Energetic Evangelist W. E. Biederwolf

Dan Graves, MSL

Energetic Evangelist W. E. Biederwolf

After a lengthy illness, William Edward Biederwolf (usually called Edward) died on this day, September 3, 1939. The night before, he said to his wife Ida, "I am soon going to exchange my cross for a crown." She was holding his hand when his eyes fluttered shut for the last time.

Born in Indiana in 1867, Edward was an energetic boy. He'd walk up the Tippecanoe River and then swim three miles back down its length, making it look easy. One Halloween when a wagon was taken apart and reassembled atop the county court house, Edward was the chief suspect.

Edward's parents were Presbyterians. Early in life he vowed to become a Christian. However, it did not happen until he was twenty years of age. By then he was teaching for a living. A Sunday school class began praying for him and each of the kids wrote him a letter, urging him to come out on the side of Christ. One boy even hooked up his mule team and drove over to invite Edward to church and offer him a ride. Edward went, and made the decision to use his life for Jesus.

From Wabash College he went to Princeton, where he played football. By saving his money carefully and winning a Greek prize, he was able to study abroad, first at the University of Berlin and then at the Sorbonne.

Before he went overseas, he spent a year in evangelistic work and married Ida. After completing his studies, he became a pastor, but not for long. The Spanish-American war broke out and he was thrilled at the chance to be an army chaplain. He served with real dedication and wrote the history of his regiment--his first book.

There would be many more. One of the best-known is the Millennium Bible, (now known as The Second Coming Bible). Realizing one day that in twenty years of preaching, he had never given a sermon on the return of Christ, and recognizing how little he knew about it, Edward made himself a master of the subject, digging out every scripture that speaks of the second coming and researching the different interpretations that theologians have given those passages. He summarized his findings and gave his own best opinions.

From 1900 onward, Edward served as an evangelist. With his competitive spirit, he envisioned himself as pitted personally against the Devil, and he went all out to convert men, women and children to Christ, snatching them out of Satan's grasp.

Typical of his teaching is this: "I see a farmer's son sowing wheat, and I say to him, 'Don't you know you'll raise a crop of wheat here?' He smiles a pitying sort of smile and says, 'Certainly, you poor preacher, what do you suppose I'm planting for?' But I say to that same farmer lad, 'Sow thoughts of lust and you'll reap a licentious life.' He smiles a different smile and says, 'Oh, I guess there's not much danger;' but in the day when your passions get the better of you, you'll wish you had remembered the lesson you learned down on the farm."

Edward served as president of Winona College, directed the Winona Lake Bible School of Theology, founded the Family Altar League, and did much, much more. He was 71 when he died.


  1. Biederwolf, William E. The Second Coming Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1980.
  2. Garrett, Ray E. William Edward Biederwolf. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1948.
  3. "William E. Biederwolf." Sword of the Lord. http://www.swordofthelord.com/biographies/ biederwolf.htm
  4. "William Edward Biederwolf." The Christian Hall of Fame. http://www.cantonbaptist.org/halloffame/ biederwolf.htm

Last updated July, 2007

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