Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Ephesians 4:7 says, “But to each one of us was given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Concerning the Body, all the basic elements are one. This is covered in verses 4 through 6, where we have one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father. Although the basic elements of the Body are one, the gifts, or the functions, are many and varied. The word “but” at the beginning of verse 7 brings out this contrast between the oneness of the Body and the variety of the gifts or functions.
Verse 7 says that each one of us has been given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Here grace is given according to the gift, but in Romans 12:6 gifts differ according to grace. Grace actually is the divine life that both produces and supplies the gifts. In Romans 12 it is the grace that produces the gift. Thus, the gift is according to grace. In Ephesians 4 it is grace that supplies the gift. Hence, here the grace is according to the gift, according to the measure of the gift. Grace according to the measure of the gift can be compared to our blood, which supplies the members of our body according to their size. The measure of the gift of Christ is the size of a member of His Body.
Verse 8 continues, “Wherefore He says, Having ascended to the height, He led captive those taken captive and gave gifts to men.” “Height” in the quotation of Psalm 68:18 refers to Mount Zion (Psa. 68:15-16), symbolizing the third heaven where God dwells (1 Kings 8:30). Psalm 68 implies that it was in the ark that God ascended to Mount Zion after the ark had led the way to victory.
Verse 1 of Psalm 68 is a quotation of Numbers 10:35. This indicates that the background of Psalm 68 is God’s move in the tabernacle with the ark as its center. The ark was a clear type of Christ. Wherever the ark went, the victory was won. Eventually this ark ascended triumphantly to the top of Mount Zion. This portrays how Christ has won the victory and ascended triumphantly to the heavens.
“Those” in verse 8 refers to the redeemed saints who had been taken captive by Satan before they were saved by Christ’s death and resurrection. In His ascension Christ led them captive; that is, He rescued them from Satan’s captivity and took them to Himself. This indicates that He has conquered and overcome Satan, who had captured them by sin and death.
The Amplified New Testament renders “He led a train of vanquished foes” for “He led captive those taken captive.” “Vanquished foes” may refer to Satan, to his angels, and to us the sinners, also indicating Christ’s victory over Satan, sin, and death. In His ascension there was a procession of these vanquished foes as captives from a war for a celebration of Christ’s victory.
“Gifts” here does not refer to the abilities or enablements for varied services, but to the various gifted persons in verse 11—apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers. After conquering and rescuing them from Satan and death through His own death and resurrection, Christ in His ascension made the rescued sinners themselves such gifts with His resurrection life and gave them to His Body for its building up.
Verses 9 and 10 are a parenthesis. This means that verse 11 is the continuation of verse 8. Verse 8 says that Christ gave gifts to men, and verse 11 says that He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers. “Each one” in verse 7 refers to every member of the Body of Christ, each of whom has received a general gift, whereas the four kinds of gifted persons mentioned in verse 11 are those who have been endued with a special gift. As we shall see, these are the leading apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers. As followers, we all can be such gifts to the Body.
Verses 9 and 10 explain how Christ gave the gifts to the Body: “Now this, He ascended, what is it except that He also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He Who descended is the same Who also ascended far above all the heavens that He might fill all things.” The “lower parts of the earth” refers to Hades, underneath the earth, where Christ went after His death (Acts 2:27). Christ firstly descended from heaven to earth in His incarnation. Then after He died on the cross, in His death He descended further, from earth to Hades. Eventually, in His resurrection He ascended from Hades to earth, and from earth to heaven in His ascension. By His descending in death and ascending in resurrection, He gave gifts to men.
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