Personal Thoughts About Commentaries (6): Ephesians

It’s about time I returned to this series recommending commentaries.  There are also lists on John, Romans, Matthew, and Genesis, plus my Introduction.  

1. Harold Hoehner – A massive book with an impressive argument for Pauline authorship and extremely detailed in the exegesis department.  There is room for him to survey all the options and argue for his choices.  One of the best commentaries on any Book.

2. Clinton Arnold (ZECNT)– A very good commentary, pitched just below the technical but with real attention to the text.  Arnold is well known for his book Ephesians: Power & Magic, which is a superb background study of how pagans in Ephesus understood the concept of spirits and power, including using magical papyri and amulets.

3. F.F. Bruce (NINCNT) – Paired with Colossians & Philemon, this work gives the pith and substance of Paul’s letter.

4. Markus Barth (Anchor) – Huge treatment, hard to read, but very suggestive.  Two volumes with impressive theological reflection based on minute exegesis.  Surprisingly for a German he argues for Paul as the author.

5. A. T. Lincoln (Word) – Lincoln sometimes reads like an evangelical; sometimes like a liberal.  He rejects Pauline authorship (for no good reason that I can see).  I like this work because one gets the sense of the forward-looking strain in the epistles.  Shame he doesn’t write on Philippians!.

6. J. Armitage Robinson – A very sound older (1904) exegetical work with extra notes on important Greek words.  Includes some very helpful paraphrases of tough passages.

7. John Stott (BST) – Stott is a little doctrinaire sometimes, but he is a master expositor.  This work is of great help to the preacher who wants to build in good applications from the text itself.

8. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – I’m going to include these eight volumes of sermons by “the Doctor” because even though one might raise disagreements here and there, the sheer quality of reasoning through the text is without peer.  It’s all good, but if you can’t afford the whole set, start with the two volumes on chapter 6:10ff., the Armor of God.

9. Klyne Snodgrass (NIVAC) – Snodgrass is always stimulating to read.  He does really good work letting Ephesians speak for today.  Takes a not entirely convincing corporate view of election.

10. Peter T. O’Brien – I am well aware of the accusations of plagiarism which surround O’Brien’s works, so I understand if you want to ignore this.  Judging by the amount he cites other authorities I can only think this is down to his faulty method.  However, if you want a very good commentary on Ephesians, this is one.

There are numerous other fine works which are worthy of commendation.  Francis Foulkes in the Tyndale series, Frank Thielman in the Baker series, Ernest Best’s ridiculously expensive ICC contribution, and Bryan Chapell’s work in the Reformed Expository series.  I haven’t seen William Klein’s commentary in the Revised EBC, but I’m sure it is worth reading, as is William Hendriksen’s book.

10 thoughts on “Personal Thoughts About Commentaries (6): Ephesians”

  1. Sorry this is late Steven. I haven’t read Chafer so can’t really comment. I’m sure he doesn’t waste the reader’s time, but it doesn’t look very detailed. Stedman at his best is a first class expositor. I really like his comments on Eph. 4-6, but again I have not read him on the first chapters of the book.

  2. Very helpful articles. I hope you will continue this series with commentaries.

    I’m curious how these authors stand on the calvinism/arminianism scale – I would like to read some non calvinist oppinions (even if they are presented by a calvinist…). Thank you for your work

    1. Yes, I really need to continue these. I have two in prep (on Mark and Philippians) that I should finish. Classic Arminian works here are Lincoln, Snodgrass, Klein and Mitton.

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