John Gill was born on November 23, 1697, in Kettering, Northamptonshire, to Edward and Elizabeth Gill. The family was members of a Baptist church, and Edward was a deacon.
John Gill was unusually smart. He attended the Anglican school, and before he was eleven, he had read the main Latin works and had advanced so far in Greek, he was held in admiration by church ministers. The Anglican teacher required his students to attend the prayers at the Episcopal Church during the week, and his parents resented it to such a point they withdrew John from school at the age of eleven. John, continued his studies on his own, with even more vigor, soon becoming proficient in a wide number of theological requirements, including Hebrew.
When he was twelve, a sermon preached by their Baptist pastor, caused him great distress over his own sin, and the wrath of God. After some time passed, he trusted the Lord as his Savior, and found justification from sin.
On November 1, 1716, when 19, he was baptized at nearby river, and became a member of the Kettering Baptist Church. At the advice of friends, he began to preach, and there were a several conversions as a result.
He married Elizabeth Negus in 1718. They were married for 46 years, and then she died.
When he was twenty-three, he was elected pastor of the church at Horsleydown, London. He was ordained there on March 22, 1720. After some difficulties, the church meetings were thronged with people and there were many conversions.
When he was twenty-six years old he began his Exposition of the Book of Solomon’s Song.
In 1748, he was given the Doctor of Divinity degree from Aberdeen.
His first congregation met for a while in a schoolhouse, until one of the bigger churches built a new chapel, then Gill and his congregation moved into the old chapel. Dr. Gill preached in this chapel until 1757, then his people built a new church for him and he continued there until his death in 1771. On March 24, 1756 he preached his farewell sermon. He was followed by John Rippon, who pastored at the church for over 50 years, and then by Charles Spurgeon.
In 1761, printers all over were asking to print his book, Exposition of the Old Testament, beginning at Genesis and ending with Solomon’s Song. His intention was to give his Exposition of the Old Testament in three volumes but it extended to four volumes. They were printed in 1763, 64, 65, and 66.
Dr. John Gill was an influential leader of the Particular Baptists and a highly respected scholar of this period. He, through private teachers, became a superior scholar in Latin, Greek, and logic. Gill was the foremost theologian for two centuries of Baptist history.
After many years of study, he became a profound scholar in the Rabbinical Hebrew and a master of the Tagums, Talmuds, the Rabboth, and the book of Zohar, with their ancient commentaries.
The study of these books made him academically qualified as a biblical commentator. As a prolific writer, he produced many works, including a commentary on the entire Bible. He still is acknowledged among the Baptists as one of the most profound scholars. In 1767, his Dissertation concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowels, Points, and Accensions, of 282 pages, with a Preface of 43 pages more appeared.
He died, with full mental capacity, on October, 14, 1771, at his house in Camberwell, Surrey, at the age of 73.
John Rippon, Biography of John Gill (Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 1999).
Christian History: The Baptists. 1985; (Logos Research Systems, 1996, electronic ed; Carol Stream IL: Christianity Today)
Thomas Armitage, A History of the Baptists (New York: Bryanm Taylor & Co., 1890). Volume II, Pages 560-561
William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, pp. 452–454; Roger William Heritage Archives Editors, Baptist Biographies (Roger Williams Heritage Archives, 2003; 2003), “John Gill.”
C. H. Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit, Volume 5, electronic ed. (Escondito, California: Ephesians Four Group, 2000), p. 347-349.