As I am wrapping up my sermon series through the book of Ephesians, I have also wrapped up my reading of two commentaries that have helped teach and prepare me along the way.
Let me begin this review with the NIV Application Commentary by Klyne Snodgrass. Like others in the series, this commentary focuses on the exegesis and modern application using the NIV text. I have bought several of these commentaries particularly because they aim to help pastors think through the issues of the text and possible applications from the text. As with each commentary, regardless of the series, the value of any one particular book in the series depends to a large degree on the expertise, theological convictions, and literary abilities of its author. In this case Snodgrass’ commentary was ok, but not great. There were occasional nuggets and insights that helped my understanding and spurred on my preaching preparation. However, there were other times when Snodgrass interpretations or foci seemed biased and slanted.
For example, in his commentary on chapter one, Snodgrass downplayed any understanding of the text that may lead one to see Paul’s statements dealing with God’s election as being specific to individuals. Rather Snodgrass tried (unsuccessfully in my opinion), to make the case for a corporate view of election only… but does not the corporate church comprise individuals? Was it a mass of faceless humanity that God elected, or did he really know and chose individuals? I believe the weight of Paul’s argument here and elsewhere (Romans 9 for example) leads to conclude the later.
Additionally, I felt that Snodgrass’ exegesis and application of Ephesians 5:21ff lacked conviction and clarity. Rather than admitting to distinct and timeless household roles between husbands and wives, the author seemed to try to work hard to caution the reader about cultural context and misunderstanding in our application today. While we should take cultural context into consideration, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water in the process.