In Memoriam: Thomas L. Marberry (1949-2021)

Theological Commission

Dr. Thomas Marberry, valued member of the Commission for Theological Integrity, went to be with the Lord this past Friday night after an illness. He was 71. Marberry had served on the Commission since 2018, yet he is best known for the many ministry hats he wore over the last 45+ years. Among those was Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Randall University. He also served as Vice President for Academic Affairs during his two different stints at the school. In the interim period, he served as President and Professor at Seminario Bíblico La Cruz, in Reynosa, Mexico. Not only was he very active in Hispanic ministries in Mexico and the United States, but he had more recently served as Pastor of the First Free Will Baptist Church in Oklahoma City since 2014. He leaves behind a lovely wife, Wilma, and many relatives and affectionate students. His full obituary can be found here.

Aside from his principal work as a professor and pastor, Marberry was a true scholar of the Word, authoring Biblical commentaries on Galatians, the Epistles of John, and most recently, Luke—each part of the Randall House Bible Commentary series. In recent years the fruit of his many years of Lukan research were on display at Theological Symposia. For us Commission members, this was the environment in which we enjoyed much discussion and fellowship with Dr. Marberry. He was fiercely loyal to the denomination, and loved all things biblical and theological. We’ve included just a few of our personal reflections below:

Kevin Hester writes, “I’m thankful for the heart and mind of Dr. Thomas Marberry. He was a skillful exegete of the New Testament. His commentaries and scholarly work bear witness to how God blessed us through his mind. But his heart beat for the ministry of the gospel to all peoples is a rich legacy that will challenge me for years to come.”

Jackson Watts writes, “I came to know Dr. Marberry through his time on the Commission. The stellar Bible scholar I had only known from afar—by reputation and his Bible commentaries—became a reliable partner in promoting theological integrity. Marberry’s commitment to his family, local church, students, Hispanic Free Will Baptists, and the denomination as a whole was impressive. He leaves a legacy as a theological pillar of our movement, especially among Free Will Baptists in the West and Hispanic Free Will Baptists. He will be deeply missed.”

Rodney Holloman writes, “My first memories of Dr. Marberry were all second hand through his writings and his ministry in our Hispanic works. I was always encouraged and edified by his passion for the Scriptures and his desire to communicate via teaching, preaching, and writing. As a member of the Commission, he was always so kind and winsome whenever we had an occasion to be together. He was a rare jewel in academics–a polyglot, expositor, author, professor, evangelist, administrator, and encourager. I am thankful that his influence will continue in the lives of so many he impacted with his ministry.”

Matt Pinson writes, “I will never forget the wise and godly counsel I received from this Free Will Baptist sage when I was a young scholar embarking on a journey of lifelong theological learning. He always combined practicality and evangelistic zeal with a vital concern for the life of the mind and the Free Will Baptist confessional tradition. I was inspired by his service in Mexico and how that showed his heart for Christian missions. I’ve always said you could give Thomas Marberry any biblical or theological topic and a few weeks to prepare, and you would have a stellar article or seminar on it. Thomas Marberry is going to be sorely missed, and I pray that God will raise up more young people in our midst that will have the heart and mind for God and His Word, and for the Free Will Baptist Church, that this saint of God lived out each day.”

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