Dr. John DelHousaye's New Book Engaging Ephesians

The Phoenix Seminary faculty work to produce a range of helpful resources for students, pastors, and many others in ministry. Today we are pleased to announce our newest faculty publication, an exegetical guide to the Greek text of Ephesians by Dr. John DelHousaye.

Engaging EphesiansI originally wrote Engaging Ephesians: An Intermediate Reader and Exegetical Guide for our students, specifically their third semester of New Testament Greek, but the project fit well as a tier three (intermediate) resource in the AGROS (Greek for “field”) series published by GlossaHouse. I worked very closely with Dr. Fredrick Long, my counterpart at Asbury Seminary and one of the editors for the series. He is preparing a commentary on Ephesians, so that his input greatly improved the work. I love GlossaHouse’s vision to offer affordable resources for students around the world.

Anyone who has worked through a first-year Greek primer can use this resource for deeper exegesis into Ephesians, a beautiful, almost poetic, distillation of Paul’s understanding of the gospel. (We find salvation by grace but for good works, personal reconciliation with God but also between people historically hostile to one another.) Despite the long sentences, a quality of Asiatic rhetoric that the apostle’s first readers anticipated, many find Ephesians (and its sister letter Colossians) to be the most accessible for a second-year Greek student. It is also a helpful resource for anyone wanting to get back into the Greek text after taking a break.

Engaging Ephesians explains the phenomena of the text of Ephesians in a way that allows readers to work through and understand it on their own. It is different from a commentary, which conveys the interpretation of the author. To this end, I note ambiguities and appropriate voices from several traditions. (Readers may find themselves agreeing with Calvin in some places but disagreeing in others. And this may be the only book in the world that compares the mystical Jesus Prayer from the Eastern Orthodox Church to the evangelism of Billy Graham.) I discuss most of the variants listed in the twenty-eighth edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, finding a general preference for Codex Sinaiticus (although noting copying errors in it), but also several from the Byzantine tradition that were not mentioned.

The book is divided into fourteen sections, which allows it to correspond perfectly with the length of a semester and be adopted as a course textbook. Of course, independent readers may go at their own pace. At the head of each weekly section, significant individuals and key terms are listed and expounded upon in subsequent commentary. In addition, each chapter has a vocabulary list for all words that occur fifty times or less in the Greek New Testament. Also helpful are discussions on matters such as literary structure, rhetoric, semantics, and syntax. This reader-friendly guide allows readers to engage Ephesians in a deep, profound, and faithful manner.

This project was a decade in the making, but I thank the Lord for allowing it to reach completion. I pray it encourages other brothers and sisters to read Scripture richly for the long journey of faith.

About the Author

Dr. John DelHousaye joined the faculty of Phoenix Seminary in 2001 and predominantly teaches the books and language of the New Testament. Learn more about him, his ministry, and research interests at his faculty page.

John DelHousaye on Praying the Nunc Dimittis

Simeon in the Temple, by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1631

Luke has given us three prayers for Advent—the Magnificat, the Benedictus, and the Nunc Dimittis. This meditation focuses on the third; I intend to offer context for the focus (kavanah) we bring to the prayer.

This section in Luke’s birth narrative of Jesus has four chiastic subunits:

A         Piety of Parents (2:21–24)

B          Simeon’s Piety (2:25–28a)

B′         Simeon’s Prayer (2:28b–32)

A′        Piety of Parents (2:33–35)

Luke frames the unit by emphasizing Mary and Joseph’s obedience to the Law of the Lord. In the first subunit, Jesus is circumcised and presented to the Lord in the temple. This was the first shedding of his blood. When God covenanted with Abraham, he commanded, “He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised” (Gen 17:12 ESV). God goes on to promise the birth of Isaac (vv. 15–27), and then paradoxically commands his sacrifice, although the son is ultimately spared (ch. 22). The presentation evokes the exodus when God killed all the first-born males in Egypt. Now God the Father will sacrifice his only Son.

At the center of the unit, Simeon “takes up” (dechomai, δέχομαι) the body of Christ (2:28a). The verb describes receiving something like a gift (see Phil 4:18). At the Lord’s Supper, “After taking up (dechomai) the cup and giving thanks,” Jesus said: “Take this and divide it among yourselves” (Luke 22:17).

Simeon had been yearning “for the comforting of Israel,” a motif in Isaiah. The prophet looks forward to the end of exile and a Davidic Messiah. After the first call for comfort (40:1), the ministry of the Baptist is foretold (vv. 3–5), a passage that is cited in the next chapter (Luke 3:4–6), and then we find this meditation on God’s promises and life’s brevity:

All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field . . .


The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word (rēma, ῥῆμα) of our God will stand forever. (Isa 40:6–8 ESV)

Simeon “blessed God and said:

‘Now you are releasing your servant, Master,
according to your word (rēma, ῥῆμα) in peace. [Isa 40:8]
For my eyes saw your salvation
that you prepared before (the face of) all the peoples,
a light for the revelation of the peoples
and glory of your people Israel.’”

The Nunc Dimittis (“Now as you dismiss”) has been sung or recited in the evening before sleep, a kind of death, since the fifth century and following the Lord’s Supper. Like the characters in the story, we bring our weariness of life to the Nunc Dimittis. T. S. Eliot expresses this suffering in A Song for Simeon (1928):

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

Yet God offers personally redemptive moments in a fallen world. We see the pattern with Jacob and Simeon, and we have all been given the Holy Spirit in the new covenant. Until then, as part of the body of Christ, we take up the bread and wine and pray expectantly. Instead of competing with other disciples or trying to control circumstances, we serve joyfully until our release. We have seen God’s intervention, and may go in peace.

About the Author

Dr. John DelHousaye joined the faculty of Phoenix Seminary in 2001 and predominantly teaches the books and language of the New Testament. Dr. DelHousaye serves the local church through preaching and teaching, as well as through the development of discipleship materials. His academic interests include Jesus, Judaism, the Church Fathers and Mothers, gender, justice, non-Western expressions of Christianity, and spiritual formation. He has taught at Seminario Evangelico de Lima and Arizona Christian University, also serving on the Advisory Council for Hope Women’s Center in Phoenix.