Ephesians 4:9
(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
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(9, 10) These verses form a parenthesis, designed to bring out the pervading idea of this and the parallel Epistle—the Divine humanity of Christ as “filling all in all” and “gathering all things” into Himself.

(9) The lower parts of the earth.—This may mean either the regions of the earth, as “lower” than heaven, or the regions beneath the earth. The reasoning of the text in itself would be satisfied by the former. For St. Paul is simply arguing that the use of the phrase “ascended” from earth to heaven implies a previous corresponding descent, which must be from heaven to earth; exactly as in John 3:13, “No man hath ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven.” But form and usage of the phrase itself seem to point to the other meaning, which is held by almost all ancient interpreters and most moderns. It agrees with the strong expression of “filling all things,” in Ephesians 4:10, and is possibly suggested by the leading captive of the powers of hell and death. Though, perhaps, injurious to the strictness of the antithesis, it is quite accordant with St. Paul’s manner to introduce thus a fresh idea beyond the simple idea of descent, which is sufficient for his argument: “He descended—yea, even to the realms below.” For this idea is most apposite to that frequent reference to spiritual powers of evil found in this Epistle, and it may be thought to correspond by antithesis to the “far above all heavens” of the next verse.

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.Now that he ascended - That is, it is affirmed in the Psalm that he "ascended" - "Thou hast ascended on high." This implies that there must have been a previous "descent;" or, as applicable to the Messiah, "it is a truth that he previously descended." It is by no means certain that Paul meant to say that the "word" "ascended" demonstrated that there must have been a previous descent; but he probably means that in the case of Christ there was, "in fact," a descent into the lower parts of the earth first. The language used here will appropriately express his descent to earth.

Into the lower parts of the earth - To the lowest state of humiliation. This seems to be the fair meaning of the words. Heaven stands opposed to earth. One is above; the other is beneath. From the one Christ descended to the other; and he came not only to the earth, but he stooped to the most humble condition of humanity here; see Philippians 2:6-8; compare notes on Isaiah 44:23. Some have understood this of the grave; others of the region of departed spirits; but these interpretations do not seem to be necessary. It is the "earth itself" that stands in contrast with the heavens; and the idea is, that the Redeemer descended from his lofty eminence in heaven, and became a man of humble rank and condition; compare Psalm 139:15.

9. Paul reasons that (assuming Him to be God) His ascent implies a previous descent; and that the language of the Psalm can only refer to Christ, who first descended, then ascended. For God the Father does not ascend or descend. Yet the Psalm plainly refers to God (Eph 4:8, 17, 18). It must therefore be God the Son (Joh 6:33, 62). As He declares (Joh 3:13), "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven." Others, though they did not previously descend, have ascended; but none save Christ can be referred to in the Psalm as having done so; for it is of God it speaks.

lower parts of the earth—The antithesis or contrast to "far above all heavens," is the argument of Alford and others, to show that this phrase means more than simply the earth, namely, the regions beneath it, even as He ascended not merely to the visible heavens, but "far above" them. Moreover, His design "that He might fill all things" (Eph 4:10, Greek, "the whole universe of things") may imply the same. But see on [2368]Eph 4:10 on those words. Also the leading "captive" of the "captive hand" ("captivity") of satanic powers, may imply that the warfare reached to their habitation itself (Ps 63:9). Christ, as Lord of all, took possession first of the earth the unseen world beneath it (some conjecture that the region of the lost is in the central parts of our globe), then of heaven (Ac 2:27, 28). However, all we surely know is, that His soul at death descended to Hades, that is, underwent the ordinary condition of departed spirits of men. The leading captive of satanic powers here, is not said to be at His descent, but at His ascension; so that no argument can be drawn from it for a descent to the abodes of Satan. Ac 2:27, 28, and Ro 10:7, favor the view of the reference being simply to His descent to Hades. So Pearson in Exposition of the Creed (Php 2:10).

Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first? The apostle interprets the psalmist, and concludes that David, when he foretold Christ’s glorification, or ascending up to heaven, did likewise foresee his humiliation and descent to the earth: q.d. When David speaks of God in the flesh ascending up on high, he doth thereby imply, that he should first descend to the earth.

Into the lower parts of the earth; either simply the earth, as the lowest part of the visible world, and so opposed to heaven, from whence he came down, John 3:13 6:33,38,41,42,50,51; or the grave and state of the dead; or both rather, implying the whole of his humiliation, in opposition to his ascending, taken for the whole of his exaltation.

Now that he ascended,.... These words are a conclusion of Christ's descent from heaven, from his ascension thither; for had he not first descended from thence, it could not have been said of him that he ascended; for no man hath ascended to heaven but he that came down from heaven, John 3:13 and they are also an explanation of the sense of the psalmist in the above citation, which takes in his humiliation as well as his exaltation; which humiliation is signified by his descent into the earth:

what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? this the Papists understand of his decent into a place they call Limbus Patrum, which they make to be contiguous to hell; and where they say the patriarchs were detained till Christ's coming; and that he went thither to deliver them out of it; and that these are the captivity he led captive; all which is fictitious and fabulous: for certain it is, that the place where Abraham was with Lazarus in his bosom was not near to hell, but afar off, and that there was a great gulf between them, Luke 16:23 and the spirits or souls of the patriarchs returned to God that gave them, when separated from their bodies, as the souls of men do now, Ecclesiastes 12:7 nor did Christ enter any such feigned place at his death, but went to paradise, where the penitent thief was that day with him; nor were the patriarchs, but the principalities and powers Christ spoiled, the captivity he led captive and triumphed over: some interpret this of Christ's descent into hell, which must be understood not locally, but of his enduring the wrath of God for sin, which was equivalent to the torments of hell, and of his being in the state of the dead; but it may rather design the whole of his humiliation, as his descent from heaven and incarnation in the virgin's womb, where his human nature was curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth; and his humbling himself and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, when he was made sin and a curse for his people, and bore all the punishment due to their transgressions; and his being in Hades, in the state of the dead, in the grave, in the heart of the earth, as Jonah in the whale's belly: reference seems to be had to Psalm 139:15 where "the lower parts of the earth", is interpreted by the Targum on the place of , "his mother's womb"; and so it is by Jarchi, Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melec. The Alexandrian copy and the Ethiopic version leave out the word "first" in this clause.

(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the {h} lower parts of the earth?

(h) Down to the earth, which is the lowest part of the world.

is not a (Rabbinical) argument to show that the subject of the passage in the psalm is no other than Christ, in so far as of Him alone could be predicated that descending which, in speaking of ascending, must be presumed to have gone before (Michaelis, Koppe; Güder, von der Erschein

Ephesians 4:9 is not a (Rabbinical) argument to show that the subject of the passage in the psalm is no other than Christ, in so far as of Him alone could be predicated that descending which, in speaking of ascending, must be presumed to have gone before (Michaelis, Koppe; Güder, von der Erschein. Christi unter den Todten, p. 83; also my own earlier view). Such an argument would have been aimless, since the subject of the passage of the psalm in its Messianic fulfilment was self-evident; it would, moreover, not have even logical correctness, since, in fact, God Himself, as often in the O. T., might be thought of as the καταβάς who ἀνέβη. Paul rather brings out in Ephesians 4:9 what the ascension of Christ prophetically meant in Psalms 68 contains as its presupposition; and this for the end of showing[210] how the matter affirmed and supported by the passage of the psalm in Ephesians 4:7, namely, Christ’s bestowal of grace on all individuals respectively, stands in necessary connection with His general position of filling the whole universe; a function upon which He must have entered by His very descending into the depths of the earth and His ascending above all heavens (Ephesians 4:10).

δέ] carrying forward the argument: “but the ἈΝΈΒΗ, in order now to show you what is therewith said,” etc.

τὸ ἀνέβη] not: the word ἀνέβη, for this does not occur in the passage of the psalm, but the predicate ἀνέβη, which was contained in ἀναβάς.

τί ἐστιν] not: what of an extraordinary nature (Hoelemann), but simply: what is said therewith, what is implied in it? Comp. Matthew 9:13; John 16:17 f., John 10:6, al.

ὅτι καὶ κατέβη] that He also (not merely ascended, but also) descended. The having ascended presupposes the having descended. The correctness of this conclusion rests upon the admitted fact that the risen Christ had His original dwelling not upon earth, as Elijah had, but in the heaven, whither He went up; consequently He could not but have descended from this, if He has ascended. Comp. John 3:13.

The depth, however, into which He descended—whether, namely, merely to the earth, or deeper still into the subterranean world—is not to be inferred from the ἀνέβη itself, but was fixed with historic certainty in the believing consciousness of the readers; hence Paul could with good reason write not merely ὍΤΙ ΚΑῚ ΚΑΤΈΒΗ, but ὍΤΙ ΚΑῚ ΚΑΤ. ΕἸς ΤᾺ ΚΑΤΏΤΕΡΑ Τῆς Γῆς, i.e. into that which is deeper down than the earth, into Hades (κατέβην δόμον Ἄϊδος εἴσω, Hom. od. xxiii. 252; Ἀΐδαο δόμους ὑπὸ κεύθεσι γαίης ἔρχεαι, Il. xxii. 482; comp. Od. xxiv. 204; Soph. Ant. 816, Trach. 1088). He might also have designated Hades by τὰ κατώτατα τῆς γῆς, the lowest depth of the earth (תַּחְתִּיּוֹת הָאָרֶץ, LXX. Psalm 63:10; Prayer of Azar. 13; not Psalm 139:15, where “in the depths of the earth” is only a sensuous form of the conception “in secret”); but has purposely chosen that comparative expression—in which the genitive is that of comparison, not the partitive genitive—in order to impart as strong a colouring as possible to the depth of Hades, in contradiction to that heaven from which Christ descended; He descended deeper than the earth is (the earth being conceived of as a plane), in that He descended even into the sub terranean region beyond, into Hades. The goal of the humiliation Paul here designates locally, whereas at Php 2:8 he specifies it as respects the degree, namely, by μέχρι θανάτου κ.τ.λ., which, however, is as to substance in agreement with our passage, since the death of Christ had as its immediate consequence His descent into Hades (Luke 23:43; Matthew 12:40; Acts 2:27; 1 Peter 3:19), as, indeed, also at Php 2:10 (καταχθονίων) this descent is presupposed as having taken place in death. The explanation of the so-called descent into hell (Irenaeus in Pitra, Spicileg. Solesmense, I. p. 7; Tertullian, Jerome, Pelagius, Ambrosiaster, Erasmus, Estius, Calovius, Bengel, and many others, including Rückert, Olshausen, Delitzsch, Lechler, Ewald, Hoelemann, Bleek; Baur scenting Gnosticism) is therefore the right one,[211] because the object was to present Christ as the One who fills the whole universe, so that, with a view to His entering upon this His all-filling activity, He has previously with His victorious presence passed through the whole world, having descended from heaven into the utmost depth, and ascended from this depth to the utmost height—a view, which of necessity had to extend not merely to the earth, but even into the nether world, just because Christ, as was historically certain for every believer, had been in the nether world, and consequently, by virtue of His exaltation to the right hand of God, really had the two utmost limits of the universe, from below upwards, as the terminos a quo and ad quem of His triumphal progress. Further, had Paul intended only the descent to earth (Thomas, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Hammond, Michaelis, Fischer, de vitiis Lex. N.T., and many, including Winer, p. 470 [E. T. 666], Holzhausen, Meier, Matthies, Harless, Raebiger, p. 68 ff., Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Hofmann, p. 345, Bisping, Schenkel, Schmid, Bibl. Theol. II. p. 291, Reiche, Comm. crit. p. 174 f., Beyschlag, Christol. d. N.T. p. 228), it would not be easy to see why he should not have written merely κατέβη, or at any rate simply κατέβη εἰς τὴν γῆν or κατέβη εἰς τὴν γῆν κάτω (Acts 2:19), instead of employing the circumstantial and affected, but yet only feebly paraphrasing expression: into the lower regions, which are the earth (for so we should have to explain εἰς τὰ κατώτερα τῆς γῆς, understood only of the earth; see Winer, l.c. [E. T. 666]). This expression is only accounted for, sharp and telling, when it points the reader to a region lower than the earth, to that Hades, whither every reader knew that Christ had descended. Doubtless the apostle might have written simply εἰς ᾅδου (Acts 2:27) or ἕως ᾅδου (Matthew 11:23), or also εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον (Romans 10:7) or εἰς τὴν καρδίαν τῆς γῆς (Matthew 12:40); but the whole pathos of the passage, with its contrast of the extremes of depth and height, very naturally suggested the purposely chosen designation εἰς τὰ κατώτερα τῆς γῆς. The ordinary objection, that, in fact, Christ did not ascend from Hades, but from earth to heaven, is of no effect, because He has in reality returned, arisen and ascended from Hades, consequently Hades was the deepest terminus a quo of His ascension, as it had previously been the deepest terminus ad quem of His descent, and on this deepest turning-point all here depended, even apart from the fact that the long interval of forty days between resurrection and ascension is historically very problematic (see Remark subjoined to Luke 24:51). Nearest to our view come Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Bullinger, Drusius, Zachariae, and others, who, however, refer the passage only to the death and the burial (comp. also Erlang. Zeitschr. 1856, p. 284); whereas Calomesius, Witsius, Calixtus, and others (already Beza, by way of suggestion), appealing to Psalm 139:15, strangely enough interpret it of the descent into the womb.

[210] The view of Chrysostom, Theophylact, Erasmus, Cornelius a Lapide, and others, again taken up by Olshausen (comp. also Hofmann, l.c. 343), that Paul would by the example of Christ exhort to humility, is quite at variance with the context. And Rückert also is wrong in holding that ver. 9 contains only an incidental remark, which might equally well have been wanting.

[211] Thomasius, II. p. 262, is still doubtful on the question; Kahnis, I. p. 508, regards it as preponderantly probable. Calvin called it inepta, and Reiche falsa.

Ephesians 4:9. Τὸ δέ, ἀνέβη, τί ἐστιν εἰ μὴ ὅτι καὶ κατέβη πρῶτον: Now this, “He ascended,” what is it but that He also descended [first]? The TR inserts πρῶτον, with [389] [390]3[391]3[392] [393] [394], most cursives, Syr., Vulg., Goth., Arm., etc. The omission of πρῶτον is supported by [395] [396] [397] [398]*[399] [400], 17, Boh., Sah., Eth., etc. The documentary evidence is pretty fairly balanced. The preponderance, however, on the whole, is on the side of the omission, especially in view of transcriptional probabilities. The word is deleted by LTTr; while WH and RV give it a place in the margin. The δέ has its usual transitional force, but with something added. It continues the thought, but does that in the form of an explanation or application; cf. Galatians 2:2; Ephesians 5:3; see also Buttm., Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 303; Winer.-Moult., p. 553. What the precise point of the quotation is, and what the explanation amounts to which is thus introduced, are questions of no small difficulty. The answer will appear when the particular terms have been examined. The clause τὸ δέ, ἀνέβη is not to be taken as if Paul were limiting himself to a play upon the word. What follows shows that he had in view the historical fact expressed in the ἀναβάς, viz., the Ascension. As in Matthew 9:3; John 10:6; John 16:17, the τί ἐστιν has the force of—What does it mean? What is implied in the statement? And the reply given by Paul in ὅτι καὶ κατέβη is that the ascent presupposes a previous descent. This of course is not given as an inference of universal application, but as one that holds good in the case in view, and one which gives Paul the warrant to use the quotation as he does. In the Psalm it was Jehovah that ascended, but that was only after He had first descended to earth in behalf of His people from His proper habitation in heaven. And so the Giver of gifts to whom Paul desires to direct his readers was One who had first come down to earth before He ascended. It was the belief of those whom Paul addressed (cf. the express statement in John 3:13) that Christ’s proper abode was in heaven. That belief is here taken for granted, and the conclusion consequently is drawn that the Giver who ascended is Christ.—εἰς τὰ κατώτερα μέρη τῆς γῆς: into the lower parts of the earth. The locality or the extent of the descent is now defined. The question is whether the locality in view is this world as a scene of existence lower than heaven, or the under world as a deeper depth than earth itself. Does the sentence refer to Christ’s incarnation and the subjection to which He humbled Himself on earth even unto death? Or does it point to His descent to Hades? And if the latter is the case, in what aspect and with what particular significance is His visit to the world of the dead presented? On these questions there has been and there continues to be great diversity of opinion. Both interpretations have large support. That the “lower parts of the earth” mean simply earth itself in distinction from heaven is the view of Calv., Grot., Mich., Winer., Harl., Thom., Reiche, de Wette, Hofm., Beyschlag, Schweitzer, Weiss, Pfleid., Bisping, Abb., Haupt and others. That they mean Hades is the view favoured by the Copt. and Eth. Versions, and by such interpreters as Iren., Tertull., Jer., Erasm., Estius, Beng., Rück., Olsh., Del., Bleek, Mey., Alf., Ell. (on the whole), etc. Those who adopt this latter view, however, are not wholly at one. The great majority indeed, especially among Patristic and Lutheran exegetes, understand Paul to affirm that Christ after His death made a manifestation of Himself in triumph to the world of the departed, and fulfilled a certain ministry there. That ministry is understood by some, especially among the Fathers, to have been concerned with the release of the souls of OT saints from the Limbus Patrim; by others, especially among certain classes of modern commentators, to have been a new proclamation of grace to the whole world of the departed or to certain sections of the dead; cf. Pearson on the Creed, sub Art. v.; Salmond’s Christian Doctrine of Immortality, p. 421, etc. But there are those, especially Calvinistic theologians, who take the writer to mean nothing more, if he refers to Hades at all, than that like other men Christ passed at death into the world of the departed and had experience there of the power of death for a time. Some (e.g., Chrys., Theod., Oec.) are of opinion that the phrase points to the death or the burial of Christ, but do not press it beyond that. On the other hand, there are those (e.g., Von Soden, Abb.) who take the descent to be to earth and not to Hades, but instead of identifying it with the incarnation regard it as subsequent to the ascension. What then is the most reasonable interpretation?

[389] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[390] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[391] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

[392] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[393] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[394] Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. Ephesians 2:13-16.

[395] Autograph of the original scribe of א.

[396] Autograph of the original scribe of א.

[397] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[398] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

[399] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[400] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis (δ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

It must be said in the first place that neither grammar nor textual criticism gives a decisive answer. The τῆς γῆς may be taken equally well as the appos. gen., = “the lower parts which are or make the earth”; the poss. gen., = “the lower parts belonging to earth,” Hades being conceived to be part of the earth, but its lower part; or the comp. gen., = “the parts lower than the earth”. But the comparative idea is not more pertinent to the one main line of interpretation than to the other. The κατώτερα may mean the parts lower than the earth itself, i.e., Hades; but it may also mean the parts lower than heaven, i.e., the earth. Nor does the variety in reading affect the sense, though much has been made of it. The word μέρη is inserted after κατώτερα by [401] [402] [403] [404]3[405] [406] [407], Syr.-P., Boh., Vulg., Arm., Chrys., etc. It is omitted by [408]*[409], Goth., Eth., Iren., etc. It must be held, therefore, to belong to the text, but it is not inconsistent with either interpretation. The main arguments in favour of Hades being in view are these; that if earth were meant, it is difficult to understand why some simpler form such as εἰς τὴν γῆν or εἰς τὴν γῆν κάτω (Acts 2:19) was not chosen; that the use of so singular a phrase as τὰ κατώτερα, which recalls the LXX rendering for תַּחְתִּיּוֹת הָאָרֶץ, one of the OT expressions for the underworld, suggests at once that something lower than earth itself, a yet deeper depth, was intended (Mey.); that the accompanying phrases ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν and ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα, being expressions of largest extension, make it reasonable to give the widest possible sense also to the κατώτερα; and that justice is done to the peculiarity and the amplitude of the various expressions only by taking Paul’s idea to be that as Christ rose in order to fill the whole world, He had first to pass in His victorious power through all the great divisions of the universe—heaven above, earth beneath, and even the subterranean world, in the assertion of His universal sovereignty. But there is much to be said on the other side. The superlative formula to, τὰ κατώτατα would have been more in point if the idea to be expressed had been that of a depth than which there was none deeper (Abb.), or that of a descent embracing all the several parts of the universe. In point of fact, too, it is not τὰ κατώτερα, but τὰ κατώτατα, that the LXX employs in reproducing the Hebrew הָאָרֶץ תַּחְתִּיּוֹת. If Hades had been intended, it is strange that Paul did not select one or other of the more familiar and quite unambiguous phrases which are used elsewhere, e.g., ἕως ᾅδου (Matthew 11:23), εἰς ᾅδου (Acts 2:27), or such a formula as εἰς τὴν καρδίαν τῆς γῆς (Matthew 12:40), εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον (Romans 10:7). It is also to be considered that, granting it is the Ascension and not merely the Resurrection of Christ that is expressed by the ἀνέβη, it was not from Hades, but from earth that He did ascend. Further, the point immediately in view is not any work that Christ did in the world and its several parts, but the identity of the Person who descended, and ascended, and gave gifts. This is made sufficiently clear by the repeated αὐτός (Ephesians 4:10-11), and the idea of a Hades-visit or a Hades-ministry has no obvious relation to that. The great paragraph in Php 2:5-10, which is in some sense a parallel, has also to be taken into account. There again the whole statement turns upon the two great ideas of the incarnation with the humiliation involved in it and the exaltation, and nothing is said about any visit of Christ to the underworld. Here, too, the whole idea of a descent to Hades appears to be foreign to the thought. It is not suggested by the passage in the Psalm; for there is not a word about Sheol in it. Neither is there any indication of it in the context in the Epistle. For there the bestowal of gifts is referred not to Christ’s descent, but to His ascension, and no hint is given of any work done by Him in Hades with a view to that bestowal, or of any relation in which the world of the dead stands to His prerogative of giving. For these reasons we conclude that the phrase τὰ κατώτερα μέρη τῆς γῆς means the earth as a scene of existence, lower than His native heavens, to which Christ descended.

[401] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[402] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[403] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

[404] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[405] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[406] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[407] Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. Ephesians 2:13-16.

[408] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[409] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis (δ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

9. Now that he ascended] More lit., Now the [word, or thought,] He ascended.

what is it] As if to say, “What does it imply? It implies a previous descent, from the seat of royalty. And, in the light of the Fulfilment, this implied descent was ‘to the lower parts of the earth.’ ” The Apostle does not mean that the Psalm teaches anything special about the Descent, but that it implies a Descent, and that what that Descent was, Christians know. And the interest of the implied reference is, its supernatural correspondence in outline to Gospel facts; its imagery being of One who has left His throne and now returns upward.

first] Evidence is divided as to the right of this word to a place in the text. It is obviously, at worst, explanatory of the sense.

the lower parts of the earth] Does this mean “the lower regions, even the earth,” as distinct from heaven? Or, “the lower regions of the earth,” i.e. the region underground, the grave and its world? Our great theologian and critical scholar, Bp Pearson (Exposition of the Creed, Art. V.), inclines to the former view, with a reference to the Incarnation only. The phrase, so taken, may perhaps be illustrated by Isaiah 44:23; where, however, “lower parts of the earth” (LXX. “foundations of the earth”) may be contrasted with “mountains.” (Cp. also, perhaps, Psalm 139:15.) On the other hand Psalm 63:9 is distinctly in favour of a reference to “the grave.” Our judgment is on the whole for the second view, with a reference to the Death and Burial of the Incarnate Lord. Such a reference seems better to balance, in a sense, the phrase just below, “far above all heavens”; it falls in better with the amplitude of the words, “that He might fill all things” (cp. Romans 14:9); and it is in the manner of the N. T. to connect the Resurrection and Ascension as parts of one great whole. And the Lord’s Death is so profoundly concerned with the procurement of blessings to His Church that an allusion to it is à priori likely here.—Many of the Fathers (see Pearson’s notes under Art. V. of the Creed) take this passage to refer to a definite work done by the Lord in the under-world, a deliverance of the spirits of the Old Testament saints from a “Limbus” there. But certainly the words here teach nothing of the kind; only that He who suffered for us entered the state of disembodied souls, “the Grave,” “Sheol,” “Hades.” The mysterious passage 1 Peter 3:18-19, will at once occur in the question. But upon it we can only say here that it is too isolated, and involves too many problems of interpretation, to allow any great and peculiar article of belief to be built upon it; and, upon any view, its only explicit reference is to the generation of the Flood. See again Pearson. And for a different view from his, stated with great ability and insight, see Note II. to The Unsafe Anchor, by the Rev. C. F. Childe.

Ephesians 4:9. Τὸ δὲ, ἀνέβη, Now this fact, namely, that He ascended) Paul proves that the language of the psalm is to be referred to Christ; and the ascension is inferred from the descent; John 3:13. All beheld the sojourn of the Son of God upon the earth: they ought, from this fact, to have believed His ascension, which they did not see. There is a similar mode of reasoning at Acts 2:29, etc., Acts 13:36-37; and especially at Hebrews 2:8-9. The humble characteristics predicated of the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus; therefore the glorious things also predicated of the Messiah ought to be referred to Him.—κατέβη πρῶτον, He first descended) Paul takes for granted the Deity of Christ; for those who are of the earth, although they did not previously descend, obtain the privilege of ascent.—εἰς τὰ κατώτερα μέρη τῆς γῆς) not merely to the earth itself, but to the lowest parts of the earth [so that through all its depths nothing did He leave unvisited; comp. Ephesians 4:10.—V.g.] The highest heavens, or all the heavens, are opposed to the lowest parts of the earth, or to all parts of the earth. Christ, by His own power, took possession of all,—first of the earth, then of heaven. Men are joined with the mention of the earth; the captivity is joined with the mention of the lower parts.—τῆς γῆς, of the earth) in which men are.

Verse 9. - Now (the fact) that he ascended, what does it imply but that he descended first? The ascent implied a previous descent; that is, the ascent of the Son of God - of one who was himself in heaven, who was in the bosom of the Father (comp. John 3:13), implied that he had come down from heaven, a striking proof of his interest in and love for the children of men. And the descent was net merely to the ordinary condition of humanity, but to a more than ordinarily degraded condition, not merely to the surface of the earth, but to the lower parts of the earth. This has sometimes been interpreted of Hades, but surely without reason. If the expression denotes more than Christ's humble condition, it probably means the grave. This was the climax of Christ's humiliation; to be removed out of men's sight, as too offensive for them to look on - to be hidden away in the depths of the earth, in the grave, was indeed supremely humbling. The object is to show that, in bestowing gifts on men, Christ did not merely bring into play his inherent bountifulness as the Son of God, but acted as Mediator, by right of special purchase, through his work of humiliation on earth; and thus to lead us to think the more highly both of the Giver and of his gifts. Ephesians 4:9Now that He ascended

Ephesians 4:9 and Ephesians 4:10 are parenthetical, showing what the ascension of Christ presupposes. By descending into the depths and ascending above all, He entered upon His function of filling the whole universe, in virtue of which function He distributes gifts to men. See Ephesians 1:23. Rev., properly, inserts this, thus giving the force of the article which calls attention to the fact of ascension alluded to in the quotation. "Now the or this 'He ascended."'

What is it but

What does it imply?

Descended first (καὶ κατέβη)

His ascent implies a previous descent. A.V. reads first, following the Tex. Rec. πρῶτον. Rev., correctly, He also descended. Compare John 3:13.

The lower parts of the earth (τὰ κατώτερα μέρη τῆς γῆς)

The under world. The reference is to Christ's descent into Hades. Some give the words a comparative force, deeper than the earth.

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