichrist and Christ are two contraries, and the study of antichrist is to quench the name of Christ, how can the Romish bishop and his sects be antichrist when they all preach Christ?' 'How was,' say I again to thee, 'Pelagius, whose doctrine the bishop of Rome defendeth the highest degree, antichrist, and all other heretics?' Verily, sir, the bishop of Rome seeketh himself, as all heretics did ; and abuseth the name of Christ, to gather offerings, tithes, and rents in his name, to bestow them unto his own honour and not Christ's, and to bring the conscience of the people into captivity under him through superstitious fear, as though he had such authority given him of Christ. And every syllable, that hath a sound as though it made for his purpose, that he expoundeth falsely and fleshly; and therewith juggleth and bewitcheth the ears of the people, and maketh them own possession, to believe what him listeth, as though it made no matter to them whether he preached true or false, so they believe and do as he biddeth them. But all the texts that shew him to do his duty, he putteth out of the way; and all the texts thereto, that set the consciences at liberty in Christ, and prove our salvation to be in Christ only. And, with Pelagius, he preacheth the justifying of works; which is the denying of Christ. He preacheth a false binding and loosing with ear-confession, which is not in the trust and confidence of Christ's blood-shedding. He preacheth the false penance of deeds ; not to tame the flesh that we sin no more, but to make satisfaction, and to redeem the sin that is past : which what other can it be, save the denying of Christ, which is the only redemption of sin? He maketh of the works of the ceremonies, which were wont to be signs and remembrances of things to be believed or done, image-service unto God and his saints, which are spirits, to purchase with the merits of them whatsoever the blind soul imagineth ; which all are the denying of Christ. For if thou wilt receive any anointing of grace or mercy any whence, save of him, he is no longer Christ unto thee. Christ is called Jesus, a Saviour ; he is called Christus, king anointed over all men, of whom they must hold, and whose benefit must all they have. He is called Emmanuel, God is with us: for he only maketh God our God, our strength, power, sword and shield, and shortly our Father. He is called Sanctus, that is, holy, that halloweth, sanctifieth and blesseth all nations. And these be his names for ever, and be no names of hypocrisy: as we sometimes call him Thomas Curteis, which is but a churl; and as we call them curates, which care for their parishes as the wolf for the flock; and them bishops, that are overseers, which will so oversee, that they will suffer nought to be prosperous save their own commonwealth; and as some call themselves dead, which live in all voluptuousness; and as some call themselves poor, without having any thing proper, and yet live in all abundance; and as they shave and disguise themselves with garments and ornaments, to signify ever a contrary thing than that they be.

Nay, Christ is no hypocrite, or disguised, that playeth a part in a play, and representeth a person or state which he is not ; but is always that his name signifieth, he is ever a Saviour, and ever anointeth with grace, and ever maketh God with us, and ever sanctifieth. Neither is there any other to save and sanctify from sin or anoint with grace, or to set God at one with men. And these things which his name signify doth he ever unto all that have trust and confidence in his blood as soon as they repent of the sin which they desire to be saved and sanctified from.

Now though the pope and his sects give Christ these names, yet in that they rob him of the effect, and take the significations of his names unto themselves, and make of him but an hypocrite, as they themselves be, they be right antichrists and deny both the Father and Son. For they deny the witness that the Father bare unto his Son, and deprive the Son of all the power and glory that his Father gave him.

Tyndale on 1 John 4:2,

Hereby know ye the spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God. And the same is that spirit of antichrist, of whom ye have heard that he should come ; and even now he is in the world already.

Whatsoever opinion "any member of antichrist holdeth, Antichrist the ground of all his doctrine is to destroy this article of our faith, that Christ is come in the flesh. For though the most part of all heretics confess that Christ is come in the flesh after their manner, yet they deny that he is come as the Scripture testifieth, and the apostles preached him to be come. The whole study of the devil and all his members is, to destroy the hope and trust that we should have in Christ's flesh, and in those things which he suffered for us in his flesh, and in the testament and promises of mercy which are made us in his flesh. For the Scripture testifieth that Christ hath taken away the sin of the world in his flesh, and that the same hour that he yielded up his spirit into the hands of his Father, he had full purged, and made full satisfaction for all the sins of the world. So that all the sin of the world, both before his passion and after, must be put away through repentance toward the law, and faith and trust in his blood, without respect of any other satisfaction, sacrifice or work. For if I once sin the law rebuketh my conscience, and setteth variance between God and me. And I shall never be at peace with God again, until I have heard the voice of his mouth, how that my sin is forgiven me for Christ's blood sake. And as soon as that I believe, I am at peace with God, (Rom. v.) and love his law again, and of love work.

And that Christ hath done this service in his flesh, deny all the members of antichrist. And hereby thou shalt know them. All doctrine that buildeth thee upon Christ to put thy trust and confidence in his blood, is of God, and true doctrine. And all doctrine that withdraweth thine hope and trust from Christ, is of the devil and the doctrine of antichrist. Examine the pope by this rule, and thou shalt find that all he doth is to the destruction of this article. He wresteth all the Scriptures and setteth them clean against the wall, to destroy this article. He minis-tereth the very sacraments of Christ unto the destruction of this article ; and so doth he all other ceremonies ; and his absolution, penance, purgatory, dispensations, pardons, vows, with all disguisings. The pope preacheth that Christ is come to do away sins, yet not in the flesh, but in water, salt, oil, candles, boughs, ashes, friars' coats, and monks' cowls, and in the vows of them that forswear matrimony to keep whores, and swear beggary, to possess all the treasure, riches, wealth and pleasures of the world : and have vowed obedience, to disobey with authority, all the laws both of God and man. For in these hypocritish and false sacrifices, teacheth he us to trust for the forgiveness of sins, and not in Christ's flesh.

Tyndale on 1 John 4:12,

No man hath at any time seen God. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfect in us.
Though we cannot see God, yet if we love one another, we be sure that he abideth in us, and that his love is perfect in us : that is, that we love him unfeignedly. For, to love God truly and to give him thanks, is only to love our neighbour for his sake. For upon his person thou canst bestow no benefit. And forasmuch as we never saw God, let us make no image of him, nor do him any image-service after our own imagination, but let us go to the Scripture, that hath seen him, and there wete what fashion he is of, and what service he will be served with. Blind reason saith, God is a carved post, and will be served with a candle. But Scripture saith, God is love, and will be served with love. If thou love thy neighbour, then art thou the image of God thyself, and he dwelleth in the living temple of thine heart. And thy loving of thy neighbour for his sake, is his service and worship in the spirit, and a candle that burneth before him in thine heart, and casteth out the light of good works before the world, and draweth all to God, and maketh his enemies leave their evil, and come and worship him also.

Tyndale on 1 John 5:10-12,

He that believeth in the Son of God, hath witness in himself. And he that believeth not God, maketh him a liar, because he doth not believe the witness that God hath testified of his Son. And this is the witness, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

The faithful The true believers have the testimony of God in their hearts, and they glorify God, witnessing that he is true. They have the kingdom of God within them ; and the temple of God within them ; and God in that temple ; and have the Son of God, and life through him. And in that temple they seek God, and offer for their sins the sacrifice of Christ's blood, and the fat of his mercies in the fire of their prayers; and in the confidence of that sacrifice go in boldly to God their father.

But the unbelievers blaspheme God, and make him false, describing him after the complexion of their lying nature. And because they be so full stuffed with lies that they can receive nothing else, they look for the kingdom of God in outward things, and seek God in a temple of stone, where they offer their image-service and the fat of their holy deeds; in confidence whereof they go in to God, and trust to have everlasting life. And though the text testifieth that this life is only in the Son, yet they will come at no son, nor sunshining; but, as unclean birds, hate the light.

From Tyndale's Prologue to the Epistle of Paul to the Romans (on the fifth chapter):

In the fifth chapter the apostle commendeth the fruits, or works of faith; as are peace, rejoicing in the conscience, inward love to God and man; moreover boldness, trust, confidence, and a strong and lusty mind, and steadfast hope in tribulation and suffering. For all such follow, where the right faith is, for the abundant grace's sake, and gifts of the spirit, which God hath given us in Christ; in that he gave him to die for us, while yet his enemies.

Now have we then that faith only (before all works) justifieth, and that it followeth not yet therefore that a man should do no good works, but that the right shapen works abide not behind, but accompany faith even as brightness doth the sun; and they are called of Paul the fruits of the spirit. Where the spirit is, there it is always summer, and there are always good fruits, that is to say, good works. This is Paul's order, that good works spring of the spirit; the spirit cometh by faith; and faith cometh by hearing the word of God, when the glad tidings and promises which God hath made unto us in Christ are preached truly, and received in the ground of the heart without wavering or doubting, after that the law hath passed upon us and hath damned our consciences. Where the word of God is preached purely and received in the heart, there is faith, and the spirit of God; and there are also good works of necessity whensoever occasion is given. Where God's word is not purely preached, but men's dreams, traditions, imaginations, inventions, ceremonies, and superstition, there is no faith; and consequently no spirit that cometh from God. And where God's spirit is not, there can be no good works, even as where an apple tree is not, there can grow no apples; but there is unbelief, the devil's spirit, and evil works. Of this, God's spirit and his fruits, have our holy hypocrites not once known, neither yet tasted how sweet they are; though they feign many good works of their own imagination, to be justified withal, in which is not one crumb of true faith or spiritual love, or of inward joy, peace, and quietness of conscience; forasmuch as they have not the word of God for them, that such works please God, but they are even the rotten fruits of a rotten tree.

After that he breaketh forth and runneth at large, and sheweth whence both sin and righteousness, death and life, come. And he compareth Adam and Christ together; thus-wise reasoning and disputing, that Christ must needs come as a second Adam, to make us heirs of his righteousness, through a new spiritual birth, without our deservings; even as the first Adam made us heirs of sin, through the bodily generation, without our deserving. Whereby it is evidently known, and proved to the uttermost, that no man can bring himself out of sin unto righteousness, no more than he could have withstood that he was born bodily. And that is proved herewith, forasmuch as the very law of God, which of right should have holpen if any thing could have holpen, not only came and brought no help with her, but also increased sin; because that the evil and poisoned nature is offended and utterly displeased with the law; and the more she is forbid by the law, the more is she provoked, and set afire, to fulfill and satisfy her lusts. By the law then we see clearly, that we must needs have Christ to justify us with his grace, and to help nature.

From Tyndale's The Supper of the Lord (which can be read here):

And now, (Christian reader,) to put thee clean out of doubt that Christ's body is not here present under the form of bread, (as the Papists have mocked us many a day,) but in heaven, even as he rose and ascended; thou shalt know that he told his disciples, almost twenty times between the thirteenth and eighteenth chapters of John, that he should and would go hence, that he and leave this world; where, to comfort them again, for that they were so heavy for his bodily absence, he world and promised to send them his Holy Ghost to be their comforter, defender, and teacher, in whom and by whom he would be present with them and all faithful unto the world's end. He said unto his disciples, I go hence ; I go to the Father ; I leave the world, and now shall I no more be in the world, but ye shall abide still in theworld. Father, I come to thee. Poor men have ye ever with you ; but me shall ye not always have withyou. And when he ascended unto heaven, they did behold him, and saw the cloud take his body out of their sight ; and they fastening their eyes after him, the two men clothed in white said unto them, Ye men of Galilee, wherefore stand ye thus looking up into heaven ? This is Jesus that is taken up from you into heaven, which shall so come again, even as ye have seen him going hence.

Here I would not More to flit from his literal plain sense. All these so plain words be sufficient, I trow, to a Christian man to certify his conscience that Christ went his way, bodily ascending into heaven. For when he had told his disciples so oft of his bodily departing from them, they were marvellous heavy and sad ; unto whom Christ said, Because I told you that I go hence, your hearts are full of heaviness. If they had not believed him to have spoken of his very bodily absence, they would never have so mourned for his going away. And for because they so understood him, and he so meant as his words sound, he added, (as he should have said,) Be ye never so heavy, or how heavily soever ye take my going hence, yet do I tell you truth : for it is expedient for you that I go hence. For if I should not go hence, _that Comforter should not come unto you. But and if I go hence, I shall send him unto you. And again, in the same chapter, I am come from the Father, and am come into the world, and shall leave the world again, and go to my Father. What mystery, think ye, should be in these so manifest words ? Did he speak them in any dark parables ? Did he mean otherwise than he spake ? Did he understand by going hence, so often repeated, to tarry here still ? or did he mean by forsaking and leaving the world to be but invisible, being still in the world with his body ? No surely. For he meant as faithfully and as plainly as his words sound, and even so did his disciples, without any more marvelling, understand him. For they answered him, saying, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, neither speakest thou any proverb. But what a dark proverb and subtle riddle had it been, if he had meant by his going hence to have tarried here still, and by forsaking the world, to abide still in the world ? and by his going hence to his Father by his very bodily ascension, to be but invisible ? Who would interpret this plain sentence, thus ; I go hence, that is to say, I tarry here still. I forsake the world and go to the Father, that is to say, I will be but invisible and yet here abide still in the world bodily. For as concerning his Godhead, which was ever with the Father, and in all places at once, he never spake such words of it. Christ said (his death now was at hand) unto his disciples, Now again I forsake the world and go to my Father, but ye shall tarry still in the world. If they will expound by his forsaking the world, to tarry here still bodily, and to be but invisible, why do they not by like exposition interpret the tarrying here still of the disciples at that time, to be gone hence bodily and to be here visible ? For Christ did set these contraries one against another to declare each other. As if to tarry here still, did signify to the disciples that they should abide in the world, as it doth indeed ; then must needs his going hence and forsaking the world, signify his bodily absence, as both the words plainly sound, Christ meant, and they understood them. But in so plain a matter, what need these words : Be thou therefore sure, (Christian reader,) that Christ's glorified body is Christ's not in this world, but in heaven, as he thither ascended,in which body he shall come even as he went, gloriously with power and great majesty to judge all the world in the last day. Be thou therefore assured, that he never juggled nor mocked his so dearly beloved disciples, so full of heaviness now for his bodily departing. For if he had so meant as our Papists have perverted his saying, his disciples would have wondered at so strange a manner of speech, and he would have expressed his mind plainly, since at this time he was so full set to leave them in no doubt, but to comfort them with his plain and comfortable words. And if he would have been Christ's but invisible and still bodily present, he would neverhave covered himself with the cloud, showing them and testifying also by those two men his very bodily ascension out of their sights. We may not make of his very bodily ascension, such an invisible juggling cast as our Papists feign, fashioning and feigning Christ a body now invisible, now in many places at once, and then so great, and yet in so little a place, not discerned of any of our senses, now glorified, now unglorified, now passable, and then impassable, and I wot [not] near what they imagine and make of their maker, and all without any word, yea, clean against all the words of holy Scripture. For surely in this their imagination and so saying, they bring in afresh the heresy of that great heretic Marcion, which said, that Christ took but a phantastical body, and so was neither verily born nor suffered, nor rose, nor ascended verily, neither was he very man ; which heresy Tertullian confuteth. Christ took verily our nature, such a passable and mortal body as we bear .about with us, save that he was without all manner of sin. In such a body he suffered verily, and rose again from death in such a glorified body now immortal, &c. as every one of us shall rise at the general judgment. It is appropriated only to his Godhead to be every where, and not to be circumscribed nor contained in no one place. And as for our Papists prophane void voices, his body to be in many places at once,indefinitive, incircumscriptive, non per modum quant i, neque localiter, &c. which includeth in itself contradiction, of which Paul warned Timothy, calling them the oppositions of a false named science, (for that their scholastical divinity must make objections against every truth, be it never so plain with pro and contra,) which science, many that profess it (saith Paul) have erred from the faith: As for this contention and battle about words, profitable for nothing else but to subvert the hearers, I care not for them, for I have the almighty testimony of the everlasting word of God, ready to foil all their mad and unreasonable reasons, to wipe them clean away, and to turn them into their own confession [confusion].


And because the comparison in the tenth chapter between the Lord's board and his cup, and the devil's board and his cup, do declare this matter, I shall recite Paul's words, saying, Ye may not drink the cupof the Lord, and the cup of the devil both together. Ye may not be partakers of the Lord's board and the devil's board both at once. The devil's board and his cup was not his body and blood, but the eating and drinking before their images and idols, as did the heathen in the worship of their gods. Of the which thing thou mayest gather what Paul meant by the Lord's board and his cup.


And he that being of a lawful age observeth a ceremony and knoweth not the intent, to him is the ceremony not only unprofitable, but also hurtful, and cause of sin. In that he is not careful and diligent to search for it, and he there observeth them with a false faith of his own imagination, I think as all idolaters do, and ever have done, that the outword work is a sacrifice and service to God. The same therefore sinneth yet more deeper and more damnable. Neither is idolatry any other thing than to believe that a visible ceremony is a service to the invisible God whose service is spiritual as he is a spirit, and is none other thing thn to know that all is of him and to trust in him only for all things, and to love him for his great goodness and mercy above all, and our neighbours as ourselves for his sake : unto which spiritual serving of God, and to lead us to the same, the old ceremonies were ordained.


Item, they of this opinion, instead of teaching us to believe in Christ, teach us to serve Christ with bodily service, which thing is nought else but idolatry. For they preach that all the ceremonies of the Mass are a service to God, by reason of the bodily works to obtain forgiveness of sins thereby, and to deserve and merit therewith. And yet Christ is now a spiritual substance with his Father, having also a spiritual body, and with the Father to be worshipped in spirit only. And his service in the spirit is only to believe in him for the remission of sin, to call upon him, and give him thanks, and to love our neighbours for his sake.

Now all works done to serve man, and to bring him to this point, to put his trust in Christ, are good and acceptable to God; but done for any other purpose they be idolatry and image service, and make God an idol or bodily image.

Again, seeing the faith of the Testament in Christ's blood, is the life of the righteous from the beginning of the world to the end : and forasmuch as the sacrament was instituted only to bring to this life : Now when they which think not the body to be present in the sacrament have by the preaching and confirmation of the sacrament obtained this life or steadfast faith in Christ's blood, and by the daily use of the sacrament, are more and more hardened therein, and in the love that springeth thereof, what reasonable cause have the contrary part (which believe the body present, and bread turned into the very body as flesh, bones, hair, sinews, nails, and all other, as he was put on the cross, of length and quantity, I cannot tell what) to rail on us as heretics, hate, persecute, and slay us most cruelly as enemies? Christ saith. Qui contra me non est, mecum est, He that is not against me is with me.

Now they that believe in Christ for the remission of their sins, and for his sake love their foes, are not Christ's enemies, ergo, they be on Christ's side. Why then should they that boast themselves to be Christ's friends, slay them? Faith in Christ's blood, and in the Father through him, is God's service in spirit. And so have they which believe not the bodily presence, served God a long time, and thereto been holpen by the sacrament. The other part fallen therefrom through believing the body present, serving God with bodily service, (which is idolatry) and to make God an idol or image, in that they trust in the goodness of their works (as they which serve tyrants) and not in the goodness of God through trust in the blood of Christ; ergo, they that believe not the bodily presence, (not a little thereto compelled through the wicked idolatry of the contrary belief) are not to be thought so evil as the other would have them seem to be.


If (I say) they so rave, then as the old prophet for like idolatry, denieth God to dwell in the temple, or to have pleasure in sacrifice of blood of goats, sheep and calves; even so deny I the body of Christ to be any more in the sacrament, than God was in the golden calves which Jeroboam set up to be prayed to, the one in Bethel, and the other in Dan, for though God be present everywhere, yet if heaven of heavens connot compass him to make him a dwelling place (as the Scripture testifieth) and much less the temple that was at Jerusalem, how should he have a dwelling place in a little wafer or crumb or bread. God dwelleth not in the temple, neither did our fathers, which were of the true faith in the Old Testament, pray to God as present in the temple, but the name of God only was in the temple, (S of the Kings viii.) and his law and covenants and wonderful deeds were therein written in signs and were there preached and testified continually of the true preiests and prophets unto the people, the fathers of the true faith came thither.


Christ, though he affirm himself to be the Son of God and his father to be in him, yet he taught not his disciples to direct the prayer to the Father in him, but up to the Father in heaven, neither lift he up his eyes or prayer to his Father in the sacrament, but to his Father in heaven. I know diverse and diverse men know me, which love me as I do them, yet if I should pray them when I meet them in the street openly, they would abhor me, but if I pray them where they be appointed to meet me secretly, they will hear me and accept my request. Even so though God's presence be everywhere, yet will he be prayed so, up to the place only where we shall see him, and where he would have us to long for to be.


Wherefore to avoid this endless brawling, which the devils no doubt hath stirred up to turn the eyes of our souls from the everlasting covenant made us in Christ's blood and body and to nossel us in idolatry, which is trust and confidence in false worshipping of God, and to quench first the faith to Christward and then the love due to our neighbour; therefore me thinketh that the party that hath professed the faith of Christ, and the love of his neighbour, ought of duty to bear each other, as long as the other opinion is not plain wicked through false idolatry, nor contrary to the salvation that is in Christ, nor agains the open and manifest doctrine of Christ and his apostles, nor contrary to the general articles of the faith of the general church of Christ, which are confirmed with open Scripture. In which articles never a true church in any land dissenteth.

From Tyndale's The Obedience of a Christian Man (emphasis mine)

Man's wisdom is plain idolatry: neither is there any other idolatry than to imagine of God after man's wisdom. God is not man's imagination; but that only which he saith of himself. God is nothing but his law and his promises; that is to say, that which he biddeth thee to do, and that which he biddeth thee believe and hope. God is but his word, as Christ saith, John viii. "I am that I say unto you;" that is to say, That which I preach am I; my words are spirit and life. God is that only which he testifieth of himself; and to imagine any other thing of God than that, is damnable idolatry. Therefore saith the hundred and eighteenth psalm, "Happy are they which search the testimonies of the Lord;" that is to say, that which God testifieth and witnesseth unto us.


When they say, ‘We be sinners:’ I answer, that Christ is no sinner, save a satisfaction and an offering for sin. Take Christ from the saints, and what are they? What is Paul without Christ? Is he any thing save a blasphemer, a persecutor, a murderer, and a shedder of christian blood? But as soon as he came to Christ, he was no more a sinner, but a minister of righteousness: he went not to Rome to take penance upon him, but went and preached unto his brethren the same mercy, which he had received free, without doing penance, or hiring of saints, or of monks or friars. Moreover, if it be God’s word that thou should put thy trust in the saints’ merits or prayers, then be bold; for God’s word shall defend thee, and save thee. If it be but thine own reason, then fear: for God commandeth by Moses, Deuteronomy 12 saying, “What I command you, that observe and do, and put nothing to, nor take ought therefrom;” yea, and Moses warneth straitly in an hundred places, that we do that only which God commandeth, and which seemeth good and righteous in his sight, and not in our own sight. For nothing bringeth the wrath of God so soon and so sore on a man, as the idolatry of his own imagination.