Please disable your Ad Blocker to better interact with this website.

Thompson Chain Reference Bible

Rev. Frank Charles Thompson, a Biography in Brief: The Author of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible


This was beautifully written and honors the legacy of Dr. Thompson and his life’s work. He was a true Disciple of Christ along with his family. Thank you for this wonderful endorsement of the Thompson Bible and of F. C. Thompson’s work and ministry.

Thank you,

Michael Gage (President of Kirkbride Publishing)


Reverend Frank Charles Thompson may not be an everyday Christian household name, but, daresay, the Thompson Chain Reference Bible is. This study Bible has not only decades of outstanding sales to recommend it, copious positive reviews during its first twenty years of publication but personal endorsements from thousands of preachers, teachers and pastors over the ensuing years. I wish to highlight just two such ministers and their thoughts on the Thompson Chain Reference Bible: Albert Mohler, who said “That study Bible opened the Word of God to me in a whole new way, helping me to make connections in the text and to see how subjects and themes run throughout the Bible,” and John R. Kohlenberger III wrote “Thompson provided the model of a study system that was doctrinally objective… The most specific reference system.”

Rev. Charles Frank Thompson Developer of the Thompson Chain Reference System Used by permission from the Kirkbride Bible Company

This reference system by F. C. Thompson which he began work on early in his ministry, and took some twenty-five years to compile,[1] was his crowning achievement during his service to Christ, yet this was but a portion of the sixty years of his work for the Lord. This brief bio rather than an account of the development of the Chain Reference system, will focus instead on Rev. Thompson, his family, his beginnings, his life and his many ministerial efforts.

Thompson Beginnings:

The Reverend Frank Charles Thompson was born in Elmira, New York, on March 2, 1858, to the Reverend Joshua and Sarah Jane Hathaway; Frank was the second born of the Thompsons, his sister Alice entered the world in 1851. The Joshua and Sarah were married in January of 1848,[2] his mother who was born again at age twenty, began almost immediately, a missionary work to young black women, continuing throughout her life as a Sunday School Superintendent, often leading Bible Study groups from her home; when needed also acting as church chorister.[3] Joshua Thompson joined the Methodist Episcopal Church when he was just fifteen years old and started in the ministry in 1848, the same year when he married Sarah Jane.[4]

Often, Joshua Thompson would find employment as a grocer to supplement his for Christ, after an injury Mr. Thompson, retired from active ministry, Frank was about twelve when this occurred. Yet, regardless of the adversity which challenged the Thompson home, there was always that “Bed of Faith”[5] laid for the youngsters, affording them an active life in the ministry. One where Christ was center to their deeds and behaviors, a security blanket if you will, where a child can rest well, knowing that parent or parents are steadfast in their commitment to Jesus, to each other and to them.

Thompson Ministry:

Thompson began his ministry with the Methodist Episcopal Genesee Conference, of New York no earlier than autumn of 1881, and to his credit and God given talents he was invited to speak at the groundbreaking of the Women’s National Hospital, in the southwestern corner of Connecticut, overlooking (in the distance) Long Island Sound, in November of 1881.[6] Just two years later, in 1883 he was ordained a deacon in the Genesee Conference, with the privileges of performing marriages and assisting in the Sacrament of Communion.

Rev. Thompson’s personal Bible in which he made his original reference notes. Used by permission from the Kirkbride Bible Company

All members of the M. E. Church went through a two-year probationary period, where after, they would achieve full membership or be elected to a position. In, late 1885 Thompson was anointed an Elder after fulfilling the required four years in the organization, thereby being able to administer the Sacrament with no assistance.[7]

Rev. Thompson’s preaching and teaching was by all accounts exceptional, filled with vitality, marked by evangelical faith and zeal, while always having the focus on the Person of Christ. He was considered a helpful preacher and was particularly blessed in his delivery when speaking to a congregation of children. With a genuine affection for Sunday School and Bible study, Thompson taught adult Sunday School and often led women’s Bible studies.[8]

Thompson was already known as a Biblical scholar prior to the first publication of the Chain Reference Bible in 1908, and his effective teaching style and his familiarity with the Bible had already been taken notice of, placing him in good standing with congregations and ministers alike.[9]

During the 1890’s Thompson acted as president of the Epworth League convention of the Rochester, New York district of the Methodist Episcopal Church (at that time a group of 33 Churches); he seemed tireless in his service both in pulpit and leadership in committees.[10] To this point of endless energy, Thompson, already a Doctor of Divinity (conferred upon him in 1897), was granted the degree of Doctor of Philosophy with Taylor University, of Indiana, completing courses in ethics, sociology and international law.[11]

In 1924 Rev. and Mrs. Thompson packed up and moved to California, to Los Angeles, where Frank would take the reins at LIFE Bible College (now Life Pacific College) founded by Aimee Semple McPherson. In 1927 Bob’s Hike to the Holy City was published, it was directed at children, and was about a Boy Scott and his sister and their life’s journey; or a Pilgrim’s Progress for juveniles.

Then in September of 1939 Thompson saw his last work printed, Barriers to Eden, just months prior to his going home to be with the Lord, in May 1940.[12] Barriers to Eden, was a tale of social blockade, of the disillusionment of a young woman’s faith, her unsuccessful plans and finally her redemption. These were Thompson’s final years, spending time teaching, researching and writing.[13]

Thompson Family:

Thompson who had started his ministry in the Nelson, Pennsylvania, M.E. church in 1881 (the first of many) visiting the pulpits of other nearby M. E. congregations.[14] It was in Nelson that he met and married Ms. Edith Walters, a teacher, although their union was short-lived for she passed on in March of 1886,[15] her death was near the end of Thompson’s pastorate in Bradford, Massachusetts 1886; they had been there since 1885.[16] Thompson left the Bradford M. E. Church, just three months later, in June of 1886.[17] God was gracious to F. C. Thompson, and brought Ms. Laura Boughton, of Victor, New York, into his life, while pastoring in Charlotte, New York; they were married in September of 1887.[18]

Written by Rev. Frank Thompson during his years in California

Thompson would spend a majority of his ministry in, around and near Rochester, New York, and it was in Attica[19] that Frank and Laura welcomed the first of three children, Florence who born in July of 1888, and Edith arrived in December of 1891. Their son Paul, was born in September of 1900, and died on June 17, 1902; Florence, passed on in June of 1908, and Edith would precede her mother and father to that Heavenly home, in 1912.[20] What a burden it must have felt for the Thompsons, yet their resolve for the ministry of Christ did not abate, and Rev. Thompson continued forward, always pressing toward the mark which God had put before him. Reverend Frank Charles Thompson, truly, a Trail-Blazer of the Church.

The Thompson Chain Reference Bible is the Study Bible to have, there is none better. Nearly every minister I have known has used one. The Kirkbride Bible Company is the source for the Thompson Chain. Kirkbride is celebrating more than 100 years in business and I know they would appreciate you stopping by their website to shop. I would like to personally thank Michael Gage, president of Kirkbride for his permission to write this biography of Dr. Thompson, and for his permission to use the photos of Thompson and of his Bible. Michael’s review of this biography was a blessing and great encouragement to me, not only for this bio, but for future works. Blessings in Christ Michael.

By Rev. Steve Williams

[1] Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) 5/2/1908

[2] Rochester Republican (Rochester, New York) 2/8/1848Rochester Republican, 8 February 1848Rochester Republican, 8 February 1848

[3] Official Journal and Minutes of the Eightieth Session of the Genesee Conference, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1889

[4] The Christian Advocate, March 22, 1900

[5] I Will Rest in You, words and music by Michelle Tumes and Brent Bourgeois

[6] Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) 11/29/1881

[7] Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) 10/4/1885                                                                                           Official Minutes of the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1906

The World (New York, New York) 12/30/1892

[8] Methodist Episcopal Church Genesee Conference Journal 194O, Pages 87-88

Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) 6/30/1891; 5/5/1940

[9] The Christian Advocate, 1905

Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) 12/5/1893

[10] Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) 5/5/1897

[11] Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) 7/10/1900

Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina) 5/21/1897

[12] Methodist Episcopal Church Genesee Conference Journal 194O, Pages 87-88

[13] Methodist Episcopal Church Genesee Conference Journal 194O, Pages 87-88                                                    Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) 10/8/1939

[14] Buffalo Commercial (Buffalo, New York) 10/12/1881

Wellsboro Gazette (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) 9/12/1882

[15] Seventy Seventh Session of the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, September 30-October 6, 1886

[16] History of Essex County, Massachusetts, with Biographical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Volume II, 1888, page 1696

[17] Seventy Seventh Session of the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, September 30-October 6, 1886

[18] Bouton, Boughton and Farnam Families, by Willis A. Boughton, published 1949, page 26

[19] Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) 10/6/1888

[20] Bouton, Boughton and Farnam Families, by Willis A. Boughton, published 1949, page 26


Posting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

Trending Now on

Send this to a friend