Dr. James Boyer: Greek Scholar with a Pastor’s Heart

By Gary M. Kochheiser, DMin

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (NASB, 2 Tim. 2:15).

Another of the men that are being presented as part of the Revived Classics Series is Dr. James L. Boyer, a Greek scholar with a pastor’s heart.

I signed up to take Greek Elements from Dr. Boyer my first semester as a freshman at Grace College. I went to the bookstore to buy my books, one of which was a Greek Bible. I laid that Greek Bible on my desk back in my dorm and set a goal that I was going to be able to read it by the end of the year. With Dr. Boyer’s teaching and encouragement, my goal was accomplished.

James Boyer was born on July 3, 1911, in Ashland County, Ohio, on a farm south of Ashland. At the age of 10 he accepted Christ as his Savior during a revival service at the United Brethren Church in Ashland. He grew up on the family farm and attended Ashland High School, graduating in 1928. He entered Ashland College in the fall with Herman Hoyt. During their sophomore year both signed up for Beginning Greek, which turned out to be a Classical Greek class—not Biblical Greek. Boyer and Hoyt both majored in Greek and graduated together with bachelor of arts degrees in 1932.

While in college, during the summer of 1931, James married Velma M. Leedy. After 71 years of marriage Velma went home to be with the Lord on Feb. 24, 2003. Almost five months to the date, on July 22, 2003, at the age of 92, James joined Velma. They had three children, Leo, Janet and Donald.

James Boyer attended five schools of higher education and earned four degrees: 1928 to 1932, Ashland College, graduating with the bachelor of arts degree; 1932 to 1934, Ashland Theological Seminary, transferring to Bonebrake Theological Seminary, in Dayton, Ohio, for his final year, graduating with the bachelor of divinity degree in 1935; 1937 to 1940, Oberlin School of Theology in Oberlin, Ohio, graduating with the master of sacred theology degree in 1940; and 1950 to 1952, Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Ind., graduating with the doctor of theology degree.

James Boyer had a pastor’s heart. He preached his first sermon in January of 1930. While a student at Ashland College he pastored the United Presbyterian Church in Hayesville, Ohio, from 1932 to 1933. For 16 years he served as a full-time pastor for three United Brethren Churches: 1934 to 1935 in Verona, Ohio; 1935 to 1946 in Mansfield, Ohio; and from 1946 to 1950 in Warren, Ohio. He also was an interim pastor for five congregations. On two different occasions he filled the pulpit of the Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church: from July, 1956, until April, 1957; and from January through October, 1962. From July, 1957, until June, 1958, he pastored the Brethren Church in Sidney, Ind.; and he served the Kokomo Brethren Church from January until June, 1964. While spending the winter in Florida, he served the Evangelical Free Church of Englewood, Fla., from January through May of both 1980 and 1981.

For 30 years, Dr. Boyer served as professor of Greek and New Testament in both Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. During that time he wrote three books: For a World Like Ours: Studies In First Corinthians, Manual of Greek Forms and Prophecy: Things to Come. Along with that he produced three chronological charts*: one on the inter-testimental period, one on New Testament chronology and one on the passion week, as well as many articles that appeared in the Brethren Missionary Herald, the Grace Theological Journal and the Grace Seminary Spire.

One of the most exciting projects Dr. Boyer took on was called Gramcord, which is a computer-based research tool for the grammatical analysis of the Greek New Testament. He connected with Paul Miller, a student at Indiana University, who was majoring in Greek and pursuing extensive studies in computer programming. At that time this was an exciting and cutting-edge project that is still available and used by many today.

Dr. Boyer was a true scholar of God’s Word—not only by his expert teaching of the Word but by his pastoral heart for God’s Word and God’s people.  In the classroom he instructed in “rightly dividing the word of truth” (KJV, 2 Tim. 2:15) by knowing the Greek language and being able to translate and exegete it correctly. He was also a loving example of living the Word in his daily life for others to see and follow.

I personally am greatly indebted to his teaching and his living example.

Dispensational Publishing House, Inc. © 2016. Used by permission.

* The MacArthur Study Bible makes use of these well-known charts, produced in cooperation with Dr. John C. Whitcomb, and gives credit to them on its copyright page (Nelson: Word Publishing, 1997).


Dr. Gary M. Kochheiser is a graduate of Grace Theological Seminary, Andersonville Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has a wide array of ministry experience, including teaching, missions and archaeology, and as the senior pastor of the Grace Brethren Church of Ankenytown, Ohio, since 2010. He also serves on committees for the Brethren Digital Archives and The Brethren Encyclopedia on behalf of the Conservative Grace Brethren Churches International. We value his expertise and are glad to present him as a contributing author to Dispensational Publishing House.

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