Hodge’s commentary on Ephesians begins with a discussion of the geographic and political significance of the city of Ephesus, and the unique position in which the church there found itself. In particular, says Hodge, the church struggled with how best to resist idolatry and how to relate to their broader culture—not unlike issues faced by the contemporary church. Hodge also outlines Paul’s history with the church in Ephesus and the timeline of his work, including individuals with whom he met, disputes he resolved, and the other apostles who influenced the church in Ephesus. Hodge also notes the significance of Paul’s infamous confrontation with the supporters of Artemis, along with the relationship between the ensuing riot and the content of the Epistle. In addition to verse-by-verse commentary and linguistic and textual analysis of every chapter in Ephesians, Hodge also comments more broadly on trends in Ephesians scholarship. He examines German critics and higher criticism in general, and he evaluates nineteenth century commentaries on Ephesians.
Charles Hodge counts as one of the most influential theologians of the nineteenth century and one of Calvinism’s most ardent defenders in America. He was born in 1797 in Philadelphia to Hugh and Mary Hodge. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) in 1815, and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1821. In 1822, at the request of Archibald Alexander, he became a professor at Princeton, and taught biblical literature and systematic theology until 1878. From 1826 to 1828, Hodge also studied in Europe, and became acquainted with Friedrich Augustus Tholuck, Wilhelm Gesenius, Augustus Neander, and Friedrich Schleiermacher.
During his tenure at Princeton, Hodge instructed more than three thousand ministers, served as moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly in 1846, helped revise the Presbyterian Church’s Book of Discipline, and served on the Board of Foreign Missions. He also founded the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review and served as its editor for forty-three years. In addition to his systematic theology and four Bible commentaries, Hodge also wrote books on the Presbyterian Church and published numerous articles.
Charles Hodge died on June 19, 1878. Among his last words: “To be absent from the body is to be with the Lord, to be with the Lord is to see the Lord, to see the Lord is to be like him.”