HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE AND GAVE GIFTS TO MEN
The context of Ephesians 4:8 lies in the passage of Ephesians 4:1-16. Paul was speaking of the unity of the body of Christ which should inform the spiritual conduct of every believer. He declares that there is one Lord, one Faith, one baptism and by this he meant that believers are eternally united in Christ who purchased them with his shed blood.
He also recognizes that God has given each believer special gifts by which to minister to the body of Christ. These gifts and offices are set out in Ephesians 4:10-12 and the purpose of these gifts is clearly outlined in “Ephesians 4:12-13 where he teaches that these gifts and offices are “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
To understand Jesus “led captivity captive and gave gifts to men, we need to appreciate that Paul is foremost describing the death and resurrection of Christ by which he descended to lowest parts of the earth (place of the dead) and on the third day, He rose again with Power and in Glory. 1 Corinthians 15:4 says of Christ “He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures”
There is divided opinion on the meaning of the first part of Ephesians 4:8 regarding Christ having “led captivity captive”. Some theologians believe that the statement is symbolic of Christ’s victory over death in the same way that a triumphant ancient king led captives as he celebrated his victory. Matthew Henry Commentary observes concerning this verse: “As great conquerors, when they rode in their triumphal chariots, used to be attended with the most illustrious of their captives led in chains, and were wont to scatter their largess-es and bounty among the soldiers and other spectators of their triumphs, so Christ, when He ascended into heaven, as a triumphant conqueror, led captivity captive, He gave gifts to His followers”
Other Bible scholars view Paul’s statement here as a foreshadow of the triumph that Christ would make of His divine enemies when He comes to earth to conquer them and reign as Eternal King (Hebrews 1:13; 10:12-13). While this is futuristically true of Christ, the passage context favors the first interpretation because the passage clearly alludes to Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection on the third day. We can therefore deduce that Jesus snatched spiritual captives from Satan (cf. Matthew 27:52-53) and conquered Death and Hell (1 Corinthians 15:55) and empowered His Church to eternal victory.
Besides, Christ gave the church (believers in Him) gifts on His ascension when He sent the Holy Spirit to take His place as the Superintendent of His Church on earth.
Ordinary men like Peter were henceforth empowered by the Holy Spirit to minister for Christ so that the Church moved into all ages, resounding with the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Notice that Peter preached the first sermon under the influence of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and as scripture affirms “…the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)” Many other signs and wonders were performed by the apostles confirming that the Power of the Kingdom of God was now resident with men (Daniel 5:21b).
By taking captivity captive, Christ clearly demonstrated that henceforth “… the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5) and that Kingdom of God shall advance against the kingdom of darkness “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). This is the true Kingdom Power that Paul contemplated as he penned the letter to the Ephesians. The Church as Christ’s Kingdom agent on earth will conquer and break the strongholds of satan by the Power of the Risen Christ.
So, every child of God received something from the Lord, take time to discover what you have been given to fulfill His purpose on earth. Colossians 4:17 says, “And say to Archippus (insert your name), “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
ACT. 1: 10-11
“And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel: 11 Which also said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”
The “second coming” is the term used to refer to the future event when Jesus will return to Earth, conquer His enemies, and reign as King of the world. Jesus described His return in Matthew 24:30: “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” John saw Jesus as a mighty warrior in Revelation 19:11-16: “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the Name by which He is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has a Name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The concept of Jesus’ second coming was a mystery to Jews and Jesus’ followers until He ascended into heaven after His crucifixion and resurrection. The Jews knew of the suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) and the conquering King, but they didn’t understand that the work of the Servant and the work of the King would occur at two different times (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7; Zechariah 14:4). People laid down their coats and palm branches for Jesus during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem because they expected a military leader to save them from Roman rule. Even after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples didn’t understand He had to leave and return. After Jesus ascended to heaven, the angels explained to the confused disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
People today still confuse Jesus’ second coming with the rapture of the church, which occurs prior to Jesus’ second coming. The rapture is described in I Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” During the rapture, Jesus will come down to the skies to collect His followers, but He will not set foot on the Earth; He will remain in the air.
Zechariah 14:4 says that Jesus’ feet will “stand on the Mount of Olives.” When Jesus returns, He will fulfill prophecy, destroy His enemies (Zechariah 12:1-9; Revelation 19:15-16), gather and bless His people (Isaiah 11:11; Zechariah 12:10), and reign as King (Isaiah 11). We cannot know when Jesus’ second coming will occur (Matthew 24:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2), although we can look for signs—events that must occur beforehand (Matthew 24:4-29; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Revelation 6–18). Like the other prophecies about the end times, the promise of Jesus’ return is to give us encouragement (Titus 2:13) and to exhort us to continue to trust and obey Him (Matthew 25:19-21).
It is so amazing to see wives/husbands looking forward to the return of their spouses, children always love to see their parents return home, and laborers count calendar to the day they will receive their wages.
In all these, the relevant question for every professed child of God is: are you ready to receive Him back? are you prepared? are you even looking forward to this great return of our Lord, Master, Elder brother, our nearest kinsman, husband of the Church, Savior, Messiah, The Rewarder, Jesus The Christ.
OUR RISEN LORD!
Who is Worthy in the Heavens or on the earth to pay the debt of Sin for everyone?
Who can win the Victory over satan, death, hell and the grave?
He is The LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH, JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.
Ohhhh! He alone is Worthy!
To Worship and Adore!
The Lamb of God, Victorious- OUR RISEN LORD!
He purchased our Redemption
Our righteousness is HE
Please, Exhalt the Name of JESUS CHRIST, THE KING
HE IS WORTHY!
God has answers to all queries of Life
When Your Future Looks Uncertain, Meditate On These
At one time or another, all of us will face times of uncertainty. Maybe you graduated from college and have no idea what you will do this coming January. Perhaps you just lost your job. Or you’ve just moved to a new area where you know no one. Maybe you’ve just started a new job and feel overwhelmed at the challenges that loom before you. Maybe you’re single and wonder if you’ll ever get married. Has the doctor given you a medical prognosis that is heart rendering?
Your life may even be so uncertain you don’t know where your next meal will come from. The reality is that none of us are secure in this world except in Christ. Nothing is certain. We aren’t guaranteed our next meal. We aren’t even guaranteed our next heartbeat. Even when we feel secure, we are incredibly fragile and completely dependent on the Lord for every breath. But when we are particularly tempted about the future it is important for us to meditate
on these bedrock truths. My suggestion
would be to copy these verses and put them somewhere so you can see them regularly, like in your Bible or on your fridge. Even if you only meditate on the first three or four, God will use His Word to encourage your heart.
[bctt tweet=”When Your Future Looks Uncertain, Meditate On These” username=”@evangelbisola”]
- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
- I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
- Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. Psalm 37:37
- I will restore health to you, and I will heal all your wounds Jeremiah 30:17
- He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32
- Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17-18
- My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:13-14
- Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33
- For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
- My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. John 10:27-29
- Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” Hebrews 13:5
- . When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2
- You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
- I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. Psalm 37:25
No one will do it for you but you to encourage yourself in the Lord your God like David in 1Samuel 30:1-6. The Word of God cannot fail Psalms 119:89. The Name of God has never fail. David said “they look to Him and are radiant” Psalms 34:5. The love of God will not put you to shame. The Master of all-creation is in control.
If only you will call on Him today, He is just a breathe away and waiting for you to act Now.
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE WORD OF GOD?
Psalm 119 is an amazing Psalm, it is not only is it the longest Psalm (176 verses!), but it is also the Psalm that deals the most directly with the topic of Scripture. Virtually every verse, in one way or another, refers to God’s Word. David (who is most likely the author) uses a variety of terminology to describe God’s Word: commandments, law, statutes, precepts, ordinances, rules, words, testimonies, etc. These all refer to the Scriptures as they existed in David’s day (essentially the Pentateuch).[bctt tweet=”WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE WORD OF GOD?” username=”@evangelbisola”]
Thus, Psalm 119 is one of the best examples of Scripture speaking about Scripture. It is the Word about the Word. And in it, we find David interacting with the Word of God in five ways that should be paradigmatic for all believers:
Trusting the Word of God. Time and time again, David expresses his belief that the Scriptures are true (v.151). He believes in them (v.66). He trusts in their reliability (v.42). He states: “The sum of your word is truth” (v.160).
This first step is key. If a believer doesn’t really regard the Word of God as being fully and entirely trustworthy, then none of the other steps below will follow. This is why the church needs to be quick to deal with the repeated criticisms of the Bible that so often permeate our culture.
Studying the Word of God. David doesn’t just believe the Word; he is a student of the Word. He learns it (v.73), he seeks it (v.155), he has memorized it (v.153), and regularly meditates on it. This step ought to naturally for the follow the first one. If God’s Word really is true, then we ought to commit ourselves to being diligent studiers of the Word. We need to embrace it with our minds, as well as our hearts.
Using the Word of God. It’s one thing to believe and know the Word. It is another thing to rely on it. To look to it as a guide during the difficulties and challenges of life. To lean on it for encouragement and hope.
David repeatedly affirms that he uses the Word of God as a “counselor” (v.24), to give “strength” (v.28), and to bring “comfort in affliction” (v.50). He states, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v.105). In short, the Word of God is the very source of life for David (v.156).
This reminds us a very important attribute of God’s Word: it is alive. It is powerful and active. When we talk about the attributes of Scripture, we must remember that it is more than just a true book (encyclopedias can be true). It is also a living book. It is the place where the God of the universe meets us and manifests himself.
DELIGHT IN THE WORD
Delighting in the Word of God. What is amazing is that David takes things one step further than we might expect. It’s not just that he trusts, studies, and uses the Word of God. He actually has affection for it. He has a deep emotional affinity towards it. He “loves” God’s Word (v.159), he “rejoices” at his Word (v.162), the Word is “wondrous” (v.18), it is “better than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (v.72), and “sweeter than honey to my mouth” (v.103).
I am convinced that this is the missing piece for most believers today. For many, the Bible is viewed almost in a utilitarian fashion—it is a mechanical, sterile tool that Christians are supposed to use. It’s like taking your medicine.
In contrast, David has passion, zeal, and excitement for the law and commandments of God. And the reason for this is not hard to find. David loves God’s law not because he is a closet legalist. He loves God’s law because the law reflects God’s own nature and character. He loves God’s law because he loves God—and who God is and what he is like.
Any Christian who says they love God but then despises God’s law is living a life of contradiction. Indeed, they are living a life that is the opposite of Psalm 119. To love God is to love his law.
Obeying the Word of God. Not surprisingly, the prior four characteristics naturally lead to this last one. David repeatedly expresses his desire to actually obey God’s law. He wants to follow it, keep it, and fulfill it.
In our world today, the concept of “obeying the law” is not a popular one. Many see this as contrary to grace. However, two things should be kept in mind. One, David is not keeping the law in order to earn salvation—he is obeying out of love for God. He is obeying out of a heart of faith.
Second, we should remember that Jesus Himself was very much about “obeying the law.” Before we too quickly despise the concept of law-keeping, we should remember that Jesus delighted in keeping His Father’s law. And He kept it absolutely perfectly—for us. He obeyed on our behalf, and His righteous status is imputed to us by faith.
Indeed, Jesus embodies all five of these characteristics. He trusted, studied, used, delighted in, and obeyed God’s Word. In fact, He did all these things even more than the first David. While David certainly serves as an example of what to do with God’s word, Jesus is the ultimate example, the One greater than David has come; and He loved God’s Word because He is the Word JOHN 1:1.