John F. MacArthur Bio

John F. MacArthur Bio

John F. MacArthur

John F. MacArthur is one of the best-known radio preachers in the United States, featured on the internationally broadcast program Grace to You, which went on air in 1977. He has served as senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, since 1969. As an outspoken leader and author, MacArthur has riled both Charismatics and fellow Evangelicals at times and sparked heated debates among Christians.    

Fast Facts: John F. MacArthur

  • Full Name: John Fullerton MacArthur Jr.
  • Known For: American pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California; prolific author, Bible commentator, conference speaker, and teacher of the internationally broadcast radio program Grace to You.
  • Born: June 19, 1939, in Los Angeles, California
  • Parents: Jack MacArthur and Irene Dockendorf
  • Spouse: Patricia MacArthur
  • Children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda MacArthur
  • Selected Works:  The Gospel According to Jesus (2008); Our Sufficiency in Christ (1998); Strange Fire (2013); Ashamed of the Gospel (2010); The Murder of Jesus (2004); The Prodigal Son (2008); Twelve Ordinary Men (2002); The Truth War (2007); The Jesus You Can’t Ignore (2009); One Perfect Life (2013); The Gospel According to Paul (2017); One Faithful Life (2019); Only Jesus (2020); The MacArthur Study Bible (2006); and The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (2015).
  • Notable Quote: “If I could simplify the Christian life to one thing, it would be obedience.”

Early Life

John Fullerton MacArthur Jr. was born in 1939 to Baptist preacher and evangelist Jack MacArthur and Irene Dockendorf in Los Angeles, California. In school, young MacArthur was passionate about football, basketball, baseball, and track, and was offered multiple college sports scholarships. But, at his father’s request, MacArthur put aside his dream of playing professional sports to attend Bob Jones University, an unaccredited evangelical Christian college with no athletic programs at the time.

Billy Graham meets Jack MacArthur
Billy Graham meets ministers at Hollywood Presbyterian Church, 1951, including Jack MacArthur (pastor of Fountain Avenue Baptist Church from 1948-1952). Los Angeles, California. University of Southern California / Contributor / Getty Images 

After two years at Bob Jones, MacArthur was recruited to play football at Pacific College. While there, God confirmed MacArthur’s call to the ministry. He decided to attend Talbot Theological Seminary and, in his own words, “never looked back.”

Of his time at seminary, MacArthur reminisced: “I knew this was the course of my life, it all changed … Everything I studied came out of the Bible. And I just had an avaricious appetite … to dig into it because I loved it.” While still a seminary student, MacArthur began traveling and preaching in the expository style (verse by verse through the Bible) that would become the hallmark of his ministry. He recalled, “I was at Youth for Christ, Campus Crusade, Young Life – every camp, every youth convention, churches, colleges, universities. I preached about 35 times a month for nearly three years, and that was great; that was like cramming ten years’ experience into three.”

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