Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 4:7 - 4:10

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 4:7 - 4:10

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Christ's gifts to the individual Christians:

v. 7. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

v. 8. Wherefore He saith, when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

v. 9. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

v. 10. He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens that He might fill all things.)

This bit of information very properly follows the instruction concerning the union of all believers in the holy Christian Church, for it throws the responsibility upon the individual as a member of the whole: But to every single one of us is given the grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. The union of all believers in Christ does not exclude the fact of their having received various and distinctive gifts of grace. With emphasis the apostle states that every single Christian has received special gifts or some special gift from God, which he should apply in the interest of the Church, for the benefit of the brethren. He is speaking of gifts of grace, evidence of which is to be seen in the various talents of preaching, teaching, organizing, governing, mission-work, tact in charity, etc. Every Christian, by reason of the grace which he has received, through the special spiritual talent which Christ distributes from His boundless hoard, is pledged to do his part toward the maintenance of unity and peace, as well as toward the further growth of the Church.

For the fact that Christ bestows such gifts of grace in the measure which He considers best, the apostle quotes a passage of the Old Testament, Psa_68:18, calling upon the witness of God for the truth of his statement: Ascending up on high, He led captivity captive, He gave gifts to men. Psa_68:1-35, in spite of all its references to the history of the Jews, is a Messianic psalm and speaks of the triumph of the Lord Jehovah, the promised Messiah, which was fully realized by His ascension to heaven, by His entering into the unlimited use of the authority and power which was transmitted to his human nature at the time of His incarnation. Of this exalted Christ Paul now says, no longer in the form of a direct quotation, but in a free use of the passage in the quoted psalm, that He bestows gifts upon men, various gifts of His grace, of which the apostle speaks also in other places, Rom_12:6.

Paul now adds an explanation of the passage quoted by him: But this, "He ascended," what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? The apostle does not mean to say that these two events are always correlated, but refers to the case of Jesus in particular. To His ascension to the right hand of Power in the heavenly places corresponds His descent and victorious entrance into the kingdom of Satan. Christ, having been made alive in the grave, as transfigured God-man, according to body and soul, descended into hell; and the same God-man then, before the eyes of His astounded disciples, ascended up into heaven bodily. See 1Pe_3:19-20. Thus Christ, by returning to life in the grave, had actually destroyed the power of death and of the prince of death, and His ascension was the triumphant entry of the Victor into the palace of heaven. In order to bring home this thought, Paul repeats it: He that descended, He it is that also ascended above all heavens, that Re might fill all things. The greatest height is here contrasted with the greatest depth. Above all created heavens Christ ascended, the height which He reached is the sitting at the right hand of His heavenly Father. And the object of the ascension was that He might fill all things. The exalted Christ now fills the universe with His almighty omnipresence, which fact assures us also of His gracious presence in His Church, to whose members He gives the gifts of His grace and mercy. Although the enemies of the Church, the devil and his angels, are not definitely and everlastingly bound and confined in their kingdom of darkness as yet, they are conquered, they are in Christ's power, they cannot hinder the growth of the Church, And the final triumph of the Church with Christ, made possible by the victory of Christ, is merely a matter of time. With the conversion of the last of God's elect the day of salvation in the endless joy of heaven will dawn.