Dr Peter Naylor and Ezekiel
EP Books have recently added Ezekiel, by the late Rev. Peter Naylor, to their EP Study Commentary series. This tribute to Dr Naylor was written by John Appleby, formerly a joint managing editor for Grace Publications Trust.
Dr Peter Naylor was one whom I counted as a good friend and a respected Christian brother. When I had a question on the hermeneutic of a passage of the Scripture text he readily shared his expertise with me; there were also occasions when he honoured me by discussing some problem that he was grappling with.
He taught both Greek and Hebrew. I was present in one of his Greek lessons when he read from his Greek Testament in the manner that he thought it would have been read originally, bearing in mind the breathing and accents as indicated in the text. It sounded like pleasant music! He was awarded a doctorate in London in 2001.
I recall one Sunday when I had preached at Wellingborough Tabernacle, where he was pastor, that after lunch he suggested a walk in the town. As we walked, he began asking me questions concerning my view of the relationship between the Old Testament law and the law of Christ from the New Testament.
As the questions proceeded, it slowly dawned on me that the challenges he was posing were from a different Peter than the one I had come to know. Perhaps my expression indicated that I was puzzled, for, with a disarming smile, he said, ‘It’s all right. I’m acting as a devil’s advocate’. That was Peter — constantly probing and testing in order to find God’s truth.
When I was responsible for the Grace Baptist Mission literature work, Peter helped us with certain projects, notably, a workbook briefly tracing the history of God’s people through the Old Testament and New Testament years; and with the book published by Grace Publications entitled Picking up a pin for the Lord.
It was in those years that we were able to work with him on a simple English commentary on Ezekiel’s prophecy, in language that was easier to understand, for translation into a third world language.
At least from the year 2000, if not before, Ezekiel’s prophecy was engaging his mind. Now, at last, as the final result of years of study, writing and rewriting, the work sees the light of day in the EP series of Study Commentaries. It is the cream of Peter’s academic ability, joined with the savour of his Christian experience.
Over the years, Peter visited the Philippines, South Africa and, on the trail of William Carey, Serampore, near Calcutta in North India. He was also a loyal member of the council of the Strict Baptist Historical Society for some years.
His unexpected death in August 2007 meant that, sadly, he never saw the publication of his commentary. But I am sure that whoever reads Ezekiel now will find that, as the prophet often said, quoting the prophetic words of his God — ‘they will know that I am the LORD’.
That was always Peter’s desire for people too.
Editors note: John Appleby went to be with the Lord on 27 July.