Meet William Barclay

"I have a second-class mind. It is the simple truth that I never had an original idea in my life. . . . I donít make the slightest claim to inspiration in preaching or writing." William Barclayís self-assessment is astonishing considering that he was regarded as one of the foremost Christian authors, preachers, and teachers of his day. Yet it was typical of this unassuming man who is lovingly remembered for his ability to communicate the truth of the Gospel in terms that everyone could understand. His simple faith presented through his books and radio and television broadcasts moved millions of people to open their hearts to God.

Barclayís humble spirit was shaped by his modest Christian upbringing in the town of Wick, Scotland. Born in 1907, he was the son of a bank manager and a socialite who, it was thought, married below her station. He studied at Glasgow and Marburg universities, where he earned numerous academic honors. He was subsequently ordained and became the pastor of a small church in Renfrew in 1933. That same year he was married to Katherine Gillespie, a ministerís daughter, and together they had one son and two daughters (one of whom died tragically in a drowning accident). Kate was his mainstay and beloved companion for 45 years, and he was devoted to her. "One of the greatest sins in my life is to take things for granted," he once wrote. ". . . I want her to know, and I want everyone to know, that without her life for me would be impossible."

In 1947, he began a new career as a lecturer at Glasgow University, and in 1964 was made professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism. During this time he became known for his popular 17-volume New Testament commentary series, The Daily Study Bible, which sold more than 1 million copies in 20 years and was translated into several languages. In addition to his outstanding commentary, he was the author of more than 50 other books, including his autobiography, A Testament of Faith, published in 1975. His ministry was not limited to print, and he also reached many people through his long-running television and radio broadcasts.

Upon his retirement in 1974, Barclay was named visiting professor of biology at Strathclyde University, a position that enabled him to lecture on professional ethics. He remained active in academia until he passed away in 1978.

(Quotes taken from William Barclay: A Spiritual Autobiography.)

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