Review: Ephesians (SOGBC)

33288691The Story of God Bible Commentary is an exciting and practical series that seeks to explain the Bible in light of the grand story of the biblical narrative. The editors and contributors for this series are top-tier scholars and pastors with seasoned insight and experience into the world of biblical interpretation and proclamation—making this series an attractive addition to the pastor’s library.

Ephesians by Mark D. Roberts is a welcomed addition to the series. Roberts is a brilliant man. With nearly two decades of pastoral ministry and three degrees from Harvard University, Roberts is well positioned for the focus on this series, and the results are noticeable. The commentary opens with a brief introduction to Ephesians, including comments surrounding some of the distinctive features of the letter, context and purpose, etc. Still, like other volumes in the series the introduction is rather lackluster, and those looking for introductory material will likely need to look elsewhere. This isn’t Robert’s fault. It’s simply the nature of the series. That said, Roberts does affirm the traditional Pauline authorship of the epistle and rightly encourages readers to interact with the letter itself as the best form of introduction.

As the commentary proper opens the reader is guided passage-by-passage through three major sections: (1) LISTEN to the Story—includes the NIV translation with additional references to encourage the reader to hear the story within its broader biblical context, (2) EXPLAIN the Story—explores and illuminates each passage within its canonical and historical setting, and (3) LIVE the Story—reflects how each passage can be lived today and includes contemporary stories and illustration to aid teachers, preachers, and beyond.

When issues arise where theological/interpretive disagreements are inevitable (i.e. Eph. 1:3-10; Eph. 2:1-10; etc.), Roberts does an exceptional job steering the concerns towards the purpose of the letter. In this respect, Roberts exemplifies how to handle the text in a corporate setting. Not that these issues are insignificant or irrelevant, but the primary purpose of the passage isn’t always to bog down into the theological weeds. That said, Roberts generally provides a few words about such issues (without overtly taking sides) and moves forward towards the goal. This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest aspects of Robert’s work here, and it will inevitably prove useful for the target audience of the series.

The Story of God Bible Commentary: Ephesians by Mark D. Roberts is a unique contribution that offers a unified presentation of one of the most theologically significant Pauline epistles. Roberts is well-informed and easy to read, and any lack of distinctive interpretive contribution is made up for in his keen ability to keep sight of the whole amid the details. This is a worthwhile read if you are studying Ephesians. It comes highly recommended!

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