The Purpose of God, An Exposition of Ephesians, by R. C. Sproul. Christian Focus Pulications, 2002. 159pp. (Hardcover) [Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko.]
A commentary on Ephesians is always welcome, for Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is a crown jewel among the New Testament books. It has as its main theme, “The glory of the church as the body of Christ.” It contains clear and unmistakable teachings on all the doctrines of sovereign and particular grace. Its emphasis on salvation by grace alone through faith permeates every part of it. Its practical section is a handbook on how the bride of Christ is to live during those years when she and her bridegroom are separated.
In many respects, this book is not a disappointment. When the doctrines of sovereign grace must be set down, Sproul does so in clear language. He has no truck with election based on foreseen faith in his discussion of Eph. 1:3, 4. His treatment of total depravity inEph. 2:1-3 is pointed and without compromise, with a clear rejection of Pelagianism. Eph. 2:8(“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”) fills the heart of the author with elation as he inveighs against any idea of merit in the work of salvation.
It is, however, a somewhat strange book. I say this, first of all, because it is really too short a commentary for this magnificent epistle. The whole book is 159 pages, and of these only slightly over 100 are actually devoted to commentary. The print is large and uncrowded; the exposition is very limited. But it is a strange book in another way. One wonders about the author’s priorities when he reads the commentary. Let me explain. Properly, Eph. 2:8receives a relatively lengthy treatment, but most of it is a discussion of the Popish doctrine of merit and Aristotle’s doctrine of cause.Eph. 2:10, a crucial text on the relation between salvation by grace and good works, receives one line. While the book discusses many Christian virtues and many sins which the church must avoid, most are only mentioned, while four pages are devoted to anger (Eph. 4:26, 27). The author includes a long discussion on feminism in connection with the calling of wives to submit to their husbands, but no discussion of divorce and remarriage is to be found, much less a biblical doctrine of marriage. The balance seems so wrong.
The book will not be of much help in sermon preparation, but it can and ought to serve two good purposes in our homes: 1) It is an excellent and sound survey of a most important book; 2) It will be of great help in preparation for Bible discussions on Ephesians in a Bible study group.