Translation Error?

I felt like he was about to explode. As I read the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I had this deep sense that he was shouting at me and in a good way. “I urge you to live a life worthy!” “There is one body...one spirit...one hope..one Lord...who is over all and through all and in all!” He really set me back on my heals with his intensity. Then I came to the seventh and eight verses, But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:

‘When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men.’”

The “it says” Paul is referring to is Psalm 68:18. Read it carefully:
When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men,” (Psalm 68:18)

Hmm. The one ascending on high in Psalm 68 is
receiving gifts and the one ascending on high in Ephesians 4 is giving gifts. There seems to be a mistake in Paul’s translation. Or is there?

In days of old, when a conquering king would enter a city he had subdued, he would lead the captives back into their city and receive gifts from them. It is easy to get that picture. After all, “to the victor go the spoils” and to the conquering king, gifts should be given. That is the imagery of Psalm 68; a conquering king who deserves tribute.

The Apostle Paul had seen the king. On the road to Damascus he had an encounter with the risen Jesus and he was conquered. Jesus required no tribute to be paid. He did not march Paul back to his home town and demand gifts. Instead he gave gifts. Jesus turns the role of a king on its head.

So as Paul is writing the letter to the Ephesians, he reminds them that we have the only God who gives gifts. In fact He apportions grace to each one of us who believe in Him as savior. He is the gift giving conqueror. No other religion has a God like that.

Paul goes on to say that God’s people should be prepared for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up. In part that will happen this week as you listen to the preaching of the word, partake of the sacrament, pray and sing. You are being prepared to go and minister in his name. Grace has been apportioned to you by your great gift giving king. That is something to get excited about.

Worship Well