Adolph Saphir (1831-1891), born today (September 26) was a highly-regarded nineteenth-century preacher and Bible expositor. His entire family converted from Judaism to Christianity when the Scottish Free Church sent missionaries to Hungary in 1843. Saphir studied in Berlin, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh. He entered the ministry in 1854, and after time as a missionary to Jews in Hamburg, he was pastor of churches in Glasgow and in London from 1861-1888. From these parishes he carried out an influential writing ministry. Andrew Murray’s books are filled with extended quotations from Saphir, and R. A. Torrey described his best book, The Hidden Life, as “one of the most helpful books in English literature on the subject of prayer and the deeper Christian life.” He was a major influence on David Baron, and W. A. Criswell considered Saphir the best expositor of Scripture, bar none, on the basis of his two-volume sermonic Hebrews commentary.
But Saphir is mostly forgotten today. He deserves to be remembered, because he is the powerful spokesman for evangelical Protestantism at its best, a rich voice from the golden age of evangelicalism. I’m finishing up the editing on an annotated edition of The Hidden Life, to be released by Kregel.
Saphir’s biography was entitled Mighty in the Scriptures. The book most highly regarded during his lifetime was probably The Divine Unity of Scripture. And don’t miss his Christ Crucified or The Lord’s Prayer.