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Lutheran Book Review: Concordia Commentaries for Galatians and Ephesians

Das, A. Andrew. Galatians (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 738 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. (P)

Winger, Thomas M. Ephesians (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis: Concordia, 2015. 895 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. Sale Price: $49.99. (P)

This review begins with the landmark Galatians commentary by the Rev. Dr. A. Andrew Das.

About this Volume
Paul's fiercely passionate letter to the Galatians offers a rare glimpse into the early history of the emerging Christ-believing movement. Paul is seething with righteous indignation over the events at Galatia even as he conveys his hope that the Galatians might be coaxed back to the true Gospel.

The Galatians' young faith was grappling with issues that would prove to be a watershed. Do gentile Christians need to adopt Moses’ Law and be circumcised as Jews in order to worship the God of the Jewish Savior? Or does Baptism incorporate every manner of person—without distinction—into Christ? Does faith alone suffice for salvation? Across the divide of two thousand years of time and cultural space, the letter to the Galatians is an authoritative witness to the catholic Gospel of salvation by grace alone, for all people alike.

About the Author
A. Andrew Das is the Donald W. and Betty J. Buik Chair at Elmhurst College. Dr. Das authored Solving the Romans Debate (Fortress, 2007); Paul and the Jews (Hendrickson, 2003); Paul, the Law, and the Covenant (Hendrickson, 2001); and Baptized into God’s Family (Northwestern, 1991; 2d ed., 2008). He coedited The Forgotten God (Westminster John Knox, 2002). His Grand Thematic Narratives of Galatians is forthcoming from Fortress.

His articles have appeared in Journal of Biblical Literature, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, New Testament Studies, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Biblical Research (forthcoming), Concordia Journal, Concordia Theological Quarterly, and Logia, as well as in Paul Unbound (Hendrickson, 2010), The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Abingdon, 2009), Reading Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), Unity and Diversity in the Gospels and Paul (Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), The Law in Holy Scripture (Concordia, 2004), The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Ethics (forthcoming), and The Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies (forthcoming).

He was an invited member of the Society of Biblical Literature’s Paul and Scripture Seminar and has presented at the Society of Biblical Literature; the African Society of Biblical Scholars; the Chicago Society of Biblical Research; the international Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, of which he is an elected member; and the Evangelical Theological Society. He is also a member of the Catholic Biblical Association of America and serves on the Holman Christian Standard Bible revision committee.

He received his M.Div. from Concordia Theological Seminary and did his graduate work at Yale University, Duke University, and Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. He served as a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Lombard, Ill., from 2000–2002 and assisted as a pastor at St. John’s Lutheran in Lombard from 2002–2004.
(Publisher's website)
Read more here:

I appreciated the comprehensive presentation of the addressees of the letter (20ff), the Pauline chronology (47), and the author's handling of rhetoric in general with application to Galatians specifically (49ff, 67ff, 633).

Readers will also appreciate the connection between the epistolary prescript and Aaronic Benediction (80ff), explanation of "Christ" as honorific (94), medicine for apologetics with Muslims and Mormons and others from 1:8 (106ff, e.g. 109),  a careful explanation of the Cephas/Peter controversy (139ff) and identity of James (141ff), an explanation of Paul's time in Arabia (summary on 155), background on Antioch and first use of the name "Christian" (200), gentile/Jewish controversy (232) and its connection to the so-called "new perspective" on Paul (274-5, passim), the Abrahamic promise (335-6, 389-90), parallels between 4:5-7 and Romans 8:15-17 (413), the circumcision issue/timing of chapter 5 (536ff), Figure 1 on The Works of the Flesh in 5:19-21 (568) and Figure 2 on the Fruit of the Spirit in 5:22-23 (579), and the commentary's Glossary of Select Terms (657).

In a time when "Lutheran" is considered pejorative by some (xiv), Dr. Das has provided the church with a substantive and scholarly Galatians commentary that is a worthy companion to Luther's own.

About the Series
The Concordia Commentary Series: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture is written to enable pastors and teachers of the Word to proclaim the Gospel with greater insight, clarity, and faithfulness to the divine intent of the biblical text. This landmark work will cover all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, interpreting Scripture as a harmonious unity centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Every passage bears witness to the Good News that God has reconciled the world to Himself through our Lord's life, death, and resurrection.

The commentary fully affirms the divine inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture as it emphasizes "that which promotes Christ" in each pericope. Authors are sensitive to the rich treasury of language, imagery, and themes found throughout Scripture, including such dialectics as Law and Gospel, sin and grace, death and new life, folly and wisdom, demon possession and the arrival of the kingdom of God in Christ. Careful attention is given to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Further light is shed on the text from archaeology, history, and extra-biblical literature. Finally, Scripture's message is applied to the ongoing life of the church in terms of ministry, worship, proclamation of the Word, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, confession of the faith—all in joyful anticipation of the life of the world to come.

View the entire series > 

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Now, Winger on Ephesians:

Ephesians is a veritable compendium of St. Paul’s theology and a candidate for his most influential epistle. In it we learn of the reconciliation of the cosmos and our eternal election in Christ, as well as:
  • Salvation by grace through faith apart from works
  • The mystery of salvation also for the Gentiles
  • One Lord, one faith, one Baptism
  • The divine gift of the Holy Ministry
  • The Church as Christ’s bride and body
  • The Christological meaning of marriage
  • The resplendent armor of God.
We today, no less than the Ephesians recently converted from their pagan lifestyle, need to appropriate these teachings because of the spiritual peril of the environment in which we live. Dr. Winger’s commentary unfolds the mysteries of the Gospel by his meticulous analysis of the Greek text and his reverent exposition of the epistle’s proclamation of Christ and His gifts for the sake of His Church.

About the Author
Thomas M. Winger is president of and a professor at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (CLTS), St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. He is also a graduate of that institution (M.Div., 1990), after having studied at Concordia College, Ann Arbor, Michigan (B.A., 1985), and Westfield House, Cambridge, England. He pursued graduate studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (S.T.M., 1992; Th.D., 1997).

Dr. Winger is the author of dozens of articles, many published in Lutheran Theological Review; the co-editor of three books; and a contributor to The Lutheran Study Bible. He has written studies for the theological commissions of Lutheran Church–Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE). He was a member of the liturgy committee of Lutheran Service Book and is currently writing for its companion to the liturgy. He was pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Catharines, a German-English congregation, for six years before being called as a tutor at Westfield House. After seven years of teaching at that theological training house of the ELCE, he returned to Canada and has been a professor at CLTS since 2006 and its president since 2012. (Publisher's Website)
More Paul. Thanks be to God! This time, Tom Winger blesses us with insights on Ephesians. 

The fruit of decades of work and study (xvi), I was thankful for the author's association with Feuerhahn and Nagel (xviii), a highlight/outline of the epistle (2), an insightful comparison of 16:20-24 and Didache 10:6 (12), a review of the strong case for Pauline authorship (25ff, e.g. 47), a figure (79) showing P46, clarity on Baptism (112ff), the letter's relationship to Colossians (130ff), and an extensive review and explanation of rhetoric (153ff, e.g. 155, 161-2, 210/passim). That's just the introductory material!

Allow me to pick highlights of the main commentary text:
  • The extended discussion of baptism (222ff), including: "He is baptized as the one who is already 'bearing the sins of the world...'"
  • Ephesians 2:1-10. The chiastic structure is remarkable (279, 298). See also 2:11-22 (309ff)
  • The Mystery of Paul's Apostolic Mandate: The Gospel of Christ for the Gentiles (354ff)
  • The clarity of the 4:11 "pastors and teachers" section (449) and rejection of the modern retranslation of 4:12 (458ff, especially 461, 464)
  • 5:21b-33 (598ff). Prepare for premarital and marital counseling, brothers!

I love it when a new Concordia Commentary arrives. It is a "banner day," for I know that I will use and cherish these volumes throughout the rest of my ministry. 

If shelf space is the issue for you, go with the LOGOS digital versions. If funds are the issue, prioritize great confessional Lutheran commentaries like this over lesser books. Please invest in these volumes of Concordia Commentary. They are highly recommended!

Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

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