John Knox was a highly educated man who viewed the Bible as a divine revelation and searched its contents for an understanding of God and His creation. He was a man of incredible vision and courage and, like all the Reformers, he stood against great political and cultural pressure in order to proclaim the truth and purity of the Gospel and Biblical doctrine. He was exemplary in his understanding of the great responsibility that comes with preaching the truth.
In 1547 he was presented with his first call into ministry as a preacher for the Scottish Protestant movement. The weight of this responsibility descended upon him with such force that he broke down and wept and retired to fast and pray for three days before accepting. Such was his understanding of the importance of the pulpit that when he ascended the platform to deliver his first sermon it was to make his loyalties, and his enemies, clear. Preaching forcefully from Daniel seven, Knox drew comparisons between the Pope and the Antichrist, and made clear his allegiance to Scriptural authority alone and his understanding of justification by faith alone.
So strong was his denouncement of Rome that in short order, the French Navy would storm the walls of St. Andrews Castle and take John Knox, along with many other Scottish Protestants and nobility, captive as galley slaves, subject to the French Catholic crown. He spent a full 19 months in the open weather rowing ships, and his health was never fully restored. But Knox’ faith was not shaken.
He would spend the rest of his life striving with the ruling political forces of his day, denouncing not only the papacy but also the divine right of kings. Knox believed in a society where an educated population determines democratically how they are to be governed and where a leader is subject under God to the very laws that they would seek to apply to their subjects.