Is Ephesians the Greatest Book in the Bible?

Is Ephesians the Greatest Book in the Bible? November 4, 2007

Fred Sanders has a great post interacting with Thomas Goodwin’s exalted view of Ephesians. Goodwin is not alone. In the “Introduction” to his series on Ephesians, Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote this:

“It is very difficult to speak of [Ephesians] in a controlled manner because of its greatness and because of its sublimity. Many have tried to describe it. One writer has described it as ‘the crown and climax of Pauline theology’. Another has said that it is ‘the distilled essence of the Christian religion, the most authoritative and most consummate compendium of our holy Christian faith’. What language! And it is by no means exaggerated.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Photo by Iain Murray. . . . the peculiar feature and characteristic of the Epistle to the Ephesians is that here the Apostle seems to be, as he puts it himself, in ‘the heavenly places’, and he is looking down at the great panorama of salvation and redemption . . . The result is that in this Epistle there is very little controversy; and that is so because his great concern here was to give to the Ephesians . . . a panoramic view of this wondrous and glorious work of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

. . . Luther says of the Epistle to the Romans that it is ‘the most important document in the New Testament, the gospel in its purest expression’, and in many ways I agree that there is no purer, plainer statement of the gospel than in the Epistle to the Romans. Accepting that as true, I would venture to add if the Epistle to the Romans is the purest expression of the gospel, the Epistle to the Ephesians is the sublimest and the most majestic expression of it. . . .There are statements and passages in this Epistle which really baffle description. The great Apostle piles epithet upon epithet, adjective upon adjective, and still he cannot express himself adequately. There are passages in [the] first chapter, and others in the third chapter, especially towards its end, where the Apostle is carried out above and beyond himself and loses and abandons himself in a great outburst of worship and praise and thanksgiving. I repeat, therefore, that there is nothing more sublime in the whole range of Scripture than this Epistle to the Ephesians.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. God’s Ultimate Purpose—An Exposition of Ephesians 1, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1978, pp. 11-12.

It seems then that Lloyd-Jones ranked Ephesians very highly indeed. I suspect it is only his challenging views on ‘sealing with the Spirit’ that have stopped the Doctor’s far shorter work on Ephesians from being as well known as his major work on Romans. I strongly urge every would-be preacher to do what I did decades ago and get yourself a copy and read through Ephesians with Martyn Lloyd-Jones as your guide.

Anyway, here is Fred:

[Goodwin] quotes Jerome’s comment that Ephesians is “like the heart in the midst of the body,” (quomodo cor animalis in medio est), and says that just as the heart is “the prime seat and fountain of spirits, and the fullest thereof,” Ephesians has everything important in it that you can find anywhere in Scripture. In fact, it has “more of the spirits, the quintessence of the mysteries of Christ,” than can be found anywhere else in the Bible.

And in case you don’t believe Goodwin or Jerome, Goodwin hazards the observation that Paul himself seemed to be aware that he’d written something especially specially special: In Ephesians 3:3, Paul says that a rich treasury of insight into the mystery of the gospel had been given to him, “as I said before.” Goodwin thinks “as I said before” means “up there, the last couple of chapters.”

If you are interested in finding out more about Ephesians, feel free to follow along with our church as we preach our way through this amazing book. Either subscribe to our podcast or visit Jubilee Church, London.

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