Vos was born to a Dutch Reformed pastor in Heerenveen in Friesland in the Netherlands. In 1881, when Geerhardus was 19 years old, his father accepted a call to be the pastor of the Christian Reformed Church congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Geerhardus Vos began his education at the Christian Reformed Church's Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, before moving to Princeton Theological Seminary. He completed his studies in Germany, receiving his doctorate in Arabic Studies from the Philosophy Faculty of Strassburg University in 1888.
Herman Bavinck and Abraham Kuyper tried to convince Vos to become professor of Old Testament Theology at the Free University in Amsterdam, but Vos chose to return to America. Thus, in the Fall of 1888, Vos took up a position on the Calvin Theological Seminary faculty. In 1892, Vos moved and joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary, where he became its first Professor of Biblical Theology. At Princeton, he taught alongside J. Gresham Machen and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield and authored his most famous works, including: Pauline Eschatology (1930) and Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (1948). Despite his opposition to the growing modernist influence at Princeton in the late 1920's, he decided to remain at Princeton Seminary after the formation of Westminster Theological Seminary by Machen, as he was close to retirement. Vos did indeed retire to California in 1932, three years after the formation of Westminster.
Vos's wife, Catherine, authored the well-known Child's Story Bible. She died in 1937, after 43 years of marriage. They had three sons and one daughter, and their son J. G. Vos studied at Princeton Theological Seminary and also became a minister.
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