Revd John J Murray, minister and author, dies from COVID-19

John J Murray, a well-known minister and author, has passed away at the age of 85 after contracting coronavirus.

Revd Murray went to be with the Lord yesterday, Wednesday 1 April, after a rapid deterioration in his health. He is survived by his wife Cynthia, son Andrew and five grandsons.

Writing on Facebook, Andrew Murray said:

“As a few of you know we received the news last week that my father had tested positive for the Coronavirus. Despite some progress at the start of the week my father deteriorated rapidly over the last 24 hours and passed in to glory at 5.20 pm this evening in Leverndale Hospital, Glasgow.

“Mum and I were able to spend a few minutes with him before he died and I was able to read the last few verses of Romans 8 which he will now be experiencing in all its fullness with the Saviour he preached about through over 40 years of ministry.”


Tributes to Revd Murray have poured in from members of the evangelical community.

Gavin Beers, a fellow Minister in the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), wrote to Andrew Murray: “You are in our prayers. Your father was a humble giant. Loved dearly and may his memory motivate us to service in what remains of our own lives.”

Sharon James, Social Policy Analyst for The Christian Institute, whose father Erroll Hulse was a close friend of Revd Murray, said:

“John J Murray’s long and faithful ministry was characterised by a robust God-centred theology, warm devotion to Christ and a tender concern for others.

“Back in the 1960s during the early days of the Banner of Truth Trust, he was part of a young team who were united in a passionate concern to get solid biblical truth out as widely as possible. That passion for the glory of God, the building up of the church, and the extension of the Kingdom to all nations never left him.

Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord. They rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.‘”

‘Great encourager’

Born and raised in Dornoch, Sutherland, Revd Murray was for 45 years associated with the work of the Banner of Truth Trust, serving as assistant editor from 1960 to 1973. He went on to serve as a Free Church of Scotland minister.

He pastored the High Free Church in Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, and St Columba’s Free Church in Edinburgh. Later he joined the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) when it was formed in 2000.

In the last years of his life he was an elder at Knightswood Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), Glasgow. His minister Revd William Macleod, said: “John J Murray was a huge help to me in my ministry. He was a wise counsellor whose advice was weighty. Ever since I first got to know him 50 years ago I found him a great encourager.”

Behind a Frowning Providence

Reverend Murray was highly regarded for his ministry and Christian teaching.

He was an enthusiast for the reformed faith and wrote a number of books, including a biography of Scottish Reformer John Knox. His book Catch the Fire was his account of the recent recovery of the reformed faith, in which he played an important part in the UK.

His booklet ‘Behind a Frowning Providence’ deals with the difficult topic of suffering. The subject was a very personal one for him and his wife because of their experience of losing a daughter at a young age. The title of the booklet was taken from a line in the famous hymn by William Cowper.

He spoke for the Institute on several occasions. As part of our Autumn Lectures series, John spoke movingly on suffering.


Other lectures by Revd John J Murray

‘Grace and humility’

Institute Trustee Revd George Curry said “I knew him for over 42 years. He was a great man. An exemplary Christian. His grace and humility endeared him to all who met him.

“He had a clear grasp of the majesty of God and the loveliness of the Lord Jesus, our Saviour. He had a passion to see individuals embrace the Saviour with faith. Our sympathies go to Cynthia, Andrew and their grandsons”.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform:
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour:
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own Interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

William Cowper (1731-1800)