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!
There are a number of people claiming that the accounts of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament are simply myths borrowed from pagan folklore, such as the stories of Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, and Mithras. The claim is that these myths are essentially the same story as the New Testament’s narrative of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. As Dan Brown claims in The Da Vinci Code, “Nothing in Christianity is original.”
To discover the truth about the claim that the Gospel writers borrowed from mythology, it is important to (1) unearth the history behind the assertions, (2) examine the actual portrayals of the false gods being compared to Christ, (3) expose any logical fallacies being made, and (4) look at why the New Testament Gospels are trustworthy depictions of the true and historical Jesus Christ.
The claim that Jesus was a myth or an exaggeration originated in the writings of liberal German theologians in the nineteenth century. They essentially said that Jesus was nothing more than a copy of popular dying-and-rising fertility gods in various places—Tammuz in Mesopotamia, Adonis in Syria, Attis in Asia Minor, and Horus in Egypt. Of note is the fact that none of the books containing these theories were taken seriously by the academics of the day. The assertion that Jesus was a recycled Tammuz, for example, was investigated by contemporary scholars and determined to be completely baseless. It has only been recently that these assertions have been resurrected, primarily due to the rise of the Internet and the mass distribution of information from unaccountable sources.
This leads us to the next area of investigation—do the mythological gods of antiquity really mirror the person of Jesus Christ? As an example, the Zeitgeist movie makes these claims about the Egyptian god Horus:
• He was born on December 25 of a virgin: Isis Mary
• A star in the East proclaimed his arrival
• Three kings came to adore the newborn “savior”
• He became a child prodigy teacher at age 12
• At age 30 he was “baptized” and began a “ministry”
• Horus had twelve “disciples”
• Horus was betrayed
• He was crucified
• He was buried for three days
• He was resurrected after three days
However, when the actual writings about Horus are competently examined, this is what we find:
• Horus was born to Isis; there is no mention in history of her being called “Mary.” Moreover, “Mary” is our Anglicized form of her real name, Miryam or Miriam. “Mary” was not even used in the original texts of Scripture.
• Isis was not a virgin; she was the widow of Osiris and conceived Horus with Osiris.
• Horus was born during month of Khoiak (Oct/Nov), not December 25. Further, there is no mention in the Bible as to Christ’s actual birth date.
• There is no record of three kings visiting Horus at his birth. The Bible never states the actual number of magi that came to see Christ.
• Horus is not a “savior” in any way; he did not die for anyone.
• There are no accounts of Horus being a teacher at the age of 12.
• Horus was not “baptized.” The only account of Horus that involves water is one story where Horus is torn to pieces, with Isis requesting the crocodile god to fish him out of the water.
• Horus did not have a “ministry.”
• Horus did not have 12 disciples. According to the Horus accounts, Horus had four demigods that followed him, and there are some indications of 16 human followers and an unknown number of blacksmiths that went into battle with him.
• There is no account of Horus being betrayed by a friend.
• Horus did not die by crucifixion. There are various accounts of Horus’ death, but none of them involve crucifixion.
• There is no account of Horus being buried for three days.
• Horus was not resurrected. There is no account of Horus coming out of the grave with the body he went in with. Some accounts have Horus/Osiris being brought back to life by Isis and then becoming the lord of the underworld.
When compared side by side, Jesus and Horus bear little, if any, resemblance to one another.
Jesus is also compared to Mithras by those claiming that Jesus Christ is a myth. All the above descriptions of Horus are applied to Mithras (e.g., born of a virgin, being crucified, rising in three days, etc.). But what does the Mithras myth actually say?
• He was born out of a solid rock, not from any woman.
• He battled first with the sun and then with a primeval bull, thought to be the first act of creation. Mithras killed the bull, which then became the ground of life for the human race.
• Mithras’s birth was celebrated on December 25, along with winter solstice.
• There is no mention of his being a great teacher.
• There is no mention of Mithras having 12 disciples. The idea that Mithras had 12 disciples may have come from a mural in which Mithras is surrounded by the twelve signs of the zodiac.
• Mithras had no bodily resurrection. Rather, when Mithras completed his earthly mission, he was taken to paradise in a chariot, alive and well. The early Christian writer Tertullian did write about Mithraic cultists re-enacting resurrection scenes, but this occurred well after New Testament times, so if any copycatting was done, it was Mithraism copying Christianity.
More examples can be given of Krishna, Attis, Dionysus, and other mythological gods, but the result is the same. In the end, the historical Jesus portrayed in the Bible is unique. The alleged similarities of Jesus’ story to pagan myths are greatly exaggerated. Further, while tales of Horus, Mithras, and others pre-date Christianity, there is very little historical record of the pre-Christian beliefs of those religions. The vast majority of the earliest writings of these religions date from the third and fourth centuries A.D. To assume that the pre-Christian beliefs of these religions (of which there is no record) were identical to their post-Christian beliefs is naive. It is more logical to attribute any similarities between these religions and Christianity to the religions’ copying Christian teaching about Jesus.
This leads us to the next area to examine: the logical fallacies committed by those claiming that Christianity borrowed from pagan mystery religions. We’ll consider two fallacies in particular: the fallacy of the false cause and the terminological fallacy.
If one thing precedes another, some conclude that the first thing must have caused the second. This is the fallacy of the false cause. A rooster may crow before the sunrise every morning, but that does not mean the rooster causes the sun to rise. Even if pre-Christian accounts of mythological gods closely resembled Christ (and they do not), it does not mean they caused the Gospel writers to invent a false Jesus. Making such a claim is akin to saying the TV series Star Trek caused the NASA Space Shuttle program.
The terminological fallacy occurs when words are redefined to prove a point. For example, the Zeitgeist movie says that Horus “began his ministry,” but the word ministry is being redefined. Horus had no actual “ministry”—nothing like that of Christ’s ministry. Those claiming a link between Mithras and Jesus talk about the “baptism” that initiated prospects into the Mithras cult, but what was it actually? Mithraic priests would place initiates into a pit, suspend a bull over the pit, and slit the bull’s stomach, covering the initiates in blood and gore. Such a practice bears no resemblance whatsoever to Christian baptism—a person going under water (symbolizing the death of Christ) and then coming back out of the water (symbolizing Christ’s resurrection). But advocates of a mythological Jesus deceptively use the same term, “baptism,” to describe both rites in hopes of linking the two.
This brings us to the subject of the truthfulness of the New Testament. No other work of antiquity has more evidence to its historical veracity than the New Testament. The New Testament has more writers (nine), better writers, and earlier writers than any other document from that era. Further, history testifies that these writers went to their deaths claiming that Jesus had risen from the dead. While some may die for a lie they think is true, no person dies for a lie he knows to be false. Think about it—if someone was about to crucify you upside down, as happened to the apostle Peter, and all you had to do to save your life was renounce a lie you had knowingly told, what would you do?
In addition, history has shown that it takes at least two generations to pass before myth can enter a historical account. That’s because, as long as there are eyewitnesses to an event, errors can be refuted and mythical embellishments can be exposed. All the Gospels of the New Testament were written during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses, with some of Paul’s Epistles being written as early as A.D. 50. Paul directly appeals to contemporary eyewitnesses to verify his testimony (1 Corinthians 15:6).
The New Testament attests to the fact that, in the first century, Jesus was not mistaken for any other god. When Paul preached in Athens, the elite thinkers of that city said, “‘He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,’—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean’” (Acts 17:18–20, NASB). Clearly, if Paul were simply rehashing stories of other gods, the Athenians would not have referred to his doctrine as a “new” and “strange” teaching. If dying-and-rising gods were plentiful in the first century, why, when the apostle Paul preached Jesus rising from the dead, did the Epicureans and Stoics not remark, “Ah, just like Horus and Mithras”?
In conclusion, the claim that Jesus is a copy of mythological gods originated with authors whose works have been discounted by academia, contain logical fallacies, and cannot compare to the New Testament Gospels, which have withstood nearly 2,000 years of intense scrutiny. The alleged parallels between Jesus and other gods disappear when the original myths are examined. The Jesus-is-a-myth theory relies on selective descriptions, redefined words, and false assumptions.
Jesus Christ is unique in history, with His voice rising above all false gods’ as He asks the question that ultimately determines a person’s eternal destiny: “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15).