Ephesians – Helpful Resources

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Ephesians – Helpful Resources

Those of you who read my previous blog, Ephesians: His Glorious Grace, or were around on Sunday morning will know that we have just embarked on a sermon series working through Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (first message in the series available here).

I thought it might be useful, then, to highlight some of the commentaries I have found particularly helpful in preparing this series.

1. John Calvin, Commentary on the Letter to the Ephesians

I begin with Calvin’s commentary for two reasons.

Firstly (and most importantly) this commentary is incredibly helpful and insightful. John Calvin was a skilled expositor of the Scriptures and his commentary is readable, careful, thorough, practical and always Christ exalting.

I also find it particularly useful to refer to an older commentary (in addition to recent works) as it is helpful to get a perspective of another generation on the text. I think it was Dr John Piper who recently said that each generation is blind to its own faults.

The second reason I begin with Calvin’s commentary is that this work can be read online, here, for free courtesy of Christian Classics Ethereal Library (and I am guessing this will appeal to the more financially challenged among us). For those who prefer the smell of old paper, you can purchase a paper copy here.

2. Peter O’Brien, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Ephesians

Pillar produce popular, semi-technical (by which, I mean that references to the original languages are relegated to footnotes), conservative evangelical commentaries. Other excellent additions to this series include D.A. Carson’s Commentary on the Gospel of John and Douglas Moo’s Commentary on James.

O’Brien’s commentary is exceptionally easy to read. His exegesis is careful and considered and his observations are insightful. The commentary is conventionally structured, in that, there is a general introduction to each section of Scripture which outlines the main themes and seeks to deal with any textual issues before proceeding to a thorough verse by verse commentary on the text.

I recommend O’Brien’s commentary because he remains closely tethered to the text and there is no sense in which he appears to be wielding a particular agenda. Fairness and thoroughness are, I believe, the order of the day. His general introduction to Ephesians and Ephesus is succinct and yet informative.

I personally refer to an electronic version of the commentary through the superb Logos Bible Software. Paper copies can be purchased here.

3. John Stott, The Message of Ephesians

This commentary is part of the Bible Speaks Today series and, as such, is very much aimed at the lay reader with a particular emphasis on remaining accessible. This is not to say that this study is without value. The focus of this series is to explain and bring the text alive. As with his previous contribution on the Letter to the Romans, Stott succeeds in unfolding the meaning of the text in a way which is both insightful and readable.

Although, in honesty, I have found this study less helpful than the others listed here, this is in no way intended as a criticism of John Stott’s work; it is simply that O’Brien and Hoehner, below, are so methodical and thorough there is very little for Stott to add.

The advantage with Stott’s commentary is that it is easily the most accessible, readable and affordable of the offerings here. Indeed, at the time of writing, there are second hand copies available for around five pounds (excluding postage). Click here to purchase John Stott’s Message of Ephesians.

Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: an Exegetical Commentary

This commentary is something of an anomaly, in that, although published by Baker, it is a stand-alone edition rather than part of a commentary series. This is unsurprising given the size of this work, indeed, my edition stands at just under a thousand pages. Having said this, it is perhaps the most important and significant work on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians in a generation.

Once again, Hoehner approaches Ephesians from a conservative evangelical position. Indeed, his defence of Paul’s authorship of Ephesians is exemplary as is his insistence that the address to the Ephesian church is original.

The exegesis here is scholarly, reasoned and thorough and there are numerous informed and substantial excurses on important matters peripheral to the letter itself. For example, Hoehner includes substantial excurses on the Doctrine of Election, the significance of the construct ‘in Christ’ and the household code, among others.

Of the commentaries mentioned here, Hoehner’s is clearly the must buy. One word of caution, however, this is a technical commentary (i.e. words are referenced in the original languages in the main body of the text). While Hoehner generally translates such references, it is sensible to have an interlinear to hand if you are unschooled in the original languages.

Click here to purchase Harold W. Hoehner’s, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary.

Andy Evans