New Defender's Study Bible Notes
4:9 lower parts. The ascending Lord was not merely ascending back from the earth, but from “the lower parts of the earth.” This somewhat enigmatic geographical reference could, by itself, perhaps refer to the deep ocean bottom, but this would not yield captives. More likely it refers to the great pit at the center of the earth, indicated in the Bible as the prison confining the souls of the dead, the place called sheol in the Old Testament Hebrew and hades in the Greek New Testament, but often translated “hell” in the King James Translation.
One of Christ’s purposes when He came to earth was “to preach deliverance to the captives, and...to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). This statement of Jesus was taken from Isaiah 61:1, where it read “...to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” When Christ died on the cross, He in the Spirit “went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (I Peter 3:19). The word “preached” can better be translated “proclaimed”—that is, proclaimed His victory over Satan. Christ had said prophetically (Psalm 16:10), “thou wilt not leave [i.e., ‘abandon’] my soul in hell” (Acts 2:27). He returned from Hades with “the keys of hell and death” (Revelation 1:18), bringing “captivity captive” with Him as He returned. His spirit returned to His body resting in Joseph’s tomb, and He arose from the dead, alive forever more. The souls of those who had died in faith came with Him from their resting place in hades in “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22), and then, in a mighty miracle, “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose” (Matthew 27:52). With the thief on the cross who had also believed, the Lord then presumably took them all with Him into “paradise,” in “the third heaven” (Luke 23:43; II Corinthians 12:2,4), where they will remain with the Lord until He comes to earth again with them, and with the souls of all who have died as Christian believers since that time (I Thessalonians 3:13; 4:14).
4:10 above all heavens. Jesus, in pre-incarnate theophanies, had previously “ascended to heaven” and come “down from heaven,” even while remaining “in heaven” (John 3:13). Now, however, He “ascended up far above all heavens”—above the atmosphere, above the stars, even above the third heaven of paradise, “that He might fill all things.” He is Creator and Redeemer of the entire universe, being omnipresent in the Spirit, even though residing at the right hand of the Father in His glorified human body.
4:11 he gave. Continuing the analogy with returning human conquerors, who gave gifts to their countrymen, the ascended Christ, by His Spirit, has given spiritual gifts to His subjects individually, to be exercised for the benefit of the “one body,” corporately. Many of these gifts of the Spirit are listed in Romans 12:4-8, and I Corinthians 12:4-12,27-30. Only four (or five) of the more essential gifts are listed here. As noted before, however, the gifts of apostles and prophets to the body ceased with the completion of the New Testament and the death of John, the last of the apostles (see notes on Ephesians 3:5-6).
4:11 pastors and teachers. The Greek here may be read “pastors-teachers,” suggesting that this may be one gift, rather than two. However, the gift of teaching is also mentioned in the other two lists of gifts (Romans 12:7; I Corinthians 12:28), so must be a distinct gift not necessarily combined with the pastoral (or “shepherding”) gift. The only other gift mentioned in all the three lists is that of prophecy, but this gift has ceased.
4:12 edifying. The gifts are all to be used for “edifying”—that is, “building up”—the body of Christ, both individually and corporately, adding stones to the building, as it were (Ephesians 2:22) and also strengthening the individual members.
4:13 unity of the faith. See note on Ephesians 4:3. Also note Romans 16:17-18.
4:13 and. “And” could better be rendered “even.” That is, the unity of the faith is essentially synonymous with “the knowledge of the Son of God.”
4:14 wind of doctrine. If this characteristic was true in the apostolic age, it is far more so today. The word “children” actually means “babes” (note Hebrews 5:13). The number of cults and heresies and compromises has multiplied almost without number, and vigilance against the crafty “deceiver,” Satan is needed more than ever (see note on Revelation 12:9).
4:15 truth in love. This is almost the antidote to false doctrine and even rank unbelief. “Speaking the truth” is actually one word in the Greek—“truth-speaking.” We should speak only if we speak the truth, remembering that “thy Word is truth” (John 17:17), and we should do so only in love (i.e., Christian charity, unselfish concern for those to whom we speak).