Excerpts from his commentary on 1 John[1]

Little children it is now the last houre, and as ye have heard that Antichrist shoulde come: even so now are many Antichrists come already: whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out of us, but were none of us: for had they bene of us, they had continued with us. But that fortuned that it might appeare, how they were not all of us.[2]

 ‘Hour’ is here taken for ‘time.’ The last hour is as much to say, the last time. Though the Apostles might not know when the last day shall be and how long the world will endure, yet this was showed them, then us by them, that Antichrist should first come[3]; and not only come, but also prevail and be reckoned after a worldly manner, and reign over all; setting up a long continuing kingdom[4] with damnable sects and wonderful kinds of hypocrisy, that is to say, falsehood cloaked under a contrary pretence, as testified Paul and also Peter.[5] This Antichrist began with the Apostles, sowing his doctrine among the doctrine of the Apostles, preaching many things as did the Apostles, while adding ever somewhat of his own, that the weeds might ever grow up with the corn. Of which John gathered a sign: that the last day drew nigh, though he could not be sure how long it were thereto.

 Antichrist is one of the first who sees the light, and who comes and preaches Christ for a while, seeking his glory in Christ’s Gospel. But when he discovers that there will be no glory for himself besides that of preaching, then he goes and preaches that doctrine which is contrary to Christ. If he cannot disguise himself, nor his scheming, whereby his poisoned heresy is hidden under the bait of true doctrine, then is he a professed and open enemy.

 The Apostles were clear-eyed and spied Antichrist at once, and put him to flight, weeding out his doctrine quickly. But when charity waxed cold, and the preachers began to seek themselves and to admit glory, and honor of riches, then Antichrist disguised himself after the fashion of a true Apostle and preached Christ with subtlety and cunning, bringing in first this tradition, later that tradition, darkening the doctrine of Christ, and setting up innumerable ceremonies, Sacraments and images, giving them significations at first, but later their signification was set aside, and works were instead preached as holy deeds to justify, to put away sin, and to save the soul. Antichrist taught that men should put their trust in works and whatsoever was unto his glory and profit; and under the name of Christ ministered, leaving Christ out altogether, becoming head of the congregation himself.

 The Pope made a law of his own to rule his church by, putting Christ’s law out of the way. All the Bishops were under the Pope, and all Curates under the Bishops, but all renounce, under oath, Christ and his doctrine.

 But seeing John took a sign of the last day that he saw Antichrist begin, how near ought we to think that it is, which after 800 years, reigning in prosperity, see it decay again, and his falsehood to be now disclosed, and him to be slain with the spirit of the mouth of Christ; that is, with that old doctrine that proceedeth out of Christ’s mouth. For Paul saith when Antichrist is utterly [destroyed], then cometh the end.

But ye have anoyntyng of that holy, and knowe all thyng, I write not unto you as though ye knew not the truth, but as unto them that know it, and how that no lye is of the truth.[6]

 Christ in the Scripture is called the holy because he only sanctifieth and halloweth us. And he is called Christ, that is to say, anointed, because he anointeth our souls with the holy ghost and with all the gifts of the same. Ye are not anointed with oil in your bodies, but with the spirit of Christ in your souls; which spirit teacheth you all truth in Christ and maketh you to judge what is a lie and what is truth, and to know Christ from Antichrist. For except he taught your souls within, the pouring of words into your ears would be in vain. For they must be all taught of God, John 6:45. And the things of God no man knoweth, save the spirit of God; and the carnal man knoweth not the things of the spirit of God. On the contrary, the spiritual that is anointed with the spirit judgeth all things, 1 Cor. 2:11-15. Therefore, we are forbidden to call any of us Master upon earth, Matt. 23:10, seeing we have all one Master now who is in heaven who only teaches us with his spirit, though by the administration and office of a faithful preacher.

God freely chooses some men to salvation without respect to anything foreseen in man [7]

 The same preacher cannot make his preaching [take root and] spring up in the heart, no more than a sower can make his corn grow, nor can he say ‘this man shall receive, and this not.’ His is to sow the word only, committing the growing to God, whose spirit breatheth where he listeth, and maketh the ground of whose heart he wishes fruitful, and chooseth whom he will at his own pleasure, and for no other cause known unto man.

Who is a lyer but he that denyeth Iesus is Christ? The same is Antichrist that denyeth the father and the sonne.

 Forasmuch as Antichrist and Christ are two contraries, and the endeavor of Antichrist is to quench the name of Christ, [it is asked by our adversaries] how can the Pope and his sects be Antichrist when they all preach Christ? Say I again to thee, how was Pelagius Antichrist, whose doctrine the Pope defendeth in the highest degree, and how were all other heretics Antichrist? Verily, Sylvester the Pope did what all heretics do –- he abused the name of Christ. He gathered offerings, tithes and rents in Christ’s name, bestowing them to his own honor and not Christ’s. He brought the conscience of the people into captivity through superstitious fear, as though such authority was given him by Christ. And every syllable [in Scripture] that sounded as though it fit his purpose, he expoundeth it falsely and fleshly, and therewith deceived and bewitched the ears of the people, making them his own possession, to believe what he wished, as though it made no difference to them if he preached true or false; so they believed and did as he biddeth them.

 But all the texts which show the Pope his duty, he puts out of the way, including all the texts which set the conscience at liberty in Christ, as well as those which prove salvation to be in Christ only. With Pelagius he preacheth the justifying of works, which is the denying of Christ. He preacheth a false binding and loosing by confession to a priest which is not [grounded] in the trust and confidence of Christ’s shed blood. He preacheth the false penance of deeds, neglecting to preach that we rein the flesh so that we sin no more. Rather, he teaches that we make satisfaction to redeem our past sins. What else can this be but the denying of Christ, who alone made redemption for our sin? The Pope maketh of the works of the ceremonies, which were customarily used to be signs and remembrances of things to be believed or done, service unto God and his Saints which are spirits, to purchase with their merits whatsoever the blind soul imagines. All are the denying of Christ. For if thou wilt receive an anointing of grace or mercy from anywhere besides Christ, he is no longer Christ unto thee.

 Christ is called Jesus, a Saviour. He is called Christus, king anointed over all men whom they must hold, and whose benefit must they all have. He is called Emanuel, 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’, who hallows, sanctifies, and blesses all nations. And these be his names forever, and are no names of hypocrisy…..[But not so with those we] call Curates which ‘care’ for their parishes as the wolf for the flock; and Bishops that are [called] ‘overseers,’ which will so oversee that they will suffer naught to be prosperous, except their own commonwealth; and some [clergy] who call themselves ‘dead’ which live in all voluptuousness; and some who call themselves ‘poor’ who [allegedly] have nothing proper and yet live in all abundance; as well as they that shave and disguise themselves with garments and ornaments to signify that which is contrary to who it is they really are.

 Nay, Christ is no hypocrite. Nor is he disguised as is one who plays a part in a stage play, representing a person or state which he is not. He is always that which he name signifies. He is ever a Savior, and ever anointed with grace, or to set God at one with men. And these things which his name signify are those which he does for the repentant sinners who have trust and confidence in his blood that they might be saved and sanctified.

 Now, though the Pope and his sects give Christ these names, yet they rob him of the effect, taking their significations unto themselves, making of him a hypocrite, as they are  themselves. They be right Antichrists who deny both the father and the son. For they deny the witness the father bare unto his son, as they deny the son of all power and glory that his father gave him.

Whosoever denyeth the sonne, the same hath not the father.

 For no man knoweth the father but the son and to whom the son sheweth him, Matt.11. Moreover, if thou know not the mercy that God hath shewed thee in Christ, thou canst not know him as a father. Thou may well, without Christ, know him as a tyrant. And thou may know there is a God by his works, as the old philosophers did. But thou can neither believe in his mercy, nor love his laws, through which we worship him in the Spirit, except by Christ.

Let therefore abide in you that which ye heard at the beginning. If that which ye heard at the beginning shall remain in you, then shall ye continue in the Sonne, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, everlasting life.

 If we abide in the old doctrine which the Apostles taught, and harken to no new one; then we abide in the Son and the Father (for they build upon the Son), through confidence in the Son, and are heirs of everlasting life.

These things have I written unto you because of them that deceive you. And the anointing that ye received of him dwelleth in you and ye need not that any man teache you, but as that anointing teacheth you of all things, and is true, and is of no lye: Even as it hath taught you, so abide therein.

 When a true teacher preacheth, the Spirit entereth the hearts of the elect and maketh them feel the righteousness of the law of God, and by the law, the poison of their corrupt nature,[8] and thence leadeth them through repentance unto the mercy that is in Christ’s blood. As an ointment heals the body, even so, the Spirit, through confidence in Christ’s blood, heals the soul, making it love the law of God; and therefore is called anointing or ointment, and may well be signified by the oil of our sacrament. But outward oil, as a sign, can never heal the soul, nor make it feel safe. In like manner, neither is a drink at a tavern, though it quenches a man’s thirst, to have our trust. Let us, therefore, follow the teaching of the Spirit which we have received, (as Paul says), an earnest, to certify our hearts, and to make us feel the things of God, and not cleave to the traditions of men,[9] in which is no feeling, but only confirms their assertions through glorious persuasions of human wisdom, but not after the wisdom of God…

And now little children abide in him, that when hee shall appeare we many have confidence, and not bee made ashamed of hym at hys commyng.

 Here are two things to be marked. One, if we cleave unto Christ after the doctrine of the Apostles, and as they built upon him, we shall be bold and sure of ourselves at his coming. It is also true that, in his master’s absence, a servant, who does only his master’s commandments, cannot be confounded at his coming home again.[10] But, and if, we follow men’s doctrine, how can we be bold? Yea, how should we not be ashamed with our teachers, unto whom then he shall say (when they boast themselves how they have been his vicars),[11] I know you not; depart from me ye that have wrought wickedness,[12] and in my name have brought in damnable sects,[13] and have taught your disciples to believe in other things besides me. Now the sum of all that the Apostles taught and how they built upon Christ is the new testament. But the pope’s doctrine is not found there; it is unproved [by Scripture]. Therefore, he shall be confounded, he who wittingly and willingly shuts his eyes at the true light, opening them only to believe his lies.

 Another [point made by the above Scripture verse] is this: All the scripture maketh mention of the resurrection and coming again of Christ. All men, both who went before and come after, shall then receive their rewards together. We are commanded to look every hour for that day. And what is done upon the souls departing their bodies unto that day, the Scripture makes no mention, but only that they rest in the Lord and in their faith. Wherefore if someone declares doctrine regarding the state of the soul after death teaches the presumptuous imaginations of his own brain.[14] Neither can his doctrine be an article of our faith. What God does with [those who die in the Lord] is a secret laid up in the treasury of God. And we ought to be patient, being certain of the scripture, that they which die in the faith are at rest, and ought not to search that secret anymore than he ought not search the hour of the resurrection which God hath put in his own power.

 But remember this, the whole nature of man is poisoned and infected with sin.[15] And his life of sin must be mortified. And the root of all sin and first vice with which we were infected is the sin of being wise above that which God hath taught us. This is seen in that Eve would have been as God in the knowledge of good and bad.[16] Therefore, hath God hid many things, and commanded that we shall seek none of his secrets further then what he hath opened to us in his scripture,[17] for the purpose of mortifying this particular poison of all poisons, which is the desire to appear wise and the shame we feel to be ignorant in anything at all. Wherefore, they who violently make articles of faith without God’s word [as their authority] are still alive in the root of all sin and vice, and grow out of the devil and not out of Christ. And their articles are the blindness of the devil, not of the light of Christ, for Christ’s light hath everywhere the testimony of the scripture.[18]

If ye know that he is righteous, know that all that woorke righteousnes are borne of him.

 Our nature is to work wickedness and is blind to righteousness.[19] And then it follows that we must be born anew in Christ before we can either do or know what is righteous. And in him we must first be made righteous before we can work righteous works. This conclusion is contrary to that held by the Pope, for he says that works do make the man righteous. But Christ’s doctrine says that the man makes the work righteous. The Pope’s doctrine states, a righteous man springeth out of righteous works. But Christ’s doctrine states, righteous works spring out of a righteous man, and a righteous man springeth out of Christ.[20] The Pope says, the works make the man righteous which before was wicked. Christ says, the works declare that the man is righteous, but the man was first made righteous in Christ, and the Spirit of Christ taught him what righteousness was, healing his heart, making him consent thereto, turning his desire to righteousness and the works thereof.[21]

…….Dearly beloved believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they be of God. For many false Prophetes are gone out into the world.

 By spirits are meant preachers. If the preaching or doctrine be good, it is of the Spirit of God. If it be evil, it is of the devil. We ought not believe every man’s doctrine unadvisedly, or condemn any man’s preaching before being heard or seen for what it is. It is the duty of every Christian man to examine, judge and try it, whether it be true or false. Quench not the Spirit, saith Paul, I Thess. Neither despise prophesyings, but prove all things, and keep that which is good.[22] Destroy not the gifts of the Spirit of God, but try whether they be of God, and good for the edifying of the congregation. Keep that which is good and refuse that which is evil. And suffer every person that hath any gift of God to serve God therein, in his degree and estate, after a Christian manner and a due order. Why try the doctrines? Verily, for there be many false prophets abroad already. I told you before that Antichrist should come, as our Master Christ told us he should come. But now I certify to you that Antichrist’s kingdom is begun already. And his disciples are gone out to preach. Try, therefore, all doctrine. Wherewith shall we try it? With the doctrine of the Apostles, and with the Scripture which is the touchstone………[23]

Hereby know ye the spirite of God. Every spirite that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirite 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, the ground of all his doctrine is to destroy the article of our faith: that Christ is come in the flesh. For though the majority of all heretics is come in the flesh as they are in the flesh, yet they deny that he is come as the Scripture testifies and as the Apostles preached him to have come. The whole purpose 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 fully purged and made full satisfaction for all the sins of the world. So that all the sins of the world, both before and after his passion, must be put away through repentance toward the law and faith and trust in his blood; without respect for any other satisfaction, sacrifice or work.[24] For if I once sin the law rebuketh my conscience and sets variance between God and me. And I shall never be at peace with God again until I have heard the voice of his mouth, that my sin is forgiven me for Christ’s blood sake. As soon as I believe this, I am at peace with God, Romans 5:1, and love his law again, working the work of love.

How Antichrist and his members deny Christ came in the flesh

 And that Christ hath done this service in his flesh, deny all the members of Antichrist. And hereby thou shalt know them. All doctrine which is built upon Christ, which places trust in Christ and confidence in his blood,[25] is of God and is true doctrine. And all doctrine which withdraws hope and trust from Christ [alone] is of the devil and is 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 wrests all the Scriptures, setting them clean against the whole counsel of God, in order to destroy this article. He ministers the very Sacraments of Christ unto the destruction of this article; and so does he with all other ceremonies, by his absolution, penance, purgatory, dispensations, pardons, vows, with all dissembling. The pope preaches that Christ is come to do away with all sins, yet not in the flesh, but in water, salt, oil, vows, ashes, friars’ coats and monks’ cowls, and in the vows of them that forswear matrimony to keep WHORES, and to swear poverty yet possess all the treasure, riches, wealth and pleasures of the world; and having vowed obedience, to disobey lawful authority, both of God and man. For in these hypocrisies and false sacrifices does he teach us to trust for the forgiveness of sins, and not in Christ’s flesh [sacrificed for us].

Ye are of God little children, and have overcome them. For greater is he that is in you, then he that is in the world.

 He that dwelleth in you and worketh in you through faith, is greater then he which dwelleth and worketh in them through unbelief. And in his strength ye abide by your profession, and confess your Lord Jesus, how he came in the flesh and hath purged the sin of all that believe in his flesh. And through that faith ye overcome them - even in the very torments of death. So that neither their deceptions, neither their pleasures, neither their threatenings, or their torments, or the very death wherewith they slay your bodies, can prevail against you.

They be of the world, and therefore they speak of the world, and the world attendeth[26] unto them. We bee of God: and hee that knoweth God heareth us. And he that is not of God heareth us not. And hereby we know the spirit of truth and the spirite of errour.

There are only two kinds of men in the world:
Those who belong to God and those who belong to the devil

 There be and ever shall be two generations in the world: one of the devil, which naturally hearken unto the false Apostles of the devil because they speak so agreeably unto their natural complexion. And another of God, which harken unto the true Apostles of God, consenting to their doctrine. And this is a sure rule by which to judge all spirits, that we judge them to have the spirit of truth, which harken unto the true doctrine of Christ’s Apostles; and also to judge them to have the spirit of error which hearken unto worldly and devilish doctrine, abhorring the preaching of the Apostles. And see whether the pope’s doctrine be worldly or not, if pride and covetousness be worldly, ye and LECHERY, too. For what else do his doctrines consist of but benefices, promotions, dignities, bishoprics, cardinalships, vicarages, parsonages, prebends, change of bishoprics, resigning of benefices, of unions, pluralities, and that which cometh once into their hands may not leave their hands; yea, and of WHORES and CONCUBINES, and of capturing the consciences of the covetous. All that hearken to that doctrine abhor the doctrine of the Apostles, persecuting it and them that preach it……

…….Herein appeared the love of God unto us warde, because God sent his only sonne into the world, that we should live through hym. Herein is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent hys sonne, a satisfaction for our synnes.

Man’s free will decision for Christ a damnable lie

 If a man had once felt within his conscience the fierce wrath of God toward sinners, and the terrible and most cruel damnation that the law threatens: and then beheld with the eyes of a strong faith, the merciful favor and gracious taking away of the damnation of the law and the restoring again of life, freely offered us in Christ’s blood, he should perceive love, and so much the more, that it was showed us when we were sinners and enemies of God, Romans 5, and that with all deservings, without our endeavoring, enforcing and preparing ourselves, without all good motions, qualities and properties of our freewill. But [he loved us] when our hearts were as dead unto all good working, as the members of him whose soul is departed. This truth I will prove to stop the blasphemous mouths of our adversaries [who preach man’s freewill love of God]. I will from innumerable texts rehearse but one found in the beginning of the second chapter to the Ephesians, where Paul saith thus,

Ye were dead in trespass and sin in which ye walked according to the course of the world and after the governor who ruleth in the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of unbelief, among which we also had our conversation in time past, in the lusts of our flesh and of the mind (so that the flesh and the mind were in agreement to sin, the mind consenting as well as the flesh) and were by nature the children of wrath as well as others. But God being rich in mercy, through the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sin, hath quickened us with Christ: for by grace are ye saved: and with him hath raised us by and with him made us sit in heavenly things through Jesus Christ, for to show in time to come the exceeding riches of his grace, in kindness to usward in Jesus Christ. For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: for it is the gift of God, and commeth not of works, lest any man should boast himself. But we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, unto which God ordained us before that we should walk in them.

 The text is plain. We were stone dead and without life or power to do or consent to good. Our whole nature was captive under the devil and led of his will. And we were as wicked as the devil now is (except he now sinneth against the holy ghost) and we consented unto sin with soul and body, and hated the law of God. But God of his grace only quickened us in Christ, and raised us out of that death and made us sit with Christ in heavenly things. That is, he set our hearts at rest and made us sit secure in the life of Christ’s doctrine, immoveable from the love of Christ. And finally, our second birth is God’s workmanship and creation in Christ, so that as he which is yet unmade hath no life nor power to work, neither did we until we were made again in Christ. The preaching of mercy in Christ quickened our hearts through faith, wrought by the spirit of Christ which God placed in our hearts before we were wise…….


Excerpt from The Obedience of a Christian Man

 Antichrist of another manner hath sent forth his disciples, those false anointed of which Christ warned us before, that they should come and show miracles and wonders, even to bring the very elect out of the way, if it were possible. He anointeth them after the manner of the Jews, and shaves and shears them after the manner of the Heathen Priests which serve the Idols. He sends them forth not with false oil only, but with false names also. Compare their names unto their deeds and thou shalt find them false. He sendeth them forth as Paul prophesied of them, II Thess. 2, with lying signs and wonders. What sign is the anointing? It is the sign that they are full of the holy ghost. Compare them to the signs of the holy ghost which Paul reckoneth, and thou shalt find it a false sign. A Bishop must be faultless, the husband of one wife. Nay, saith the Pope, the husband of no wife, but the keeper of as many WHORES as he wishes. God commandeth all degrees of men to marry, if they burn and cannot live chaste. The Pope saith, if thou burn, take a dispensation for a CONCUBINE, and put her away when thou art old, or else as our lawyers say, If ye live not chaste, see ye appear clean to others, and play the knave secretly, barbarous, yea, to WHORES and BORDELLOS…..

 Apt to teach, as Peter saith, I Peter 3:15, ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that ye have, and that with meekness, which thing [they claim] is signified by the boots which [Roman Catholic] doctors of divinity are created in, because they should be ready always to go through thick and thin, to preach God’s word; and also by the Bishop’s two-horned miter which signifies the absolute and perfect knowledge that they ought to have in the New Testament and the Old. Are not these false signs? For they teach not, but discipline only. Yea, saith the Pope, if they will not be ruled, cite them to appear, and question them sharply about the following: what they believe of the Pope’s power, of his Pardons, of his Bulls, of Purgatory, of ceremonies, of confession, of such like creations of our “most holy fathers.” If they miss in any point, make heretics of them, and burn them, saith the Pope. If they be of mine anointed and bear my mark, degrade them. He says, Defrock them, cutting off their hair and fingers, torture them craftily, and by using pain make them deny the truth. But now, say our Bishops, because the truth has come so far abroad and the lay people are beginning to smell our wiles, it is best to oppose them with craft secretly, and to tame them in prison. Yea, let us find the means to have them in the king’s prison and to make treason of such doctrine…...




[1] Originally published, 1531. Our source: THE WHOLE workes of W. Tyndall, John Frith, and Doct. Barnes, three worthy Martyrs, and principal teachers of this Church of England, collected and compiled in one Tome together, being before scattered, & now in Print here exhibited to the Church. To the prayse of God, and proffite of all good Christian Readers, (London: John Daye, 1573); pp.406-417. Slight alterations in text by this present editor are for ease in comprehension only. Footnotes and paragraph headings have been added by this editor.

[2] 1 John 2:18-19.

[3] Antichrist should come before Christ ever comes, negating ‘secret’ Rapture theory.

[4] Antichrist will not be one person who comes in the last 3 ½ years of the world, but will reign as a succession and dynasty for ages.

[5] E.g., II Thess. 2; Acts 20:28-31; 2 Peter 2, etc.

[6] 1 John 2:20-21.

[7] Header inserted by this editor.

[8] I.e., A depraved nature, which all have.

[9] I.e., to rely on the Bible alone as our rule of faith.

[10] Matt. 24:45-47.

[11] I.e., The popes, who claim to be Vicars of Christ.

[12] Matt. 7:23.

[13] 2 Peter 2:1.

[14] I.e., The Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.

[15] I.e., a sin nature which is totally depraved.

[16] I.e., the doctrine of original sin.

[17] Deut. 29:29.

[18] I.e., Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone is our rule of faith.

[19] John 3:3; Romans 3:10-20.

[20] I.e., the tree makes the fruit good, the fruit does not make the tree good. A good tree gives good fruit. Matt. 3:10; 7:17-20; 12:33.

[21] I.e., Regeneration by the Spirit must proceed anything righteous in the man, whether thoughts, words or deeds.

[22] 1 Thess. 5:19-21.

[23] Scripture alone is our guide and rule of faith.

[24] I.e., Faith alone in Christ alone.

[25] I.e., Faith alone in the merits and person of Christ alone.

[26] I.e., listens and heeds.