Commentaries come in many sizes and formats, from the highly technical and exegetical to those of a more devotional character. This one falls into the category of expository reflections on the text of Ephesians and is one of the latest additions to the Mentor series of commentaries.
There is no formal introduction to Ephesians as a whole (dealing with such questions as date, authorship, recipients, reason for writing, and so on). Instead, the author touches on these questions in the opening chapter as he deals with the first two verses of the letter.
The commentary proceeds to cover the entire letter in 65 chapters. Each chapter is given a title reflecting the key truth or issue Paul is addressing at that point in the epistle. Endnotes, a subject index and a Scripture index round off this resource, aiding further study.
Dr Phillips expounds the text in keeping with the apostle’s own concerns. It’s done in a way that spells out the sheer wonder of the salvation proclaimed in the gospel. In particular, Dr Phillips draws out the idea that what believers experience in time has its roots in what God has decreed from eternity and what Christ has secured in history. Its ultimate horizon is in eternity to come.
He homes in on the key doctrines that underpin the apostle’s message. They explore the flow of God’s unfolding purpose in salvific history. The author is eclectic in the historical and biographical sources he cites and repeatedly brings his readers back to the relevance of Paul’s message for Christians today.
In terms of where this commentary fits into the spectrum of extant commentaries, it would not be the first one to which a preacher should turn. Nonetheless, it provides ministers with a rich range of angles on how to handle the text in a way that engages hearers.
In terms of readership, anyone wishing to find a reliable guide to take them through this hugely important New Testament letter would do well to pick up a copy of this book.
Mark G. Johnston