Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and he gave gifts unto men.
a. NLT: That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.
b. NIV: This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.
c. YLT: Wherefore, he saith, 'Having gone up on high he led captive captivity, and gave gifts to men,' --
d. Amplified Bible Classic: Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men.
e. Worrell Translation: Wherefore, He saith, “Having ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”
f. Wuest Translation: Wherefore He says, Having ascended on high, He led away captive those taken captive and gave gifts to men.
1. “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive …”
a. Wherefore [Strong: 1352 dio dee-o' from 1223 and 3739; through which thing, i.e. consequently:--for which cause, therefore, wherefore.]
b. he saith [Strong: 3004 lego leg'-o a primary verb; properly, to "lay" forth, i.e. (figuratively) relate (in words (usually of systematic or set discourse; whereas 2036 and 5346 generally refer to an individual expression or speech respectively; while 4483 is properly to break silence merely, and 2980 means an extended or random harangue)); by implication, to mean:--ask, bid, boast, call, describe, give out, name, put forth, say(-ing, on), shew, speak, tell, utter.]
1). Here Paul is referring to something previously written in Scripture. This is another way of saying something similar to ‘As it is written’. This New Testament verse is taken from an Old Testament verse found in Psalms.
a). Psalms 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
2. “…When he ascended up on high…”
a. [When he] ascended 305 anabaino an-ab-ah'-ee-no from 303 and the base of 939; to go up (literally or figuratively):--arise, ascend (up), climb (go, grow, rise, spring) up, come (up).]
b. up [Strong: 1519 eis ice a primary preposition; to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result, etc.); also in adverbial phrases:--(abundant-)ly, against, among, as, at, (back-)ward, before, by, concerning, + continual, + far more exceeding, for (intent, purpose), fore, + forth, in (among, at, unto, -so much that, -to), to the intent that, + of one mind, + never, of, (up-)on, + perish, + set at one again, (so) that, therefore(-unto), throughout, til, to (be, the end, -ward), (here-)until(-to), ...ward, (where-)fore, with. Often used in composition with the same general import, but only with verbs (etc.) expressing motion (literally or figuratively).]
c. on high [Strong: 5311 hupsos hoop'-sos from a derivative of 5228; elevation, i.e. (abstractly) altitude, (specially), the sky, or (figuratively) dignity:--be exalted, height, (on) high.]
1). This is referring to Jesus ascending into heaven.
a). Like 24:50, 51 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
b). Mark 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
c). Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
2). Chronologically this ascension was 40 days after His resurrection.
3. “…he led captivity captive …”
a. [he led] captivity [Strong: 162 aichmaloteuo aheekh-mal-o-tew'-o from 164; to capture (like 163):--lead captive.]
b. captive [Strong: 161 aichmalosia aheekh-mal-o-see'-ah from 164; captivity:--captivity.]
1). The “captivity” that He led “captive” were the persons that had died under the Old Covenant who were prisoners in Abraham’s bosom. Jesus spoke of this in Luke 16. In this passage the earthly vail is pulled away and we see not only into the spirit world but also into the lower parts of the earth. We see that before the work of Christ on the cross, in hell and the resurrection, the righteous dead did not go to heaven, but went to a place inside the earth called Abraham’s bosom. At that time hell was divided into two compartments, a place for the righteous dead [Abraham’s bosom], and a place for the unrighteous dead [hell].
a). 1). Luke 16:19-31 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
2). A possible double meaning could be implied in Acts chapter one.
a). Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
b). The “cloud” being those who were led out of Abraham’s bosom, a cloud of witnesses.
c). Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
4. “…and he gave gifts unto men.”
a. and [Strong: 2532 kai kahee apparently, a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words:--and, also, both, but, even, for, if, or, so, that, then, therefore, when, yet.]
b. [he] gave [Strong: 1325 didomi did'-o-mee a prolonged form of a primary verb (which is used as an alternative in most of the tenses); to give (used in a very wide application, properly, or by implication, literally or figuratively; greatly modified by the connection):--adventure, bestow, bring forth, commit, deliver (up), give, grant, hinder, make, minister, number, offer, have power, put, receive, set, shew, smite (+ with the hand), strike (+ with the palm of the hand), suffer, take, utter, yield.]
c. gifts [Strong: 1390 doma dom'-ah from the base of 1325; a present:--gift.]
d. [to] men [Strong: 444 anthropos anth'-ro-pos from 435 and ops (the countenance; from 3700); man-faced, i.e. a human being:--certain, man.]
1). The gifts are the five fold ministry listed later in the passage and their purpose in the body of Christ.
a). Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: