Posted by: William | March 16, 2008

Ephesians : Encouragement & Joy in Christ

In a nutshell, Focus on the Bible’s commentary on Ephesians titled Encouragement and Joy in Christ written by Paul Gardner was simply written, simply structured, simply stated and just all around simple; which may be perfect, depending on why you’re reading.

I began reading this commentary before I had finished the very robust PNT Commentary on Romans. This probably skewed by view a bit in terms of this shorter work on Ephesians. On the backdrop of the more scholarly commentary on Romans, this one seemed almost unbearably simple. However, after finishing Romans, this one’s colors were able to shine. It’s my belief that few other readers will read this commentary with similar sentiments as my own here.

When I purchased this commentary, my intention was to give me a sweeping overview of the book; to expand somewhat on the themes and metaphors throughout, without getting weighed down by linguistics and other textually intricate details. Coming in at about 180 pages, it was perfect for my purposes. However, my purposes aren’t typical and I’m convinced this commentary has a great deal more to offer the average reader.

Gardner is clearly of reformed thought and treats all of the text plainly as it appears in the book. He takes into account historical and cultural thought to aide in bringing out the meaning, then gently helps bring that meaning to modern application. Readers have a great deal to learn from the book of Ephesians and Gardner helps make that more accessible.

Two instances in this book stand out to me as particularly well commented. The first is in his section dealing with Ephesians 1:3-14 he needed to address the topic of adoption and predestination. He doesn’t attempt whatsoever to tackle the debate, but rather takes the meaning of both as plain and teaches the text in a simple, clear, manner as can be easily understood. The second worth noting is his treatment of family, particularly husband and wife, relationships in Ephesians 5:21-33. This might be one of the few places in his commentary that he becomes aggressive with truly current issues. He treats the topic of marriage relationships with great care and earnestness; it is certainly worth taking notice.

There was only one instance in this commentary that I would question Gardner on his meaning/theology. Toward the end of his section dealing with father-son relationships, he makes the statement: “But scriptures do teach that following the will of the Lord will lead to a better and more enjoyable life generally…”. Now, in one sense this is true, however, without further explaining the thought, it would be easy to digress into a Joel Osteen type heresy. I doubt that Gardner is from Osteen’s school of thought, so I would criticize him from not expanding on the statement.

Aside from a single criticism, Gardner has written a sound and accessible commentary. I recommend this to anyone desiring to learn more about the Jesus, especially in the book of Ephesians.



  1. I was checking out your post, and I would like to invite you to post your reply to an open question to all believers, on my blog:

    I am asking in all sincerity, because I do actually want to understand differing view points, and since you seem certain of your faith, I feel your input would be relevant.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. […] many book reviews on this site. Lately he’s been reading Puritan literature and commentaries, including this one on Ephesians. A good place to stop if you’re looking to add books to your reading list. Check it out […]

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