Matthew Henry, Commentator


Matthew Henry (1662-l714) was born at Broad Oak, Wales, shortly after his father, Philip, had been forced to resign from ministry in the Church of England under the Act of Uniformity because he refused to allow the king and the bishops to dictate how he ministered.

Though weak and sickly as a child, he was so precocious that he could read the Bible at age 3. His father was blessed with financial means, so young Matthew was able to begin his education at home and to continue at an academy in Islington. His studies included Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French.

As a young man, Henry travelled to London, where he began studying law at Gray's Inn. Soon, however, he gave up his legal studies to pursue theology and ministry as his father had. In 1687, he was ordained a Presbyterian minister and became pastor at Chester, where he labored for 25 years.

Henry married twice. His first wife, Katherine, died in childbirth less than two years after their marriage. A little more than two years later, he remarried to Mary Warburton, with whom he had nine daughters (several of whom died in infancy) and a son.

We know comparatively little of Henry's pastoral work, but his written words give him a voice in the Church to this day. He is famous for his Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, now commonly known as Matthew Henry's Commentaries, an exhaustive verse-by-verse study of the Bible. Henry died before the work was completed, but a team of other nonconformist pastors completed the last section on the New Testament epistles based on notes from Henry's sermons.

Henry wrote other works, including daily devotionals and a biography of his father, which have been published in various collections over the years.

The value of Henry's exegetical work "lies not in their critical but in their practical and devotional emphasis." George Whitefield is said to have read through the books four times, the last time on his knees. Charles Spurgeon declared, "Every minister ought to read it entirely and carefully through once at least."

In 1714 he suffered a stroke while travelling to London to preach and shortly thereafter went to be with the Lord. "Well done thou good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:21).

Bernard R. DeRemer chronicled the lives of dozens of heroes of the faith in more than a decade of writing for Pulpit Helps Magazine. He continues to serve in this capacity as a volunteer contributor to Disciple. He lives in West Liberty, Ohio.

References: Who Was Who in Church History, by Elgin S Moyer, excerpts used by permission of Moody Publishers. Wikipedia ( 

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