Like Acts, the Epistle to the Ephesians is a NT book that has yet to receive definitive treatment. While unfortunate, we are nevertheless served well by the Pillar series (which stands as the most chosen series in my NT list) and the work of prolific commentator Peter T. O’Brien: The Letter to the Ephesians.
Although adequate treatments of Ephesians are sparse, the recent release of the Catholic Commentary on Scripture fine volume on Ephesians (BTW, very good for church studies whether you are Catholic or not). Then, of course, there is Hoehner’s outstanding, but obscure, volume which I believe to be slightly inferior to O’brien.
Ephesians in the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series,
by Peter S. Williamson
Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary
by Harold W. Hoehner
Philippians is Paul’s most personal and intimate letter to a single church. What reference is made to division is often terse and even and merely implied. Paul emphasizes much more the existing unity and strong moral character that characterizes the community and encourages them to continue such behavior.
This theme, I believe requires a commentary that recognizes the personal relationship between Paul and his Philippian friends while emphasizing it as the fundamental impetus and theological theme of the letter. For this reason, I chose a scholar whose work is both world class in its scholarship yet profoundly pastoral–Gordon Fee’s Paul’s Letter to the Philippians in the NICNT.
While this commentary is aging a bit (time for a revision?), it is still undeniably the standard work on Philippians. Recently, while developing a Bible study for my church, I have immersed myself in the Greek text and reading this commentary as a supplement to my own translation. I have been reminded–often–how lucid and powerful Fee’s writing is, and how vast Fee’s knowledge of the New Testament and its background are. For Greek reading Bible studying nerd like me, its the stuff tingles are made of.
Anybody read Hansen’s yet? Its supposed to be good. Go here: The Epistle to the Phillipians.
Philippians in the BECNT
by Moises Silva
Colossians & Philemon
I have no doubt that my selection for Colossians and Philemon will meet with substantial objection. Cool. I have selected N.T. Wright’s contribution Colossians & Philemon in the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series.
Objections will come from two directions; the series selected and my selection of Wright himself, who has far outgrown his early work as a New Testament commentator. But my goal is to select a commentary who best treats the book at hand while maintaining a good balance with its contents and the purpose of the book itself. Wright accomplishes splendidly without writing an accomplishing work.
As Wright correctly notes in the Introduction the nature of both epistles requires an extensive understanding of their broader cultural context. This may seem obvious, but given the issues Paul addresses in the books, its importance is particularly relevant here. If this does not occur, then it seems that Colossians and Philemon are particularly and uniquely susceptible to arbitrary proof texting.
This is precisely why I select Wright’s commentary; he not only overcomes the voracious proof-texting trap laid by irresponsible interpreters, but he fills it in and makes it impossible for others to fall in too.
The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon in the NIGTC,
by James Dunn.
1 & 2 Thessalonians
Frustration is the word of the day when it comes to thee two small, but significant books. Gordon Fee has just released his work on these books in the NICNT series which replaces Leon Morris’ treatment that for many years was the NICNT commentary on 1&2 Thessalonians.
Obviously, I have not had time to spend with Fee’s commentary. Until then, I select the prolific Australian scholar Leon Morris’ First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians now issued as an independent commentary from Eerdmans.
The Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus)
Subject to much scholarly scrutiny both for their authorial integrity and controversial subject matter, the Pastoral Epistles have become fodder for academic battlegrounds.
Their is wide disagreement among scholars (even by those who usually agree) over the myriad issues these books present. My selection is one of the finest expositions ever written about Scripture: William Mounce’s The Pastoral Epistles in the Word Biblical Commentary Series.
Mounce’s thorough coverage of both major and minor, exegetical and theological, authorial and linguistic, issues in this work is not only excellent– it is astounding. Particularly helpful are his 5 Excurses dealing with 1)Pseudepigraphy; 2) “faithful is the saying“; 3) Prophecies about Timothy;
4) Bishops and Presbyters in the Postapostlic Church; 5) The Deacon and Deaconess in the Postapostolic Church.
These “Excurses” make the commentary especially relevant to every person in the church, as well as helping to define positions (whether they agree with Mounce or not) on some of the most important cultural issues of the day(the role of women is also addressed). From beginning to end this commentary is outstanding in exposition and content.