Ephesians is a letter much beloved and used whenever Christians wish to be reminded of what it means to be the “church,” the “body of Christ.” Not surprisingly, it enjoys much favor wherever there are efforts to unite the church, whether at the congregational, denominational, or ecumenical level of church life. At the same time, the emphasis on the church as a cosmic unified reality “in Christ” is at odds with a post-modern appreciation of diversity and suspicion of hegemony. Moreover, readers sensitized to gender-based injustice are often troubled by the identification of the relationship of Christ and the church with that of husband and wife in Ephesians 5, with what is perceived to be a patriarchal entrenchment of sexual inequality. Many have thus cooled to this letter, some to the point of antipathy. This commentary on the letter to the Ephesians is written from within a particular tradition, the so-called believers church, Anabaptist, and/or Mennonite tradition. That tradition has placed several emphases at its centre: the church is a community of those who have made a conscious decision to follow Christ in life, have been baptized on confession of faith, and have taken on the covenantal responsibility of mutual accountability and shared ministry; the Bible is God’s authoritative self-disclosure, even as it is also an archive of human interaction with God spanning a millennium. It is viewed as clear in its call to peace and servanthood. As part of the “Believers Church Bible Commentary,” this commentary respects and engages that tradition.
Ephesians both supports and challenges this tradition. It supports the believers church tradition in the high value placed on baptism on confession of faith as entry into a new life marked by “good works,” typically called “discipleship” (chapters 2 and 4). The historic emphasis on nonconformity and the costliness of discipleship will find an echo in the call to separation from darkness and the summons to do battle with evil (chapters 5 and 6). The central emphasis on Christ as peacemaker in chapter 2 quite clearly supports the peacemaking emphasis in the Anabaptist tradition.
On the other hand, both the stress on election and divine initiative in chapter 1 and the view of sin as bondage to evil powers (chap. 2) will rub up against the strong belief in human freedom in believers church circles. Further, the historic tendency in believers church experience to separate and divide over issues of belief and ethics stands in real tension with the pervasive emphasis on unity or oneness in Christ (chapters 2 and 4). The more politically and socially radical elements in Anabaptist circles will be troubled by the patriarchal setting of language and imagery, especially in the household code in chapters 5 and 6, as well as by the military imagery in chapter 6.
Whatever the challenges Ephesians puts to the Anabaptist tradition, the core commitment to listen to the Bible as the word of God must always take precedence over maintaining traditional interpretations of the Bible. It therefore cannot be the task of this commentary to provide a soapbox for believers church or Anabaptist perspectives, or to attempt to manage the text so as to make it palatable, or to serve a particular agenda, however radical. The task of this commentary is, first, to open a way for the biblical text to address the community of faith listening for God’s word, and second, to open a way for the community to bring its agenda to the scriptural text. That said, every commentator and every reader comes to the Bible with eyes and ears shaped in and by a culture or community. The tendency, often unconscious, is then to tailor the text to fit already existing needs, desires, and convictions. As commentators and readers, we have no recourse other than to take the prayer in chapters 1 and 3 to be for us—a prayer for wisdom and a spirit of revelation so we can grasp the height and depth, the width and length, and, most important, the love of God in Christ Jesus for us and for the whole cosmos.
Authorship, Date, and Historical Context
Ephesians is somewhat of a puzzle. Some deeply appreciate the majestic flow of the letter and the memorable phrases that capture the essence of Paul’s message. Others miss the vibrancy and personal engagement usually found in Paul’s letters. They see the style Ephesians as ornate and ponderous, not at all like the terse style, often direct to the point of offensiveness, of many of Paul’s letters. Second, it is not obvious to whom the letter was written, since the most reliable manuscripts do not contain “in Ephesus” in 1:1. Third, the unusually extensive use of hymns and prayers raises the question as to whether it less letter than a worship resource. Fourth, while there are striking echoes of all the letters in the Pauline collection, with the exception of 2 Thessalonians and the Pastoral Letters, it shares many words, phrases, and emphases with Colossians. Much like the Synoptic gospels, the treatment in Ephesians of Christ, church, and eschatology, and of the Household Code, appears to share more with Colossians than with any other letter in the Pauline collection. Does Ephesians use Colossians, or vice versa?
Careful readers also quickly notice differences to letters Paul’s authorship of which no one questions. To illustrate, while Paul normally speaks of the church as a local congregation (e.g., Corinth, Thessalonica, etc.), in Ephesians the church is always a cosmic or universal reality. Second, Paul usually refers to salvation as something expected in the (near) future (e.g., Rom. 13:11; 1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13—5:11). In Ephesians, however, salvation, and with it resurrection and exaltation together with Christ, is referred to in 2:4-8 as having already taken place. There are only few references to a future event of redemption (e.g., 1:14; 4:30; 5:5), and none explicitly to a return or future appearance of Christ. Third, instead of “justification” by grace (Rom. 3:24), we read of “salvation” by grace (2:5, 8). Fourth, in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Paul pictures Christ as the divine warrior in battle with the powers, but in Ephesians it is the church that is summoned to such a struggle (6:10-18). To cite one more example, in Galatians 3:28 Paul says: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, . . . slave or free, . . . male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” In Ephesians, however, there are clearly “us” Jews and “you” Gentiles; wives and husbands, children and fathers, slaves and masters are exhorted to live within what appear to be traditional roles of dominance and subordination. Considerations such as these have raised some thorny questions, especially regarding address, authorship, date, and context. If Paul himself wrote this letter, as many commentators continue to hold, even if with help of a scribe (see, e.g., Rom 16:22), we should imagine a date late in his apostolic career (early 60s, during Roman imprisonment?). If so, then “Ephesus” is less likely as an address. Apart from the textual problems in 1:1, 3:2 implies that Paul is familiar to his readers by hearsay, which is unlikely if Paul spent several years in Ephesus (Acts 19:8-10). Should we rather imagine a general letter sent to one or more churches in the area around Ephesus, some of which he would have known, others perhaps less so? After all, no specific issue seems to have prompted the writing of the letter. Perhaps Paul felt the need to prepare for his many churches a final reflective treatise or sermon-like letter, celebrating God’s act of reconciling the world in Christ. Some have suggested that it was a cover letter for an early collection of Paul’s letters. Might Paul have initiated such a collection?
Many commentators, including myself, think that these and other factors point to the likelihood that Ephesians was written after Paul’s death in his name. A date toward the end of the first century is generally accepted by those taking this position. Given how long Paul had worked in Ephesus (Acts 20:31 says three years), that city may well have become a magnet for Pauline study and reflection, a center for a Pauline “school.” The letter may thus have even emerged in Ephesus, rather than being addressed to Ephesus. We cannot know that, of course, but we likely on safest ground to think of Ephesians as emerging somewhere within the environs of Paul’s mission in Asia Minor and intended for a wide readership in that orbit. The commentary explores carefully the relatively common practice of writing in the name of a revered teacher, and thus under his authority (and indirect authorship). There is no good reason to allow the question of exactly who put pen to parchment to minimize the enormous value Ephesians holds for the church, or its status as a jewel in the canonical crown.
It may even be that placing the letter in the second half of the first century opens it up to interpretive possibilities that touch on church life today. The end of the first century was a time of great turbulence and change in early Christian communities, not least in Pauline churches. Christians struggled over the ongoing relevance of the Law, a major issue in Jewish-Gentile relations within the church. Further, the fact that Jesus did not return as soon as or in the way they initially expected challenged their faith significantly. Some prized the salvation that enlightenment and spirituality bring now; others anticipated keenly what God would do in the future. These and other highly divisive issues have left their mark on New Testament writings, including Ephesians. Chapters 2 and 3, for example, address the issue of Jewish-Gentile unity and peace as central to God’s work in the world. Second, no New Testament writing, with the possible exception of the Gospel of John, places as much value on knowledge (gnosis; e.g., 1:15-23; 3:14-21). In the second century, motifs from Ephesians such as “fullness” (pleroma; 1:23; 3:19), the “heavenlies” (e.g., 1:3; 2:6), the descent and ascent of the Savior (4:8-10), the perfect man (4:13), and the holy marriage between Christ and believer (5:25-32), would find a ready home in gnostic writings. At the same time, there are features in Ephesians that would have been appreciated just as likely by those who held to Paul’s apocalyptic teachings. Note, for example, the letter’s depiction of the world in darkness and under control of evil powers (e.g., 2:1-3; 6:12), sinners awaiting the wrath of God (5:5-7), the battle against evil cosmic powers (6:10-20), and the anticipation of the day of redemption (4:30).
Rather than reading Ephesians either through a “gnostic” or “apocalyptic” lens, as commentators have often done, or to think of it as theologically inconsistent or confused, I propose that we see the author’s theology as itself an act of peacemaking—peacemaking as “ingathering” (1:10). As such, Ephesians provides an important precedent for a theology that “spares no effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the chain of peace” (4:3).
In its reflective quality, as well as in its engagement with the prophetic legacy of the apostle Paul, Ephesians is less prophecy than theological reflection on prophecy. I see it as part of the long tradition of biblical wisdom. That makes it no less inspired, revelatory, or authoritative. Its ground is the foundation of the apostles and prophets, its focal point the headstone, Christ, and its edifice the result of the collaborative ministry of the saints (2:20; 4:12-16).
Christians new to the faith or to discipleship will read Ephesians like an exciting roadmap to faithfulness. But the possibility that this letter was written to the second or third generation of Paul’s communities, suggests that this letter can speak strongly also to readers who struggle with loss of vision, loss of energy, forgetfulness about what their baptism and membership in the Messiah’s “body” really means—which describes many churches today. It can then serve as a wake-up call, or, to draw on the image of the marriage between Christ and the church in chapter 5, as an invitation to marriage renewal.
Form and Rhetoric
I have already alluded to the style of the letter as rather ornate. There is a large appetite for heaping up synonyms, perhaps to point out, rather ironically, the inability of language to capture the wonder of the gospel. But it does give many readers the impression of being over-produced, we might say. This may not be unrelated to what I earlier referred to as the highly reflective character of the letter. It seems to emerge out of great deliberation.
That quality of reflection characterizes the letter’s structure. It is divided into two equal parts. The first, chapters 1-3, is focused in a celebratory and worshipful way on God’s work as creator and savior “in Christ,” a typical way in which Jesus as Messiah is the one in and through whom God is at work making peace with humanity, The second part, chapters 4-6, exhorts beneficiaries of God’s peacemaking to respond appropriately, to “walk in a way that is worthy” of their calling as sons and daughters of God. The first half of the letter places both creation and peace quite literally at the center of the celebrative and worshipful rehearsal of God’s grace at work. The author, whether that be Paul or one his followers, uses a device seen frequently in ancient literature, including the Bible, namely, “chiasmus,” or “chiasm.” It derives from the Greek letter chi, which looks like an “X”. The various parts correspond to each other, sometimes by contrast, other times by word association or similarity of theme, drawing ever closer to the focal centre, which, in the case of Ephesians, is a hymn or poem celebrating Christ as “our peace.” Peace is quite literally the centre piece of God’s activity as Creator and Saviour. The Messiah makes peace between Jews and Gentiles, and between them both and God, by “killing enmity” through his own death on the cross, and by creating in his own body a “new human,” made up of those who were once strangers and enemies of each other.
- A Eulogy—in praise of God 1:3-14
- B Thanksgiving and Prayer for church 1:15-23
- C Salvation for both Jews and Gentiles 2:1-10
- D Christ is our peace 2:11-22
- a Once strangers and godless aliens 2:11, 12
- b Christ brought the far near through his blood 2:13
- c Christ is “our peace” 2:14-16
- b1 Christ preached peace to the far and the near 2:17-18
- b Christ brought the far near through his blood 2:13
- a1 No longer strangers, but at home with God 2:19-22
- a Once strangers and godless aliens 2:11, 12
- D Christ is our peace 2:11-22
- C1 Salvation for both Jews and Gentiles 3:1-13
- C Salvation for both Jews and Gentiles 2:1-10
- B1 Prayer for church resumed 3:14-19
- B Thanksgiving and Prayer for church 1:15-23
- A1 Doxology—in praise of God 3:20-21
The second half is not a chiasm. It is rather a set of exhortations intended to encourage the manner of life the “new human” created “in Christ” is live. It is focused on unity, reminders of baptism, and participation in the divine struggle against the “powers” that resist God’s efforts to “gather in” all things, all people, into a peaceable unity. Indeed, the summons to put on the armour of God and to take the struggle to the powers forms the climax of the exhortation. The exhortation employs well-formed and perhaps already familiar traditions, such as creedal formulations (4:4-6), baptismal ritual (4:22-24; 5:14; 6:11), household code (5:21-6:9), the armour of God (6:10-20), and Scriptural citations and novel interpretations (4:8; 5:31; 6:14-17).
Summary and Comment
See full outline of Ephesians in the commentary, pp. 322-25, as well as my own fresh translation of the letter in a “schematic” format, visually reflecting the grammar of the Greek, pp. 326-38.
Following the address or greeting in 1:1-2, the letters opens with a lengthy prayer in which God is blessed for blessing us (1:3-14). This blessing or eulogy expresses the central conviction underlying the letter as a whole: the infinitely gracious God has blessed Jews and Gentiles alike. God has chosen them, made them sons and daughters, and let them in on the great secret, namely, that in and through Christ, God is “gathering up” all things, especially all people, into a divine unity (1:10; 4:6).
As is typical of letter writing etiquette in Paul’s days, he usually begins his letters with a thanksgiving section, rather than a blessing (2 Corinthians is a rare exception; in Galatians Paul is so upset with his readers he dispenses with such etiquette). But in Ephesians we encounter both blessing and thanksgiving. Thanksgiving (1:15-16) gives way immediately to intercession (1:17-23; resumed in 3:14), namely, that God give readers the insight and wisdom to know what power is at work in them and on their behalf. This power is the very power that raised and exalted Christ to the right hand of God, above all powers in the cosmos (1:18-23). The end of chapter 1 introduces the church as the “body” of that exalted Messiah, connecting the emphasis on power and status with the church’s identity and task.
Ephesians 2:1-10 provides a glimpse of what this power has already effected in believers—both Jews and Gentiles. Because of God’s fathomless storehouse of love and mercy, those who were once dead in sin—both Jews and Gentiles—have now been brought to life together with Christ: they have been raised and seated together with him and with each other in the heavenly places. Believers have been “saved by grace” (2:5, 8) for “good works” (2:10), the full meaning of which will be become clear in the second half of Ephesians.
A celebration of Christ’s act of bringing peace follows in 2:11-22, anchored by what is likely a hymn to Christ as peace in 2:14-16. Outcasts and enemies—Gentiles—have been offered citizenship, inclusion in the family of God, and more: they have been made building blocks of God’s dwelling, his holy temple (2:19-22). Together with Jews, Gentiles have become an integral part of a “new human” re-created in the image of the God in whom all things cohere (cf. 1:10, 20-22; 4:24). At the very center of this act of re-creation is the violent death of Christ. It is this act of ultimate self-giving that nevertheless deals the lethal blow to enmity (2:16). Christ “murders hostility” through his own death.
In Ephesians 3:1-13, Paul appears as the expert guide into the secret of God, namely, the inclusion of Gentiles in the people of God. The task of the church, made up now of Jews and Gentiles, is to inform the powers of God’s infinitely “multivaried wisdom” (3:10). Quite fittingly, this is immediately followed in 3:14-19 by the resumption of the apostolic prayer of intercession for power and knowledge (cf. 1:17-23), especially the unfathomable love of Christ. As in 1:23, at stake is nothing less than the fullness of God (3:19). The recitation of the immeasurable blessings of God in the first three chapters concludes appropriately with a flourish of praise or doxology (3:20-21), well-known to many readers as an oft-heard benediction concluding worship services.
The second half of Ephesians consists largely of exhortation (paraenesis). It begins in 4:1 with a “therefore.” As in Romans 11:33—12:2, the exhortation follows immediately on the heels of a doxology that celebrates the immeasurable grace of God (3:20-21). This is of critical importance: in all of Paul’s letters, what we call “ethics” is first and last a response to God’s saving acts. Because God’s grace always precedes and prepares the ground for human faithfulness (see esp. 2:1-10), the recitation of God’s blessings and benefactions necessarily calls for a response of active gratitude on the part of the recipients of God’s blessings. That is exactly how Ephesians is organized. Just as the first three chapters of Ephesians recite the blessings of God, the last three chapters point to the “good works” (cf. 2:10) the saints are to perform in worshipful gratitude. They are to “walk” in a way that is worthy of their high calling, identity, and mission.
The exhortation begins with a focus on the church (4:1-16). This is appropriate since the first half of the letter has indicated the central importance of the church as the place where God has begun the re-creation of humanity. Chapter 4 thus begins with a ringing call for unity in the church (4:1-6). This is followed in 4:7-16 by a clear reminder that the ministry of building up the body of Christ is not the special prerogative of leaders and teachers, but that of all members of Christ’s body. Leaders are reminded that their task is first and last to equip the saints to practice this ministry (4:12)—a ministry that must be seen in light of Christ’s peacemaking (see 2:11-22).
No break is intended or even perceived when the author now moves from church to ethics (4:17-6:20). The church is after all the “body” of the agent of creation. Bodies act. It becomes apparent that good works are what the new human does (2:10; 4:24). Believers learn from Christ how to live the new life, to “walk the talk” (4:17-24). In baptism, they have taken off the “old human” and put on “the new human,” Christ (4:22-24), and are learning to live as the “new human” within the community of faith (4:25-5:2). The gulf between death and life depicted in 2:1-10 is addressed in 5:3-14 in the call to separation of light from darkness, as sharp a call to nonconformity as we will find in the Bible. However, this is not a call to disengagement, but to the transformation of darkness into light (5:11-14). Confrontation and exposure are intended to bring about transformation. The dualistic language thus serves not to remove the children of light from the world of darkness, but rather to hone their sensitivities so that they might become and remain alert and faithful to the task before them; their nonconformity is to serve the mending of all things (1:10). Such a peculiar “walk” is neither dour nor suspicious. Rather, it expresses itself in wise living, enthusiastic worship, and empowered mutual servanthood (5:15-21).
It is in such a frame of reference that the Household Code is taken up in 5:21-6:9. In the first century, the household did not refer to a nuclear family nor was its meaning exhausted by the extended family that included servants and slaves. The household was a paradigm for the whole of society. In some contrast to other instances of the Household Code, in Ephesians the domestic instructions are framed by the call to be filled with the Spirit (5:18), or enlivened by the breath of God, or driven by divine wind, on one hand, and the summons to wage war on the powers (6:10-13). Such framing reminds readers that in Ephesians the everyday world of human relations is an arena in which light and darkness, good and evil, God and the powers meet, indeed clash. Moreover, rather than bystanders, victims, or beneficiaries, believers are participants in that struggle, even if, or most especially when it takes place in the family room, factory, or class room.
This whole “ethical” section or exhortation spanning the second half of Ephesians is summed up as the courageous struggle with the powers through the exercise of truth, justice, peace, faith(fullness), liberation, and the sharp word of God (6:10-20). God’s calling and empowerment of the saints in Christ (1:19-23; 2:1-10; 3:14-21) thus finds its full complement at the end of the letter, in an image rooted in the old biblical tradition of God as divine warrior (cf. Isa 59:17; 1 Thess 5:8). Only now it is the messianic community—the body of the Messiah—that dons God’s armor and enters the fray of battle with the powers resisting God’s reconciliation of the world. Every bit of knowledge, power, and resurrection life are required for such an enterprise (1:17-23; 2:4-8; 3:14-21; 6:10). This final and perhaps most dramatic image of the letter combines the purposes of both parts of the letter. Readers are confronted at one and the same time with their elevated status as the elect sons and daughters of God, called to be the body of the Messiah, and with the breathtaking obligations that go with such status. Even as they exercise the often apparently modest virtues of humility, truth, justice, peace, and prayer in the ordinary arenas of everyday life, they are engaged in a cosmic battle with the “powers.”
No document in the New Testament puts as much stress on the church as does Ephesians. But the church as such is not, to be sure, the center of the story. First, the church is “in Christ,” and Christ is in the body. Church is a messianic phenomenon, inextricable from the Creator’s work to reclaim the whole world. In the end, that daunting mission provides the larger framework for the repeated stress in this letter on power and empowerment, on Spirit, and on identification with the resurrected Christ.
The vision informing this letter is thoroughly—
- Theocentric—God as “Father” and Creator is before all (1:3-14), above all, through all, and in all (4:6);
- Christocentric—it is “in and through Christ” who is “our peace” that God is “gathering up all things” (1:10; 2:14-16);
- Pneumacentric— the Spirit facilitating the peace Jews and Gentiles share in the presence of God (2:18), enabling the unity God is bringing about (4:3), and giving energy to the life of worship and service (5:18);
- Ecclesiocentric—the church or “assembly” (to translate literally) is the “new human” created by God in Christ, and thus a participant in that new creation as the reconciled and reconciling “body” of the Messiah.
It may, of course, seem nonsensical to have so many “centers.” On the other hand, the vision informing Ephesians does not allow us to push any one of these out of the centre. We are faced with some of the same mystery we encounter in the trinity.
I quote from the commentary as a way to summarize the gist of this grand letter to the Ephesians (p.19):
- The secret is out! In Christ, God is gathering up all things. God’s mercy and grace not only extend forgiveness to sinners. The Creator has also taken the initiative of peace to mend broken humanity by removing enmity and by re-creating humanity anew in Christ. This reclaimed human community is drawn into the process of peacemaking: it has become a new home for insiders and outsiders, for humanity and God. But it is also summoned and empowered to take up the divine struggle against the powers of evil that still thwart the full realization of God’s peace, and to do so in the trenches of everyday existence.
Recommended Essays from the Commentary
I recommend a number of the many commentaries on Ephesians, including those emerging out of the believers church and Anabaptist communities:
- Arnold, Clinton E., Ephesians (ZECNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010). A prolific scholar with roots in the Mennonite Brethren community, and now an ordained Baptist minister and seminary dean, Arnold combines careful biblical scholarship with deep pastoral familiarity with “spiritual warfare,” which gives his work on the “powers” a distinct perspective from that influenced by the Yoder/Wink school of interpretation. While my commentary benefitted from his copious scholarship, his commentary emerged well after mine.
- Barth, Markus. Ephesians: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary on Chapters 1-3; Chapters 4-6 (Anchor Bible Commentary; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974). This two-volume work is a mine of information and theologically informed opinion. Barth insists that Ephesians was authored by Paul himself.
- Best, Ernest. Ephesians (International Critical Commentary; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998). Best often takes positions against prevailing opinion. In his view, Ephesians represents a shift of focus from mission to the world to inner-directed concerns for church preservation and order, a decidedly different interpretation from mine.
- Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002). An exhaustive treatment of Ephesians, including a careful weighing of evidence regarding authorship, my commentary did not benefit from engagement with it. Hoehner vigorously defends the Pauline authorship of Ephesians.
- Lincoln, Andrew T. Ephesians (Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1990. In my opinion one of the best commentaries on Ephesians, Lincoln represents both critical and evangelical sensibilities, making his commentary both technically and theologically deeply satisfying.
- Martin, Ralph P. Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Atlanta: John Knox, 1991. A lively and engaging commentary for preachers and teachers in the church by a foremost evangelical biblical scholar.
- Penner, Erwin. The Power of God in a Broken World: Studies in Ephesians (Luminaire Studies; Winnipeg, MB/ Hillsboro, KS: Kindred, 1990). A pastorally perceptive commentary accessible to the lay reader by a Mennonite Brethren scholar.
- Perkins, Pheme. Ephesians. ANTC; Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1997. Perkin’s commentary is concise and lucid. A Roman Catholic scholar, her commentary is particularly useful in identifying the links between Ephesians and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Roberts, Mark D. Ephesians (The Story of God Bible Commentary; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016). A very recent evangelical commentary by a long-term pastor, professor, and consultant, this commentary is a mine of insight rooted in both the best of scholarship and pastoral experience and relevance.
- Russell, Letty M. Imitators of God: A Study Book on Ephesians. New York, NY: Mission Education and Cultivation Program Department, General Board of Global Ministries, 1984. Rather difficult to come by, this commentary by a pioneering feminist scholar is a model of connecting scholarship to the real life of believers.
- Schnackenburg, Rudolf. Ephesians: A Commentary (trans. Helen Heron; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991). Along with the great German commentaries by Joachim Gnilka and Heinrich Schlier, Schnackenburg’s commentary represents the best of European Catholic scholarship. It is enhanced by careful attention to the history of interpretation (Wirkungsgeschichte) of Ephesians.
Those wishing to explore the passages in Ephesians that are implicated in contemporary debates about violence and the New Testament (e.g., the household code and the armor of God) may wish to consult my more recent exploration of those issues and the relevant scholarship:
- Yoder Neufeld, Thomas R., Killing Enmity: Violence and the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011; co-published in the UK by SPCK as Jesus and the Subversion of Violence: Wrestling with the New Testament Evidence), 97-108, 143-49.
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|—Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld|