The impact of John’s life and work – particularly translating the Bible into the language people understood – has been historic and worldwide, and it continues to the present day.

Given how Church history developed after John’s death he has been called the ‘Morning Star of the Protestant Reformation’. His translation work and teaching were taken up by Jan Hus in Prague (who was burnt at the stake by the same church council that declared Wycliffe a heretic in 1415) and then by Martin Luther.

Image of Martin Luther Martin Luther (painting by workshop of Lucas Cranach)

Luther’s translation of the Bible into a form of German – that everyone could understand – was a central part of the Reformation and was inspired by John Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible into English. ‘We are removing impediments and difficulties,’ Luther said about his translation work, ‘so that people may read it without hindrance.’

John’s translation work opened the door to other English translations. William Tyndale’s translation in 1526 was based on the original Greek and Hebrew (rather than the Latin on which Wycliffe’s translation was based). He, too, was burnt at the stake. The King James translation followed in 1611, and today we have over 100 translations of the Bible in English.

‘If God is so great, why can’t he speak my language?’

Yet, English is just one of the 7,395 languages in the world. In the centuries after John Wycliffe’s death Bible translation continued, but focused mainly on European languages. This limited the ability for people to know Jesus through the Bible if they did not speak a European language.

Cameron Townsend

William Cameron Townsend – also known as Uncle Cam – an American missionary to Guatemala, Central America, discovered this when he tried to distribute Spanish Bibles to the Kaqchikel-speaking people he sought to serve. One day, a Kaqchikel man said to Uncle Cam:

‘If God is so great, why can’t he speak my language?’

That question led Uncle Cam to dedicate the next 14 years of his life to translating the New Testament into Kaqchikel and then to founding Wycliffe Bible Translators, with the aim of doing for all people what John Wycliffe had done for English speakers.

Now, with your support, thousands of modern-day John Wycliffes are translating the Bible for their people.

The Bible is for everyone

‘All Christian life is to be measured by Scripture,’ John Wycliffe wrote. His deep study of the Bible led him to two conclusions:

  • the Bible is central to people knowing Jesus and
  • everyone has the right to be able to read the Bible in their language.


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‘The Bible is central to people knowing Jesus’

‘Everyone has the right to be able to read the Bible in their language’

John Wycliffe

Bible translators today seek to continue – and complete – John’s work so that everyone will have the Bible.

‘The Bible is superior to all human thought,’ John wrote in conclusion. ‘It is from God, it is true, it is the foundation for all society. And all Christians have a right and duty to read it.’

You play a vital part in the worldwide Bible translation team

This is a tremendously exciting time for world mission as more Bible translation is now happening than ever before. This could not happen without people like you giving and praying, so thank you!

To keep up with the ambition of local Bible translators and churches around the world, we want to be able to say ‘yes’ to more modern-day John Wycliffes, who are passionate about translating the Bible for their people. But we can only do that with your help. 

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