Therefore he says, “When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”
- Ephesians 4:8This verse sounds very similar to Psalm 68:18.
(Click here to learn more about the background of Psalm 68:18)
Some have said that Paul misquotes the Psalm but New Testament writers usually write something such as “According to the Scriptures” or “According to the Prophet Isaiah” when quoting the Old Testament. The context of the false differences between Apostles and Prophets in Ephesians suggests that Paul is quoting one of the New Testament Prophets.
The false teachers in Ephesus were misinterpreting the prophetic word given by a New Testament prophet. They were saying that when the Christ in the flesh came, he would destroy all the Gentile nations (ascend on high) and take Gentile captives to be prisoners of the Jews (captivity captive). The Christ in the flesh would then take the loot from the Gentiles and give it to the Jews (gifts among men).
Ephesians 4:8 is part of the center of the Chiasmus in Ephesians and so this issue is central to Paul's letter. (Psalm 68:18 is also near the center of it's Chiasmus as well)
Paul responds to the false teachers by saying that Christ ascended into heaven (Eph. 4:10), all believers are captives of Christ (Eph. 3:1), and that the gifts that were given were favor and glory (Eph. 1:7, Eph. 2:7, Eph. 1:18, Eph. 3:16).