It is a glorious phrase – “He led captivity captive”

James Stuart Stewart (1896–1990)

The very tri­umphs of His foes, it means, He used for their defeat. He com­pelled their dark achieve­ments to sub­serve His end, not theirs. They nailed Him to the tree, not know­ing that by that very act they were bring­ing the world to His feet. They gave Him a cross, not guess­ing that He would make it a throne. They flung Him out­side the gates to die, not know­ing that in that very moment they were lift­ing up all the gates of the uni­verse, to let the King come in. They thought to root out His doc­trines, not under­stand­ing that they were implant­i­ng imper­ish­ably in the hearts of men the very name they intend­ed to destroy. They thought they had defeat­ed God with His back to the wall, pinned and help­less and defeat­ed: they did not know that it was God Him­self who had tracked them down. He did not con­quer in spite of the dark mys­tery of evil. He con­quered through it.

— James Stu­art Stew­art (1896–1990), Scot­land

Psalm 68:18 KJV

Thou hast ascend­ed on high, thou hast led cap­tiv­i­ty cap­tive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebel­lious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.

Eph­esians 4 KJV

1 I there­fore, the pris­on­er of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk wor­thy of the voca­tion where­with ye are called, 2 With all low­li­ness and meek­ness, with long­suf­fer­ing, for­bear­ing one anoth­er in love; 3 Endeav­our­ing to keep the uni­ty of the Spir­it in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spir­it, even as ye are called in one hope of your call­ing; 5 One Lord, one faith, one bap­tism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is giv­en grace accord­ing to the mea­sure of the gift of Christ. 8 Where­fore he saith, When he ascend­ed up on high, he led cap­tiv­i­ty cap­tive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascend­ed, what is it but that he also descend­ed first into the low­er parts of the earth? 10 He that descend­ed is the same also that ascend­ed up far above all heav­ens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apos­tles; and some, prophets; and some, evan­ge­lists; and some, pas­tors and teach­ers; 12 For the per­fect­ing of the saints, for the work of the min­istry, for the edi­fy­ing of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the uni­ty of the faith, and of the knowl­edge of the Son of God, unto a per­fect man, unto the mea­sure of the stature of the ful­ness of Christ: 14 That we hence­forth be no more chil­dren, tossed to and fro, and car­ried about with every wind of doc­trine, by the sleight of men, and cun­ning crafti­ness, where­by they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speak­ing the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fit­ly joined togeth­er and com­pact­ed by that which every joint sup­pli­eth, accord­ing to the effec­tu­al work­ing in the mea­sure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edi­fy­ing of itself in love. 17 This I say there­fore, and tes­ti­fy in the Lord, that ye hence­forth walk not as oth­er Gen­tiles walk, in the van­i­ty of their mind, 18 Hav­ing the under­stand­ing dark­ened, being alien­at­ed from the life of God through the igno­rance that is in them, because of the blind­ness of their heart: 19 Who being past feel­ing have giv­en them­selves over unto las­civ­i­ous­ness, to work all unclean­ness with greed­i­ness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off con­cern­ing the for­mer con­ver­sa­tion the old man, which is cor­rupt accord­ing to the deceit­ful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spir­it of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is cre­at­ed in right­eous­ness and true holi­ness. 25 Where­fore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neigh­bour: for we are mem­bers one of anoth­er. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Nei­ther give place to the dev­il. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, work­ing with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no cor­rupt com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­ceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edi­fy­ing, that it may min­is­ter grace unto the hear­ers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spir­it of God, where­by ye are sealed unto the day of redemp­tion. 31 Let all bit­ter­ness, and wrath, and anger, and clam­our, and evil speak­ing, be put away from you, with all mal­ice: 32 And be ye kind one to anoth­er, ten­der­heart­ed, for­giv­ing one anoth­er, even as God for Christ’s sake hath for­giv­en you.

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