Ephesians 4:10
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
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(10) That he might fill all things.—Compare the description in Ephesians 1:23 of the Lord as “filling all in all.” In both cases the reference is more particularly to the gift of the fulness of His grace, flowing from His glorified humanity to all His members. But the words are too wide for any limitation. In heaven and earth, and the realms under the earth, His presence and sovereignty extends, by whatever means and over whatever beings He wills. In Revelation 5:13, accordingly, we read the ascription by “every creature in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth . . ., of blessing, honour, glory, and power to . . . the Lamb for ever and ever.”

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.He that descended is the same also that ascended - The same Redeemer came down from God, and returned to him. It was not a different being, but the same.

Far above all heavens - see the notes on Ephesians 1:20-23; compare Hebrews 7:26. He is gone above the visible heavens, and has ascended into the highest abodes of bliss; see the notes on 2 Corinthians 12:2.

That he might fill all things - Margin, "fulfil." The meaning is, "that he might fill all things by his influence, and direct and overrule all by his wisdom and power." Doddridge. See the notes on Ephesians 1:23.

10. all heavens—Greek, "all the heavens" (Heb 7:26; 4:14), Greek, "passed through the heavens" to the throne of God itself.

might fill—In Greek, the action is continued to the present time, both "might" and "may fill," namely, with His divine presence and Spirit, not with His glorified body. "Christ, as God, is present everywhere; as glorified man, He can be present anywhere" [Ellicott].

He that descended is the same also that ascended: he saith not, he that ascended is the same that descended, lest it should not be thought that Christ brought his body with him from heaven; but, on the contrary, he that descended is the same that ascended, to show that the Son of God did not by his descent become other than what he was, nor the assumption of the human nature add any thing to his person, as a man is not made another person by the clothes he puts on. Christ descended without change of place as being God, but ascended by changing place as man, yet, by communication of properties, whole Christ is said to have ascended.

Far above all heavens; all visible heavens, into the third heaven, or paradise. Acts 3:21 Hebrews 9:24.

That he might fill all things; all the members of his church, with gifts and graces. This began to be fulfilled, Acts 2:1-47, and still will be fulfilling to the end of the world: see John 7:39 16:7. He that descended is the same also that ascended,.... It was the same divine Person, the Son of God, who assumed human nature, and suffered in it, which is meant by his descent, who in that nature ascended up to heaven: this proves that Christ existed before he took flesh of the virgin; and that though he has two natures, yet he is but one person; and disproves the Popish notion of the descent of Christ's soul into Limbus or hell, locally taken: and this ascension of his was,

up far above all heavens: the visible heavens, the airy and starry heavens; Christ ascended far above these, and went into the third heaven, the holiest of all; and this is expressive of the exaltation of Christ, who is made higher than the heavens; and the end of his ascension was,

that he might fill all things, or "fulfil all things"; that were types of him, or predicted concerning him; that as he had fulfilled many things already by his incarnation doctrine, miracles, obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection from the dead; so he ascended on high that he might accomplish what was foretold concerning his ascension to heaven, and session at the right hand of God, and answer to the type of the high priest's entering once a year into the holiest of all: or that he might complete, perfect, and fill up all his offices; as the remainder of his priestly office, his intercession for his people; and more finally his prophetic office by the effusion of his Spirit; and more visibly his kingly office, by sending forth the rod of his strength out of Zion, and subduing the people under him: or that he might fill all places; as God he fills all places at once being infinite, immense, and omnipresent; as man, one after another; at his incarnation he dwelt with men on earth at his crucifixion he was lifted up between heaven and earth; at his death he descended into the lower parts of the earth, into hell, "Hades", or the grave; and at his resurrection stood upon the earth again, and had all power in heaven and in earth given him; and at his ascension he went through the airy and starry heavens, into the highest heaven; and so successively was in all places: or rather that he might fill all persons, all his elect, both Jews and Gentiles; and so the Arabic version renders it, "that he might fill all creatures"; as the Gentiles were called; particularly that he might fill each and everyone of his people with his grace and righteousness, with his Spirit, and the fruits of it, with spiritual knowledge and understanding, with food and gladness, with peace, joy and comfort; and all his churches with his gracious presence, and with officers and members, and all with gifts and graces suitable to their several stations and work.

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might {i} fill {k} all things.)

(i) Fill with his gifts.

(k) The Church.

Ephesians 4:10. Result from Ephesians 4:9, without οὖν, but thereby coming in the more vividly and with a certain triumph; “alio gravi dicto antecedentia complectitur aut absolvit” (Dissen, ad Pind. Exc. II. p. 278).

The prefixed ὁ καταβάς has the emphasis, which is further augmented by αὐτός:[212] The one who descended, just He, He precisely (identity of the person), is also the one who ascended on high above all heavens.

ὁ ἀναβὰς ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐραν.] points back to that ἈΝΑΒᾺς ΕἸς ὝΨΟς, Ephesians 4:8, more precisely defining this ΕἸς ὝΨΟς as the region highest of all. The expression “above all heavens” has its basis in the conception of seven heavens, which number is not to be diminished to three (Harless: ἀήρ, ΑἸΘΉΡ, ΤΡΊΤΟς ΟὐΡΑΝΌς; comp. Grotius, Meier, and others). See on 2 Corinthians 12:2. The ὙΠΕΡΆΝΩ (in the N.T. only here and Ephesians 1:21; Hebrews 9:5) describes the exaltation of Christ—clearly to be maintained as local—as the highest of all (comp. ὙΠΕΡΎΨΩΣΕ, Php 2:9), in such wise that He, having ascended through all heavens (ΔΙΕΛΗΛΥΘΌΤΑ ΤΟῪς ΟὐΡΑΝΟΎς, Hebrews 4:14), has seated Himself above in the highest heaven, as the ΣΎΝΘΡΟΝΟς of the Father, at the right hand of God. Comp. Hebrews 7:26 : ὙΨΗΛΌΤΕΡΟς ΤῶΝ ΟὐΡΑΝῶΝ ΓΕΝΌΜΕΝΟς. The spiritualistic impoverishing of this concrete conception to a mere denial of all “enclosure within the world” (Hofmann, II. 1, p. 535) is nothing but a rationalistic invention. Comp. Acts 7:56; Acts 3:21; Acts 1:9-11.

ἽΝΑ ΠΛΗΡΏΣῌ ΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ] points back to the bestowal of grace expressed in Ephesians 4:7, and prophetically confirmed in Ephesians 4:8, and that as expressing the universal relation into which Christ has entered towards the whole world by His exaltation from the lowest depth to the loftiest height; in which universal relation is also of necessity contained, as a special point, that bestowal of grace on all individuals. As intended aim, however (ἵνα), this ΠΛΗΡΟῦΝ ΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ stands related to the previous ascension of Christ from the uttermost depth, into which He had descended, to the uttermost height of heaven; because He had first, like a triumphing conqueror (see Ephesians 4:8), to take possession of His whole domain, i.e. the whole world from Hades to the highest heaven, in order now to wield His kingly sway over this domain, by virtue of which He was to fill the universe with His activity of sustaining and governing, and especially of providing all bestowal of grace. This was to be the all-embracing task of His kingly office, until the consummation indicated at 1 Corinthians 15:28. It is according to this view, and from Ephesians 1:23, self-evident that we have to explain πληρ. τὰ πάντα, neither with Koppe (following Anselm and others), de vaticiniorum complemento, nor with Rückert and Matthies, of the completion of the redeeming work; nor yet possibly to limit τὰ πάντα to the whole Christian community (Beza, Grotius, Morus, Flatt, Schenkel, and others). Comp. rather on Ephesians 1:23, and observe that in our passage that ἑνὶ δὲ ἑκάστῳ ἡμῶν ἐδόθη κ.τ.λ. of Ephesians 4:7 stands to this ἽΝΑ ΠΛΗΡΏΣῌ ΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ in the same relation of the species to the genus, as in Ephesians 1:23 ΤῸ ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ (ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ) does to ΤΟῦ ΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ ἘΝ ΠᾶΣΙ ΠΛΗΡΟΥΜΈΝΟΥ. The ubiquity of the body of Christ (Faber Stapulensis, Hunnius, and others; specially contended for by Calovius) is not here, any more than at Ephesians 1:23 or elsewhere, spoken of;[213] although, with Philippi, Hoelemann has still found it here, holding the conception of the purely dynamic πληροῦν τὰ πάντα as unrealizable, because Christ is in a glorified body. If this reason were valid, an absolute bodily omnipresence would result: it proves too much, and leads to a contradictio in adjecto, which could only receive a Docetic solution.

[212] οὐ γὰρ ἄλλος κατελήλυθε καὶ ἄλλος ἀνελήλυθεν, Theodoret.

[213] Wrongly are Oecumenius and Theophylact adduced as favouring this explanation. They, forsooth, very correctly refer the filling to the dominion and operation of Christ (comp. also Chrysostom), and observe with equal justice that Christ, after He had already before His incarnation filled all things by His purely divine nature, now, after having, as the Incarnate One, descended and ascended, does the filling of the universe μετὰ σαρκός (Oecumenius), i.e. so that in doing so He is in a different state than before, namely, clothed with a body, consequently as God-man.Ephesians 4:10. ὁ καταβάς, αὐτός ἐστι καὶ ὁ ἀναβάς: he that descended, he it is that also ascended (or, he himself also ascended). It was the first thought of every Christian mind that Christ had come down from heaven to live and work among men on earth for their salvation. Founding on this Paul declares that He who descended, whom all knew to be Christ, He and no other was also the Person who ascended. So he reminds his readers of the source of all the gifts in operation in the Church or enjoyed by individual Christians—the ascended Christ. A peculiar force is claimed by some (Von Soden, Abb., Bruston) for the καί in καὶ κατέβη. It is argued that it represents the descent as subsequent to the ascent, and contemporaneous with the giving of the gifts. So the point is taken to be this—that the ascent would have been without a purpose unless it had been followed by a descent. This, it is thought, is the reason why Paul pauses to say that the ascending implied also a descending and that the Person in view not only ascended but also descended. Hence what is in the writer’s mind here is held not to be the incarnation or humiliation of the pre-existent Christ, but the descent of the exalted Christ to His Church, supposed to be referred to also in such passages as Ephesians 2:17, Ephesians 3:17, Ephesians 5:31-32. But it is nowhere taught in the Pauline Epistles that a descent or a departure from heaven after the exaltation was necessary in order that the ascended Lord might bestow gifts upon His Church. The passages cited do not bear out any such idea. The first (Ephesians 2:17) does not refer to a coming of the glorified Christ; the second (Ephesians 3:17) speaks only of the spiritual presence of Christ in the heart; and the third (Ephesians 5:31-32) deals obviously with a “mystery” of relations, and has nothing to do with any coming of Christ out of heaven following on His ascension or required for the bestowal of His gifts. Nor is there any reason why the καί should have more than the familiar additive force.—ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν: up above all the heavens. So in Hebrews 7:27 our High Priest is described as ὑψηλότερος τῶν οὐρανῶν γενόμενος. There may be. an allusion here to the Jewish ideas of a gradation of heavens, a series of three or, as the case rather appears to stand, seven heavens, with which the Pauline τρίτος οὐρανός (2 Corinthians 12:2) may also be connected; on the conceptions of a plurality of heavens which prevailed among the Jews, the Babylonians and other ancient peoples, see the writer’s article on “Heaven” in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible. But the point of the phrase as we have it here is simply this—that whatever heavens there are or may be, Christ is above them all. So high has His ascension carried Him. It means the highest possible exaltation—the supremacy of One who shares in the sovereignty of God. For the term ὑπεράνω see on Ephesians 1:21.—ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα: that He might fill all things. The use of the conj. with ἵνα after a past tense may be due to the fact that the “filling” is to be viewed as a continuous action (Ell., Alf.; cf. Klotz, Devar., ii., p. 618), if it is not to be explained simply by the laxer employment of the conj. in NT Greek. The sense of fulfilling or completing hat been given by many to the πληρώσῃ. Thus the idea has been taken by some to be that of the fulfilling of prophecy (Anselm, etc.), the accomplishment of all things that Christ had to do in His redeeming mission (Rück.), the making of all perfect (Oltr.), etc. But, as in Ephesians 1:23, the verb has the sense of filling, and τὰ πάντα is to be taken again in its widest application, and is not to be restricted to the world of believers or to the Church of Jew and Gentile (Grot., Schenk., etc.). Nor is there anything to suggest that the ubiquity of Christ’s body is in view, as some Lutherans have argued (Hunn., Calov., etc.). The idea that is in the paragraph is not that of a “diffused and ubiquitous corporeity,” as Ellicott well expresses it, but that of a “pervading and energising omnipresence”. The thought is the larger one that the object of Christ’s ascension was that He might enter into regal relation with the whole world and in that position and prerogative bestow His gifts as He willed and as they were needed. He was exalted in order that He might take kingly sway, fill the universe with His activity as its Sovereign and Governor, and His Church with His presence as its Head, and provide His people with all needful grace and gifts. In OT prophecy to “fill heaven and earth” is the note of Deity (Jeremiah 23:24).—We may be in a position now to determine Paul’s object in introducing the passage from Psalms 68. and in applying it as he does. The general connection is clear enough. He bids his readers study lowliness, forbearance and unity, because there is one faith, one baptism, etc. They are not to be vexed or divided because one may have more of the gift of grace than another. All receive from Christ, each in his own way and measure as Christ wills; for, as the Psalm shows, all gifts come from Him. Now some take the point of the quotation to be this—He who is the subject of the Psalm is One whose seat is in heaven, a Sovereign Giver of gifts (Ell.). Others are of opinion that the words are cited in order to bring out the fact that Christ’s bestowal of gifts “stands in necessary connection with His general position of filling the whole universe” (Mey.). But the case appears to be less involved than that, and to turn simply on the identification of the Person who is the source of the gifts. Paul has spoken of the grace as given (ἐδόθη, Ephesians 4:7), and he has quoted the words of the Psalm which say that “he gave gifts” (ἔδωκεν δόματα, Ephesians 4:8). But he has not named the Giver. Now he explains that the Giver is Christ; and that this is indicated by the Psalm itself, because it sings of One who went up on high, and of an ascent which presupposed a previous descent. Thus he identifies the subject of the Psalm with Christ; as elsewhere the Jehovah of the Prophets and the Psalms is identified with the Christ of the Apostles, and what is affirmed of the former in the OT is ascribed to the latter in the NT.10. He that descended, &c.] As if to say, “Yes, He once descended, as a step in the process, a means to the great end; but now we have to dwell on the result; this Descender has now become by consequence the Ascended One, giving gifts from the Throne.” Both parts of the statement are emphatic, the fact and wonder of the Descent, and the triumph and result of the Ascent; and they are in deep connexion. But the main stress is on the latter.

far above all heavens] Lit., all the heavens. Cp. Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 7:26; where the ascended High Priest is revealed as “having passed through the heavens,” and as “become loftier than the heavens.”—Scripture gives no precise revelation as to the number or order of regions or spheres of the upper world, the unseen universe of life and bliss. But its frequent use of the plural in regard of it, as here, whatever the origin of the usage, sanctions the thought that the Blessed (angels and glorified men), while from other points of view eternally concentrated and in company, and doubtless able, under their spiritual conditions of existence, to realize and act upon their unity to a degree unimagined by us, are yet distributed, classed, and ordered. “The Rabbis spoke of two heavens, or seven” (Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, under the word Heaven; and see Wetstein on 2 Corinthians 12:2). St Paul himself speaks (2 Corinthians 12:2) of a “third heaven,” meaning, apparently, the immediate presence of God; possibly with a reference to the twofold division mentioned just above, and which, if so, is to some degree favoured by Scripture. The plain meaning of the present passage, in any case, is that the Lord passed through and beyond all regions of created blessedness into the region of the Throne. That Throne (we can only use the language of figure, permitted by the Scriptures,) is as truly “far above” the highest sphere of created life as it is “far above” the lowest. To both it stands in the mysterious relation of the uncreated to the created. Cp. Psalm 113:5-6. See further above, note on Ephesians 1:21.—From another point of view, He who is “far above” the heavens is (like His Father) “in heaven” (below, Ephesians 6:9). In this view, heaven includes the whole state of blessed existence, uncreated and created alike.

that he might fill] Possibly, “fulfil; i.e. every prophecy, of humiliation and glory. But St Paul’s usage favours the other version. He ascended that He might, not only in possibility but in act, “fill all things,” “with His presence, His sovereignty, His working by the Spirit; not with His glorified body, as some have thought” (Alford). “There is here no reference to a diffused and ubiquitous corporeity, but to a pervading and energizing omnipresence … Christ is perfect God, and perfect and glorified Man; as the former He is present everywhere, as the latter He can be present anywhere” (Bp Ellicott).Ephesians 4:10. Αὐτὸς) He, not another.—ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν, far above all heavens) A very sublime expression. Christ not only ascended into heaven, Mark 16:19, but through the heavens, Hebrews 4:14, note; above all heavens; the heaven [heavens] of heavens, Deuteronomy 10:14.—πληρώσῃ, might fill) by His presence and operations, with Himself.—τὰ πάντα) all things, the lowest and the highest; comp. Jeremiah 23:24, where also the LXX. use the word πληροῦν.Verse 10. - He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens. There was a proportion between the descent and the ascent. His descent was deep - into the lower parts of earth; but his ascent was more glorious than his descent had been humbling. The Hebrew idea of various heavens is brought in; the ascent was not merely to the third heaven, but far above all heavens. That he might fill all things. A very sublime view of the purpose for which Christ reigns on high. The specific idea with which the apostle started - to give gifts to men - is swallowed up for the moment by a view far grander and more comprehensive, "to fill all things." Jesus has gone on high to pour his glory and excellence over every creature in the universe who is the subject of grace, to be the Light of the world, the one Source of all good. As in the solar system it is from one sun that all the supplies of light and heat come, all the colors that beautify earth, sea, and sky, all the influences that ripen the grain and mature the fruit, all the chemical power that transforms and new-creates; so the ascended Jesus is the Sun of the universe; all healing, all life, all blessing are from him. It is quite in the manner of the apostle, when he introduces the mention of Christ, to be carried, in the contemplation of his person, far above the immediate occasion, and extol the infinite perfection and glory that distinguish him. Fill all things

Compare Ephesians 1:23.

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