3. PROVISION FOR SPIRITUAL HEALTH AND GROWTH (4:7–16)
7 But to each one of us grace 23 has been given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
8 Therefore it is said:
“When he ascended on high he led captivity captive;
he gave gifts to mankind.” 24
10 He who descended is the same who also “ascended” high above all the heavens, in order to fill the universe.
11 It is he also who “gave” 27 some as apostles and some as prophets, some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers.
12 He gave them to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son 28 of God, reaching the dimensions of a fully mature man, the measure of the stature of Christ’s fullness.
16 It is from him that the whole body, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament, grows effectively 34 according to the due measure of each separate part, 35 so that it is built up 36 in love.
7 Within the unity of the body each member has a distinctive part to play, a distinctive service to perform, for the effective functioning of the whole. The ability to perform this service is here called the “grace” given to each. Paul has referred above to the special “grace” granted to him—the grace of apostleship (Eph. 3:7–8), 37 to be exercised not in any one local church but throughout the Gentile world. But other members of the body had their respective varieties of “grace”; since “we, though many, are one body in Christ,” says Paul to the Romans, therefore, “having gifts 38 that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Rom. 12:5–6). 39
Whereas in 1 Cor. 12:7–11 it is through the Spirit that the various “manifestations” are given “for the common good,” together with the power to exercise them, they are given here “according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” 40 Since Christ is the one who baptizes his people with the Spirit, 41 it is not inconsistent to credit him with bestowing the gifts of the Spirit also: this is one of the differences in emphasis and wording between the treatment of this subject elsewhere in the Pauline writings and its treatment in Ephesians. 42 The proportionate allocation of the gifts is consistently stressed, but while in 1 Cor. 12:11 it is the Spirit who “apportions to each one individually as he wills,” here the apportioning, like the general giving, is the work of the ascended Christ.
8 This is confirmed by the application of an OT text, introduced by the formula “Therefore it is said” (lit., “Therefore it says,” 43 i.e., “scripture says” or “God says”). This precise formula occurs once again in this letter (in Eph. 5:14, introducing what is not recognizably a quotation from scripture) but nowhere else in the Pauline corpus; 44 no particular significance attaches to this, however (“it says” or “he says” is common enough in Paul when scripture is being quoted, whatever the accompanying adverb or conjunction may be). 45
“Thou hast ascended on high;
thou hast led captivity captive;
thou hast received gifts among mankind—
yes, even the rebels, that Yah may dwell (there as) God.”
The enigmatic reference to the “rebels” (who perhaps resent Yahweh’s choice of Zion as his dwelling-place) need not detain us; it is not included in the quotation. The first three clauses of the verse are translated word for word in the LXX (Ps. 67:19) into unidiomatic Greek. 46
The psalm as a whole, or at least this section of it, is, as Calvin called it, an epinikion, a victory ode. 47 One may picture a military leader returning to Jerusalem at the head of his followers, after routing an enemy army and taking many prisoners. The victorious procession, with the captives in its train, makes its way up to the temple mount, preceded by the sacred ark, which symbolizes the invisible presence of the God of Israel. To him a sacrifice of thanksgiving will be offered when the procession reaches the temple precincts, and the tribute received by the victor from the vanquished foe will be dedicated to him. This tribute is referred to as “gifts” which the victor has received “among men”—perhaps the NEB and NIV translators have rightly rendered the phrase “from men.” 48
In the present quotation the second person singular of the original (addressed either to Yahweh or to his anointed king) is changed to the third person so as to adapt the construction to the contextual argument. That is a minor deviation: the major deviation is the replacement of the verb “received” by its antonym “gave.” This is supported neither by the Hebrew nor by the Greek wording (so far as extant copies go); it does occur, however, as a targumic rendering. 49 An early targumic rendering is found in the Peshitta: 50
“Thou hast ascended on high;
thou hast led captivity captive;
thou hast given gifts to men.”
A later amplification appears in the traditional Targum on the Psalter, which provides the text with a life-setting far removed from Jerusalem under the monarchy:
“Thou hast ascended to the firmament, prophet Moses;
thou hast led captivity captive;
thou hast taught the words of the law;
thou hast given gifts to men.”
Paul and other NT writers occasionally give evidence of using targumic renderings (or renderings known to us nowadays only from the Targums), especially where such renderings are better suited to the argument to which they are applied than the Hebrew or Septuagint wording would be. 51 Even when a written Targum is quite late, 52 the renderings it presents often had a long oral prehistory. However far “thou hast given gifts to men” deviates from “thou hast received gifts among (from) men,” it circulated as an acceptable interpretation in the first century A.D. 53 (It might be said that a conqueror, having received “gifts” from the defeated enemy, bestows them as largesse on the spectators lining the processional route; we have no means of knowing if this harmonizing consideration was used to bridge the gap between original text and interpretation.)
9 The targumic rendering is explained as a reference to the ascension of Christ and his bestowal of gifts on the church. The mode of explanation is that which is commonly called pesher, because of its regular employment (under that Hebrew word) in the biblical commentaries from Qumran. 54 A section of biblical text is quoted, and its explanation (pesher) is then given, word by word or phrase by phrase, in terms not of its original life-setting but of the new life-setting to which it is now being applied. Two verbs are here selected from the OT passage as quoted to receive their appropriate explanation: “he ascended” and “he gave.”
As for “he ascended,” this is applied to Christ’s return from earth to the highest heaven, mentioned already in Eph. 1:20–21. In Eph. 1:20–21 God was the subject: he raised Christ from the dead and “seated him … in the heavenly realm.” Here Christ is the subject: it is he who ascended. The expression “he ascended” is seen to imply that he first “descended.” The same sequence “ascended/descended” appears in the Fourth Gospel. “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven” (John 3:13; cf. John 6:38, 62, where the one who claims to “have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me,” asks his scandalized hearers, “Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?”). In the Fourth Gospel the ascent is from earth to heaven and the preceding descent correspondingly from heaven to earth; and so it is here. That is to say, “the lower parts of the earth” should be understood as meaning “the earth below.” 55
But this phrase, “the lower parts of the earth,” has traditionally been interpreted as the abode of the dead, 56 and the passage has served as one of the few biblical proof-texts for the harrowing of hell—the idea that between his death and resurrection Christ invaded the abode of the dead and released the men and women of God who, from Adam onward, had been held fast there, thus “leading captivity captive.” 57 No explanation is offered in this pesher of the multitude of captives taken by the conqueror in Ps. 68:18; but the words would refer more naturally to prisoners-of-war from the enemy army than to the conqueror’s rightful subjects who had been released from the enemy leader’s unwelcome control. (If the multitude of captives had been given a christological interpretation, the vanquished principalities and powers of Col. 2:15 would have been more suitable for the purpose.) 58
10 Having descended to the earth below in incarnation, Christ then “ascended” to heaven above—“high above all the heavens,” in fact. Similarly in the letter to the Hebrews he is said to have “passed through the heavens” in order to be “exalted above the heavens” (Heb. 4:14; 7:26). He ascended there, we are now told, to “fill all things”—to pervade the universe with his presence. This is in keeping with a possible interpretation of Eph. 1:23, that he is the one who “fills the universe in all its parts.” There his relation to “the church, which is his body,” is especially in view: so here, the “filling” of the universe inaugurated in his ascension is now being put into effect more particularly as he supplies the church with everything necessary to promote the growth of the body until it matches his own fullness.
In the OT and other literature derived from it the filling of the universe is a divine property: “ ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the LORD” (Jer. 23:24). 59 Now, part of the exaltation conferred by the Father on the Son is the sharing by the Son in the Father’s ubiquity.
11 As for the statement in the OT text, “he gave gifts to mankind,” it is emphasized that the one who gave the gifts is the one who ascended: it is because he ascended that he has given them. 60 Something comparable is said in Acts 2:33 of his bestowal of the Spirit: “Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear” (i.e., the gift of the Spirit with attendant manifestations). If it had been thought necessary to make allowance in the interpretation for the original as for the targumic reading (a proceeding well attested in the Qumran commentaries), it could have been said of the gifts of the Spirit, as of the gift of the Spirit himself, that Christ “received” them from the Father and then bestowed them on men. Some such idea may have lain behind the use of the preposition “for” in the Coverdale and KJV renderings of Ps. 68:18: “thou hast received gifts for men.” But it is not even hinted at here. 61
Whereas in 1 Cor. 12:4–11 the “varieties of gifts” 62 are the diverse ministries allocated by the Spirit to individual members of the church, together with the ability to exercise those ministries, here the “gifts” are the persons who exercise those ministries and who are said to be “given” by the ascended Christ to his people to enable them to function and develop as they should. It is not suggested that such “gifts” are restricted to those that are specifically named; those that are named exercise their ministries in such a way as to help other members of the church to exercise their own respective ministries (no member is left without some kind of service to perform).
Of the “gifts” that are named, three are mentioned in order of precedence in 1 Cor. 12:28, where God is said to have set in the church “first apostles, second prophets, third teachers.” Here evangelists are placed between prophets and teachers, and teachers are given the twofold designation “pastors and teachers.”
Both lists agree in placing apostles first and prophets after them. Apostles and prophets, as was indicated in Eph. 2:20, are viewed as the foundation “gifts” in the church, and what was said about them in the exposition and notes above need not be repeated here. 63
As for evangelists, they do not appear in the catalogue of ministries in 1 Cor. 12:4–11; indeed, they are not mentioned elsewhere in the Pauline corpus apart from 2 Tim. 4:5, where Timothy is enjoined to “do the work of an evangelist.” The one other NT occurrence of the noun is in Acts 21:8, where Philip (further identified as “one of the seven” of Acts 6:3–6) is called “Philip the evangelist.” 64 Too much should not be made of the infrequency of the noun in the NT (it may indeed be a Christian coinage); 65 the verb meaning “evangelize” or “preach the gospel,” from which it is derived, appears frequently, especially in the writings of Paul and Luke. 66
One of the principal functions—indeed, the primary function—of an apostle (in the special Christian use of the word) was the preaching of the gospel. 67 The apostles, as an order of ministry in the church, were not perpetuated beyond the apostolic age, 68 but the various functions which they discharged did not lapse with their departure, but continued to be performed by others—notably by the evangelists and the pastors and teachers listed here.
It is conceivable that evangelists are not included among the ministries set by God “in the church” in 1 Cor. 12:28 because, strictly speaking, they do not exercise their special ministry in the church but outside, in the world. The church is the community of those who have heard the preaching of the gospel and responded to it in faith; they do not need to be evangelized further. The gospel is preached to unbelievers, in order that they may be brought to faith in Christ and so be incorporated in the believing community. If the ministry of the evangelist is not exercised “in the church” it is certainly exercised for the church; but for the evangelist’s ministry, the church would speedily die out. The apostles preached the gospel before they planted churches and gave their converts further teaching; they were in effect evangelists (as well as pastors and teachers) though they are not specifically called so. The evangelists given by the ascended Christ continued to exercise the gospel-preaching aspect of the apostolic ministry, so that the church might grow in succeeding generations by the adhesion of new believers.
When new believers are incorporated in the church, they require further ministry (as indeed do older believers): they need to be “shepherded” and taught. The noun “pastor” (i.e., “shepherd”) 69 does not occur elsewhere in the NT in reference to a ministry in the church, but the derivative verb “to shepherd” 70 is used several times in this sense, and the noun “flock” (also derived from the noun meaning “shepherd”) 71 is used of the church. The verb “to shepherd” and the noun “flock” are not found in this sense in the Pauline letters, but in Acts 20:28 Paul at Miletus enjoins the elders of the Ephesian church to “take heed to … all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to shepherd the church of God.…” “Pastors” may readily be identified with the ministers who are elsewhere called “elders” (presbyteroi) or “bishops” (episkopoi, rendered “guardians” in our preceding citation of Acts 20:28: “shepherd the flock of God that is in your charge” is the injunction given to “elders” by a “fellow elder” in 1 Pet. 5:2). (It is fitting that this injunction should be ascribed to the apostle whose final commission from the Lord, according to John 21:15–17, was “Feed my sheep.”) 72
A bishop, according to 1 Tim. 3:2, should be “an apt teacher.” 73 Teaching is an essential part of the pastoral ministry; it is appropriate, therefore, that the two terms, “pastors and teachers,” 74 should be joined together to denote one order of ministry. The risen Christ is depicted in Matt. 28:19–20 as commanding the eleven to “make disciples of all the nations” by “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” The distinction between kērygma and didachē, made familiar in the 1930s by C. H. Dodd 75 and other leaders of the biblical theology movement, is not such a mutually exclusive distinction as has sometimes been implied, but in general the kērygma was proclaimed by the evangelist, whereas didachē was imparted by the teacher (indeed, since didachē is simply “teaching,” the latter statement would be tautologous). The content of the teaching was wide-ranging: it included the teaching of Jesus with its implications for Christian belief and conduct. In Acts 2:42 it is called “the apostles’ teaching,” to which the primitive church of Jerusalem is said to have devoted itself. In Acts 13:1 five named leaders of the church in Syrian Antioch (including Barnabas and Paul) are described as “prophets and teachers.” As the number of new churches increased, there would have been a call for more teachers to give young converts the basic instruction they needed. Paul assumes, in writing to Rome, that the “form of teaching” 76 which the Christians of that city had received was sufficiently clear and comprehensive to enable them to detect and reject propaganda which was incompatible with it (Rom. 6:17; 16:17). Timothy is directed not only to pursue a teaching ministry himself but also to entrust what he has learned “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (1 Tim. 4:13, 16; 2 Tim. 2:2); provision would thus be made for the continuity of the teaching in the next generations.
12 These various forms of ministry were given to the people of God to equip them for the diversity of service which they were to render in the community, so that the community as a whole—“the body of Christ”—would be built up. The three prepositional phrases in this verse are not coordinate one with another, as might be suggested by the RSV rendering (“for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”); 77 the second and third phrases are dependent on the first, as is indicated by their being introduced by a different preposition from the first. 78
13 The “building up” of the body (a term borrowed perhaps from the architectural figure of Eph. 2:21–22) involves its growth to full maturity, to the dimensions of a “perfect man.” This mention of a “perfect man” has reminded some students of the “perfect man” envisaged in Naassene gnosticism, the primal man who fell from his heavenly environment but will be redeemed and restored to his original perfection. 79 In the light of this analogy it has been argued that Christ, having himself ascended as the heavenly man, has from heaven given the various ministries mentioned to build up his body until its members collectively attain his level in the heavenly world. 80 But the analogy is farfetched: indeed, the expression rendered “perfect man” here is not identical with that quoted by Hippolytus from the Naassene “mystery” (although this would not be important if a material relationship could be established between the two). 81 The new humanity on earth, it is here emphasized, must grow up to adult maturity in order to resist all the adverse forces that threaten its health and effectiveness.
This maturity is marked by “the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God”; these are attained through accepting the various ministries provided. The unity of the faith is effectively the same as the unity of the Spirit which the readers have earlier been exhorted to preserve; it is the unity which binds together those who share the common faith in Christ. (As in v. 5 above, where “one faith” anticipates the present “unity of the faith,” it is unlikely that a body of belief is intended.) It is by faith that the people of Christ are united to him, and in being united to him they realize their own unity one with another. The “knowledge of the Son of God” is that personal knowledge of him which comes through experience. It is not to be distinguished from knowing “the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge,” mentioned above in Paul’s prayer for them, when he desires that by such knowledge they may be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). As the personal knowledge of Christ was the attainment which he most earnestly sought for himself (phil. 3:10), so he seeks it for all his fellow-believers.
The full spiritual maturity that is to be attained is more specifically defined as “the measure of the stature of Christ’s fullness.” 82 The glorified Christ provides the standard at which his people are to aim: the corporate Christ cannot be content to fall short of the perfection of the personal Christ.
14 While the maturity of the body of Christ as such has been in view, an obligation is placed on the individual members of the body, “that we be no longer infants.” More than once the NT writers use the term “infants” 83 to denote spiritual immaturity—an immaturity which is culpable when sufficient time has passed for those so described to have grown out of infancy. Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that, for all their cultivation of “knowledge,” he could not address them as spiritual men and women but as “infants” in Christ,” still needing to be fed with milk rather than solid food (1 Cor. 3:1–2). Similarly, the writer to the Hebrews tells his readers that “everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is an infant” (Heb. 5:13). No blame is attached to the people addressed in 1 Peter for being “newborn babes,” 84 because they are recent converts; but they are urged to develop an appetite for “the pure spiritual milk” and thus “grow up to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2). It may be that the people addressed in Ephesians have been “infants” in this sense thus far, but they must not be content to remain at this stage. Infants are defenseless, unable to protect themselves; in the spiritual life they are an easy prey for false teachers and others who would like to lead them astray from the true path. Like ships at sea without adequate means of steering, they are tossed about by the waves and carried this way and that according to the prevailing wind. 85 Maturity brings with it the capacity to evaluate various forms of teaching, to accept what is true and reject what is false. The mature “have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14).
The “winds of teaching” that threaten to drive the immature from the right course proceed from no pure motives: false teaching is promoted by “craftiness and trickery which schemes to lead people astray.” 86 There may be a link here with Paul’s warning to the elders of the Ephesian church in Acts 20:30 that from their own ranks, in days to come, “men will arise speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” More generally, Paul’s severe words about “deceitful workmen” who infiltrated the church of Corinth and preached “another Jesus” and a “different gospel” from his own provide a parallel: it was plain to him that those interlopers at Corinth were moved by the ambition to gain followers for themselves (2 Cor. 11:4, 13, 20).
15 Over against such false teaching, let them embrace and follow the truth. Some Western witnesses to the text exhibit a reading which means “doing truth,” 87 and possibly “doing truth” as well as telling it is included in the sense of the injunction. “Doing truth” (or “acting truly”) is an OT expression used especially when fidelity between two parties is the subject. 88 Whether spoken or expressed in action, the truth is never to be dissociated from love. The confession of the Christian faith can be cold and indeed unattractive if it is not accompanied by the spirit of Christian love. It may not be irrelevant to recall the testimony of the Fourth Evangelist, that “grace and truth 89 came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
In truth and love together, then, the readers are exhorted to grow up in all parts of their being so that the body of Christ may be properly proportioned in relation to the head. This idea of the growth of the body of Christ until it matches the head has been compared to the normal development of the human body: in infancy the body is small in comparison with the head, but it grows until it attains the proportions which the body bears to the head in a fully grown human being. 90 This analogy may be helpful up to a point, but the language used here about the interrelation of body and head is conditioned by the relation existing between Christ and his people. They grow up to the measure of his full stature, but at the same time it is from him that they draw the resources necessary for growth. Christ is the head, but the full man comprises both head and body, so Christ the head is also, from another point of view, Christ corporate. 91
16 It is from him that the body, in all its parts, derives its life. By his power it is “fitted together” 92 —a participle used in Eph. 2:21 of the building which is growing into “a holy sanctuary in the Lord”—so that through all its joints or ligaments the means necessary for its development flow from the head into every limb and organ. The thought is identical with that of Col. 2:19 (the wording of which indeed is closely followed): from the head, Paul says there, “the whole body, supplied and fitted together through the joints and ligaments, 93 grows with the growth that comes from God.” It is not from the head, important as it is, that the natural body receives all the supplies requisite for health and development; but it is indeed from the living Christ that his people receive (through the Spirit) all that they need to make them effectively his people.
This is true of his people as a whole, and it is true of each individual believer. The body “grows effectively” 94 —grows by the inner strength that he supplies—“according to the due measure of each separate part.” 95 Each one functions best in union with him and with the others. The bond that unites the members one with another is the bond of love—the love of Christ constraining them (2 Cor. 5:14) 96 —so that only by love can the body be built up to his stature.
24 ἔδωκεν δόματα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις (καί is read before ἔδωκεν by א2 B C* D2 Ψ and the majority of cursives). To τοῖς ἀνθρώποις the preposition ἐν is prefaced by F G 614 630 2464 pc (cf. Ps. 67:19 LXX: ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ).
38 Gk. χαρίσματα (used thus also in 1 Cor. 12:4, 9, 28, 30–31), a word not found in the present letter, where the word for “gift” in this sense is δωρεά (Eph. 3:7; 4:7) or δόμα (in the OT citation in v. 8).
39 Cf. 1 Pet. 4:10, “as each has received a gift (χάρισμα), employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s manifold grace” (ὡς καλοὶ οἰκονόμοι ποικίλης χάριτος θεοῦ).
40 Gk. κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τῆς δωρεᾶς τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Cf. Rom. 12:3, “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned to each” (ἑκάστῳ ὡς ὁ θεὸς ἐμέρισεν μέτρον πίστεως).
42 Another is the designation of those who receive and exercise the gifts of the Spirit as themselves “gifts” (v. 11 below).
45 See E. E. Ellis, Paul’s Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, 21981), p. 23: “ ‘The Scripture says,’ ‘God says,’ and ‘Isaiah says’ are for Paul only different ways of expressing the same thing” (for λέγει without a subject when an OT quotation is being introduced cf. Rom. 9:25; 10:21; 15:10; Gal. 3:16). See also B. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia, 1948), pp. 299–348.
46 Thus εἰς ὕψος represents lammārôm (RSV “the high mount”), ῇχμαλώτευσας αἰχμαλωσίαν represents šāḇîṯā šeḇî (where the abstract noun “captivity” does duty as a collective in the sense of “captives,” like ἀκροβυστία and περιτομή in the sense of ἀπερίτμητοι and περιτετμημένοι in Eph, 2:11), and ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ represents bāʾāḏām (where Heb. ʾāḏām has a collective force alien to the Gk. singular ἄνθρωπος).
48 If Heb. be can be taken here to have the sense of Ugaritic be, “from.” M. Dahood goes farther and reads here beʾāḏēm, “from their hands” (Psalms II, AB [Garden City, NY, 1968], 143; cf. Psalms I, AB [Garden City, NY, 1966], 95); he was anticipated by T. H. Gaster, Thespis (New York, 1950), p. 458. But note J. Barr’s caveat in Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament (Oxford, 1968), pp. 175–77.
49 Calvin, not knowing the Aramaic and Syriac readings, concluded that “Paul purposely changed the word” (from “received” to “gave”) to enhance the glory of Christ’s ascension, “because it is more excellent for a conqueror to dispense all his bounty freely to all, than to gather spoils from the vanquished” (Ephesians, pp. 175–76).
50 See E. Nestle, “Zum Zitat in Eph 4, 8,” ZNW 4 (1903), 344–45. P. E. Kahle thought of the OT Peshitta as an Eastern Aramaic Targum prepared in the first instance for the proselytes of Adiabene in the first century A.D. (The Cairo Geniza [Oxford, 21959], pp. 270–73).
51 Cf. the targumic rendering of Deut. 32:35 (“Vengeance is mine; I will repay”) in Rom. 12:19 (and Heb. 10:30); of Isa. 6:10 (“and be forgiven”) in Mark 4:12; of Isa. 6:1 (“I saw the glory of the Lord”) in John 12:41.
54 Cf. F. F. Bruce, Biblical Exegesis in the Qumran Texts (London, 1960), pp. 7–19. In OT Heb. pešer occurs in Eccl. 8:1; the Aramaic equivalent pešar occurs in Dan. 2:4ff.; 4:6ff. (MT 3ff.); 5:7ff.; 7:16.
55 In τὰ κατώτερα τῆς γῆς the genitive τῆς γῆς is epexegetic after τὰ κατώτερα (genitive of definition). The phrase means much the same as τὰ κατώτατα τῆς γῆς in Ps. 138:15 LXX (MT 139:15). “A comparison is drawn, not between one part of the earth and another, but between the whole earth and heaven; as if he had said, ‘From that lofty habitation He descended into our deep gulf’ ” (J. Calvin, Ephesians, p. 176).
56 This interpretation is not extinct; cf. F. Büchsel, TDNT 3, pp. 641–42 (s.v. κάτω κτλ), whose arguments that there is a reference here to “the sphere of the underworld, the place of the dead,” proved so powerful that they persuaded J. Schneider to weaken in his view that the reference is “to the earthly journey of the Redeemer, not to His descent into Hades,” which he had maintained in TDNT 1, p. 523 (s.v. καταβαίνω), and concede that either interpretation is tenable (TDNT 4, pp. 597–98, s.v. μέρος). But his first thoughts were right.
57 Another proof-text for this tradition is 1 Pet. 3:19–20, where, however, τὰ ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύματα are probably the errant angels of Gen. 6:1–4 (cf. Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4). (Similarly, the καταχθόνιοι of Phil. 2:10 are probably spirits or demons rather than dead human beings.)
58 This was the view of Irenaeus: “by captivity he means the destruction of the rule of the apostate angels” (Epideixis 83). Cf. H. Traub, TDNT 5, pp. 525–26 (s.v. οὐρανός): Christ’s journey to earth and return to heaven broke the power of the hostile forces which controlled the heavenly zones and prevented men and women’s access to God. H. Schlier supposed that the language, if not the thought, of this passage was influenced by the gnostic account of the descent and ascent of the redeemed redeemer, his ascent being at the same time the regeneration (ἀναγέννησις) of the “perfect man” (Christus und die Kirche im Epheserbrief, p. 33); but, as has been said before, evidence for the pre-Christian circulation of this account is hard to come by. On the passage in general see G. B. Caird, “The Descent of Christ in Ephesians 4, 7–11,” SE 2 = TU 87 (Berlin, 1964), 535–45.
59 H. Schlier (Der Brief an die Epheser, pp. 193–94) points out how this OT thought is reproduced repeatedly in Philo in stoicizing language; cf. Leg. Alleg. 3.4 (“God has filled and penetrated all things, and has left nothing void or empty of himself”); On Dreams 2.221; Life of Moses 2.238.
60 Cf. Justin, Dialogue 39.2–4, where a summary of 1 Cor. 12:8–10, being challenged by Trypho, is defended by an appeal to Ps. 68:18: “it was prophesied that, after Christ’s ascension into heaven, he should take us captive from the (grip of) error and give us gifts.”
64 In expounding the present text, Chrysostom thinks of evangelists contemporary with Paul, but instead of Philip he mentions Priscilla and Aquila, “who did not go about everywhere, but only preached the gospel” (Homilies on Ephesians 11 [ PG 62, 82D]). (No doubt they did preach the gospel, but among the various forms of Christian service which Paul and Luke record them as rendering in Corinth, Ephesus, or Rome, this finds no explicit mention.) Elsewhere, alongside the masculine εὐαγγελιστής Chrysostom uses a feminine form, εὐαγγελίστρια, by which he designates the Canaanite woman of Matt. 15:21–28 (On the Dismissal of the Canaanite Woman 4 [ PG 52, 452A]) and the Samaritan woman of John 4:7–42 (Diverse Homilies 7.1 [ PG 63, 493C]).
65 Its non-Christian occurrence on an inscription of Rhodes (IG XII. 1.675.6), of a deliverer of oracles, has been assigned a Christian origin by H. Achelis, “Spuren des Urchristentums auf den griechischen Inseln?” ZNW 1 (1900), 87–100; arguments to the contrary are given by A. Dieterich, “εὐαγγελιστής,” ZNW 1 (1900), 336–38.
67 Gal. 2:7, etc.
68 Insofar as ἀπόστολος corresponds to Heb. šālîaḥ, it is apposite to recall that the authority of the šālîaḥ ended with the completion of the work entrusted to him and could not be transferred to another; T. W. Manson compares the maxim of English law: delegatus non potest delegare (The Church’s Ministry [London, 1948], p. 37). The authority of the apostle (in the sense of 1 Cor. 15:3–9) was bound up with a special appearance and commissioning of the risen Christ, but while that authority could not be transmitted, the apostle’s various activities could be continued by others.
70 Gk. ποιμαίνω, used by Paul in the literal sense in 1 Cor. 9:7, τίς ποιμαίνει ποίμνην …;
71 Gk. ποίμνη, as in 1 Cor. 9:7, quoted in the preceding note: in John 10:16 (μία ποίμην) it is used of the flock of Christ as the good shepherd. In Acts 20:28–29; 1 Pet. 5:2–3, the synonymous ποίμνιον is used.
75 C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments (London,  1944), pp. 1–2; J. I. H. MacDonald, Kerygma and Didache (Cambridge, 1980). But διδαχή is used occasionally in a wider sense that includes κήρυγμα. The “teaching (διδαχή) of the Lord” that so impressed Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:12) included the preaching of the gospel.
76 Gk. εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς (Rom. 6:17).
77 The first phrase is introduced by πρός (πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων), the second and third by εἰς (εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ). In such a construction these two prepositions are interchangeable, but the variation suggests that the three phrases are not coordinate, and this is borne out by the sense of the sentence.
78 On ministry in the early church see (in addition to works listed on p. 38, n. 2, and p. 304, n. 141) J. B. Lightfoot, “The Christian Ministry,” in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (London, 1868), pp. 181–269 = Dissertations on the Apostolic Age (London, 1892), pp. 137–246; T. M. Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries (London, 1902); H. B. Swete (ed.), The Early History of the Church and the Ministry (London, 21921); B. H. Streeter, The Primitive Church (London, 1929); C. Gore (ed.), The Church and the Ministry (London, 21936); J. V. Bartlet, Church-Life and Church-Order during the First Four Centuries (Oxford, 1943); K. E. Kirk (ed.), The Apostolic Ministry (London, 1946); T. W. Manson, The Church’s Ministry (London, 1948); A. Ehrhardt, he Apostolic Ministry (Edinburgh, 1958); E. Schweizer, Church Order in the New Testament, E.T. (London, 1961); K. Kertelge, Gemeinde und Amt im Neuen Testament (München, 1972); H. Merklein, Das kirchliche Amt nach dem Epheserbrief (München, 1973).
80 Cf. H. Schlier, Christus und die Kirche im Epheserbrief, pp. 28–37 (see p. 344, n. 58 above). See also J. Schneider, TDNT 2, pp. 942–43 (s.v. ἡλικία); G. Bornkamm, TDNT 4, pp. 811–13 (s.v. μυστήριον); E. Percy, Probleme, pp. 316–27.
81 The Naassene “perfect man” is τέλειος ἄνθρωπος, whereas the expression in Eph. 4:13 is εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον (ἀνήρ is used instead of ἄνθρωπος, perhaps because it is Christ who is the “perfect man”).
82 The same thought is expressed in the two phrases εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον and εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, but it is expressed in fuller detail in the second phrase, a genitival structure typical of the style of Ephesians. The πλήρωμα of Christ is not to be understood in any technical sense (gnostic or otherwise); it denotes his full manhood. Indeed, the genitive τοῦ πληρώματος might be taken as an adjectival genitive after ἡλικίας, so that “the measure of the stature of Christ’s fullness” means “the measure of Christ’s full stature.” It is probable that ἡλικία has the meaning “stature” here (cf. Luke 19:3) rather than its earlier sense “time of life” (cf. John 9:21, 23, ἡλικίαν ἔχει, “he is of age”), but either would be appropriate.
85 Gk. κλυδωνιζόμενοι (from κλύδων, “wave,” “rough water”); cf. Jas. 1:6, κλύδωνι θαλάσσης ἀνεμιζομένῳ καὶ ῥιπιζομένῳ (“a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind”).
86 Gk. ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, “by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error” (ASV), where “sleight” represents κυβεία (“playing with dice”), “craftiness” represents πανουργία (“rascality”), and “wiles” represents μεθοδεία (“scheming”)—a further piling up of synonyms. For πλάνη (“error,” “straying”) as the antithesis to ἀλήθεια (“truth”) cf. 2 Thess. 2:11–12; 1 John 4:6.
93 Gk. πᾶν τὸ σῶμα διὰ τῶν ἁφῶν καὶ συνδέσμων ἐπιχορηγούμενον καὶ συμβιβαζόμενον. Of these words or phrases πᾶν τὸ σῶμα and ἁφή occur in both passages; to the participle ἐπιχορηγούμενον in Col. 2:19 corresponds the noun ἐπιχορηγία here (in the translation above the genitive τῆς ἐπιχορηγίας is treated adjectivally after διὰ πάσης ἁφῆς, “through every supporting joint”). As for συμβιβαζόμενον, which is also common to both passages, in Col. 2:19 it has much the same force as συναρμολογούμενον here (“put together”); by analogy it may be regarded here as a doublet of συναρμολογούμενον.
94 Gk. κατʼ ἐνέργειαν (for ἐνέργεια of divine power cf. Eph. 1:19; 3:7). Instead of the verb αὐξάνει or αὔξει (“grows” intransitively, as in Col. 2:19; the accusative τὴν αὔξησιν there is internal), the periphrasis τὴν αὔξησιν … ποιεῖται (“makes the growing,” i.e., “causes to grow,” active) is used: “the body” is both the subject and the object of the clause (“from whom the whole body … causes the body to grow”).
95 While μέρους rather than μέλους is to be read (see p. 339, n. 35), μέρος here has the sense of μέλος. The two words are linked as doublets from Plato onward (cf. J. Horst, TDNT 4, pp. 555, 566 n. 81, s.v. μέλος).