Psalm 68 among other things, speaks of the victory and presence of the LORD, verse 18 may ring familiar if you know Ephesians: “You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men…”
Paul quotes this verse in Eph 4:8, as he is writing about Christians walking in a manner worthy of our calling – the unity of the body in humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance with each other, and love. Some things to note:
- The deity of Christ: Paul ascribes this now to Christ in his resurrection (“…he ascended on high”), authority (“led a host of captives”), incarnation (“…he descended), and his position now in Heaven with the Father (…”he ascended”)
- God is the giver, in Christ: v7 says that grace was given to each, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Grace that enables us to live lives of unity in humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance with each other, and love. His grace is also evident in the way he gives us apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers
- Maturity is the goal: we live in unity as a sign of our maturity. Maturity of what? v13 – knowledge of the gospel – all of God’s word – his one story of the redeeming of a fallen human race in Christ Jesus. Maturity also keeps us centered, rooted, and established – so that we won’t follow any passing ideas. I was reminded of a great saying yesterday in a lecture “He who stands for nothing, will fall for anything.”
- Speaking the truth in love...must be grounded in Christ, for the maturity of the body, and for the growth of the body. It’s not just a license to say whatever is on your mind to someone. Besides, we are to do that with all humility, gentleness, patience, in forbearance with each other and in love.
In all this God is glorified – as we look back to Psalm 68, the very next verse sums it up well – “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”