~ Millions have caught Karl Marx's vision of a New Man and a New Society. "Paul presents a greater vision still," writes John Stott. In his letter to the Ephesians the apostle "sees the human predicament as something even deeper than the injustice of the economic structure and so propounds a yet more radical solution. He writes of nothing less than a 'new creation.'" John Stott expounds Paul's theme of uniting all things in Christ by uniting his church and breaking down all that seperates us from God, one ethnic group from another, husband from wife, parent from child, master from slave. A book for all who want to build the church into the new society God has planned it to be.
Readable and Meaty - Great for Pastors and Laymen
If you're looking for a readable but meaty commentary that bridges the gap between popular commentaries and scholarly ones, Stott's The Message of Ephesians is an excellent choice. In fact, I find the whole series "The Bible Speaks Today" very valuable for both pastors and laypeople.
In this commentary on Ephesians, Stott does a great job of bringing out the larger themes, as well organizing and presenting Paul's teaching in each chapter. Stott organizes each chapter into their major sections, and then he breaks these down into subsections that are all related in thought. In this way, Stott helps the reader and student see the connections in Paul's thought, something essential to reading Paul properly.
Because of the way Stott has organized his interpretation of Ephesians, and because of his readable way of writing, his commentary is very useable for a wide variety of readers. Preachers will find that is just the kind of commentary suited to sermon preparation. I found it very useful in helping me prepare for a series of sermons I gave over the book of Ephesians several years ago. In part because of this commentary, the book of
Ephesians has stuck in my soul better than other books of the New Testament.
The educated laymen looking for something more than self-help books masquerading as Bible study will also benefit from this volume. The Message of Ephesians can even be used by who are interested in some deeper devotional reading, because Stott is easy to understand and leaves the reader with memorable ways of letting Paul's writing become of a part of the reader's life.
Thankfully, Stott, in spite of his Evangelical background, highlights the ecclesiological implications of Ephesians. As he says early in the commentary, "Ephesians is the gospel of the church." Stott organizes Ephesians into 4 main sections dealing with "God's New Society"
1:3 - 2:10 New Life
2:11 - 3:21 New Society
4:1 - 5:21 New Standards
5:22 - 6:24 New Relationships
One reviewer correctly pointed out a sloppy interpretation of the Greek by Stott. This is true, but it doesn't affect any major point in Stott's theology as presented in this particular volume. Stott does make use of the original Greek, but uses it lightly and where important. If you're looking for a more academic commentary, then there are better choices out there.
But if you're looking for a commentary that will help you understand, remember, and apply Ephesians to your life, this one's a great place to start.
Stott does a good job of recognizing the larger themes of Ephesians. Many commentators focus too tightly on one or two verses and miss the larger context. Stott usually avoids this mistake. It is not too techincal, although it is not fluffy either. An overall good effort.
Commentary was very readable and helpful
Dr. Stott has written a very helpful commentary from the evangelical perspective. This commentary was a very helpful guide to me and another lay leader, as we co-led a church Bible study. Stott primarily uses the NRSV English translation, but also uses Greek when necessary. When he does use Greek, he transliterates into English and explains things clearly to the English reader.
Exegetically, Stott correctly identifies the unifying theme of Ephesians as "God's New Society" (i.e., the Church). He organizes his commentary clearly around 4 aspects of this "New Society." Stott helps readers greatly by clearly identifying the Church as the emphasis of Ephesians. With this proper focus, the reader is equipped to understand the text, without forcing themselves to accept every single point that Stott makes.
Personally, I found Stott's commentary to be much more helpful than another evangelical commentary that I own (Expositor's Bible Commentary, by Skevington Wood). Stott seems to draw many insights from Markus Barth's commentary on Ephesians from the Anchor Bible commentary.
Worth owning (Second best commentary on Ephesians)
I purchased this book for a sermon series I'm doing on Ephesians. It was highly recommended by two friends. I am
happy with the book, but have to give it a four star rating
because I've found some explanations of Greek text, for example
the Ephesians 2:1 claim that trespasses and sins were the
equivalent of commission/omission do not stand up under scrutiny.
The lexicons I checked and the scholars I contacted did not concur with Stott's claim. He provides no support for this popular definition of sins and trespasses. For a commentary dealing with the Greek text, I was a bit disappointed with that.
This is the first time I've had this experience with Stott's stuff. The main reason I like his commentaries is that his
stuff provides good summaries that preach well.
I think overall this commentary is very good, but one must check the scholarship. For Ephesians so far I've found the best on
the Greek text is FF Bruce's commentary NICNT. He rightly identifies Eph 2:1 trespasses and sins as synonyms.
Out of all the commentaries I've purchased or read for Ephesians I would rate FF Bruce highest, Stott second and O'Brien third.
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