Ephesians 4:7-16; Christ’s descent (humiliation) and ascent (glorification).

Class Outline:

Wednesday September 22, 2021

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.)


"He ascended" is applied to Christ's return from earth to the highest heaven, mentioned already in EPH 1:20-21.


One of the pitfalls of focusing too much on any one doctrine is that you can miss that doctrine’s connection to other truths. The doctrine of the ascent of Christ impacts and influences many other things, mostly tied to our blessing as a result of His victory and human promotion.


The ascension of Christ is the result of His victory, which brought about our rich, glorified inheritance, and our surpassing power.


EPH 1:15-23

For this reason (vv. 3-14: all spiritual blessing, election, predestination, adoption, redemption, knowledge of the mystery of His will, inheritance, sealing of the Holy Spirit) I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.


Here, God the Father is the subject: He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the heavenly realm.


The same expression "He ascended" is in the gospel of John (JOH 3:13; 6:38, 62).


Again, context relates wonderful truths. Mentioning His descent to Nicodemus, Jesus reveals that heaven has come to earth in order to give eternal life, and that, by faith and not by works.


JOH 3:9-15

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?" 10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things? 11 "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak that which we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen; and you do not receive our witness. 12 "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 "And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man. 14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.


In Joh 6, Jesus fed the five thousand. The issue with the people soon became bread. The imagery of bread is perfect. Is this Jesus a common man like the barley loaves He fed them the day before, or is He more? He performed another mighty miracle yesterday, so perhaps He is like manna from heaven? So, they asked Him to perform a sign from heaven - bring us manna like Moses did.


JOH 6:26-31

Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. 27 "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal."  28 They said therefore to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" 29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."  30 They said therefore to Him, "What then do You do for a sign, that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.'"


But He corrected them, they ate the manna and still died, the bread that My Father gives the true bread from heaven but that’s not what He is saying. The fathers ate the manna in the desert and still died. He’s saying that He is bread from heaven, and that if anyone eats of it, they will live forever.


JOH 6:33

"For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world."


This is His descent. Paul said that He descended into the lower parts of the earth. Jesus doesn’t use those words while Jesus makes the issue His descent to the earth in order to give eternal life to those who would believe.


JOH 6:34-35

They said therefore to Him, "Lord, evermore give us this bread." 35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.


We saw last time the words “content” and “satisfied” used by Peter and Paul in their epistles. With food and covering, with weakness; and actually, rejoicing greatly though we are distressed with various trials. All we need is Him, the Lord Jesus Christ. He descended to make us acceptable (propitiation) and He ascended above all rule and authority to bring us into blessing and glory (justification and glorification).


Not included are Paul’s words “lower parts.”


JOH 6:38

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”


The Jews therefore were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven" (JOH 6:41). The crowd demoted the Lord by saying that He was simply Jesus whose mother and father they knew.


JOH 6:41-42

The Jews therefore were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven."  42 And they were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven'?"


Jesus knew of their grumbling, but only continued on, further revealing an incredible truth.


JOH 6:50-51

"This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh."


He descended into the world so that He could die, giving His life for the world - in our place: our Propitiator, our Redeemer, our Savior.


The cross subdues our hearts to Him, and gives us to feel that self-sacrifice is the true life of man.


Marcus Dods, The Gospel of St. John: “For my part, I do not see that this [Jesus is from heaven] can mean anything less than that Christ is Divine, that in Him we have God, and in Him touch the actual Source of all life. In Him we have the one thing within our reach which is not earth-grown, the uncorrupted Source of life to which we can turn from the inadequacy, impurity, and emptiness of a sin-sick world. No pebble lies hid in this bread on which we can break our teeth; no sweetness in the mouth turning afterwards into bitterness, but a new, uncontaminated food, prepared independently of all defiling influences, and accessible to all. Christ is the bread from heaven, because in Christ God gives Himself to us, that by His life we may live.”


They believed that manna would come from heaven. In the Exodus, not the richest field in Egypt produced the bread from heaven that seemed to come straight from the hand of God. The rabbis postulated that the Messiah would renew the gift of manna when He came referencing PSA 72:16, “May there be abundance of grain in the earth on top of the mountains.” What Jesus was saying they could not understand. “We know His father and mother,” they thought to themselves, but there was something about Him that they couldn’t put their finger on, something unaccountable, and so they stayed and continued to listen. As they listened further, He would bring them to the threshold of time and eternity; heaven and earth, and they, even His disciples, would find it incomprehensible, even insane.


Then He told them to:

JOH 6:53-58

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. 58 "This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate, and died, he who eats this bread shall live forever."


Bread is still in view. Since He is the true bread from heaven, then His flesh is bread and His blood is water. Still, we are in imagery, but an imagery very close to reality. We do not gain nutrients for life from looking at food, admiring it, touching it, etc. We have to eat it. The connection between Christ and us must be of the closest kind. That comes by faith in Him as the one and only Savior by which He will enter our bodies and we will be in Him and He is us forever.