Books, Commentaries, New Testament

Ephesians Commentary

One of my summer courses is focused on Ephesians and I have to choose a commentary through which to work. The prof has given four options and I was wondering what your opinions are: which of the four would you choose and why?

  • Best, Ernest. Ephesians. ICC. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1998).
  • Hoehner, Harold W. Ephesians. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002).
  • Lincoln, A.T. Ephesians. Word Biblical Commentary. (Dallas: Word, 1990).
  • O’Brien, Peter T. Ephesians. Pillar. (Grand Rapids: Eardmans, 1999).

I’ve never worked in Ephesians, so I don’t know which way to go on this one. I like the ICC, but it’s so technical oftentimes I tire of trudging through the discussions. I will likely choose from among the other three.

So, which would you choose?

Αυτω η δοξα,



9 thoughts on “Ephesians Commentary”

  1. I have just begun preaching through Ephesians. Funnily enough I decided I would try to use less commentaries this series than before and work harder myself. Anyway, I am using Markus’ Barth’s commentary in the Anchor series and the WBC volume by Andrew Lincoln. As a devotional book alongside the more academic comms. Eugene Peterson’s latest book, “Practise Resurrection” i s based entirely on Ephesians and is brilliant.

    If I was going to buy any other comm it would be the Pillar Commentary.

  2. E. Best is certainly overly precise (i.e. technical), but still worth a go–maybe use it as follow-up reading. Hoehner was our required text when I did Greek exegesis and it was simply massive. A lot of good stuff in it, but at the same time: a lot of stuff to read. Lincoln’s was my chosen ‘second text’ for the course and it had the readability of Hoehner with the precision of Best, but better than both in that it was shorter (slightly). As far as O’Brien goes, I really have no idea–I never got to read that one. I would also agree with Mark Stevens and suggest Barth’s commentary, however I would still prioritise Lincoln’s–and that’s not just because he’s my supervisor. (The only potential down side is if you go with Pauline authorship for Ephesians. If you do, then you might disagree with Lincoln on that particular point).

  3. I think O’Brien is the way to go, because he deals thoroughly with Best, Lincoln, and Hoehner throughout. All of the essential exegetical decisions to be made are discussed with O’Brien and he almost always refers to how at least Lincoln and Best take it. So he is great in that you get everyone else’s thoughts on the pertinent exegetical decisions without having to flip between all four. Plus, he has a keen ability to point out the theological depth of a passage without taking every other passage in the Bible with it. He let’s Ephesians be Ephesians, and includes prison epistles and other Pauline literature only when necessary. In addition, he is very good at bringing in the OT language that is often subtle in Ephesians. However, if you are doing a very in depth exegetical study, then it may be best to go with Best, because they are going to dive in deeper to those types of issues. So it depends on your purpose of study.

  4. If you haven’t looked at Mike Aubrey’s blog yet, then give it a look. He has pretty good reviews of many (if not all) of the major Ephesians commentary. I think the link is something like enepheso at wordpress or something like that. You’ll find plenty of useful Ephesians stuff there.

  5. I’m the least able to recommend out of the commenters and you yourself but I’ve read O’Brien’s and agree with Justin if that helps at all. Although he interacts with others, it’s not too much, most of the time. And for a non-Greeker like me, even if he interacts with it, it’s not too much, but still doesn’t leave too much to be desired. I would really want to use two though (and feel free to use my Amazon link, heh) as I know you would too.

    Whenever I read about commentaries and Ephesians, O’Brien is always praised. It seems to be a special work of his.

  6. I have reviews of a few, not as many I had planned and I’ve since moved on.

    I would suggest a balance between O’Brien and Lincoln, personally. Hoehner is good for his bibliography and his authorship defense, but his commentary proper is just too bloated with needless repetition of the exegetical options and statistics that contributed very little to actual exegesis.

    Walter Liefled’s little IVP volume is also surprisingly excellent for its size and Klyne Snodgrass is surprisingly excellent for its series (NIVAC isn’t as strong in the NT as it is in the OT, generally speaking).

  7. Mark: Thanks for the recommendations. Since this is for class, I have to choose from among those I listed. My experience with the Pillar series has been good and I am leaning in that direction.

    Clifford: Thank you. As I mentioned to Mark, I’m leaning towards O’Brien.

    Carl: The deciding factor for me with the ICC is $$$! The paperbacks are ok, but I’ll go with another series that won’t break the bank. The WBC is usually good, but I can’t stand the format! Silly, perhaps, but that’s the way it is.

    Justin: Thanks for the synopsis. I enjoyed O’Brien’s volume in the NIGTC, so coupled with the format of the Pillar series, it should be a great purchase.

    Alex: Thanks, and I did consult Mike’s reviews, which were quite helpful.

    Jeff: Looks like I’m on the right track with O’Brien!

    Mike: Thanks for the suggestion. I read through your reviews and they were very helpful. As mentioned, I will likely go with O’Brien.

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