by Benjamin Merkle
Throughout this volume of the Guide, reference is made to a number of commentaries on Ephesians. Eight of these commentaries receive special attention as they are based directly on the Greek text.
1. Arnold, Clinton E. Ephesians. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.
Arnold’s commentary, one of the most recent [commentaries], is the most similar to O’Brien’s in form and content. With every pericope the commentary also includes a diagram of the (English) text and a section entitled “Theology in Application” that offers helpful commentary of how the text relates today.
2. Barth, Markus. Ephesians 1–3. Anchor Bible. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974 and Ephesians 4–6. Anchor Bible. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974.
Barth’s two-volume commentary provides both an exegetical section and detailed topical discussions. This format is a bit distracting as the reader is constantly directed to the “Comment” section. Additionally, Barth often espouses idiosyncratic views, especially related to the author’s use of traditional material.
3. Best, E. Ephesians. ICC. London: T&T Clark, 1998.
Best likewise doubts that Paul wrote Ephesians but is less certain than Lincoln. Thus, he often provides multiple explanations of a text from the perspective of non-Pauline and Pauline authorship.
4. Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984.
Bruce often displays a broad knowledge of secondary literature and provides helpful cross references, but his commentary is too short to be of much help.
5. Hoehner, Harold W. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.
Hoehner offers the most comprehensive commentary (930 pages), which includes frequent detailed word studies (which are helpful at times but often detract from the text’s purpose).
6. Lincoln, Andrew. Ephesians. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, 1990.
Though Lincoln denies Pauline authorship, his commentary is a treasure trove of information.
7. O’Brien, Peter. The Letter to the Ephesians. Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Leicester: Apollos, 1999.
O’Brien provides the best overall commentary that is both academically informed and broadly accessible. The main text is highly readable with most of the detailed Greek syntax explained in the footnotes.
8. Thielman, Frank. Ephesians. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010.
Thielman is strong in providing background information that relates the text to both Second Temple Judaism and the broader Greco-Roman society.
“Ben Merkle’s commentary on Ephesians should be on the shelf of everyone who studies the Greek text of Ephesians. Three things stand out in this commentary. First, the structure of the text is nicely portrayed so that readers can see the flow of the argument. These structural layouts alone are worth the price of the book. Second, the book concisely and clearly sets forth the various grammatical options. Merkle fairly and wisely adjudicates among the various options. Third, Merkle’s commentary on the text captures well the theology in one of Paul’s most important letters.”
–Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, professor of biblical theology, and associate dean of the School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“If you’re most interested in plumbing the depths of the Greek text, Merkle offers what few others do—a thorough, linguistically accurate, judicious, clear, and trustworthy exegesis of the text. He goes beyond merely commenting on commentators. Here you will find original exegesis at its finest.”
–J. Scott Duvall, professor of New Testament and J. C. and Mae Fuller Chair of Biblical Studies, Ouachita Baptist University
“The new volume will prove of inestimable value to students studying the Greek text of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, providing arguments for differing options of analyzing Greek phrases and guidance for making informed decisions. And scholars will find grammatical and syntactical analyses that even the larger commentaries often do not engage in. The book, as well as the entire series, should be on the bookshelf of anyone reading the New Testament in Greek.”
–Eckhard J. Schnabel, Mary F. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
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