Personal Thoughts about Commentaries (4): EPHESIANS

These are the top commentaries for the Pastor on Ephesians:

1. Harold Hoehner – A massive work, both in size and erudition.  It is very well written and quite user-friendly.  Every issue is chased down thoroughly, and the Pauline authorship of the book is convincingly upheld.  A real standard!

2. Peter T. O’Brien (Pillar) – O’Brien is an expert on the Prison Epistles.  This, I think, surpasses his work on Colossians in the WBC series.  Attractive style and what might be called a thoughtfully sensible approach make this a valuable commentary.

3. F.F. Bruce (NICNT w/Col. & Phile.) – All the trademarks of Bruce’s scholarship are on view here.  Gets to the point of the text quickly while also considering alternative interpretations.  Bruce published an English Bible commentary on Ephesians in 1961.  It should be purchased if found.

4. John Stott (BST) – The best commentary for the general reader.  Outstanding exposition (though we differ on the “mystery” in Chapter 3).

5. William Hendriksen (NTC) – In the humble opinion of this writer, this is Hendriksen at his best.  Yes, he is somewhat dogmatically Reformed, but he is very useful to the preacher of this book.

6. C. Leslie Mitton (NCB) – Rejects Pauline authorship, but is full of judicious insights for the preacher.  Helpful if used with the above.

7. A.T. Lincoln (WBC) – This is a very good commentary for seeing the forward thrust of Paul’s thought.  However, he rejects Pauline authorship and accepts critical scholarship too willingly.

8. H.G.C. Moule – This book, called Ephesian Studies, is filled with good things based upon clear exegesis.

9. Arthur G. Patzia (NIBC w/Col. & Phile.) – This is a surprisingly good exposition given the book’s limitations.

10. B.F. Westcott – Just edges out John Eadie for tenth spot.  An older acclaimed work.

Worthy of mention also are the works by Eadie (solid but would need to be used with a modern exegesis), Lenski (who is better on the longer epistles), and Best (who is great on exegesis but quite liberal).  The same could be said for Muddiman, and the old standby of J. Armitage Robinson.  The works by Kent, Boice, Foulkes, Liefeld and Snodgrass are pretty good.  Snodgrass does pitch well for corporate election, but I remain unconvinced.  Some will be aghast that there is no place for M. Barth’s huge book.  But he is quite liberal and is a chore to read.  Hoehner and O’Brien will suffice.

Some years back Sovereign Grace Book Club published a “Puritan Commentary” by combining the sermons of Thomas Goodwin and Paul Bayne.  Get this if you can.  Goodwin covers the first chapters and his analysis and applications are terrific.  Bayne is easier going but very profitable.

The 8 volumes of sermons by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones would have made the top ten but for their length.  They receive honorable mention here.

Finally, note should be taken of Clinton Arnold’s interesting exploration of the Magical Papyri in Ephesians: Power and Magic, and A. Van Roon’s defense of Paul’s authorship in The Authenticity of Ephesians.


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