John Phillips Ministries

Insights: The Life of John Phillips (Part 1)

Betty Phillips on Sep 30, 2015

The Early Years

John's father, Leonard, was a businessman in Wales, Great Britain. He was also a lay preacher, thoroughly committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. John had vivid memories of his mother and father rising at 4:30 AM each morning. Anstice, his mother, would start a fire in the kitchen stove, and put the kettle on for tea. With a shawl over his shoulders, Leonard would light the kerosene lamp, open his Bible, and begin to read. Blessed with a photographic memory, John's father could read anything twice, and it was stamped in his mind forever.

In later years, his father often told John that he envied his ability to "outline and alliterate." John would have loved to have had the incredible memory of his father. But God is gracious to all His children, and "God set the members, every one of them, in the body, as it hath pleased Him." (I Corinthians 12:18). John was wonderfully blessed by the memories of his father and mother. In years to come, he would praise God for their impact upon his life.

John's ambition, as a lad in school, was to excel in sports, but he had a problem with his eyesight.  An ophthalmologist diagnosed the problem when he was ten years old and solved it by prescribing thick-lens glasses.  That ended John's dreams of being a sports hero, however, the new glasses enhanced his ability to read, and a perceptive aunt recognized the enormity of her nephew's disappointment, and introduced him to the public library.

Thus, a whole new world was opened to John, for he became an avid reader, a pursuit he followed all his life.  There were two exceptions: he refused to read anything that was defiling or that contained profanity.  Still, he read widely, as illustrations in his books reveal.

In years to come he became world-famous as a gifted author, a gift he might never have realized had his initial ambitions been achieved. Further, he learned the truth of God's Word to "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct Thy paths."  (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Please add a comment

Posted by Roger Willmore on
Dr. John Phillips was a personal friend for many years and a significant influence on my life and ministry. His pulpit ministry was unsurpassed! His writing ministry was picturesque and powerful and practical. Bro. John's one on one ministry was personal and caring. One of my most cherished memories is of a long visit and conversation with Bro. John as we sat in my car in a parking lot in Memphis. I was seeking the leadership of the Lord regarding a call to a new assignment. I was struggling when the conversation began, but I had peace when it ended. I made the decision and God blessed and honored it. Bro. John's counsel will never be forgotten. I think of him every day.
Posted by Dr. Rob finley on
I vividly remember standing next to Dr. Phillips at a book table during a Dr. Stephen Olford institute on expository preaching. Dr. Phillips had just delivered one of those now familiar "where did he get those insights" sermons. I mentioned to Dr. Phillips that I have spent a lifetime seeking and collecting the laws of biblical interpretation from one place after another. I then asked him if he was familiar with these laws being in just one book. With a professorial grin upon his face, he pointed to his book just below my gaze and said, "Yes, that one." Sheepishly, I picked up his book, Bible Explorer's Guide! That, now well marked and read volume, is one that I treasure in my library. And, oh yes, he signed it with his typical gusto followed by "P 51:1-3".
Posted by Steven Hickman on
I became acquainted with his writings 35 years ago and they have enriched my life immensely. I have used them in Bible school teaching and pastoring. Their greatest value has been for my personal enrichment, especially in the dry and dark seasons of my life when I would go to the word and use his commentaries to help me overcome the Dungeons of doubt and Tentacles of temptation. His reward is great in heaven.
Posted by Leitu Karnuth on
I made a commitment to go though the Bible again for the second time in my 16 years walking with Jesus but this time I wanted to read it through the eyes of John Phillips. I have many commentaries in my 'Wordsearch' library but I always seem to gravitate to Johns.

I was delivered from an alcoholic lifestyle at age 45 and three years later picked up a guitar and the Holy Spirit became my teacher. Today I am a Worship leader at my church and like John, I love the Lord with all my heart and soul.

Going through the Bible again this time at a slower pace (reading Johns commentary at the same time) is such a blessing. You know the love that John has for God and His people because of the length and detail of his commentary and his insights speak of the gift of intelligence that the Lord has blessed him with. Many times I am bought to tears because of the life experiences that John portrays and it reminds me of days past in my own life.

Thank you for the work that you are doing to keep Johns work available to those who have read, are reading, or may one day be lead to his commentaries. As always. it's the work of the Holy Spirit so all glory goes to Him.

Posted by Debi Dellicarpini on
Funny story...years ago a man spoke at a church I attended. I was so taken with his sermon that I approached him and asked him if I could write to him from time to time and ask him theological questions. In humility he said I could, but he might not know the answer. A few years later I realized he had written a whole series of Bible commentaries! That man was John Philips! I never did write to him, and learned he passed away a few years ago, but he is one of my most memorable mentors. He has indeed answered many many questions I've had and has taught me so much about Who God is through his commentaries. When I read what he has written, it is like sitting across the room from him listening to him speak. I am ever grateful for this man's willingness to say "yes" to our Lord! It has made all the difference to me!
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