A Pastor’s Love for Christ
Dr. John H. Skilton was professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia for almost fifty-eight years (1939–1998). He was one of the most scholarly men in the church. Rumors have circulated over the years that he had memorized the entire Greek New Testament, together with every textual variant. His doctoral dissertation, “The Translation of the New Testament into English, 1881–1950,” which he lost on a public bus in Philadelphia and then reconstructed from memory, shows something of his unique breadth of knowledge in theology and linguistics. In addition, John served as the editor of The Westminster Theological Journal from 1968 to 1973.
While John’s commitment to biblical scholarship is certainly worthy of the highest commendation and imitation, it is not that for which he is most affectionately remembered. When John retired from full-time professorship in 1973, he opened his home in the Vietnamese section of Philadelphia to missionaries, pastors, believers, neighbors, and the homeless. Quite appropriately, this place of mercy and love became known as “The Skilton House.” Some of my fondest childhood memories were spent observing this man, whom I’ve subsequently heard others refer to as “the most loving man I’ve ever met.”