Jeremy Sarber

Christ gave gifts to the church

He gave gifts to men (Eph 4:8).

Some translations of the Bible will say people instead of men in this verse. That’s not an attempt by some to make the Bible politically correct. The original word does not refer exclusively to males. In this case, Paul uses men generically to refer to both men and women.

I should also point out that Paul does not accurately quote Psalm 68 here. Paul says, When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men (Eph 4:8). Psalm 68, however, says, You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men (Ps 68:18). In Psalm 68, the king receives gifts. In Ephesians 4, the king gives gifts. Why? Did Paul make a mistake?

Chances are, Paul was quoting a Jewish hymn. Jewish songwriters did the same as many Christian songwriters have done. They pieced together various passages of Scripture to form their lyrics. Sometimes they would slightly tweak Bible verses to fit the flow of the song better. Then, people familiar with the song might quote the song rather than the Scriptures, which inspired its lyrics. How often have you heard a pastor quote Amazing Grace” or some other hymn while he’s preaching? Paul may have done the same thing here.

Regardless, he’s pointing to the act of a conquering hero who divides the spoils of war among his men. Once Jesus ascended into heaven, he sent us his Spirit. He once told his disciples, Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father (Jn 14:12). Right before his ascension, he said, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (Ac 1:8).

Jesus set us free, and his Spirit supplies us with the gifts we need.