W.E. Vine shows how great a service can be rendered to the church by well-balanced, all-around scholarship when it is combined with reverent submission to the Word of God and spiritual insight into its meaning.” – F.F. Bruce
William Edwy Vine (1873–1949), commonly known as W. E. Vine, was an English biblical scholar, theologian, and writer, most famous for Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.
Vine was born in 1873, in Blandford Forum, Dorset, England. His father ran the Mount Radford School, which moved to Exeter in 1875, and it was there that W.E. Vine was raised. He became a Christian at an early age and was baptized in the Brethren assembly in Fore Street, Exeter. At 17, Vine became a teacher at his father’s school, and then moved to Aberystwyth to study at the University College of Wales. He later completed his education at the University of London, receiving a BA and MA in Ancient Classics in 1906.
One spring, he spent an Easter vacation at the home of a godly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Baxendale, where he met their daughter Phoebe. A few years later, they married. It was a marriage made in heaven. They had five children: Helen, Christine, Edward (O.B.E.), Winifred, and Jeanette. During the time of their engagement, Vine’s reputation as a clear Bible expositor was growing, and before long he accepted the joint headmastership of the school with his father. In 1904, after his father died, his brother Theodore became joint headmaster with him.
It was during this time, in conjunction with Mr. C. F. Hogg, that he produced their classic commentaries on 1 and 2 Thessalonians and then Galatians. These display the full scope of Vine’s scholarship.
When Vine was in his early thirties he felt God calling him to accept an invitation to share in the responsibility of a missionary work called “Echoes of Service,” a project that is still strong today as Echoes International. At the time of Vine’s appointment, Echoes of Service linked 600 missionaries overseas with independent churches known as “The Open Brethren.” He continued this work for forty years.
This responsibility inevitably meant writing tens of thousands of letters between local churches and the missionaries overseas. Many of the letters—beside being of a practical nature—involved answering theological questions. He also wrote for “Echoes of Service,” a monthly magazine that linked overseas missionaries with the Christians and churches at home by articles teaching the Bible and giving news that would stimulate prayer and support for the missionaries. He also wrote regular articles for other magazines, and many of his written works grew out of these articles. Vine dedicated himself to his work with missionaries and was firm in his doctrine and practice. He said,
In the mind of God the grand ultimate object of missionary activity is the planting of churches. . . . The Head of the church who gave His instructions to His Apostles . . . on record for us in the Scriptures, gave therein a body of truth and principles adapted to every age, generation and condition. The pattern is complete, and exhibits the divine wisdom in every part. Human tampering has only marred it in its working. . . . It is incumbent upon all who profess the Christian faith to respect the plainly revealed intentions of the Head of the church, instead of burdening it with doctrines and regulations of human fabrication.
He wrote this when he was an elder in the assembly at Manvers Hall, Bath, a position that he held for 40 years. He was diagnosed with heart disease in 1927, but lived until 1949.