|Dr. Couch, what is going on in Ephesians 4:7-on? And especially with verse 8 about Christ ascending and giving gifts to the captives?|
ANSWER: The apostle Paul reaches back to Psalm 68:18 and brings a verse forward that illustrates a victorious general who sets the captives free after a battle and then bestows upon them gifts. Ephesians 4:8 (quoting Psa. 68:18) reads: "When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men."
The apostle then writes that Christ came to earth (He descended into the lower parts of the earth) and then returned far above into the heavens, "that He might fill [or be in charge] of all things."
A.T. Robertson argues that Christ's Descending refers to His Incarnation when He came down "to the earth." This is a genitive of Apposition: Or, "He came down in reference to the earth." He then bestowed gifts to those in the church. Verse 7 better reads: "To each one of us (in the church) 'was gifted' according to the measure of Christ's gifts."
I wrote in my nationally published commentary on Galatians-Ephesians (AMG) that "The apostle Paul is arguing in the strongest manner for the deity, sovereignty, and preeminence of Christ as God the Son. No one can look carefully at these verses and deny this fact." Christ then gave gifts to the spiritual body of believers. He gave four offices to the church, not five as the ignorant Charismatics often argue. To the church He gave (1) apostles, (2) prophets (not telling the future but as teachers), (3) evangelists, (4) and pastors INDEED, THAT IS teachers. The "and" (kai) is making these two positions relating.
These gifted individuals are to build up the body of Christ: "Until all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (v. 13).
Psalm 68:18 is a hymn of victory in which God is praised for victory and deliverance. It is freely adapted by Paul, who regards its substance rather than its letter, and uses it as an expression of the divine triumph as fulfilled in Christ's victory over death and sin.—Vincent
We cannot do Bible study without knowledge of the Greek text or without good commentary material to help those who are deficient be able to see what is happening in the text.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (10/10)