in International Critical Commentary

by Ernest Best

4.6 Rank Score: 6.08 from 8 reviews, 7 featured collections, and 7 user libraries
Pages 686
Publisher T&T Clark
Published 1998
ISBN-13 9780567085658


This book appears in the following featured collections.


Add Your Review

Phillip J. Long Phillip J. Long June 19, 2012
Best’s commentary on Ephesians is an excellent replacement to the classic ICC volume by T. K. Abbot (Ephesians and Colossians, available free at Google Books). Best is more or less agnostic on authorship, called the author AE (author of Ephesians). This exegetical comments on the Greek text are excellent, perhaps the best example of how a Greek text commentary ought to work. Best does not stop at reading the Greek, however, his comments draw out implications for the theology of the letter. T&T Clark published a Shorter Commentary on Ephesians which reduces the exegetical detail, this version of the commentary would be more helpful for the busy pastor. [Full Review]
Scot McKnight Scot McKnight August 2, 2009
If you've got some funds, buy Ernest Best's volume in the ICC series. [Full Review]
John Glynn John Glynn September 20, 2008
Marcus Maher Marcus Maher August 20, 2008
The International Critical Commentary Series is renowned for its careful, critical scholarship. For the most part, the volume on Ephesians by Ernest Best fits the mold. The commentary is geared towards those with strong skills in Greek. It is helpful to the pastor, but not the commentary to choose if a pastor only wants to buy one (O’Brien would be much better). However, Best does reflect on theology more than some academic commentaries do (e.g., Jewett on Romans in Hermeneia) especially on soteriology and ecclesiology. For those with an academic interest in Ephesians, this commentary is in the category of must own.

Things I liked:

The key to a top notch academic commentary is fairness to opposing views. While not afraid to dismiss irrelevant views, Best does fairly represent his opponents and attempts to show (mainly through grammatical arguments) why their view is, in his opinion, defective. His commentary often proved to be a refreshing corrective to some of the overblown analysis of Lincoln, who sees preformed material seemingly in every section.

Best showed the structure of each section in his translation to help the reader clearly see Paul’s (or AE’s as Best likes to put it) flow of thought. This was very helpful as a quick reference when doing my exegesis. The rest of the commentary served as a defense of the translation and diagram. I also enjoyed his witty writing style. I even found myself chuckling at the way he would phrase things sometimes.

Best almost always takes the plain sense of the text, even when he doesn’t like the conclusions. This is especially clear in his discussion of the household code. In particular, I found Best’s analysis of chapters 1-4 to be very insightful. His arguments were clear and often persuasive. Particularly excellent were his discussions of the spiritual powers that are mentioned from time to time in Ephesians. I also liked his analysis of 2:1-10. I think he gives the best one sentence summary of the section that I have read when he says, “The new position of believers is a result only of the nature and activity of God.”


Evangelicals will be bothered by his approach to chapters 5 and 6. He borders on contempt for the text at times, especially when he disagrees with it or finds it lacking, which is often.

While mounting as formidable a case as is possible, his argument against Pauline authorship is inadequate. He must be credited though with avoiding the specious argument of dependence of Ephesians on Colossians (or vice versa) and using the criteria of hapax legomena for determining authorship. Still, his insistence (along with many other scholars) on the existence of a Pauline school is baffling, and the differences in vocabulary, content, and style are not as significant as Best seems to believe. See O’Brien and Hoehner for outstanding defenses of Pauline authorship.

Overall Evaluation:

We have come to expect excellence from the International Critical Commentary and this commentary meets those expectations. It is the work of a careful scholar who labored over Ephesians for decade after decade. It provides a wealth of information that would benefit anyone doing a thorough study of Ephesians who knows at least a little bit of Greek. The commentary is overly critical at times, but that is not surprising given the series it’s in. I rate it four stars out of five.

Unnatributed-d Unnatributed-d May 26, 2008