Ephesians 4:8
Parallel Verses
New International Version
This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people."

New Living Translation
That is why the Scriptures say, "When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people."

English Standard Version
Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

New American Standard Bible
Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN."

King James Bible
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people.

International Standard Version
That is why God says, "When he went up to the highest place, he led captives into captivity and gave gifts to people."

NET Bible
Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he captured captives; he gave gifts to men."

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Therefore it is said, “He ascended to the heights and took captivity prisoner and he has given gifts to the children of men.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
That's why the Scriptures say: "When he went to the highest place, he took captive those who had captured us and gave gifts to people."

Jubilee Bible 2000
Therefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men.

King James 2000 Bible
Therefore he says, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

American King James Version
Why he said, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.

American Standard Version
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Wherefore he saith: Ascending on high, he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men.

Darby Bible Translation
Wherefore he says, Having ascended up on high, he has led captivity captive, and has given gifts to men.

English Revised Version
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men.

Webster's Bible Translation
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.

Weymouth New Testament
For this reason Scripture says: "He re-ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and gave gifts to men."

World English Bible
Therefore he says, "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men."

Young's Literal Translation
wherefore, he saith, 'Having gone up on high he led captive captivity, and gave gifts to men,' --
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

4:7-16 Unto every believer is given some gift of grace, for their mutual help. All is given as seems best to Christ to bestow upon every one. He received for them, that he might give to them, a large measure of gifts and graces; particularly the gift of the Holy Ghost. Not a mere head knowledge, or bare acknowledging Christ to be the Son of God, but such as brings trust and obedience. There is a fulness in Christ, and a measure of that fulness given in the counsel of God to every believer; but we never come to the perfect measure till we come to heaven. God's children are growing, as long as they are in this world; and the Christian's growth tends to the glory of Christ. The more a man finds himself drawn out to improve in his station, and according to his measure, all that he has received, to the spiritual good of others, he may the more certainly believe that he has the grace of sincere love and charity rooted in his heart.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 8. - Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men. The speaker is God, the author of Scripture, and the place is the sixty-eighth psalm. That psalm is a psalm of triumph, where the placing of the ark on Zion is celebrated as if it had been a great victory. As this quotation shows, the psalm in its deepest sense is Messianic, celebrating the victory of Christ. The substance rather than the words of the passage are given, for the second person ("thou hast ascended," etc.) is changed into the third; and whereas in the psalm it is said, "gave gifts to men," as modified by the apostle it is said, "received gifts for men." As in a literal triumph, the chiefs of the enemy's army are led captive, so the powers of darkness were led captive by Christ (captivity, αἰχμαλωσία, denotes prisoners); and as on occasion of a triumph the spoils of the enemy are made over to the conqueror, who again gives them away among the soldiers and people, so gifts were given to Christ after his triumph to be given by him to his Church. We must not force the analogy too far: the point is simply this - as a conqueror at a triumph gets gifts to distribute, so Christ, on his resurrection and ascension, got the Holy Spirit to bestow on his Church (comp. Ephesians 1:22).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Wherefore he saith,.... God in the Scripture, Psalm 68:18

when he ascended up on high; which is not to be understood of Moses's ascending up to the firmament at the giving of the law, as some Jewish writers (q) interpret it; for though Moses ascended to the top of Mount Sinai, yet it is never said that he went up to the firmament of heaven; nor of David's going up to the high fortresses of his enemies, as another of those writers (r) would have it; nor of God's ascent from Mount Sinai, when he gave the law, of which there is no mention in Scripture; but of the Messiah's ascension to heaven, which may very well be signified by this phrase, "on high"; see Psalm 102:19, and which ascension is to be taken not in a figurative, but literal sense, and as real, local, and visible, as Christ's ascension to heaven was; being from Mount Olivet, attended by angels, in the sight of his apostles, after he had conversed with them from the time of his resurrection forty days; and which ascension of his was in order to fulfil the type of the high priest entering into the most holy place; and to make intercession for his people, and to send down the Spirit with his gifts and graces to them, and to make way and prepare mansions of glory for them, and receive the glory promised and due to him: in the Hebrew text it is, "thou hast ascended"; there the psalmist speaks to the Messiah, here the apostle speaks of him; though the Arabic and Ethiopic read there, "he ascended", as here:

he led captivity captive; which is expressive of Christ's conquests and triumph over sin, Satan, the world, death, and the grave; and indeed, every spiritual enemy of his and his people, especially the devil, who leads men captive at his will, and is therefore called captivity, and his principalities and powers, whom Christ has spoiled and triumphed over; the allusion is to the public triumphs of the Romans, in which captives were led in chains, and exposed to open view (s):

and gave gifts unto men; meaning the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and particularly such as qualify men for the work of the ministry; these he received "in man"; in human nature, in that nature in which he ascended to heaven; , "in the man that is known above" (t), as say the Jews; and these he bestows on men, even rebellious ones, that the Lord God might dwell among them, and make them useful to others: wherefore the Jews have no reason to quarrel with the version of the apostle as they do (u); who, instead of "received gifts for" men, renders it, "gave gifts to men"; since the Messiah received in order to give, and gives in consequence of his having received them; and so Jarchi interprets the words, "to give them" to the children of men; and besides, as a learned man has observed (w), one and the same Hebrew word signifies to give and to receive; to which may be added that their own Targum renders it "and hast given gifts to the children of men"; and in like manner the Syriac and Arabic versions of Psalm 68:18 render the words; very likely the apostle might use the Syriac version, which is a very ancient one: it was customary at triumphs to give gifts to the soldiers (x), to which there is an allusion here.

(q) Targum & Jarchi in Psal. lxviii 18. (r) Aben Ezra in loc. (s) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 6. (t) Zohar in Numb. fol. 61. 4. (u) R. Isaac. Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 91. (w) Pocock. not. Misc. p. 24. (x) Alex. ab. Alex. ib. ut supra. (Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 6.)

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

8. Wherefore—"For which reason," namely, in order to intimate that Christ, the Head of the Church, is the author of all these different gifts, and that giving of them is an act of His "grace" [Estius].

he saith—God, whose word the Scripture is (Ps 68:18).

When he ascended—God is meant in the Psalm, represented by the ark, which was being brought up to Zion in triumph by David, after that "the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies" (2Sa 6:1-7:1; 1Ch 15:1-29). Paul quotes it of Christ ascending to heaven, who is therefore God.

captivity—that is, a band of captives. In the Psalm, the captive foes of David. In the antitypical meaning, the foes of Christ the Son of David, the devil, death, the curse, and sin (Col 2:15; 2Pe 2:4), led as it were in triumphal procession as a sign of the destruction of the foe.

gave gifts unto men—in the Psalm, "received gifts for men," Hebrew, "among men," that is, "thou hast received gifts" to distribute among men. As a conqueror distributes in token of his triumph the spoils of foes as gifts among his people. The impartation of the gifts and graces of the Spirit depended on Christ's ascension (Joh 7:39; 14:12). Paul stops short in the middle of the verse, and does not quote "that the Lord God might dwell among them." This, it is true, is partly fulfilled in Christians being an "habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph 2:22). But the Psalm (Ps 68:16) refers to "the Lord dwelling in Zion for ever"; the ascension amidst attendant angels, having as its counterpart the second advent amidst "thousands of angels" (Ps 68:17), accompanied by the restoration of Israel (Ps 68:22), the destruction of God's enemies and the resurrection (Ps 68:20, 21, 23), the conversion of the kingdoms of the world to the Lord at Jerusalem (Ps 68:29-34).

Ephesians 4:8 Additional Commentaries
Context
Unity in the Body
7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." 9(Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?…
Cross References
Judges 5:12
Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song! Arise, Barak! Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam.'

Psalm 68:18
When you ascended on high, you took many captives; you received gifts from people, even from the rebellious-- that you, LORD God, might dwell there.

Proverbs 30:4
Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know!

Ephesians 4:11
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,

Colossians 2:15
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Treasury of Scripture

Why he said, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.

When. See on

Psalm 68:18 You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive: you have …

he led.

Judges 5:12 Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, …

Colossians 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of …

captivity. or, a multitude of captives. and.

1 Samuel 30:26 And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil to the elders …

Esther 2:18 Then the king made a great feast to all his princes and his servants, …

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