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Ephesians 4:7-10

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I'm feeling energized this morning. My heart is thankful to the Lord for a variety of things. Sometimes those valleys just get so old, and trudging forward is monotoneous at best.


2 days ago, I couldn't lay down without turning my mind off from every thought that would come to me...it was just too stressed and painful. Today, my heart sings praises of Him, my shoulders seem lighter and I'm FEELING the hope, and not only just faithfully trusting in it.


I'm grateful for days like this because I know that spiritual battle rages on. I've been given a moment of respite, where I can take a breath, before He leads me back into that battle.


I'm about to make another payment on my mortgage, and will only have 4 left to go. It has been one of the hardest commitments I've ever had, and one that seemed impossible, but that somehow, in that way only He can do, is and has been accomplished in a miraculous way that leaves no room for doubt that He is faithful and just...that He is Holy and He loves me.


My childrens hearts are filling up with hope again too. Not because 'mom' has been able to accomplish this or that, but because God is faithful and is allowing them to see that.


It's been a hard year, filled with heartbreak, unknowns and blind trust. It has also been the most intensely intimate time with the Lord that I've ever experienced. I've felt His power and His glory in a variety of ways, and it was and is, always always always always always Him...Him that is exceedingly able to do ALL things...




Holy Father,


Thank You for this respite. Thank You for this opportunity to praise You and thank You and to recognize in public how great You truly are.


I love You, I need You, I'm absolutely blown away by the work You are accomplishing in this Ephesians study. Not only with me, but so many others and I give You literally, from the bottom of my heart, ALL the praise, ALL the glory...


I just love You so much.


Let today's study be filled with Your Spirit. Let all who read it see exactly that, which You desire to teach us.



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


Calvin writes, "But to every one. He now describes the manner in which God establishes and preserves among us a mutual relation. No member of the body of Christ is endowed with such perfection as to be able, without the assistance of others, to supply his own necessities. A certain proportion is allotted to each; and it is only by communicating with each other, that all enjoy what is sufficient for maintaining their respective places in the body. The diversity of gifts is discussed in another Epistle, and very nearly with the same object.


“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit”

(1 Corinthians 12:4.)


Such a diversity, we are there taught, is so far from injuring, that it tends to promote and strengthen, the harmony of believers.


The meaning of this verse may be thus summed up. “On no one has God bestowed all things. Each has received a certain measure. Being thus dependent on each other, they find it necessary to throw their individual gifts into the common stock, and thus to render mutual aid.” The words grace and gift remind us that, whatever may be our attainments, we ought not to be proud of them, because they lay us under deeper obligations to God. These blessings are said to be the gift of Christ; for, as the apostle, first of all, mentioned the Father, so his aim, as we shall see, is to represent all that we are, and all that we have, as gathered together in Christ."


This really hit me, "The words grace and gift remind us that, whatever may be our attainments, we ought not to be proud of them, because they lay us under deeper obligations to God." I'm beginning to learn some of the gifts that God has given me...some I never knew were there. Only God knows which gifts are perfect for us, and that those particular gifts given, are the exact ones that we would find such joy and fulfillment in. I think it is VERY appropriate to remind ourselves that those gifts aren't given to puff us up with pride...they're not given so that we can then elevate ourselves above others, because one thing I know without a shadow of a doubt, is that if and when I ever puff up with pride, the next thing I'm guaranteed of is that I'll fall flat on my face. Those times are so hurtful so I'm especially cognizant of the need to always be aware and careful that I remember I really am 'so not all that', and HE is my everything.


Clarke comments, "Unto every one of us is given grace] Grace may here signify a particular office; as if the apostle had said: Though we are all equal in the respects already mentioned, yet we have all different offices and situations to fill up in the Church and in the world; and we receive a free gift from Christ, according to the nature of the office, that we may be able to discharge it according to his own mind. So the free gift, which we receive from Christ, is according to the office or function which he has given us to fulfill; and the office is according to that free gift, each suited to the other."


Note to self...these gifts are given to bring glory to Jesus.


Henry writes, " Consider the variety of gifts that Christ has bestowed among Christians: But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Though the members of Christ's church agree in so many things, yet there are some things wherein they differ: but this should breed no difference of affection among them, since they are all derived from the same bountiful author and designed for the same great ends. Unto every one of us Christians is given grace, some gift of grace, in some kind or degree or other, for the mutual help of one another. Unto every one of us ministers is given grace; to some a greater measure of gifts, to others a less measure. The different gifts of Christ's ministers proved a great occasion of contention among the first Christians: one was for Paul, and another for Apollos. The apostle shows that they had no reason to quarrel about them, but all the reason in the world to agree in the joint use of them, for common edification; because all was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ, in such a measure as seemed best to Christ to bestow upon every one. Observe, All the ministers, and all the members of Christ, owe all the gifts and graces that they are possessed of to him; and this is a good reason why we should love one another, because to every one of us is given grace. All to whom Christ has given grace, and on whom he has bestowed his gifts (though they are of different sizes, different names, and different sentiments, yet), ought to love one another. The apostle takes this occasion to specify some of the gifts which Christ bestowed."


The gifts we have been given through His grace are to be used to help one another...they're not meant for self edification purposes, but to give to others.


The image in my mind is of me standing there with NOTHING, and Christ reaching out, and because of His love and grace and mercy, hands me a gift, which He desires that I use to glorify Him. I had nothing to begin with, and I have nothing without Him, so this gift still belongs to Him and was given out of His love for me. This concept is something I think I need to remember constantly...that I hold in my hands, a 'holy thing'. It scares me inside to even think about blatently disrespecting this 'holy thing' that I have been entrusted with. We really do walk on holy ground when we're handling holy things...there is a great responsibility that goes with that, that I know I many times forget.


Burn that in my heart, Lord Jesus, that I remember that what I hold in my hands belongs to the Holy One.


8. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.


Calvin shares, "Therefore he saith. To serve the purpose of his argument, Paul has departed not a little from the true meaning of this quotation. Wicked men charge him with having made an unfair use of Scripture. The Jews go still farther, and, for the sake of giving to their accusations a greater air of plausibility, maliciously pervert the natural meaning of this passage. What is said of God, is applied by them to David or to the people. “David, or the people,” they say, “ascended on high, when, in consequence of many victories, they rose superior to their enemies.” But a careful examination of the Psalm will convince any reader that the words, he ascended up on high, are applied strictly to God alone.


The whole Psalm may be regarded as an ἐπίνικιον, a song of triumph, which David sings to God on account of the victories which he had obtained; but, taking occasion from the narrative of his own exploits, he makes a passing survey of the astonishing deliverances which the Lord had formerly wrought for his people. His object is to shew, that we ought to contemplate in the history of the Church the glorious power and goodness of God; and among other things he says, Thou hast ascended on high. (Psalm 68:18.) The flesh is apt to imagine that God remains idle and asleep, when he does not openly execute his judgments. To the view of men, when the Church is oppressed, God is in some manner humbled; but, when he stretches out his avenging arm for her deliverance, he then appears to rouse himself, and to ascend his throne of judgment.


“Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts; he put them to a perpetual reproach.”

(Psalm 78:65, 66.)


This mode of expression is sufficiently common and familiar; and, in short, the deliverance of the Church is here called the ascension of God.


Perceiving that it is a song of triumph, in which David celebrates all the victories which God had wrought for the salvation of his Church, Paul very properly quoted the account given of God’s ascension, and applied it to the person of Christ. The noblest triumph which God ever gained was when Christ, after subduing sin, conquering death, and putting Satan to flight, rose majestically to heaven, that he might exercise his glorious reign over the Church. Hitherto there is no ground for the objection, that Paul has applied this quotation in a manner inconsistent with the design of the Psalmist. The continued existence of the Church is represented by David to be a manifestation of the Divine glory. But no ascension of God more triumphant or memorable will ever occur, than that which took place when Christ was carried up to the right hand of the Father, that he might rule over all authorities and powers, and might become the everlasting guardian and protector of his people.


He led captivity captive. Captivity is a collective noun for captive enemies; and the plain meaning is, that God reduced his enemies to subjection, which was more fully accomplished in Christ than in any other way. He has not only gained a complete victory over the devil, and sin, and death, and all the power of hell, — but out of rebels he forms every day “a willing people,” (Psalm 110:3,) when he subdues by his word the obstinacy of our flesh. On the other hand, his enemies — to which class all wicked men belong — are held bound by chains of iron, and are restrained by his power from exerting their fury beyond the limits which he shall assign.


And gave gifts to men. There is rather more difficulty in this clause; for the words of the Psalm are, “thou hast received gifts for men,” while the apostle changes this expression into gave gifts, and thus appears to exhibit an opposite meaning. Still there is no absurdity here; for Paul does not always quote the exact words of Scripture, but, after referring to the passage, satisfies himself with conveying the substance of it in his own language. Now, it is clear that the gifts which David mentions were not received by God for himself, but for his people; and accordingly we are told, in an earlier part of the Psalm, that “the spoil” had been “divided” among the families of Israel. (Psalm 68:12.) Since therefore the intention of receiving was to give gifts, Paul can hardly be said to have departed from the substance, whatever alteration there may be in the words.


At the same time, I am inclined to a different opinion, that Paul purposely changed the word, and employed it, not as taken out of the Psalm, but as an expression of his own, adapted to the present occasion. Having quoted from the Psalm a few words descriptive of Christ’s ascension, he adds, in his own language, and gave gifts, — for the purpose of drawing a comparison between the greater and the less. Paul intends to shew, that this ascension of God in the person of Christ was far more illustrious than the ancient triumphs of the Church; because it is a more honorable distinction for a conqueror to dispense his bounty largely to all classes, than to gather spoils from the vanquished.


The interpretation given by some, that Christ received from the Father what he would distribute to us, is forced, and utterly at variance with the apostle’s purpose. No solution of the difficulty, in my opinion, is more natural than this. Having made a brief quotation from the Psalm, Paul took the liberty of adding a statement, which, though not contained in the Psalm, is true in reference to Christ — a statement, too, by which the ascension of Christ is proved to be more illustrious, and more worthy of admiration, than those ancient manifestations of the Divine glory which David enumerates."


"but out of rebels he forms every day “a willing people,” (Psalm 110:3,) when he subdues by his word the obstinacy of our flesh." If that ain't me, I don't know what is. *sigh*


Clarke comments, "Wherefore he saith] The reference seems to be to Psalm lxviii. 18, which, however it may speak of the removal of the tabernacle, appears to have been intended to point out the glorious ascension of Christ after his resurrection from the dead. The expositions of various commentators have made the place extremely difficult. I shall not trouble my reader with them; they may be seen in Rosenmuller.


When he ascended up on high] The whole of this verse, as it stands in the psalm, seems to refer to a military triumph. Take the following paraphrase: Thou hast ascended on high: the conqueror was placed in a very elevated chariot. Thou hast led captivity captive: the conquered kings and generals were usually bound behind the chariot of the conqueror, to grace the triumph. Thou host received gifts for (Paul, given gifts unto) men: at such times the conqueror was wont to throw money among the crowd. Even to the rebellious: those who had fought against him now submit unto him, and share his munificence; for it is the property of a hero to be generous. That the Lord God might dwell among them: the conqueror being now come to fix his abode in the conquered provinces, and subdue the people to his laws.


All this the apostle applies to the resurrection, ascension, and glory of Christ; though it has been doubted by some learned men whether the psalmist had this in view. I shall not dispute about this; it is enough for me that the apostle, under the inspiration of God, applied the verse in this way; and whatever David might intend, and of whatever event he might have written, we see plainly that the sense in which the apostle uses it was the sense of the Spirit of God; for the Spirit in the Old and New Testaments is the same. I may venture a short criticism on a few words in the original: Thou hast received gifts for men, µdab twntm tjql lakachta mattanoth baadam, thou hast taken gifts in man, in Adam. The gifts which Jesus Christ distributes to man he has received in man, in and by virtue of his incarnation; and it is in consequence of his being made man that it may be said, The Lord God dwells among them; for Jesus was called Immanuel, God with us, in consequence of his incarnation. This view of the subject is consistent with the whole economy of grace, and suits well with the apostle's application of the words of the psalmist in this place."


Henry writes, " And that they were bestowed by Christ he makes appear by those words of David wherein he foretold this concerning him (Ps. lxviii. 18), Wherefore he saith (v. 8), that is, the Psalmist saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. David prophesied of the ascension of Christ; and the apostle descants upon it here, and in the three following verses. When he ascended up on high. We may understand the apostle both of the place into which he ascended in his human nature, that is, the highest heavens, and particularly of the state to which he was advanced, he being then highly exalted, and eminently glorified, by his Father. Let us set ourselves to think of the ascension of Jesus Christ: that our blessed Redeemer, having risen from the dead, in gone to heaven, where he sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high, which completed the proof of his being the Son of God. As great conquerors, when they rode in their triumphal chariots, used to be attended with the most illustrious of their captives led in chains, and were wont to scatter their largesses and bounty among the soldiers and other spectators of their triumphs, so Christ, when he ascended into heaven, as a triumphant conqueror, led captivity captive. It is a phrase used in the Old Testament to signify a conquest over enemies, especially over such as formerly had led others captive; see Judges v. 12. Captivity is here put for captives, and signifies all our spiritual enemies, who brought us into captivity before. He conquered those who had conquered us; such as sin, the devil, and death. Indeed, he triumphed over these on the cross; but the triumph was completed at his ascension, when he became Lord over all, and had the keys of death and hades put into his hands. And he gave gifts unto men: in the psalm it is, He received gifts for men. He received for them, that he might give to them, a large measure of gifts and graces; particularly, he enriched his disciples with the gift of the Holy Ghost."


I'm just reminded here of all that Jesus accomplished on the Cross. He conquered my personal sin, He conquered the attacks of the enemy that seek to destroy me, and He conquered my destiny towards eternal spiritual and physical death, destined to live forever apart from God.


THIS is what being a Christian is all about...I was destined to all that tragedy until He came upon this earth and gave the appropriate and necessary sacrifice to buy me back.


This is so NOT about me...it's all about Him and what He did for me.


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


Calvin writes, "Now that he ascended. Here again the slanderers exclaim, that Paul’s reasoning is trifling and childish. “Why does he attempt to make those words apply to a real ascension of Christ, which were figuratively spoken about a manifestation of the Divine glory? Who does not know that the word ascend is metaphorical? The conclusion, that he also descended first, has therefore no weight.”


I answer, Paul does not here reason in the manner of a logician, as to what necessarily follows, or may be inferred, from the words of the prophet. He knew that what David spake about God’s ascension was metaphorical. But neither can it be denied, that the expression bears a reference to some kind of humiliation on the part of God which had previously existed. It is this humiliation which Paul justly infers from the declaration that God had ascended. And at what time did God descend lower than when Christ emptied himself? ( ᾿Αλλ ᾿ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε, Philippians 2:7.) If ever there was a time when, after appearing to lay aside the brightness of his power, God ascended gloriously, it was when Christ was raised from our lowest condition on earth, and received into heavenly glory.


Besides, it is not necessary to inquire very carefully into the literal exposition of the Psalm, since Paul merely alludes to the prophet’s words, in the same manner as, on another occasion, he accommodates to his own subject a passage taken from the writings of Moses. “The righteousness which is of faith speaketh in this manner, Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above;) or, who shall descend into the deep (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.”) (Romans 10:6,7 Deuteronomy 30:12.) But the appropriateness of the application which Paul makes of the passage to the person of Christ is not the only ground on which it must be defended. Sufficient evidence is afforded by the Psalm itself, that this ascription of praise relates to Christ’s kingdom. Not to mention other reasons which might be urged, it contains a distinct prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles.


Into the lower parts of the earth. These words mean nothing more than the condition of the present life. To torture them so as to make them mean purgatory or hell, is exceedingly foolish. The argument taken from the comparative degree, “the lower parts,” is quite untenable. A comparison is drawn, not between one part of the earth and another, but between the whole earth and heaven; as if he had said, that from that lofty habitation Christ descended into our deep gulf."


I'm beginning to get a glimpse about what Paul is meaning when he talks about how how intensely glorious it must have been for God, through His Son Jesus, who knew no sin, but who decended down into that fathomless gulf on our behalf, and rose from that point way down deep, back up to the heavenlies. From the first sin of Adam, through all the centuries, and into the future, absorbing all the sin and paying for it all, back up to the seat situated at the right hand of God the Father...the position He should never have had to leave from, to begin with.


Clarke comments, "But that he also descended] The meaning of the apostle appears to be this: The person who ascended is the Messiah, and his ascension plainly intimates his descension; that is, his incarnation, humiliation, death, and resurrection."


Henry writes, "The apostle, thus speaking of the ascension of Christ, takes notice that he descended first, v. 9. As much as if he had said, "When David speaks of Christ's ascension, he intimates the knowledge he had of Christ's humiliation on earth; for, when it is said that he ascended, this implies that he first descended: for what is it but a proof or demonstration of his having done so?" Into the lower parts of the earth; this may refer either to his incarnation, according to that of David, Ps. cxxxix. 15, My substance was not hidden from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth; or, to his burial, according to that of Ps. lxiii. 9, Those that seek my soul to destroy it shall go into the lower parts of the earth. He calls his death (say some of the fathers) his descent into the lower parts of the earth. He descended to the earth in his incarnation. He descended into the earth in his burial. As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so was the Son of man in the heart of the earth."


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


Calvin states, "That ascended up far above all heavens; that is, beyond this created world. When Christ is said to be in heaven, we must not view him as dwelling among the spheres and numbering the stars. Heaven denotes a place higher than all the spheres, which was assigned to the Son of God after his resurrection. Not that it is literally a place beyond the world, but we cannot speak of the kingdom of God without using our ordinary language. Others, again, considering that the expressions, above all heavens, and ascension into heaven, are of the same import, conclude that Christ is not separated from us by distance of place. But one point they have overlooked. When Christ is placed above the heavens, or in the heavens, all that surrounds the earth — all that lies beneath the sun and stars, beneath the whole frame of the visible world — is excluded.


That he might fill all things. To fill often signifies to Finish, and it might have that meaning here; for, by his ascension into heaven, Christ entered into the possession of the authority given to him by the Father, that he might rule and govern all things. But a more beautiful view, in my opinion, will be obtained by connecting two meanings which, though apparently contradictory, are perfectly consistent. When we hear of the ascension of Christ, it instantly strikes our minds that he is removed to a great distance from us; and so he actually is, with respect to his body and human presence. But Paul reminds us, that, while he is removed from us in bodily presence, he fills all things by the power of his Spirit. Wherever the right hand of God, which embraces heaven and earth, is displayed, Christ is spiritually present by his boundless power; although, as respects his body, the saying of Peter holds true, that


“the heaven must receive him until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21.)


By alluding to the seeming contradiction, the apostle has added not a little beauty to his language. He ascended; but it was that he, who was formerly bounded by a little space, might fill all things But did he not fill them before? In his divine nature, I own, he did; but the power of his Spirit was not so exerted, nor his presence so manifested, as after he had entered into the possession of his kingdom.


“The Holy Ghost was not yet given,

because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:39.)


And again,


“It is expedient for you that I go away; for, if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you.” (John 16:7.)


In a word, when he began to sit at the right hand of the Father, he began also to fill all things."


Clarke comments, "He that descended] And he who descended so low is the same who has ascended so high. He came to the lower parts of the earth - the very deepest abasement; having emptied himself; taken upon him; the form of a servant, and humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross; now he is ascended far above all heavens - higher than all height; he has a name above every name. Here his descending into the lower parts of the earth is put in opposition to his ascending far above all heavens. His abasement was unparalleled; so also is his exaltation.


That he might fill all things.] That he might be the fountain whence all blessings might flow; dispensing all good things to all his creatures, according to their several capacities and necessities; and, particularly, fill both converted Jews and Gentiles with all the gifts and graces of his Holy Spirit. Hence it follows:"


Finally, Henry writes, "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens (v. 10), far above the airy and starry (which are the visible) heavens, into the heaven of heavens; that he might fill all things, all the members of his church, with gifts and graces suitable to their several conditions and stations. Observe, Our Lord humbled himself first, and then he was exalted. He descended first, and then ascended."


Father God,


I feel once again speechless as I finish today's study.


I am just in awe, I don't know what to say. Things that have been just 'words' that I've always known are now becoming comprehension. I'm feeling this knowledge, rather than just knowing it intellectually, and it just overwhelms me.


How truly small I am, and how incredibly great and expansive You are.


Change me Lord, and us. Make me all that You desired from the beginning of time.


I can do nothing, but You can do all.


In Jesus Name,

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I think it's interesting that the word 'grace' means 'the touch of the Divine on the human heart and the response thereof'. When we really do apprehend the greatness of His grace and His gifting us for His purposes, the natural response is thanksgiving and praise as well as the sure and certain knowledge that He will give us more grace to accomplish His specific calling for each of us. It seems that as we step into that grace (by faith) He increases it as a measure of who He is. He's got specific purposes and gifts that He has given each of us to fulfill as our birthright. Lord, let us seek the fulness of the birthright that You have intended for each of us for Your Glory.


Thank You Lord Jesus for awakening the desire for Your calling for each of us.

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