My Father Died Last Week

Bill Mounce on February 4th, 2019.

Bill Mounce

Bill is the founder and President of BiblicalTraining.org, serves on the Committee for Bible Translation (which is responsible for the NIV translation of the Bible), and has written the best-selling biblical Greek textbook, Basics of Biblical Greek, and many other Greek resources. He blogs regularly on Greek and issues of spiritual growth. Learn more about Bill's Greek resources at BillMounce.com.

Casket of Robert Mounce

I am going to interrupt my normal Greek blogs to share some thoughts about my dad, funerals, and death.

Dad passed away due to complications from two surgeries, broken hip, shoulder, and elbow, all from falling. He was 97. His obituary is on his blog site, Shout4Joy.net.

It is expected to be reflective in the face of death, and I am no exception.

1. Death is final

No dah, but it is. I am now the oldest Mounce in my family, the patriarch. No one to call for senior advice. No one to remind you of the details of your life. No one to help put history in perspective.

I wasn’t going to look at my father’s body in the casket, but when they opened it my wife thought I should. I would never have recognized him, but it was extremely clear that he wasn’t going to sit up and talk again. He was dead. There was nothing left for him to do.

Our days are numbered. Our life is but a vapor. Don’t waste it (with apologies to John Piper and his excellent book on this topic). Do what really matters. You don’t get a second chance.

2. The ground is level at the casket (and the cross)

OuthouseThere is some irony in where dad is buried. It is a family plot, with his parents to the right, grandmother further to the right, uncles and cousins to the left. It is basically farm land where the only facilities are a questionable outhouse.

No one reading the memorial stones would recognize the name of a University of Chicago professor born in Gravelswitch Kentucky, educated by traveling teachers in exchange for chickens, and whose first time in a school was as the teacher. My Grandfather.

No one would recognize the name of a published poet whose most famous writing was on the day that Lincoln died. My great-grandmother.

No one would recognize the two women who traveled the Oregon trail and taught as single women in Kellogg, Idaho at a time when single women never did that sort of thing. My grandmother and her sister.

In time, no one will recognize the name of Robert Hayden Mounce. He was one of the first graduates of Fuller Seminary who, along with David Hubbard, pursued their Ph.D.’s in Britain and gave Fuller educational legitimacy. Or who wrote the question and answer column for Eternity magazine for 22 years. Or who wrote one of the best commentaries on Revelation. Or who ended his career as the president of Whitworth University.

And in time, no one will remember the name of Bill Mounce, and that’s just fine. Despite the human desire for self-aggrandizement in death, everyone is six feet under. They’re all dead. And they will stand equally before an impartial judge who will determine their eternal destiny. He is not impressed with what impresses people. Neither should we.

3. Death and legacy

A lot of people talk about legacy. I have never been impressed with the desire for legacy. Books fade. Friends who know you die. As important as BiblicalTraining.org is to me, the only thing that really matters are my wife and children, and the friends whose lives I have touched and who have touched me. If you want to consider that as legacy, then fine.

As my grandma used to quote, “Only one life will soon be past, and only what’s done for Jesus will last.” If my legacy is a family and group of friends who love Jesus more because I was in their life, then that is enough. There are no heroes in the graveyard, only dead bodies waiting to be reunited with their resurrection bodies if in fact they followed Jesus.

As for me, my “legacy” is the embrace of my savior and those long-awaited words, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

Bill Mounce blogs regularly on Greek and issues of spiritual growth.

  • Ajith Fernando 2 weeks ago

    I thank God for the life and work of a top notch NT scholar who served the church well. Now there are some huge evangelical commentaries on Revelation. But in our younger days we had only Mounce as a comprehensive work. But there are other writings also which influenced me– Most notably his article on ‘gospel’ in the EDT and also his later commentaries.

  • Steve Yoell 2 weeks ago

    Bill, I feel deep sadness for you. I know you loved and admired your dad so much. He leaves a great legacy in Spokane and around the world.
    Bless you, my brother…

  • Rick Lucian 2 weeks ago

    I recently discovered your fathers “Letters of Paul to the Early Church”. His translation makes the letters of Paul very personal, as if they were written to me instead of to our brothers in the distant past, and now we are looking for applications to us now. I will not forget his gifts to the church. I would only hope that his “Letters of Paul to the Early Church” would be available on Logos and Wordsearch. I read “Jesus in his own words” 5 years ago on a trip to Israel.

  • Milton Stanley Sr. 2 weeks ago

    I have long been enriched by your father’s Matthew commentary as I have been by your writings here and elsewhere. I’m so sorry you’ve lost him. The sun will seem not shine as brightly in the sky for quite some time.

  • Travis Meadows 2 weeks ago

    Bill,
    Thank you for sharing. It is awe inspiring to read of the great legacy your family has left and the great intersections of history that they shared. May God give your peace during this season.

  • Bill Fragiskos 1 week ago

    My condolences Bill. I appreciate all the teaching that you have given me in Greek. I was in your prototype online class if you recall. I appreciate your introducing me to Elliot Mallory-Green who is teaching Hebrew me online. Thanks.
    With His Love, Bill