He Led Captivity Captive


Does anyone know what “led captivity captive” means in Eph 4:8 and Psalm 68? Is captivity all of Hell?


In Ephes. 4 Paul was recalling a tradition from ancient times that appears in Psalm 68 and that the Romans had elevated to an art form. When a Roman general returned victorious from Battle he was given an honor called a tribute. This involved passing before a reviewing stand where Caesar and the royal court were seated. In a long parade the General, then his victorious army, then the wagon loads of plunder and the kings and nobles of the countries he had defeated, and finally all the slaves he’d captured, bound and chained together. The conquering general was leading his captives into captivity. Afterwards he would receive a portion of the plunder as a reward.

Paul changed the meaning slightly in Ephes. 4:8 saying that at the cross when Jesus defeated His enemies He gave gifts to us instead of receiving them Himself. Then in verse 11 he went on to list five spiritual gifts He gave to the church.

At the End of the Age the Lord will lead Satan into captivity and receive the nations as His reward. The Hebrew of Psalm 68 can mean either give or receive so both interpretations are appropriate.