John Knox is a weird figure. He was fierey and feirce, often praying for death and removal of enemies to the Gospel, such as bloody Mary. Making him even stranger is the fact that we don't know his birthday or even the year of his birth, though it is estimated between 1505 and 1514.
We do know he was born about 15 miles from Edinburgh in a place called Haddington, but apart from that his early years are somewhat of a mystery. Historians disagree on a lot about Knox, and even details of his conversion is debated in speculation. So I think it's best to leave his myserious youth and find the man we do know about.
There is a record of him asking his wife to "read where [he] first cast [his] anchor" and she read from John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
This is probably the most we will truly know about this man's conversion to Christ.
Sixteenth Century Scotland
Reformed theology was sweeping through Scotland with Bibles being smuggled in and reformed theology entering universities. People were singing of God's grace and there were aleady a few notible preachers by the time of Knox.
In contrast the church was hanging people for such things as praying in Christ's name instead of Mary's, refusing to pray to saints or for breaking lent in an attempt to put down reformed theology. At the head of this was David Cardinal Beaton of St. Andrews.
Knox was mentored by a guy called George Wishart, also serving as his protector. Wishart took Knox's broadsword off him after receiving information that he was to be arrested, ordering Knox to return home as Wishart's sacrifice 'should be enough'.
After his death, other supporters of Wishart managed to take revenge on Beaton for the burning of their mentor, and while he wasn't there at the killing Knox soon joined them only to be attackedby the queen's regent army. The men in the castle begged Knox to become their preacher and finally he accepted. For 1 year he preached to them as they held off against the queen's assaults but on 31st July 1547 they surrendered and were taken in chains to Rouen, before being sentenced to life as a slave on a ship.
Freedom & Fleeing
After Henry VIII's death Edward VI took the throne and his court negotiated the release of men like Knox. Back in England men like Hugh Latimer were preaching redemption by Christ alone and soon Knox was invited to preach for King Edward VI in Windsor Castle. After London he moved to Berwick-on-Tweed which was known as a sinful and corrupt city. Thus Knox moved away from friends of influence and the royal court.
this move did however bring him into the circles of Cuthbert Tunstall, the bishop who so vehemently hated William Tyndale and who had even burned English Bibles outside St. Pauls. Needless to say it wasn't a circle of friendship but of hostility.
This along with Edward VI's death and the coronation of Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary), meant that Knox had to flee Britainand found himself in Geneva and became a disciple and friend of John Calvin.
280 Christians were killed by queen Mary, many personal friends of Knox. But in 1555 the year Latimer & Ridley were burned, John Knox returned to Scotland with the goal of preaching Christ. During his time fearlessly preaching in Scotland he married Marjory Bowes. His time in Scotland didn't last long and soon he had to return to Geneva, where he stayed alongside Calvin from 1556-1559, when he returned once again to Scotland in boldness.
At this time, under his preaching many converted to Christ and statues of saints and of Mary were broken down. And the church declared that he was to be shot on sight if he kept preaching. He carried on regardless and the reformed truths swept across Scotland. Priests and peasants alike were repenting of sins and coming to faith in Jesus.
Old Age & Death
In old age he remarried after the death of his beloved wife. He preached his last sermon on November 9th 1572 when he was carried to the pulpit because he was to weak to walk. Two days after asking his wife to read from John 17 he was buried. Today if you go to the south side of St. Giles Cathedral's car park to number 23, you will be parking you car on top of his grave.