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John Nelson Darby

John Nelson Darby (18 November 1800 – 29 April 1882) was an Anglo-Irish Bible
John Nelson Darby
teacher, one of the influential figures among the original Plymouth Brethren and the
founder of the Exclusive Brethren. He is considered to be the father of modern
Dispensationalism and Futurism. Pre-tribulation rapture theology was popularized
extensively in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren,[1] and
further popularized in the United States in the early 20th century by the wide
circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible.[2]

He produced translations of the Bible in German "Elberfelder Bibel", French "Pau"


Bible, Dutch New Testament, and English (finished posthumously) based on the
Hebrew and Greek texts called The Holy Scriptures: A New Translation from the
Original Languages by J. N. Darby. It has furthermore been translated into other
languages in whole or part.

John Nelson Darby


Born November 18, 1800
Westminster, London,
Contents England
Biography Died April 29, 1882
Early years
Sundridge House,
Middle years
Later years
Bournemouth,
England
Criticism
Nationality British
Works
See also Occupation Writer, translator,
References
educator, clergyman

Sources
External links

Biography

Early years
John Nelson Darby was born in Westminster, London, and christened at St. Margaret's on 3 March 1801. He was the youngest of the
six sons of John Darby and Anne Vaughan. The Darbys were an Anglo-Irish landowning family seated at Leap Castle, King's County,
Ireland, (present-day County Offaly). He was the nephew of Admiral Henry D'Esterre Darby and his middle name was given in
recognition of his godfather and family friend,Lord Nelson.

Darby was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Dublin where he graduated Classical Gold Medallist in 1819. Darby
embraced Christianity during his studies, although there is no evidence that he formally studied theology. He joined an inn of court,
but felt that being a lawyer was inconsistent with his religious belief. He, therefore, chose ordination as an Anglican clergyman in
Ireland, "lest he should sell his talents to defeat justice." In 1825, Darby was ordained deacon of the established Church of Ireland
and the following year as priest.
Middle years
Darby became a curate in the Church of Ireland parish ofDelgany, County Wicklow,
and distinguished himself by persuading Roman Catholic peasants in the Calary
district within this parish to abandon the Catholic Church. The well-known gospel
tract "How the Lost Sheep was Saved" [3] gives his personal account of a visit he
paid to a dying shepherd boy in this area, painting a vivid picture of what his work
among the poor people involved. He later claimed to have won hundreds of converts
to the Church of Ireland. However, the conversions ended when William Magee, the
Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, ruled that converts were obliged to swear allegiance
to George IV as rightful king of Ireland.

Darby resigned his curacy in protest. Soon afterwards, in October 1827, he fell from
a horse and was seriously injured. He later stated that it was during this time that he
began to believe that the "kingdom" described in the Book of Isaiah and elsewhere
in the Old Testament was entirely different from the Christian church.

Over the next five years, he developed the principles of his mature theology — most
notably his conviction that the very notion of a clergyman was a sin against the Holy
Spirit, because it limited the recognition that the Holy Spirit could speak through any
member of the Church. During this time (1827-28) he joined an interdenominational
Gravestone of John Nelson Darby
meeting of believers (including Anthony Norris Groves, Edward Cronin, J. G.
Bellett, and Francis Hutchinson) who met to "break bread" together in Dublin as a
symbol of their unity in Christ. By 1832, this group had grown and began to identify themselves as a distinct Christian assembly. As
they traveled and began new assemblies in Ireland and England, they formed the movement now known as the
Plymouth Brethren.

It is believed that John Nelson Darby left the Church of Ireland around 1831.[4] He participated in the 1831–33 Powerscourt
Conference, an annual meeting of Bible students organized by his friend,[5] the wealthy widow Lady Powerscourt (Theodosia
Wingfield Powerscourt). At the conference Darby publicly described his ecclesiological and eschatological views, including the
pretribulation rapture.[6] For about 40 years William Kelly (1821–1906) was his chief interpreter and continued to be a staunch
supporter until his own death. Kelly in his work John Nelson Darby as I knew him stated that "a saint more true to Christ's name and
word I never knew or heard of".

Darby saw the invention of the telegraph as a sign that the end of the world was approaching; he called the telegraph an invention of
Cain and a harbinger of Armageddon.

Darby defended Calvinist [7] doctrines when they came under attack from within the Church in which he once served. His biographer
Goddard [8] states, "Darby indicates his approval of the doctrine of the Anglican Church as expressed in Article XVII of the Thirty-
Nine Articles" on the subject of election andpredestination. Darby said:

"For my own part, I soberly think Article XVII to be as wise, perhaps I might say the wisest and best condensed
human statement of the view it contains that I am acquainted with. I am fully content to take it in its literal and
grammatical sense. I believe that predestination to life is the eternal purpose of God, by which, before the foundations
of the world were laid, He firmly decreed, by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and destruction those
whom He had chosen in Christ out of the human race, and to bring them, through Christ, as vessels made to honour,
to eternal salvation." [9]

Later years
Darby traveled widely in Europe and Britain in the 1830s and 1840s, and established many Brethren assemblies. He gave 11
significant lectures in Geneva in 1840 on the hope of the church (L'attente actuelle de l'église). These established his reputation as a
leading interpreter of biblical prophecy. America did not embrace Darby's ecclesiology like it did his eschatology which is still being
propagated (in various forms) at such places as Dallas Theological Seminary and by authors and preachers such as Hal Lindsey and
Tim LaHaye.

In 1848, Darby became involved in a complex dispute over the proper method for maintaining shared standards of discipline in
different assemblies that resulted in a split between Open Brethren, which maintained a congregational form of government and
Exclusive Brethren. After that time, he was recognized as the dominant figure among the Exclusives, who also came to be known as
"Darbyite" Brethren. He made at least 5 missionary journeys to North America between 1862 and 1877. He worked mostly in New
England, Ontario, and the Great Lakes region, but took one extended journey from Toronto to Sydney by way of San Francisco,
Hawaii, and New Zealand. A Geographical Index of his letters is currently available and lists where he traveled.[10] He used his
classical skills to translate the Bible from Hebrew and Greek texts into several languages. In English he wrote a Synopsis of the Bible
[11] He was also a
and many other scholarly religious articles. He wrote hymns and poems, the most famous being, "Man of Sorrows".
Bible commentator. His writings were collected in his lifetime and published from January 1866 as "The Collected Writings of J. N.
Darby"; there were 32 volumes published – two per year 1866–81 and two more soon after.[12] He translated the Bible with the help
of various brethren in different countries into German, French and English.[13] He declined however to contribute to the compilation
[14]
of the Revised Version of the King James Bible even though the revisers consulted Darby's work.

He died 1882 in Sundridge House,Bournemouth and is buried in Bournemouth,Dorset, England.[15]

Darby is noted in the theological world as the father of "dispensationalism", whose eschatology was adopted and later made popular
in the United States byCyrus Scofield's Scofield Reference Bible.

Charles Henry Mackintosh, 1820–1896, with his popular style spread Darby's teachings to humbler elements in society and may be
regarded as the journalist of the Brethren Movement. Mackintosh popularised Darby[16] more than any other Brethren author. In the
early twentieth century, the Brethren's teachings, throughMargaret E. Barber, greatly influenced theLittle Flock or Church Assembly
Hall of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.[17]

Darby has been credited with originating the pre-tribulational rapture theory wherein Christ will suddenly remove His bride, the
Church, from this world to its heavenly destiny before the judgments of the tribulation. Thus the prophetic program resumes with
Israel's earthly destiny. Dispensationalist beliefs about the fate of the Jews and the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Israel put
dispensationalists at the forefront of Christian Zionism, because “God is able to graft them in again,”[18] and they believe that in His
grace he will do so according to their understanding of Old Testament prophecy. They believe that, while the ways of God may
change, His purposes to bless Israel will never be forgotten, just as He has shown unmerited favour to the Church, He will do so to a
remnant of Israel to fulfill all the promises made to the genetic seed of Abraham. In 1829 he predicted the rebirth of a nation Israel
over 100 years before it happened, just by reading the Bible (pgs. 141-160. Prophetic No. 1 Vol. 2. J. N. Darby. Stow Hill Bible &
Tract Depot. Kingston-On-Thames 1829)

Criticism
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle and contemporary of Darby, published criticism of Darby and
Brethrenism.[19] His main criticism was that Darby and the Plymouth Brethren rejected the vicarious purpose of Christ's obedience as
well as imputed righteousness. He viewed these of such importance and so central to the Gospel that it led him to this statement about
the rest of their belief.

James Grant wrote: "With the deadly heresies entertained and taught by the Plymouth Brethren, in relation to some of the most
momentous of all the doctrines of the Gospel, and to which I have adverted at some length, I feel assured that my readers will not be
surprised at any other views, however unscriptural and pernicious they may be, which the Darbyites have embraced and zealously
seek to propagate"[20]
Works
The Holy Bible a new translation by J.N. Darby , a parallel edition, Bible Truth Publishers: Addison, Illinois.
The Writings of J. N. Darby courtesy of Stem Publishing
The Holy Scriptures (A New Translation from the Original Languages by J. N. Darby)courtesy of Stem Publishing
A Letter on Free Will by J.N. Darby, Elberfeld, 23 October 1861
The Collected Writings Of J. N. Darby, Ecclesiastical No. 1, Volume 1: The Character Of Office In The Present
Dispensation
The Watching Servant, Words of Truth: Belfast, Northern Ireland

See also
Benjamin Wills Newton, former friend of Darby who clashed with Darby on doctrine and practice, which led to the
Exclusive Brethren – Open Brethren division
Cyrus I. Scofield
Darby Bible
Dispensationalism
End times
Exclusive Brethren
Fundamentalist Christianity
List of people educated at Westminster School
Miles J. Stanford
Plymouth Brethren
Robert Anderson (Scotland Yard) (1841–1918), Dispensational author, lawyer, British intelligence officer and London
CID chief, in charge duringJack the Ripper murders.
Watchman Nee

References
1. Blaising, Craig A.; Bock, Darrell L. (November 1993). Progressive Dispensationalism. Wheaton, IL: Bridgepoint
Books. ISBN 9781441205124.
2. The Scofield Bible: Its History and Impact on the Evangelical Church
, Magnum & Sweetnam. Pages 188-195, 218.
3. J. N. Darby. "How the Lost Sheep was Saved"(http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/darby/New7_96/KERRY.htm
l).
4. The year in which Darby left the Church of Ireland, a branch of the Anglican Church, is not certain but a consensus of opinion is that it was
possibly around 1831. Searches for formal documentation of his resignation have been made in the Church of Ireland archives, but
nothing has been found.

5. It is widely believed that Darby and Lady Powerscourt were romantically attached but friends persuaded him that any marriage may prove
a distraction.

6. Dictionary of Premillennial Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. 1996.ISBN 0-8254-2351-1. p. 82
7. Marsden, George M (2006).Fundamentalism and American Culture(2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
p. 351. ISBN 0-19-530047-5. p. 46
8. Goddard, "The Contribution of Darby," p. 86
9. J. N. Darby, "The Doctrine of the Church of England at the T
ime of the Reformation"(http://www.stempublishing.com/
authors/darby/DOCTRINE/03001E.html)
10. "Thy Precepts (magazine), Jan/Feb 1996, Vol. 11, # 1" (http://www.presenttruthpublishers.com/pdf/Precepts-1996.pd
f) (PDF). "The Correspondents of John Nelson Darby , with Geographical Index and Chart of Travels. For the three
volumes of Letters of J. N. Darby, it gives the page #, the language it was written in, recipient, place written, and date
written; also contains a geographical index and a chart of his travels.
"
11. The Man of Sorrows (http://www.plymouthbrethren.com/jndms.htm)
12. {Dates of J.N.Darby's Collected Writings, Published by Bible and Gospel Trust 2013}
13. {Dates of J. N. Darby's Collected Writings, page 4 & 5, Published by Bible and Gospel T
rust 2013}
14. John Nelson Darby Biography(http://www.museumstuff.com/learn/topics/John_Nelson_Darby::sub::Biography)
15. Winston Terrance Sutherland, B.S., Th.M (May 2007). "John Nelson Darby: His Contributions to Contemporary
Theological Higher Education (Dissertation Prepared for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy)" (https://digital.library.u
nt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3609/m1/1/high_res_d/dissertation.pdf)(PDF). University of North Texas. pp. 20–21. "John
Nelson Darby died in Bournemouth, on 29 April 1882 of protracted illness (Pickering, 1986;urner,
T 1986). In John
Nelson Darby: A Memorial, is outlined the funeral service of the revered theologian. Therein is documented that he
“was brought to Bournemouth some weeks before his death, to the house of Mr . Hammond, an exClergyman of the
Church of England.” A large following attended the burial, “from eight to ten hundred” participating in prayers, singing
hymns (some written by Darby), and reading, with comment, the Scriptures. “There has been a large plain stone to
mark the resting place of the richly-gifted servant of the Lord” displaying the caption: JOHN NELSON DARBY “AS
UNKNOWN AND WELL KNOWN.” DEP ARTED TO BE WITH CHRIST, 29TH APRIL 1882. AGED 81 2 COR. V . 21.
Lord let me wait for thee alone, My life be only this, oT serve Thee here on earth unknown, Then share Thy heavenly
bliss. J. N. D"
16. Charles Henry Mackintosh. "The Assembly of God; or, The All-sufficiency of the Name of Jesus"(http://www.stempu
blishing.com/authors/mackintosh/Bk2/ASSEMBL Y.html). "The termini of the church's earthly history are Pentecost
(Acts 2), and the rapture. (1 Thess, 4: 16, 17)]
"
17. Elmer L. Towns (1 January 2000)."The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever: from Pentecost to the Present" (http://digitalcom
mons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=towns_books). Liberty University. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
"Years later, Nee To-sheng, better known outside of China as Watchman Nee, was influenced by a single British
missionary, Margaret E. Barber. In 1909, Barber had submitted to believer’s baptism and left her Anglican mission to
become an independent faith worker. She conducted “breaking of bread” meetings similar to those of the Christian
Brethren. Nee To-sheng organized the Little Flock, a Brethren-style indigenous Chinese denomination. The rueT
Jesus Church and Little Flock soon had more adherents than all other mission-sponsored churches combined. "
18. Romans 11:23
19. Charles Spurgeon (June 1869)."Mr. Grant on "The Darby Brethren" " (http://www.spurgeon.org/s_and_t/dbreth.php).
Sword and Trowel. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
20. Grant, James (1875). The Plymouth Brethren: Their History and Heresies(https://archive.org/stream/plymouthbrethr
e00grangoog#page/n67/mode/2up). London: William Macintosh. p. 60.

Sources
John Nelson Darby – as I knew him, William Kelly, Words of Truth: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Neatby, William B. (1901). A history of the Plymouth Brethren. pp. 13–18, 182–198 etc.
Stokes, George T. (Oct 1885). "John Nelson Darby". The Contemporary Review: 537–552.
Stunt, Timothy (2004). "John Nelson Darby". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 2013-12-18.
(Subscription required (help)).
Weremchuk, Max S. (1993).John Nelson Darby. Loizeaux Brothers. ISBN 978-0872139237.

External links
My Brethren, a biography of J. N. Darby
The writings of John Nelson Darby
Darby & Other Resources
Works by or about John Nelson Darbyat Internet Archive
Works by John Nelson Darbyat LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
L’Attente actuelle de l’église et prophéties quiétablissent la vérité du retour personnel du sauveur, exposées en onze
soirées à Genève (1840)
Francisci Riberae Villacastinensis, In sacrambeati Ioannis Apostoli & Euangelistae Apocalypsin commentarij
J.N. Darby's Early Years
Correspondence between Darby and Rev . James Kelly of the Church of England – 5 megabytes
Henry Groves: Darbyism – Its Rise, Progress & Development
Papers of John Nelson Darby– Archive of Darby's personal papers at the University of Manchester Library ,
Manchester, England
Writings by J. N. Darby and his contemporaries
Roy A. Huebner: Historian regarding J. N. Darby , early Brethren, their theology, and dispensationalism