4:7-16; Psa 68 – the Lord’s victory depicted in Israel’s victory.

Class Outline:

Wednesday June 23,2021

EPH 4:7-8

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,


"When He ascended on high,

He led captive a host of captives,

And He gave gifts to men."


Paul adds commentary to the verse, “Now this expression…”


EPH 4:9-10 (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)


EPH 4:11-16

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


The teaching and shepherding gifts Paul mentions have a special place serving the body of Christ. All need instruction and local churches need to be led. We would confidently conclude that the gift of apostle and prophet was only given to the first generation of the church. The authority of the apostle is no longer needed, nor is new revelation from the prophet because God’s revelation is complete in the Bible.


Apostles and prophets were the foundation of the church. Once built, their gifts had to end.


EPH 2:19-20

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, 20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,


One doesn’t continue to build a foundation once the ground floor has been started. You can change a foundation, or destroy it and build new, but that must never happen in the church.


1CO 3:10-11

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.


Evangelists are literally “messengers of good.”


Its clear function is not detailed in the scripture. The name has become a popular office of the traveling preacher of the gospel. The word is only used two other times in the NT, once for a man named Philip whom Paul stayed with as he was traveling to Jerusalem. No description is given of his ministry. The other use is in Paul’s second letter to Timothy telling him to do the work of an evangelist. How this title evolved might give us insight into the use of the gift, but in the scripture, little is said of its manifestations.


Pastor and teacher may refer to one gift or two, good expositors take both sides, but that causes no issues doctrinally. Pastors should teach, and there are teachers who minister to the body who are not shepherds of a flock (poimen is from a root meaning - to protect. Jesus described Himself with this word in Joh 10, “The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep”).


We cannot say for certain, but Paul may have in mind the aspects of teaching in all four of these gifts, and that teaching is to equip the saints, but teaching is not the only gift that does so (vs. 16).


In 1CO 12:28, Paul also mentions apostles, prophets, and teachers (pastor is absent in this list).


We will learn more about these gifts as we study this passage.


We are each equipped by the Holy Spirit and by Christ individually and uniquely, and each is to build up the body of Christ.


God’s grace is not bestowed on us to diffuse and lose itself in our separate individualities; but that it may minister to one life and work towards one end and build up one great body in us all. Our diversity is subservient to a higher unity. We are a hundred different channels in a hundred of various forms all feeding the one river of the purpose of God.


[The Bible Exposition Commentary ] “Gifts are not toys to play with. They are tools to build with. And if they are not used in love, they become weapons to fight with, which is what happened in the Corinthian church.”


Christ as the wise Head of the body, the household of God, distributes His manifold gifts. His appointments are made with an eye to the furtherance of the house in the purpose of the Father.


To illustrate Christ’s gifts to His church, Paul illustrates with PSA 68:18. He interprets the ancient verse as he cites it and weaves it into the texture of his message.


PSA 68:18

Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captive Thy captives;

Thou hast received gifts among men,

Even among the rebellious also, that the Lord God may dwell there.


Psa 68 is complex. The topic concerns the entry of God into hiss sanctuary, using the background and images of the conquest and settlement of the land and occupation of the land of Zion. It traces God’s triumphant march through the desert, His conquest over the kings of Canaan and finally his ascension to the holy mount to reign in majesty.


Paul’s quote of vs. 18 associates Christ’s ascension to heaven with the ascension of the ark up Zion’s hill.


We must be careful not to make the rest of the psalm apply to this event by searching for other prophetic doctrines in the text of it, unless they are obvious.


A quick look at the psalm as a whole will develop the picture, and also help us to understand Paul’s use of vs. 18 in reference to the church, for we are the captives set free who ascended up the hill of God’s victory.


PSA 68:1-6, The call for the wicked to flee before God’s triumphant march and the righteous to exult for He delivers the oppressed.


PSA 68:1-6

For the choir director. A Psalm of David. A Song.

Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered;

And let those who hate Him flee before Him.

2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;

As wax melts before the fire,

So let the wicked perish before God [when you read imagery, take time and picture it].

3 But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God;

Yes, let them rejoice with gladness.

4 Sing to God, sing praises to His name;

Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts,

Whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him.


5 A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,

Is God in His holy habitation.

6 God makes a home for the lonely;

He leads out the prisoners into prosperity,

Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.


We are amazed to find out that God could not sovereignly will this victory over His enemies and at the same time deliver the captives. God the Son, in humiliation, would have to be judged in our stead if we were to be taken captive by God to Zion.


vv. 7-18, the Exodus through the desert, the conquering of the PL, and the Lord’s choice of Mt. Zion from all the mountains.


PSA 68:7-10

O God, when Thou didst go forth before Thy people,

When Thou didst march through the wilderness,


8 The earth quaked;

The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God [might refer to manna];

Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

9 Thou didst shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God;

Thou didst confirm Thine inheritance, when it was parched.

10 Thy creatures settled in it [might refer to quail];

Thou didst provide in Thy goodness for the poor, O God.


vv. 7-10 refers to the Exodus, and if “rain” is manna and “creatures” are quail, then the providence of God is emphasized as much as His conquering and leading.


Now the author refers in progression to the conquering of the Promised Land. The faithful women sing of it.


PSA 68:11-17

The Lord gives the command [the promise of the land];

The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host: