Rod Decker (1952–2014)
Rod Decker was strong enough to finish two books
and send them to the printer last winter—strong
enough to write the introductions, strong enough
to sign them the way he signed the others:
Soli Deo Gloria.
With a sharp mind trapped inside a body that was slowly
shutting down, Rod suffered through the roughest winter of
his life. Unable to return to his classes at Baptist Bible Seminary, he invested his remaining energy writing at home, confined to a chair by the fire, warmed by wood he had chopped
ahead of time. He was ready for what he called the “
inescapable reality” of death.
“I’ve been ‘terminal’ for over 60 years,” he said with typical
humor and theological precision.
Eight years earlier he had built his house across the road
from the farm where he grew up. Despite his growing reputation as a New Testament Greek scholar, he never strayed too
far from his rural roots.
“God took a farm boy and placed him in the ministry,
eventually into graduate studies, and then into the classroom
to train young pastors,” Rod had said, summarizing his life as
“grace from the beginning.”
Rod Decker, author, seminary professor, and an
internationally known New Testament scholar, died on May
25, 2014. He was 61.
“He always cared about others more than himself, always
deflected praise, and always gave God glory,” says Mark
McGinniss, a faculty colleague who had seen the soli Deo
gloria in action.
Rod grew up on a farm near Tunkhannock, Pa., the son of
Pastor Victor and Agnes Decker. His father, a 1952 graduate of Baptist Bible Seminary, was pastor of Osterhout Bible
Church. Rod came to Christ at age 5 through the influence of
In 1970 he showed up on BBC’s campus wearing his blue
corduroy Future Farmers of America jacket. He had planned
to study forestry until a traveling missionary suggested he try
Bible college for a year. Decker stayed on, took his first Greek
class from Bob Williams, and discovered his natural affinity
for languages. He would continue to study with Bill Arp and
In 1974 he graduated from the pastoral studies program and
married his wife, Linda, on June 15 (his parents’ 25th wedding anniversary). Then Decker continued in Baptist Bible
Seminary’s MDiv program, graduating in 1978. There he
was mentored by Richard Engle, who joined the faculty after
10 years of pastoral ministry. “I saw a blend of the Biblical
languages, theology, and ministry, which convinced me that