John MacArthur Admits Prior Church COVID Outbreak, Own Illness

By Sarah Einselen
Pastor John MacArthur preaches at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California on August 29, 2021. (Video screengrab)

On Sunday, John MacArthur acknowledged for the first time that COVID-19 swept through Grace Community Church last winter — a fact he’s failed to admit until now, despite evidence reported months ago by The Roys Report. MacArthur also divulged that he and his wife had COVID last December.

Before his Aug. 29 sermon, MacArthur said that “many people contracted COVID . . . it probably went through our church in maybe December or January.” He also said his wife “Patricia and I enjoyed our own bout with COVID for about a week and a half” at the time.

MacArthur’s comments came as his church is preparing to settle a lawsuit Los Angeles County brought over the church’s failure to report an outbreak of COVID-19 to health officials in December as required. The Roys Report published exclusive coverage of the outbreak and of MacArthur’s weeks-long absence from the pulpit, which until now was attributed to needing “rest” and to prepare for a conference.

MacArthur also complained that local media coverage was inaccurate. Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported MacArthur denied the existence of the pandemic last winter even as the church had multiple outbreaks of church members getting sick and dying.

Though MacArthur’s statements seemed to acknowledge outbreaks, MacArthur argued Sunday that it couldn’t be proven that people had actually contracted COVID-19 at the church. “There is no evidence that can be traced back to Grace Church in those situations,” he said, referring to sickness and deaths from COVID-19 among those associated with Grace Community Church (GCC).

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However, a Los Angeles County health order requires places of worship to report to public health when at least three COVID-19 cases are identified among church staff or congregants within a two-week period, regardless of where people caught the disease.

For months, the church has resisted acknowledging the spread of COVID-19 among its congregants.

Multiple members of GCC told The Roys Report in December that they feared retribution for discussing the outbreak. A GCC leader said staff and members were being pressured not to report new COVID-19 cases to the health department.

MacArthur was absent from the pulpit Dec. 27, 2020, despite being scheduled to preach. That day, GCC Staff Pastor Tom Patton said MacArthur, 81, was “resting” and evening services that day would also be canceled so members could “spend more time with (their) family.” The following Sunday, Patton said MacArthur was home preparing for the Shepherd’s Conference scheduled for months later.

GCC held worship services in person during most of the outbreak, indoors and without requiring masks or social distancing, in defiance of county health measures.

A former student at The Master’s Seminary, which meets on GCC’s campus, also told The Roys Report the school was flagrantly violating its own COVID-19 measures during that time and mocking students who followed them. An older Master’s seminarian and GCC member in his sixties died in January after contracting COVID-19.

The Roys Report also reported that another church staff member, Phil Johnson, several attendees of an adult Sunday school class that had been meeting in person, and multiple members of the church’s Filipino ministry had COVID-19 during the December outbreak at the church.

Meanwhile, MacArthur was out for three weekends without further explanation. When he returned to the pulpit Jan. 17, he struggled to clear his throat and catch his breath, and said, pointing to his chest, “It’s in there still, so, you’re going to get it, later this morning.”

MacArthur first addressed the outbreak in an April statement to a California court. In the statement, MacArthur defended the church’s failure to report the outbreak, saying the church wasn’t aware at the time that so many people were sick with COVID-19.

The Roys Report has previously laid out how his statements to the court strained credulity.

He has since told the L.A. Times the church could support members who sought religious exemptions from vaccine mandates levied by their employers.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.



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58 thoughts on “John MacArthur Admits Prior Church COVID Outbreak, Own Illness”

  1. On January 23, I tweeted out the following. “John MacArthur has been ill the past month & still recovering. Yet he & elders conceal his illness. Instead, say he is resting (Dec 27) or working on Shepherd’s Conf. (Jan 3) or say nothing (Jan 10 &17) while everyone is asking does he have COVID. Refuse to answer. Typical tactic.” With court documents coming out soon, MacArthur preemptively reveals he and his wife were ill.

  2. Watching the video, it seems less like an admission than a boast about how smart they were for getting Covid the way God intended.

    1. Tony Nazarowski

      Help me understand Marty. From what I’m reading here you are saying that obstruction and deceit are the makings of a desirable testimony of ones faith that will result in church growth. Are you being cynical, or actually advocating JMAC’s actions?

        1. Or True Believer.
          In an Age of Extremes like today, you cannot tell the difference. As over-the-top crazy as you can get for sarcasm/satire, there will be True Believers out there twice as over-the-top, twice as crazy, and DEAD SERIOUS.

          1. “Poe’s Law”: you can’t make up anything crazier than what the true crazies are saying dead seriously.

      1. Kathleen S. LaRoche

        1 Timothy 3:1-2 says, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach. . .” The leadership of MacArthur’s church LIED in not being totally forthcoming that he had Covid. How MacArthur can be talking about God’s wonderful protection is beyond me. God does not protect liars. He calls for repentance and His Word clearly states that none of these men should be in church leadership at this point. This is beyond ironic in a church and Pastor renowned for teaching the Word of God. Something is rotten in Denmark (“Hamlet,” William Shakespeare).

        1. My annoyance is how can people keep going back to these grifters and grifters be them money. I’ve listened to him and a lot of evangelicals it’s a few scripture then 45 minutes of emotion and being pumped up. No substance. Very sad. He seems like the Biden of the evangelical world.

  3. I forget exactly where in the book of Proverbs it says,” although you pound a fool on his head over and over again with a club, yet his stupidity will not depart from him”. That is, of course, a paraphrase. Can someone please explain to me why a seemingly excellent preacher doesn’t have the sense God gave a lemon? He is responsible, completely responsible for allowing this deadly Covid virus to run through his congregation. And why would his congregation follow his lead and do something so desperately foolish??? Yeah

    1. Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight)

      “Can someone please explain to me why a seemingly excellent preacher doesn’t have the sense God gave a lemon?”

      20th Century John MacArthur was wonderful. 21st Century John MacArthur is now 80 years old and hasn’t the ability to comprehend what’s actually going on.

      1. And (like Pat Robertson and Donald Trump) the Rules of CELEBRITY are in effect.
        Nobody tells The CELEBRITY anything other than what The CELEBRITY wants to hear.
        It’s why a CELEBRITY can get away with anything.

    1. Paul K,

      As hard as this is to accept, a persons medical condition is their own business and is not subject to public announcement, unless the person chooses to let it be known.

      If you were to apply how hospital employees treat everyone they come into contact with (they assume everybody is carrying a dangerous contagious disease, it is called body substance isolation or universal precautions protocols) to your own life, then it would not matter if someone might or might not be sick.

      You would already be living in a way that helps protect you from catching something and would not be relying on other people to keep you safe.

  4. Sorry, I’m not seeing any scandal here. Lots of assumptions, accusations, and suspicions. Why are you wanting to paint MacArthur and his church in such a negative light? Why do you not consider more charitable explanations? When you go out looking for scandals, everything looks like a scandal.

    1. Please unpack more what you think the assumptions, accusations, and suspicions are that are incorrect or unfair. On its face, it foes appear that Macarthur has attempted to downplay the reality of COVID in his church.

  5. Proverbs 6:16-19 NKJV
    These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.

  6. Stewart Sperwer

    Despite his apologists and defenders, this man is a liar. Plain and simple. And just the latest in a long string of them. With 100-percent honesty, I’ve officially given up on Christianity. Thank you to these so-called men of God for their faithless witness. They’ve pulled back the curtain and shown it’s all a scam.

    1. Stewart don’t give up on Christianity. Do like many have done. Give up on the evangelicals industrial complex and these mega churches which are nothing but fiefdoms. Pick up the Bible. Ask for gods discernment and you will see a wonderful world outside of there heathen ways. It does exist. These godless things are grifters and yes it angers me that his has not struck them down for there greed and absolute love of self. They feed off each other. Give them the same attention you’d give a satanist.

      1. John MacArthur should retire from his ministry. He is 81 and later admitted he was contracted by COVID-19 with his entire family.

        Never dodge the Divine Science because God is the author of both faith and science. Never belittle the science of plague created by the Almighty as a form of punishment. Otherwise, everyone should repent.

      2. I love your response! You’re spot on! Christ and His teachings are true. Be consoled that your faith is actually purer than those who preach hypocrisy. We are admonished to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. Protecting the populace is part of the job of our government. If they’re wrong and mislead us, then so be it. Our ultimate goal is God.

    2. Jennifer Lynn Lee

      Don’t give up on Jesus. He loves you, cares for you, and embraces and is for integrity, putting others above yourself and doing the right thing. You can give up on some Christians, put please consider not giving up on Christ. He gave His all for you and loves you so much.

    3. Stewart I know how you feel. I am a Christian and a conservative. The established church has disappointed me with their Conspiracy Theories and down playing the Virus. It has primarily your conservative Christians. The conclusion I can come to is sheer evil. I have not given up on Christ. This is a time of purging and a veil being lifted to expose hypocrisy among us. Shame on JM for his lies and leading his congregation down the wrong path and some to their death. Pride before a fall.

  7. On many church prayer chains or Facebook posts I’ve seen, often congregants are openly reported to be very ill from Covid, or worse, it is announcing another dear person’s recent death from Covid. Yet the untouchable piece of information that is never shared, even if it could inspire others to be vaxed, was that the hospitalized from that church were all sadly unvaxed. Pastors are afraid to declare even if they have been vaccinated or not as medical science has become “political”. I wonder if church leaders remained silent during the smallpox and polio pandemics- I don’t think so- as I remember getting my polio vaccine as a child in a church parking lot.

    1. I’ve had the same frustration. My own pastor barely made it out of the hospital alive, yet simply states that it has been an “eye-opening” experience for him. Maybe you’re just supposed to connect the dots on your own.

      1. Loren,

        Eye-opening how? That he will suddenly agree with vaccinations and realizes he would have not been there in the first place if he had been vaccinated?

        Anything less than that, then he still a future Darwin Award candidate who got lucky _this_ time.

  8. I don’t understand why LA will settle with GCC for $400K. Could someone explain. It seems like the Church was in the wrong.

    1. My understanding is that the county lost in court earlier because a judge ruled the church could meet in person, etc. But I agree it is unjust that GCC will likely get $400K from the county, and an additional $400K from the state. I believe even the court ruling said that they had to take the required precautions when meeting in person, and they obviously didn’t do even that.

      MacArthur and many of his followers seem to emanate an incredibly inflated sense or pride and privilege. I have some experience with them and have never seen them humbly admit to being wrong. To me, there’s absolutely nothing Christian about that kind of behavior.

      1. Thanks for clarifying. I agree with your second paragraph. I see no humility in John M. Even the coy statement that he and his wife “enjoyed” their own bout with CoVid. People die of CoVid. It is not something to joke about. He sounds so above everybody else, so entitled, etc. Ugh.

      2. John L,

        “…is unjust that GCC will likely get $400K from the county, and an additional $400K from the state.” Why?

        When we break the law we have to pay, why should government be above this standard?

        The only difference is the government gets to use our tax money, we have to pay with money that has already been taxed.

  9. Emmanuel Durand

    He seems to be reluctant to admit there was a covid cluster in the church at the beginning of the year. I get the impression that he only shares about it because of the lawsuit and media coverage.

    1. That is correct. Though it is more like “He was FORCED to share about it because of the lawsuits and media coverage.”

  10. I personally think LA County should play hardball and appeal. It is clear MacArthur only divulged this as a result of the court process. Also, all those MacArthur suckups who posted here and elsewhere owe us an apology. Though I would settle for video of them eating crow.

    Likewise, LA county should make life as difficult as legally possible for Grace Community Church. Can you say strict enforcement of all parking and traffic laws around the church?
    Can you say random visits by LA County Health, Fire Marshalls, and Building Inspectors.
    You get the idea.

    MacArthur and his minions have been shown to be liars and deserve ridicule, scorn, and whatever consequences. Karma is a female dog….

    1. Charles M,

      You are for the government using its power to stop people from going to church to worship. Why?

      What scripture do you base this thought process on?

      Would you be OK if the same standard was applied to you because someone doesn’t like the fact you won a settlement (or doesn’t like you personally) and the government came into your house and made your life as difficult as possible?

    1. Even those who have liveried Armorbearers blowing long trumpets before them to announce to everyone how HUMBLE they are?

  11. First, I need to apologize to Julie Roys! She did have the information that I doubted. Julie, I was wrong, period. I judged your motives and your reporting. I wasn’t prudent.

    I think some of the back and forth from Phil Johnson and Julie Roys was off putting. Although it is reporting the truth. It still has the body divided.

    Second, I am disappointed with John MacArthur, Phil Johnson and others in GTY. There was definitely misdirected information. It would have been prudent and Biblical to be forthcoming and trust in the sovereignty of Jesus Chris.

    I do not agree with the mask mandate per the United States Constitution. I do not agree with misleading per the Sacred Bible. It all points to the fact we need to look to the Author of our faith, Jesus Christ.

    I pray that John MacArthur confesses his sin. At 81yrs and over 50 years of faithful exposition of the text. Two things need to be considered. First, do not put your faith in a man. Second, we are in no place to judge or criticize.

    I am disappointed. My biggest concern with his ministry is that he has his name on a Bible. The MacArthur Study Bible. While I should not judge motives. It appears to have a level of arrogance. The second concern is the exegetical arrogance as relates to eschatology, spiritual gifts and mischaracterization of other faithful Biblical views.

    I still really respect his ministry and my views have not changed about John MacArthur. I believe the kingdom of Christ has been strengthened due to the ministry of Grace To You. My prayer is that the Grace Community Church Leaders and are willing to confess their coverup or clarify what happened.

    1. KC,

      For starters, quarantines and other restrictions (such as mask restrictions) ARE Constitutional, going back to the earliest days of the country. Those restrictions are powers reserved to the States.

      Read up on Gibbons v. Odgen (1824), Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), and Compagnie Francaise de Navigation a Vapeur v. Louisiana Board of Health (1902) first and get back to me.

      Here is a primer:

      1. Charles Martel,
        For starters (as you said) the mask mandate power is granted to the states for “temporary”, “reasonable” and “justified” purposes. The “temporary” and the “justification” is weak! The data has not shown that mask mandates are not reasonable and have not reduced the spread of the China virus. So yes I hold to my original statement.

        I do believe the powers granted have been abused by sinful people. Those who support this mandate use false dilemmas to equivocate mandates.

    2. And yet you refuse to admit that MacArthur is no longer biblically qualified to be a pastor per Scriptures. It was more than misdirected information, it was a LIE. Stop trying to sugar-coat and minimize what it is. They knowingly lied and covered up things to prevent news of COVID outbreaks and cases while at the same time had their attack dogs go after those who said otherwise. All the while, useful tools like yourself bought it hook, line and sinker. Would you like a little salt for that crow you are eating regarding Julie on this?

      The Sunken Cost Fallacy in your admiration and idolatry of John MacArthur makes it impossible for you to see him in any other way.

  12. Charles Martel,
    No I will not say whether or not he is qualified. I am not around enough to say he has a pattern of sin. I do disagree with the mandates and the angle Mrs. Roys has on it. Also you suffer from reading part of a post. I said I hope he confesses a sin. Do you know he was forced? You should confess your sin of slander! Because you do it a lot.

  13. Charles Martel,
    If you read previous articles you would see my concerns of MacArthur. Your statements are based on ignorance.

  14. Macarthur didn’t want to close the church because he needs it as a platform to sell more books…more gatherings/conferences more book sales . Its also the platform to make political positions i.e. BLM, Social Justice, COVID etc which is where he gets big contributions from Believer’s Foundation and others. John is all about the money, just follow the money trail.

  15. Pastor John MacArthur is probably the greatest theologian of our time. Grace community in Sun Valley along with Master’s University are hands down the best places to grow and learn about scripture, truth and what’s happening to our generation. Freedom to gather and worship are vital parts of our constitution. When we allow government to take these freedoms away, they’ll continue to take until we have nothing left. We need Pastors and reformed Christians to keep going, keep preaching, keep spreading The Gospel of Jesus Christ and yes, we may die for doing just that, but this is what we must be willing to do. I’m not someone who doesn’t know loss, I lost my only child, my son when he was only 11yrs old. I KNOW suffering, but I’m willing to suffer to keep hearing the Gospel, even if it costs me my life, because I have my heart, mind and soul set on the bigger picture. I’m fixed on the Kingdom of Heaven. All these little details of what and when and why Pastor John didn’t preach for a few weeks or the church not enforcing Covid guidelines don’t matter one bit. If these little things are what bother you, ask yourself if this life on earth is more important to you?Are you willing to give your life for the Gospel?
    Mark 8:35
    For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
    Dear brothers and sisters this is NOT our home. Love, pray, uplift and support one another in hearing the Gospel and let all the rest fall away.

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