I know what you’re thinking today – what on earth does this mean – He led captivity captive? Paul is referencing Psalm 68 – but who are the captives?
Harold Hoehner in his commentary says:
“Who, then, are the captives? From Ps 68 it is clear that they were the enemies of Israel who were defeated when Jerusalem was captured. In Ephesians some have interpreted the captives: (1) as the enemies of Christ, namely, Satan, sin, and death; or (2) as the people who have been the captives of Satan, sin and death, and who are now taken captive by Christ in redemption. The first interpretation seems to be more fitting. Christ had victory over Satan, sin and death and gives gifts of the Spirit to those who have been identified with him.” Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2002), pp. 529-530.
I don’t know if I (or anyone else for that matter) completely understands this passage. In light of verse 7 – He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ – v.8 That is why the Scriptures say… I like Spurgeon’s commentary on it:
As great conquerors of old led whole nations into captivity, so Jesus leads forth from the territory of his foe a vast company as the trophies of his mighty grace. From the gracious character of his reign it comes to pass that to be led into captivity by him is for our captivity to cease. The Lord Jesus puts death to death.
One thing we know for sure – Jesus is the Victor – over sin, over death, over Satan, over the grave – over everything!
Now for the good part – the purpose statement for the church – v. 11-16
God calls people into full-time ministry to lead the church (v.11) – look at the list. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. All called by God to guide and govern His church.
God gives us their job description (v.12) – ever wonder what your pastors should be doing with their time? It’s not what the average church expects – but it IS what God expects – EQUIPPING God’s people to do His Work. Not doing the work for them – equipping others to do it. That’s how the church is to function.
God gives the standard (v.13) – how will we know if we did it? God’s people will act like Jesus – measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
God tells us the result (v. 14-16) – what will happen if we do His work His way? People will grow up – no longer acting like children. They will know what they believe and will stand firm on God’s Word. The church will grow and serve and be full of love.
Sound like a church you want to attend? Things always work better when you do them God’s way.
By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor