Gift of Faith
“Therefore, it says, WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED A HOST OF CAPTIVES AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” Ephesians 4:8 ESV
It is always cool to me when the Apostle Paul uses Scripture to point to Christ. By the time Ephesians was written between 60-62 AD, Paul was already locked up in Rome. The Gospel of Mark was already written and we can be rather sure that Matthew and Luke were either written or being written. There is some debate on when the Gospel of John was penned. Some scholars suggest that it was written sometime around 85 AD or after. However, there is evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls that suggests all the Gospels were written before AD 60, including John.
Personally, I tend to fall into the pre-60 AD camp for all the Gospels due to the evidence. First, aside from what we can determine outside of the scripture that supports a much earlier date, there is something that has stuck with me ever since I heard Andy Stanley preach on it. It is the complete lack of mention of the Temple being destroyed in AD 70 by any of the writers.
Now, think about this: Paul is in prison, knowing he is probably going to die, and he is quick to point to Jesus using the Scriptures that were most available in his time, which comprised most of the Old Covenant or Old Testament found in the Synagogues. Keep in mind, Paul was a learned man, a Pharisee, and he knew the Scriptures as well as any good lawyer knows the law of their land. Not once did he ever mention the Temple being destroyed. So what, right? Well, this is great news for those of us who believe in the Word of God because if he had then we would know that someone added it since Paul died around 62 AD and did not see the Temple get destroyed.
Yet, peeling that back a little further, the temple being destroyed is not mentioned in any of the Gospels, either. Not even in John. Most of us have heard the Scripture where Jesus says the temple will be destroyed and raised in three days (John 2:19). We talk about the fact that this refers to his death and burial and resurrection. Yet, often we gloss over and forget the fact that Jesus also told the disciples that the temple, we're talking Solomon’s Temple, would be destroyed, and no stone left atop another (Mark 13:1-2; Matt. 24:1-2). It stands to reason that someone would have thrown that national tragedy into the Scripture somewhere simply because the Temple was everything in that day and age. Not to mention, as an Apostle, wouldn’t it have been difficult not to be like, “Oh, and Jesus said…and it happened!!!”?
I know, what does this have to do with Ephesians 4:8? Nothing. Yet, everything! Throughout the New Testament we see the Apostles and Jesus use the Word to interpret the Word! We see them use the Scripture to point to Christ. Why? Because, as Paul I am sure came to realize and see, the entire Bible, from beginning to end, is about what God is going to do to ensure we have a place in His Kingdom, through Jesus Christ because nothing else is going to bridge the gap or lead the captives free! It all points to, foreshadows, foretells and leads up to the Messiah coming to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Which is the very gift of eternal life and salvation that Ephesians 4:8 is pointing to in Paul’s throw back to Psalms 68:18!
How many of us have been held captive by our sins? Our doubts? Wondering whether we should even believe in the Bible at all? How many of us have been captive by the lies the Enemy told us and the labels that have been placed on us? Can you trust that He wants to lead you to freedom? He is the Way, the Truth and the Life...using Scripture to interpret Scripture, what's the truth do?
Until Next Time,