Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men." (Ephesians 4:8 NKJV)
ESV - 8 Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
In the cited verse, Paul is quoting Psalm 68:18, referring (at the time that the psalm was written) to events that would occur at the dedication of the temple on its mount in Jerusalem. As Paul later explains in the cited passage from Ephesians (Ephesians 4:11-12), this was also a prophetic reference to the future gifts of the Holy Spirit in the form of talents or skills with which God would endow members of the Church after Christ's ascension, with some being apostles, others being prophets, and still others being evangelists and teachers. The reference to captivity being led captive refers to God subduing the enemies of the Church (both human and spiritual), just as He had done formerly to Israel's enemies in Old Testament times.
There are sister verses in 2 Corinthians 10 that are related to this verse in Ephesians 4:8, (verses excerpted from Psalm 68:18): "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the tearing down of strongholds, as we tear down speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is fulfilled." (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). The image here is really cool, because it is of Christ leading an entire standing army of fellow 'conquerors' into heaven including a long train or caravan of 'prisoners,' the way returning generals of ancient armies used to triumphantly parade back to their homeland and capital city with the material spoils and human captives captured during their great victory. In the mind of God, Christ is still leading this massive victory caravan into heaven, including us His fellow 'conquerors.' He is already seated, but the 'ascension' continues until 'our obedience is complete.' Unlike earthly generals, our 'prisoners' include every human 'thought' containing falsehoods and defamatory language about Jesus and God the Father. Along the way, we are expected to reveal them as 'gifts' given to us by Christ. We do this over the successive generations by 'reinterpreting' them and purging them of all divine defamation. So any newly revealed 'thought' is part of this ongoing process too. The former 'speculative fortresses' have fallen, (pagan religious systems), while any good element of God's original Creation once being twisted and exploited to attract people to that system of false worship has been 'captured' and is now being reinterpreted to serve Christ and His new social systems of liberty and public service. You should note that no one is enthusiastic about actually reestablishing these ancient pagan religious systems because even modern pagans appreciate the new liberty, abundant resources, cross-tribal integration, and shared knowledge brought about by Christ's new social models for family, business and farm, (Mark 10:29-31). Yet, they are actively establishing new 'fortresses of speculation,' (including a new 'atheistic' branch of the science revealed by the Holy Spirit inside the first 'university' system). This too contains many waiting 'gifts' as Christians inspired by the Holy Spirit begin to acknowledge them as part of this same sacred process of revelation, capture, reinterpretation and restored glorification of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. This will continue until our full 'obedience is complete.' Why? The full original verse in Psalm 68 answers this broader question for us: "You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men, Even among the rebellious also, that Yah—God—may dwell there." (Psalm 68:18). The earth itself is being prepared by this process for our Lord's return and His fulfilled promise to dwell among us Himself, personally.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.