Farel was a fiery preacher and an energetic critic of the Roman Catholic Church. In the earliest years of the Reformation in France, he was a pupil of the pro-reform Catholic priest, Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples. While working with Lefevre in Meaux, he came under the influence of Lutheran ideas and became an avid promoter of them. He was forced to flee to Switzerland because of controversy that was aroused by his writings against the use of images in Christian worship.
Interesting to note that as Calvin's friend, Farel was a promoter of Lutheran ideas in his youth. Today Calvinism and Lutheranism are two completely separate denominations, but Farel's relationship with both would show they had more in common than what is shown today.