The Letter to the Ephesians [Plagiarism Acknowledged]
This book appears in the following featured collections.
- John Piper's NT Commentary Recommendations by John Piper (Desiring God)
- Favorite Advanced NT Commentaries by Jeremy Pierce (parableman)
- First Commentary Set by Brian LeStourgeon
- Recommended NT Commentaries by Denver Seminary Journal
- D. A. Carson's Commentary "Best Buys" by D. A. Carson
- Ultimate Commentary Collection: NT Expositional by John Glynn
- Essential NT Commentaries for a Preacher's Library by Derek W. H. Thomas
- Essential Pauline Commentaries by Marcus Maher
- New Testament Advanced Commentaries by Moore Theological College Journal: Societas
- Building an NT Commentary Library by Invitation to Biblical Interpretation (Kostenberger & Patterson)
Things I liked:
O’Brien does an excellent job of drawing from other scholars who previously written or commented on the book (especially Lincoln, Bruce, and Clinton Arnold). He seems to take the best from each without getting sucked into their weak points. It is not a commentary on commentaries, however. O’Brien frequently picks up others’ arguments and advances them much further and more coherently than they ever did.
O’Brien’s defense of Pauline authorship is formidable. I especially appreciate the way he handled the section on the alleged use of Colossians by Ephesians. It certainly is not a straightforward dependence, if there is any.
He also seems to know what pastors need in a commentary. Some commentaries major in lexicology (e.g., Quinn and Wacker on the Pastorals); others in background issues and rhetorical analysis (e.g., Ben Witherington on anything); other still in issues of grammar (e.g., Cranfield on Romans). While all of this information is extremely valuable, often times pastors don’t have time to read a half dozen commentaries to ‘get a bit of this and a bit of that.’ O’Brien does a good job of drawing on the most relevant information from different approaches to the text providing the busy pastor with the closest you can come to a one stop shop.
In agreement with what other reviewers have said, O’Brien is very theologically astute. He understands the implications of his well nuanced positions very clearly. His work on chapter 2 is perhaps the best I have seen by any commentator on any chapter of scripture (although his work on Philippians 2 is also outstanding). It’s clear, thorough, impacting, well supported, and follows the flow of the text beautifully. If there is one weakness I frequently see in commentators, it is that they fail to see how their argument fits into the whole letter. This does not happen to O’Brien.
Also, the section on the armor of God was always a bit enigmatic to me. I did not see before why Paul would ever end his epistle with it. O’Brien’s explanation of how it fit within the wider purposes of Ephesians was very helpful.
I wish O’Brien had done his own translation of the text. Looking at the scholar’s translation up front serves as a quick summary of the conclusions they draw through their exegesis. Also it sometimes helps you more fully grasp their arguments.
This is minor, but I would have liked a more formidable defense of ‘shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace’ being interpreted as a call to missionary activity. It is not an impossible interpretation, but it does not seem to me to be an obvious one.
O’Brien’s commentary is outstanding. I cannot more wholeheartedly recommend it. His writing is powerful, clear, and concise, and his analysis incisive; making him eminently quotable. This commentary stands head and shoulders above the rest.