Faculty Q and A with Ben Merkle
CHRIS MARTIN | January 19, 2017
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: I spent the first 20 years of my life in California. I became a Christian when I was a junior in high school. I studied at for a couple years of community college and then went to Bible college at Reformed Bible College, now called Kuyper College. After that I went to Westminster Theological Seminary in California, then to Southern Seminary. I’ve been married to Marian for 21 years and we have four children.
Q: How did you come to SEBTS?
A: After I graduated from Southern in 2000, our family went with the International Mission Board to Malaysia, where I taught theology at a seminary and in local churches. When we were thinking of coming back to the States, one of the people I contacted was Danny Akin. We came back to the States when I got a job at SEBTS in 2008.
Q: When people ask you, “What do you do at Southeastern,” what is your response?
A: I teach the New Testament, Greek, and how to interpret the Bible.
Q: On what are you currently working?
A: Earlier this month, I finished a couple of projects on the book of Ephesians. One of them is a more in-depth exegetical guide to the Greek New Testament. The other is a shorter commentary on Ephesians for a whole-Bible commentary based on the ESV. That will be the first commentary set based on the ESV.
Now I’m working on a book called “Greek for Life.” It’s a book on the importance of studying Greek, how to study it properly, how to use it in ministry, and how to keep it fresh when you aren’t studying it.
Q: What have you been reading recently?
A: Most of what I’m reading is related to the books I’ve been working on. Some of the more fascinating books I’m reading recently deal with how we can better use our memory.
Q: When you get home from work, what do you look forward to doing?
A: I spend a lot of time with my kids and their sports. When I lived overseas I used to scuba dive a lot.
Q: Who are your role models?
A: I didn’t grow up in a Christian family, so one of the first role models I can remember was a younger guy who took my brothers and me to church; he’d give us a dime if we could memorize a Bible verse. After I became a Christian there were some older guys in the church who mentored me. I also love reading Charles Spurgeon and John Piper.
Q: What has God been teaching you lately?
A: I’ve been learning about faith and trust. As you get older you get settled and comfortable, so it’s important to remember that this earth isn’t your home and that there’s more to come.
Q: Where are some of your former students?
A: When I taught in Malaysia, we had students from all over Southeast Asia who are now scattered in the region. Former students from Southeastern are pastors, missionaries and studying for further education.
Q: When a student completes your class, what do you want him or her to walk away with at the end of the semester?
A: The first thing I want them to walk away with is that they feel they’ve completed the objectives for the course. I want them to feel they’ve learned what they thought they would. Secondly, I want to give them a heart to share the Word with the nations.
Q: We always say that every classroom at SEBTS is a Great Commission classroom. What does that look like for your class?
A: We pray for missions and unreached people groups. I try to apply what I’m teaching to a global context, and use my mission work overseas as a reference. I also like to lead mission trips and will be going to Malaysia in a couple of weeks with SEBTS students.