You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive: you have received gifts for men; yes, for the rebellious also…
I. THE HOLY SPIRIT.
1. Before Christ's victory and exaltation the influences of the Spirit had been confined, for the most part, to the seed of Abraham; but now He is to he a "free Spirit" in relation to the whole world.
2. Before Christ's ascension the influences of grace were given in mere drops; but now in New Testament times God "pours out His Spirit " in streams and floods. Now that Jesus has really purchased the Spirit, His influences are given copiously and abundantly, as they never were before.
3. Before Christ's ascension the truth which the Spirit found available as the basis of His operations was comparatively scanty, and only dimly apprehended, even by good men; but now the Spirit has all the testimony of the historical Christ to work with. Now, His definite work is to "glorify Christ," and represent Him in the world and in the Church.
II. A FINISHED REDEMPTION. The Gospel of salvation is a finished thing. Its Architect has seen it realized in the complete and glorious pile of the palace of saving truth. "Wisdom hath builded her house;" she hath also "furnished her table." And the magnificent structure and the rich provision is a "gift for men."
III. A COMPLETED BIBLE. That man surely wants the seeing eye who looks upon the Bible as a "thing of shreds and patches" — a mixture of fact and legend — an amalgam of truth and myth. He who is taught by the Spirit recognizes it on its Divine side and in its Divine plan to be the most strictly scientific of all books; and he knows that it is strong enough to bear the shock of criticism on its human side. The Lord Jesus has given us the Bible. His work on earth is the nucleus round which all the books of Scripture crystallize; and He had no sooner "ascended on high" than He caused the canon to be completed, and gave the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures to all the ends of the earth — a "gift for men."
IV. THE GOSPEL MINISTRY. The Apostolate was a "gift for men." New Testament prophecy was a "gift for men." The missionary commission is a "gift for men." The pastorate is a "gift for men." The ordinance of discipline is a "gift for men."
V. ALL THE CHRISTIAN GRACES (Ephesians 4:7). In conclusion, let us ask ourselves, What do we think of these "gifts"? Do we admire them? Have we made up our minds that they are "the best gifts," and do we "covet" them "earnestly"? Do we recognize that it is a nail-pierced hand from which they come? Are we holding out our empty hands to receive them?
(C. Jordan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.