Learn more about Ephesians in the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament Series
Benjamin L. Merkle is Professor of New Testament and Greek and the Editor of the Southeastern Theological Review at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Merkle studied at Kuyper College, Westminster Seminary California, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served as Professor of New Testament at Malaysia Baptist Theological Seminary before coming to SEBTS.Merkle specializes in the issue of eldership, and has written The Elder and Overseer: One Office in the Early Church (2003), 40 Questions about Elders and Deacons (2008), and Why Elders? A Biblical and Practical Guide for Church Members (2009).
1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Ephesians?
Because a lot of my research is in Pauline studies, it was natural for me to write on Ephesians. Additionally, I had recently finished an Intermediate Greek Grammar (Going Deeper with NT Greek) and so the idea of writing a Greek-focused commentary was appealing to me.
2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors?students? lay Christians in the local church?
The intended audience is pastors who have taken Greek but need some help walking through the Greek text. I see the series (Exegetical Guide to the Greek NT) as sort of a pre-commentary commentary. In other words, after studying the Greek text yourself, this would be the first resource consulted before diving into a more traditional commentary.
3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Ephesians?
Its uniqueness is that it focuses on the grammar and syntax of the text. Most commentaries seem to avoid discussion of the Greek and focus on meaning and application. My commentary also includes (1) a phrase diagram of each passage, (2) homiletical outlines of the text, and (3) suggested reading for further study.
4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?
The first chapter, especially verses 3–14 which form one long sentence in Greek (202 words). Not only is the sentence complex (and filled will multiple genitive constructions) but the content is profound. The structure of the Greek text demonstrates that the main idea is that God should be blessed/praised because he (1) chose us, (2) redeems us, (3) gives us an inheritance, and (4) seals us with the Holy Spirit.
5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?
This is a hard question because there are so many things that could be mentioned: (1) the example of Paul’s prayers to God for the Ephesians (1:15–23; 2:14–20), (2) the reminder that it is God’s amazing grace that rescued us from spiritual death (2:1–10), (3) the profound unity that believers have in Christ in the midst of being wildly different (4:1–16), (4) the expectation that believers are to live distinct lives because of the transforming grace we’ve received (4:17–6:9), and the desperate need we have to rely on the strength that God provides through prayer and his Word (6:10–20). After spending so much time studying Ephesians I am not surprised that, after Romans, Ephesians is often considered the most significant book for the life of the church.
6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Ephesians?
7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?
I just recently finished a book entitled Exegetical Gems from Biblical Greek (or Exegetical Gems from the Greek New Testament) which provides 35 examples of how knowing Greek impacts our interpretation of the NT and, at the same time, provides a systematic overview of Greek syntax. I will also begin work on a prequel to Going Deeper with NT Greek titled Getting Started with NT Greek (B&H, coauthored with Robert Plummer).