Studying Ephesians, the quintessence of Paul

Back in the late 1990s, when I would be asked about the best commentary on Ephesians, I would have said Peter T. O’ Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians (Eerdmans/Apollos, 1999). It is part of a tremendous series of commentaries, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, edited by Don Carson. I would also have said that D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ monumental eight-volume series of sermons on this letter, published by Baker, should not be overlooked in any serious study of these letters. I had also used with profit Markus Barth’ massive two-volume commentary on Ephesians—Ephesians (Doubleday, 1974)—which is great for much of the letter’s detail and background. But at times, Barth’s theology is driving his interpretation, and these two volumes need to be used with some caution.

Today, though the field has mushroomed: among the best commentaries now I would name Frank Thielman, Ephesians (Baker, 2010)—a very impressive piece of work—and Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians, also by Baker, 2002.

The “quintessence of Paulinism” is the way that F.F. Bruce once termed this marvelous letter—and these commentaries will take the serious student into this great letter’s depths.

I am thinking about these matters because this coming Wednesday evening (July 6) at Westminster Chapel in downtown Toronto ( we start what we hope will be the annual Westminster Summer Fellowship with the study of Ephesians. Come and join us, every Wednesday now through till August 17 as we look at this great book. The time of fellowship begins at 7:30pm. This Wed evening will be an overview of Ephesians by myself. Then, in coming weeks, speakers in coming weeks will be:

July 13, Joe Boot on Eph 1 July 20, Dan MacDonald on Eph 2 July 27, John Mahaffey on Eph 3 August 3, Glendon Thompson on Eph 4 August 10, Paul Martin on Eph 10 August 17, Victor Shepherd on Eph 17.

It promises to be a great summer of fellowship around the Word.