He lead captivity captive

by Mike Ratliff

18 You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives;
You have received gifts among men,
Even among the rebellious also, that the Lord God may dwell there. Psalms 68:18 (NASB) 

8 Therefore it says,
“When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men.” Ephesians 4:8 (NASB) 

8 διὸ λέγει·
ἀναβὰς εἰς ὕψος ᾐχμαλώτευσεν αἰχμαλωσίαν,
ἔδωκεν δόματα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. Ephesians 4:8 (NA28)

8 Wherefore it says,
“Having ascended to the height He led captive captivity;
He gave gifts to men. Ephesians 4:8 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I confess that Ephesians 4:8 has always puzzled me. It became even stranger when I began to read it in Greek. As you can see, Ephesians 4:8 is a actually a “semi-quotation” of Psalm 68:18, which was a victory hymn celebrating God’s conquest of the Jebusites and His ascent (represented by the Ark of the Covenant) up Mount Zion (2 Samuel 6-7, 1 Chronicles 13). Soldiers captured by the enemy became “re-captured captives” and the spoils of war became the property of the conqueror to give as he wished. However, is that the context Paul has in mind in Ephesians 4:8?  Continue reading