Book Review of Ephesians, Philippians, 1-2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Philemon

Hoehner, Harold W., Philip W. Comfort, and Peter H. Davids. Ephesians, Philippians, 1-2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Philemon. In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary.

This volume of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary surpasses the value of some of the other volumes.  Hoehner (Ephesians) presents a strong, well-worded defense of Pauline authorship of Ephesians and provides excellent historical background to the book.  Comfort (Philippians, 1-2 Thessalonians) rejects improper kenotic views in Philippians even to the point of showing how the New Living Translation (NLT) badly mistranslates some important theological words and phrases.  He defends an early date for the Thessalonian letters and argues in favor of a collaborative work on the part of Paul and Silvanus (and possibly Timothy) in order to explain the frequent first-person-plural references in the Thessalonian epistles.  Although he is strongly inclined against a pre-tribulational Rapture, he does defend the existence of a future, personal Antichrist and takes a moderate view of the “Restrainer.”  Davids takes the Colossian heresy to be a predominantly Hellenistic-Jewish religious problem, and he refutes the claim that Colossians addresses a later, fully developed Gnosticism.  Davids also correctly analyzes “firstborn” in Colossians 1:15.
All of the contributions in this volume exhibit the same strengths.  They present a conservative interpretation of the crucial issues in these New Testament books.  This series does not attempt to cover issues that are relevant only to the NT scholar.  Instead, it addresses the major difficulties of interpretation and the most significant insights from which all Christians could profit.  This makes the series highly accessible for the reader.
The reader should be aware of two weaknesses in the New Living Translation.  First, the NLT is a highly dynamic (periphrastic) translation that either obscures the crucial wording of the Greek text or misses the point of the underlying text altogether.  All three commentators in this volume spend time in their notes correcting the NLT.  The fact that such a correction appears mitigates some of the weaknesses of the series.
Second, the NLT series tends to draw too heavily from the Pseudepigrapha and non-Christian sources such as Philo to make theological points.  Although the cultural and linguistic background can be helpful, commentators can get carried away with the supposed connections between the Pseudepigrapha and Scripture.

  • Hardcover: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0842383448

Reviewed by: Brian Hand, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament in BJU Seminary.
This book is available at


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2 Responses to Book Review of Ephesians, Philippians, 1-2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Philemon

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