EXEGETICAL INSIGHT: Psalm 68:18 and Ephesians 4:8

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AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

Psalm 68:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 You have ascended on high,
    carried away captives;
    You have received gifts from among  men,
even among the rebellious, that Jehovah God may dwell there.

Among men [בָּאָדָם] There are three words here, a definite article [ha], a preposition [בְּ (bĕ)] and a noun [אָדָם]. The preposition can mean “in,” “at,” “among,” “upon, “with,” and a few others. The noun “adam” can mean “man” or “mankind.”

  • ASV, ESV, NASB1995, UASV, “among men”
  • LEB “from among men”
  • NASB2020 “among people”
  • CSB “from people”
  • MT “among men” LXX (Ps 67:19) “to a man” or “in a man”
BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

Ephesians 4:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led captivity captive,
and he gave gifts to men.”

  • δόματα [gifts] τοῖς [to the] ἀνθρώποις [men]
  • ASV, ESV, NASB, LEB, CSB, and UASV “gifts to men”

DIGGING DEEPER BEFORE THE INTERPRETATION

Paul in Ephesians 4:8 is quoting from Psa. 68:18. However, the wording does differ little from Psa. 68:18 be it the Hebrew text and the LXX., the most notable Paul has “gave gifts to” instead of “received gifts from,” which we find in both the MT and the LXX. This takes us to how Jesus or an author of the NT cites Scriptures and how we Christians cite and interpret Scriptures. We Christians follow Historical-Grammatical Interpretation principles because we ARE NOT inspired by God, not MOVED ALONG by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Jesus and the NT authors have a license to tweak a verse that they are citing.

Dr. Robert L. Thomas calls this “inspired sensus plenior application” (ISPA), which you should adopt as well. It is inspired because this is an inspired Bible writer adding the additional sense or fuller sense than what had been penned in the Old Testament.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

Robert L. Thomas writes,

When interpreting the Old Testament and New Testament each in light of the single grammatical-historical meaning of each passage, two kinds of New Testament uses of the Old Testament surface, one in which the New Testament writer observes the grammatical-historical sense of the Old Testament passage and the other in which the New Testament writer goes beyond the grammatical-historical sense in using a passage. Inspired sensus plenior application (ISPA) designates the latter usage. Numerous passages illustrate each type of New Testament use of the Old Testament. The ISPA type of use does not grant contemporary interpreters a license to copy the method of New Testament writers, nor does it violate the principle of single meaning. The ISPA meaning of the Old Testament passage did not exist for humans until the time of the New Testament citation, being occasioned by Israel’s rejection of her Messiah at His first advent. The ISPA approach approximates that advocated by John H. Walton more closely than other explanations of the New Testament use of the Old Testament. “Fulfillment” terminology in the New Testament is appropriate only for events that literally fulfill events predicted in the Old Testament. – Robert L. Thomas. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (p. 241).

See How Are We to Understand the New Testament Author’s use of the Old Testament? [Full Article]

END OF QUOTE

Young Christians

NOTE: Psalm 68:18 is David addressing Jehovah, and Ephesians 4:8 is Paul referring to Jesus Christ. This should not be used theologically to suggest the Jesus is Jehovah. Why? King David himself served as a representative of God, and he is the one who literally ascended on high (Mount Zion) and took the throne that was pictorially God’s throne that David sat on. Therefore, it was king David, the anointed king and warrior who was a human representative for God that carried out these things in Psalm 68. Yes, David knew he was the one who did these things as a representative of God but like all faithful servants, he attributed his accomplishments to God, the responsible One. Therefore, in Psalm 68, David addresses God as the one who did these things. And Paul is addressing Jesus Christ, the more excellent David as doing the things Paul speaks of being done. Psalm 68 is referring to bringing up the ark to Mount Zion, and is a triumphal song. In the Psalm, which is, in essence, a song, David shows why God was to be praised because of His greatness and his kindness or tolerance toward others. (Eph. 4:1-6) He then relates the actions of God in former times, expressly his carrying his people through the wilderness, and the reality that his enemies were confused, embarrassed, and frustrated before him (Eph. 4:7-12) The apostle Paul took Psalm 68 as prophetic and Paul went beyond the grammatical-historical sense in using this passage, to give it meaning that did not exist prior to him.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

WHAT DID PAUL MEAN? “When he ascended on high he led captivity captive, and he gave gifts to men.”

Who ascended on high? Jesus

Where is high? Heaven

Who is “he” that led captivity captive? Jesus

What does “captivity captive” mean? Albert Barnes writes, “the meaning of this in the Psalm is, that he triumphed over his foes. The margin is, “a multitude of captives.” But this, I think, is not quite the idea. It is language derived from a conqueror, who not only makes captives, but who makes captives of those who were then prisoners, and who conducts them as a part of his triumphal procession. He not only subdues his enemy, but he leads his captives in triumph. The allusion is to the public triumphs of conquerors, especially as celebrated among the Romans, in which captives were led in chains (Tacitus, Ann. xii. 38), and to the custom in such triumphs of distributing presents among the soldiers; compare also Judges 5:30, where it appears that this was also an early custom in other nations. When Christ ascended to heaven, he triumphed over all his foes. It was a complete victory over the malice of the great enemy of God, and over those who had sought his life. But he did more. He rescued those who were the captives of Satan and led them in triumph. Man was held by Satan as a prisoner. His chains were around him. Christ rescued the captive prisoner and designed to make him a part of his triumphal procession into heaven, that thus the victory might be complete, triumphing not only over the great foe himself, but swelling his procession with the attending hosts of those who ‘had been’ the captives of Satan, now rescued and redeemed.”[1]

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

When Jesus ascended on high, he took away sin and death, and free persons held captive by Satan, persons who had otherwise been alienated from God. They then became tools used by Jesus, and Jesus gave gifts to these men, some the gift as “apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as shepherds and teachers.” For what purpose? “For the equipping of the holy ones or the work of ministry, to the building up of the body of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11-12.

[1] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: Ephesians, Philippians & Colossians, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 78.

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