Brother Hoefle was recognized by many as a Bible scholar, although he never attended a Theological Seminary. When asked if he had attended any Theological Seminary, he would answer that he had not. He would tell them he was now in the School of Christ, but had not graduated; that the advice the Apostle Paul gave Timothy was: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) The Apostle did not tell Timothy that he should attend some religious school so that he would be better equipped to be “approved unto God.” Neither do we have any record of the Apostles advising their converts to attend a “religious school” in order to be “approved unto Cod.” Brother Hoefle, of course; gladly accepted help from others who were in the “School of Christ,” and had studied the Word of God, whose instructor was our Lord. He followed the advice of the Apostle Peter: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for your hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Pet. 3:15)
He was an avid student of history, both modern and ancient, had a good understanding of world conditions, and was also well acquainted with business and finance. Many who knew him well marveled at his remarkable memory. However, his main interest was the dissemination of God’s Word to all who had an “ear to hear.” His purpose was to bless the Lord’s people with “Good Tidings of Great Joy,” which he was privileged to do to quite a few. Although the Lord said, “because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14), He also said, “Every one who is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:37) Brother Hoefle knew this has been true during the Gospel Age, but he also knew the “Good Tidings” is to be to all people, which will be fulfilled in the Kingdom when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.” (Isa. 11:9) This is certainly not true today. The Good Tidings of Great Joy will then be to all people – especially to those who love righteousness, but were unable to walk a “narrow way” during the Gospel Age when sin and evil were in the ascendancy. A Highway of Holiness (Isa. 35:8) will be opened for all who love righteousness, or will learn to love righteousness – a way of easy access and many will be able to find it. This Highway of Holiness will also lead to eternal life for those who love righteousness and obey the Kingdom rules. (Acts 3:19‑21)
Brother Hoefle’s father was a Catholic and his mother a Lutheran. After the Dayton, Ohio, flood in 1913, in which he and his family, as well as many others, suffered much hardship, he became too ill to hold down a full‑time job. He sold sweepers from door to door part of the time, and studied the Bible when not working. He gained very little knowledge, as he did not know how to study it. He did not know that the Bible is a book of texts rather than a text book: “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little and there a little.” (Isa. 28:10)
However, he believed the Bible contained God’s inspired Word, even though he could not understand very much of it. He believed there is “no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) He reverenced God and Christ, and believed that our Creator is a God of Love, Wisdom, Justice and Power. He then joined the Lutheran church, and was a faithful worker in that church, gaining him the love and respect of his associates.
Brother Hoefle later was employed in a plumbing company in Dayton, Ohio, and became friendly with an employee who was associated with the International Bible Students Association. He went with him to some of the meetings. At that time they were using the six volumes of the Studies in the Scriptures written by That Servant. He bought the volumes and readily accepted the Truth they contained. He was happy to find that God had a Plan of Salvation for all mankind as given in the Diaglott translation of Eph. 3:11: “According to a Plan of the Ages, which he formed for the Anointed Jesus our Lord.”
Brother Hoefle entered the Army May 29, 1918, as a Conscientious Objector. He and others in the Camp had some grueling experiences. But when his superior officers were informed that he was an excellent stenographer and office worker, they gave him some office work to do. He faithfully performed all the work assigned him, thereby gaining the respect of his superior officers. God’s promises sustained him – believing “all things” would work out for his good. (Rom. 8:28) So he took the abuse, as well as the kind treatment, as a “good soldier” in the Lord’s Army.
When he came out of the Army, he again attended the IBSA meetings – became a colporteur, and sold the Studies in the Scriptures. However, when the Seventh volume came out he refused to sell it. So they took his territory from him. They began to present errors contrary to what he had learned in the Studies in the Scriptures – errors he could not accept. He discussed this with some of the brethren, and one brother told him he talked like Brother Paul S. L. Johnson, who was writing a monthly paper about such errors. He immediately got in touch with Brother Johnson and asked him to send him all back papers. Shortly thereafter, he went with the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement where he remained until a few years after Brother Johnson’s demise.
Brother Johnson and Brother Hoefle became close personal friends. Each year Brother Johnson gave Brother Hoefle a special binding of the Present Truths with his inscription, as well as having the Parousia and Epiphany books specially bound for him. In 1943 Brother Hoefle went with Brother Johnson on a month’s pilgrim trip – some of the time eating and sleeping with him. Under such circumstances they came to know each other quite well. Brother Hoefle often remarked what a great privilege it was to take that trip with Brother Johnson. He was a wonderful instructor, and Brother Hoefle learned a lot from him personally. Such information was a great help to Brother Hoefle later when it was his duty and privilege to “contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” Brother Johnson told him that he did more for him than he did for others because of his faithfulness to the Truth. Brother Johnson often quoted Prov. 11:25 to Brother Hoefle: “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Brother Johnson had requested that Brother Hoefle conduct his funeral, which he did October 27, 1950. The following is some of what he said at the funeral:
There is a way, and a way
And the high soul climbs the high way
And the low soul gropes the low
And in between, on the misty flats, the rest drift,
to and fro
But to every man there openeth a high way and a low
And every man decideth which way his life shall go.
He also said of Brother Johnson, “Our pastor chose the high way, the narrow way that leadeth unto life; and when the judgments are finally set and open before all, it will then be apparent how wise his choosing had been.
In the 1952 Present Truth the new executive published Brother Johnson’s Seven Helpers. The following is what he said about Brother Hoefle:
“Bro. John J. Hoefle, of Detroit, Mich., was one of Bro. Johnson’s special assistants in a more potent way than most of the brethren realize. Throughout most of the Epiphany, and even to the end of his life, Bro. Johnson leaned on Bro. Hoefle in special ways, finding in him an ever ready and willing helper, often under very exacting conditions that involved much sacrifice and self‑denial. Probably the largest financial contributor to the Lord’s Epiphany work, he came to Bro. Johnson’s relief in times of special need, making possible the purchase of plates and other materials for various books that were published, donating the Bible House property free from debt to the work and additionally donating thousands of dollars, to the exhaustion of his finances, in the spirit of the instruction in Matt. 6:19‑21. He also ably helped Bro. Johnson in legal and general executive matters. E.G., in 1937 he started action in the courts which resulted in the LHMM obtaining income‑tax‑free status, donations made to it by others also being now free from taxation and deductible in individual income‑tax returns. This has resulted in quite an increase in funds for carrying on the work, and served as a precedent in obtaining for the LHMM more favorable positions and decisions, e.g., in connection with various bequests, deeds, U.S. Customs, U.S. Courts and other agencies, employment tax exemptions, tax‑free services, lower rates, etc. In 1947 “at a most inopportune time” he left everything to serve at Bro. Johnson’s bedside, assisting in correspondence work, etc. Bro. Johnson spoke of him as “my real son Timothy” and later wrote him: “I love you because of your personal good qualities, which I appreciate, and because of the great service you have been to the Epiphany Truth.” Bro. Johnson arranged for him to act as executor for himself and Sr. Johnson, and made special request that he serve at his funeral. Indeed, Bro. Hoefle, who also served as a Pilgrim, was one of Bro. Johnson’s seven special helpers.”
However, the Executive Trustee was a self‑confessed crown‑loser, and as Brother Johnson often said, “All crown‑losers are doubleminded.” “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8) This proved to be true. “Now there arose a new king... which knew not Joseph.” (Ex. 1:83) The Executive Trustee began presenting error – only slight at the beginning. Brother Hoefle thought highly of the Executive Trustee because of the good help he was to Brother Johnson. He often said, we should do all we can to help him, because it is a difficult job for any one to step into the shoes of a great man like Brother Johnson. He went to the Executive Trustee privately to point out his errors, but to no avail. Then later there was a whispering campaign conducted, saying among other things, “Brother Hoefle is forsaking the Truth,” or words to that effect. However, by 1954 the Executive Trustee came out with “new light” a new doctrine called the Consecrated Epiphany Campers. He did this despite the teachings and warnings of Brother Johnson: “Nor are they (crown‑losers) to seek to discover ‘new light’ and spread it before the Church, as this would be attempting to go into the Holy, from which they have been excluded, and would result in their offering strange fire. .... Let us rather hope that they will confine their ministry (1) to one another according to the Truth that they have received and will yet receive from the Priests, and (2) to the nominal people of God to whom they have been made God’s mouthpiece through their Possession of the antitypical mantle. ….. Toward these two classes they will have an honorable and Divinely approved service, as they do it in harmony with faith, righteousness and the Truth.” (E‑7:138)
At the 1955 Philadelphia convention, which Brother Hoefle attended, he was aware of a decided coolness in the attitude of a few brethren – although he had not yet been excommunicated. He gave the following testimony:
TESTIMONY ON HOPE
I’m glad to be with you and I hope I’ll be with you for a long time to come. But this element of Hope has loomed large in human affairs: “Man lives in hope and dies in despair.” That certainly is not true of God’s people, because their hope sustains them to the end.
When the Israelites left Egypt, their hopes were high; but those hopes collapsed in one day when they came to Kadesh‑Barnea. When the adverse report of the spies came to them, they lost their hope, which died with them in their flight through the wilderness of Sin, as they fell like deceitful jades. Of all that horde who were over 20 years of age that left Egypt, how many possessed beautiful Canaan land? Only two! Canaan was a goodly land, flowing with milk and honey; and the Lord had said they could possess it. For Gospel‑Age purposes, that land typed the Truth and its Spirit. So the Lord did not use words loosely. Of all the millions that have left Egypt (the world of sin) during the Gospel Age, only 144,000 possessed good Canaan land – the Truth and the Spirit of the Truth.
There’s no reason to think the Youthful Worthies will show any better in “possessing the land” – the Truth and the Spirit of the Truth – than did their predecessors. But of those who have possessed it all things are theirs. Brother Johnson once said to me: “Brother, you are richer than Henry Ford" and the years have taught me the truth of what he said. Mr. Ford – as with all of us – brought nothing into this world; and all he took out with him was what he was (his character) – he took not a nickel of what he had. And so it shall be with us! If we have the Truth and the Spirit of the Truth, we have everything. But I realize it brings some burdens, too. As Solomon said, I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly; and I perceived that in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.” But, the same wise man also said, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” And the Lord’s people should welcome anything that makes the “heart” better – for “out of the heart are the issues of life.” So I sincerely hope I do have the Truth and the Spirit of the Truth, because I need then have no fear of what men may think of me, or do to me. I pray daily for my brethren everywhere, and I hope all my brethren do the same for me. But, be that as it may, I know there is but one Lord; and to his own Lord each of us must stand or fall, so
I stay my haste, I make delays
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.
Shortly after this convention Brother and Sister Hoefle were excommunicated from the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement. This was the first time this had happened to him. He was not disfellowshipped from the Lutheran church and the IBSA, as he left them of his own free will, so quite a few of them continued to be friendly with him. However, he reflected that he no doubt needed some experiences like beloved Brother Johnson received from the Society when he was kicked out. Of course, this left Brother Johnson with nothing else he could do but refute the errorist, which he did. So it was the same with Brother Hoefle, there was nothing left for him to do but expose the errorists, which he did. From 1955 onward he wrote a monthly paper, mainly refutation at the beginning – in order to rescue his brethren in the LHMM from the “snare of the fowler.” (Psa. 91:3) As the mailing list increased to many outsiders, he then wrote papers other than controversial. Although the Epiphany Bible Students Ass’n is a small movement, the papers have been far‑reaching, not only in the United States, but also including many foreign countries. He got surprising requests for his papers from sources and people he had never known. This was largely due to brethren who had shared their articles with others.
He often stated that he was happy that the LHMM still distributed the Studies in the Scriptures and the Epiphany books, even though some of these books refuted the LHMM errors better than he could do himself. So in this refutation of the errors he often quoted from these books and from the writings of the Watch Tower Reprints by That Servant. He continued to go to the LHMM conventions for several years after his excommunication, as some of the brethren continued to fellowship with him, even though the Executive Trustee told them from the platform not to speak to the Hoefles, not to shake hands with them – or have anything to do with them – as it was like shaking hands with the Devil. It hurt Brother Hoefle very much when quite a few heeded his command – although a few of the hardier brethren continued to fellowship with him. The Executive Trustee followed in the path of J. F. Rutherford, whose adherents had treated him similarly when under Bro. Johnson, instead of following in the path of That Servant and the Epiphany Messenger.
However, Brother Hoefle realized that the Truth and its Spirit was more to be desired than the praise of men. Some, of course, “loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43) There are two groups emanating from That Servant that have brought forth new doctrines not taught by the two Messengers: The Jehovah’s Witnesses with their Great Crowd and the LHMM with their Epiphany Campers Consecrated. Brother Johnson called the Witnesses’ Great Crowd a non‑existent class – and Brother Hoefle called the LHMM’s Consecrated Epiphany Campers a non‑existent class. The leaders of these two groups are displacing God’s promises to the Jews and relegating them to their non‑existent classes. But God’s promises to the Jews are sure: “He is faithful that promised.” (Heb. 10:23) Brother Hoefle has ably refuted these errors not only with the teaching of the two Messengers, but even more importantly, with God’s sure word of prophecy: “Salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22)
The Executive Trustee not only called Brother Hoefle a sifter and other vicious names, but also said he had lost his standing in the Household of Faith. However, Brother Hoefle never intimated that the Executive Trustee had lost his standing as a self‑confessed crown‑loser. It was his hope that the Executive Trustee would eventually cleanse himself of his character blemishes, and be among those who “washed their robes.” (Rev. 7:14) These crown‑losers when cleansed are counted “overcomers”, but the crown‑retainers are “more than conquerors.” (Rom. 8:37) Brother Hoefle often remarked that the Executive Trustee was a great help to Brother Johnson, and was still doing a good work toward the world in distributing the six volumes. However, these crown‑lost leaders taught error to the brethren: They were “deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim. 3:13)
Even though Brother Hoefle was lenient toward the individuals who opposed him, he was uncompromising in his presentation of the Truth, and in his attack against the errors and errorists. He relied on God’s promises: “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.” (Luke 21:15) “Behold, I will make a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth; thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.” (Isa. 41:15) As he often remarked, “To his own Lord each of us must stand or fall.”
Just as were the two Messengers, he was a true friend of the Jews. He wrote copiously about God’s promises to the Jews, and often quoted from That Servant’s teaching. “The New Covenant will be made with the Jews.” (Jer. 31:31‑34) The Kingdom will be Israelitish. God’s plan of Salvation for all mankind will come through Spiritual Israel and Natural Israel. They were first in Spiritual Israel – the High Calling ‑ and they will be first in the earthly Kingdom. Brother Hoefle supported the Jewish Cause in every way he was able. He was happy to see the Jews back in Jerusalem and the prophecy being fulfilled just as the Messengers taught. He had faith and confidence that the prophecy would continue to unfold, even though the Jews will experience what is “Jacob’s last trouble,” they will never be fully ejected from Jerusalem. “For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.” (Jer. 24:6)
This is a brief history of Brother Hoefle’s experiences in the Truth – toward and untoward – and some very rugged. He was always appreciative of the Lord’s overruling Providence, and counted the rebuffs and ostracism as “all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8), as he “earnestly contended for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) As he said in No. 123, September 1, 1965: “Our only ambition is ‘to be faithful to the Lord, the Truth and the Brethren,’ as we endeavor to ‘quit ourselves like men’ in the ‘good fight’ of faith we are waging.”
We hope and trust his experiences will be a strength and comfort to the Lord’s people as they continue to “fight the good fight of faith” as Good Soldiers in the Lord’s Army.
Soldiers of Christ arise,
And put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Through His eternal Son.
Having all things done,
And all your conflicts past,
Ye may o’come, through Christ alone
And stand entire at last.
We may be sure that “the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.” (Psa. 112: 6) “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from hence even forever.” (Psa. 125:2) Be assured of our Christian love and prayers for all our brethren.
THE MOUNT DORA ECCLESIA
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Sister Hoefle; Grace and peace!
Your cablegram message was received with sadness. We have awaited your following letter to the brethren, but it has taken 10 days to get here – a somewhat longer time than usual. We have indeed felt that Brother Hoefle was gradually regaining some of his normal health, and would continue in his ministry to the brethren for some time yet. .......
We all have sorrow now, and we sympathize with you, dear Sister, being so closely associated with Brother John, even as we do with all the dear ones with you. ..... Yet we have great comfort and trust in the Lord for all what the future has in store for us.
It is good to know that Brother Hoefle had prepared articles for future publishing. We look forward to these in due course, praying the Lord will bless and give you strength as you endeavor to follow our Brother’s wishes in this respect.
It is almost 30 years since we made his acquaintance – by correspondence of course – and we can say that we have enjoyed his presentation of the Parousia and Epiphany Truths these many years, when so many have been busy – and still are – dismantling or undermining these Truths. Surely we will miss him!
God bless you, Sister, and may your faith fail not. With Christian love to you and all with you.
Yours by His Grace, Brother and Sister ‑‑‑‑‑‑ (ENGLAND)
Dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Blessed Savior!
We hereby acknowledge the receipt of your letter of April 30. This came to us as a shock, not knowing his physical health was waning, Words cannot express our sorrow and grief at his sudden passing. Nevertheless, God’s will must be done. Here again once more God has seen fit to test His faithful people. Our experiences in the past should be our guide in our steps in the way of the Lord. Now that we are again at the forks of the road, we should listen to the voice which assures us, This is the way – walk ye in it, and continue in the things which we have learned and been assured of, knowing of whom we have learned them.
Israel’s march and encampment should also serve as a lesson for all of us. God has never left Himself without a witness, and therefore, He will never leave nor forsake us. The Lord is always round about His; people. (Psa. 125:2) Zion stands with hills surrounded – Hymn 333. Though cast down we are not forsaken. Let us ever look to the good Lord. He is faithful that promised.
Brother Hoefle’s writings have attested his faithfulness to the Lord, the Truth and all God’s people up to the time of his death. We can be assured he will be apportioned with the Just.
Dear Brethren of the Mount Dora Ecclesia, be of good courage. As we express our sincere condolence to you, you can also be assured of our continued prayers for the Ecclesia. The Lord bless and keep you, and be gracious unto you as you continue in the faith.
Faithfully yours, CROFTS HILL ECCLESIA – (JAMAICA)
My dear Sister Hoefle:
Although we knew of the death and Burial of Brother Hoefle, we were still shocked when we got your letter. We generally have a study of the book Millennium, so when Sister John came she informed us that Brother John had a cable informing of his death. Our meeting was delayed while I telephoned Sister Roach, who informed the others.
Well, Sister, he has finished the work the Lord had for him to do. May God bless his memory! He was a great comfort to us after our separation, so you can be sure we share your sorrow. We are looking forward to receiving the articles he has prepared. We trust you are keeping reasonably well. We are not too bad – only advanced in age and not too strong.
Remember us to the friends your way. We join in sending much Christian love to you and all the others. We always remember you in our prayers.
Sincerely yours, Secretary of TRINIDAD ECCLESIA ... (TRINIDAD)
Dear Sister Hoefle: Grace and peace through our Beloved savior!
Indeed it was with great grief and sorrow that we received the news of our dearly beloved Brother’s passing. You have so aptly quoted Scripture giving reason “not to sorrow for those that are asleep even as others who have no hope” – and “for the hope of eternal life.” Your thoughtfulness in quoting those Scriptures and others promising that “the Lord will not forsake the faithful,” have been a comfort to me (and I am sure to all the Brethren) in this time of sorrow.
We here join in warm Christian love and the assurance of our continued prayers.
The Lord bless and keep you.
With Christian love, ------- (CALIFORNIA)
Dear Sr. Emily
I got your cable at 2:30 p.m. today. I didn’t want to frighten Olive with a cable, but I found some one going over tomorrow morning. So she will hear the sad news tomorrow. I will let Bro. & Sr. Smith know. I am devastated! I don’t really know what to say. Your loss and our loss is far‑reaching. We’ll just have to take Jesus’ hand and let Him guide us. Bro. Hoefle deserves his rest, and we are glad for him. But what a hole he has left – and who will be able to fill it? God bless his memory!
........ We all love you and feel for you in your loss. You have my prayers always.
Sincerely your sister in Him, ------- (JAMAICA)
Beloved Emily – Shalom, yea, peace profound!
The news coming Passover day one saddened Nan and me deeply and we both share with you the innermost feelings of love for the true pilgrim John who served the Creator all his life so gloriously. Thus the Eternal One embraced him and took him to dwell with his fathers unto the day of the great reawakening. I can see John’s smile reposing peacefully.
The Rock of Israel blessed John with so many years of fruitful activity. His cherished memory will live forever with untold thousands who were blessed to know him for the goodness which he gave.
Soon after I spoke to you on the phone, Emily, yesterday, Nan and I entered the living‑room at our NJ cottage and the Menorah standing on the mantle‑piece above the fire‑place amid the many holiday and birthday cards came to life: we kindled a special candle for beloved John.
At this moment, today the 18th, as beloved ones are saying farewell to John, my heart turns to the resting place in deep prayer with David’s Psalms of love and affection and Hallelujahs in memory of a true servant of the Lord.
Nan and I know that you will find the strength in your faith to carry on in his memory. May He Who loves you inspirit you with blessings manifold and with comfort with true brethren and friends at your side.
With deepest love Always, David and Nan (NEW YORK)
Strange! I never met John personally but experienced such a deep love for him. And Norma and I have felt the same about you.
Your precious letter gave us a brief letdown because we felt your sorrow. But there was also a release of joy from my heart because I knew that John had triumphed through Christ. Won’t it be wonderful when we all graduate to glory and are with the Lord and each other forever and ever and ever and ever....
John is safe in the tender care of His Lord. Our concern is you and I want you to know that my prayer is that Jesus would so enfold you in his loving arms that you will feel the reality of your invisible Companion in a more meaningful way than ever before. We love you more than we can say, ache with you in your loss and rejoice with you in John’s gain. (Phillippians 1:21)
Caring and praying, Frank ------- (NEW HAMPSHIRE)
We have received word from Dad and Ethel that John has passed away. Helen and I were shocked and deeply saddened. We admired you and John immensely.
Even while I am writing to you I still find it almost impossible to believe. When we visit Dad and Ethel every winter – one of the events that we always looked forward to was visiting you both. We felt like we were with family, and were received as such. You have had a tremendous loss and condolences obviously do not cover a myriad of feelings. John was a gentleman and the most courteous gentleman I have ever met.
His superior knowledge on many subjects was amazing but never flaunted. He had a sense of humor that was to the point and witty. He was a merry and wise man.
Our prayers are with you – and don’t forget that Dad and Ethel are always near.
God be with you’ Much love, ------- (CANADA)
Dear Sister Hoefle:
It is with shock when I learned the death of Brother Hoefle, although passing quietly without lingering or suffering, is a blessing.
If there is anything I can possibly do except offer my condolence and concern for you, please let me know. I know it must be difficult adjusting to the many changes in your life that are now necessary.
My prayers will be with you, and if I can assist you in some other way, please feel free to call upon me.
In His Name, ------- (OHIO)