Monday, April 25, 2016

Dr. Peter S. Ruckman: the Nonpareil

The greatest Bible scholar of the past century went Home to be with the Lord on April 21st.  He is survived by his loving wife, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren ... and by thousands of students he personally trained, who now serve the Lord throughout the world, from the Ukraine to the Philippines.

Peter Sturges Ruckman was, in his manner and in his presentation, no one's idea of a "scholar." He came from a rough background: before receiving Christ and being born again at the age of 27, he had worked as a drill instructor in hand-to-hand combat in the United States Army; a drummer in dance bands in the 1940s and 50s; a street artist in the French Quarter of New Orleans; and a disc jockey in Pensacola, Florida. When he came to Jesus Christ, he became a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17), but all of his subsequent training and education never "civilized" him.  He was polite in polite society, but he was most at home casting a net in the waters off Pensacola, or playing with his beloved German Shepherds, or tending the goal in amateur hockey - - - a sport he loved passionately, but didn't take up until he was 68 years old.  He played with his students, men from the ages of 18 to 40, and he only quit playing at the age of 84.  He was the epitome of what was once called "muscular Christianity," which has all but disappeared in our effeminate, Laodicean age. 

He became an expert in Biblical languages at Bob Jones University in the 1950s; the founder of that school said that Ruckman was "the most brilliant man who ever walked onto this campus." After earning his doctorate, he worked as an evangelist or pastor for over a half century.  In 1964, he founded the Pensacola Bible Institute, for the purpose of teaching young men the Authorized King James Version of the Bible - - - God's final, perfect propositional revelation to the English-speaking world.  He also taught his students Greek, Hebrew, Church History, Advanced Theology, and homiletics - - - or, "how to preach."  He preached and taught all over the world, and at this moment his students are planting and pastoring churches from Mexico to Korea and beyond.  He was the world's leading expert in the area of manuscript evidence: the background of the King James Bible, as well as all modern translations.  He knew the various Greek texts and editions of the New Testament like no other living man.

But, because he would not abandon his belief that the Authorized Version is God's uniquely preserved and authoritative word, he was a "renegade." He was hated and rejected by the "evangelicals" and "fundamentalists" who  make their living by exploiting the technical ignorance of the average Christian.  These "scholars," who regard themselves and their own preferences as the only final authority on earth, hated Dr. Ruckman with a perfect hatred. And they were not fit, spiritually or intellectually, to water his dogs, or mow his lawn.

He has written verse-by-verse commentaries on over 40 books of the Bible, with others slated for future publication, as well as the Ruckman Reference Bible, any or all of which can be purchased from the Bible Baptist Bookstore in Pensacola.

I studied under Dr. Ruckman, in Pensacola, from 1986-1991; I have known him since 1985. Apart from his rough exterior, he was one of the most generous men I have ever known, and any of his students can attest to his grace and mercy in his personal dealings. And every man or woman who sat under his teaching came away with one paramount precept, written in bright lines: Dr. Ruckman is not the "final authority."  The Authorized King James Bible is the final authority.


In my brief 66 years, I have been personally acquainted with three men who I believed to be authentic geniuses: Francis Schaeffer, William F. Buckley Jr., and Peter S. Ruckman.  All were gentlemen and scholars.

But Peter S. Ruckman was the wisest and the kindest man I have ever known.  Millions around the world have been blessed by this delightfully simple, impossibly complicated servant of Jesus Christ, with Whom he is now face to face. 

November 19, 1921 - April 21, 2016
Saved March 14, 1949


  1. The thought crosses my mind that if they are honest, even Dr. Ruckman's detractors have to admit the Lord blessed his ministry, and his life. Man looks on the outward appearance and "the scholars" can't get past his gruff exterior. But he lived to be 94, and enjoyed relatively good health until his early 90s (Proverbs 16:31,20:29). The church he pastored and the school he started are both thriving in spite of a variety of opposition over the years. And the Lord let him preserve a legacy of his accumulated knowledge in enough print and recorded material to rival any public library. To say nothing of the personal blessings that he acknowledged the Lord as giving him.

    Psalm 90:10 says 10 "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."

    Dr. Ruckman lived two full lifetimes on this earth: physically surpassing even fourscore years to the age of 94 and a spiritual life of close to threescore years and ten at the spiritual age of 67. The eternal aspect of his life has now begun and we praise the Lord that he fought a good fight, he finished his course and he kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7).

  2. Thank you for that personal commentary. I was blessed to meet Dr. Ruckman, but, even more so, blessed by his preaching and teaching in video and book form. I appreciated his unwavering stance on the Authorized Version, the King James Bible, and his ability to expose professional "scholars" for what they were, re: Matthew 23.

    We shall not look on his like again.