I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation at the University of St. Andrews on how divine warfare ideology shapes the argument of Ephesians. While finishing it, I envisioned writing a more popular version for the church. Just after completing the dissertation, my family and I became involved in an urban missional church in poverty-stricken Springfield, Ohio. This book was written in that wonderfully life-giving ministry context. I’ve called it a cultural and theological reading of Ephesians, but only because I hope measures up to something like that. It has received some very kind reviews thus far, but none better than by my friend Steve Guthrie, who told me that “it doesn’t read like a book of New Testament scholarship.”
I was asked by the series editors (who obviously hadn’t contacted anyone more qualified to that point) to contribute the volume on Paul to the series T&T Clark was publishing called Guides for the Perplexed. I wrote this volume as the introduction to Paul that I wish I had in my hands as an undergraduate. As a young Christian person I was eagerly studying Scripture but couldn’t find anything that got me right into Paul’s letters rather than difficult-to-follow debates in early 20th century Germany. At that point, I couldn’t put together how those discussions had anything to do with what I was reading in my Bible. I’ve come to realize that many scholars write introductions for one another rather than for students. I understand why. It’s difficult to generalize on issues and debates that have so many fine distinctions. One begins to write in order to avoid getting hammered in the scholarly reviews. I took the risk and wrote an introduction that I hope is helpful to undergraduates, beginning seminary students, and anyone interested in studying Paul.