Ephesians 4:8 -- A Question

A querist asks, “In Ephesians 4:8 KJV, what does the phrase, ‘he led captivity captive’ refer to?” Brother Burton Coffman provides the most plausible explanation of this verse in his commentary on Ephesians 4. Also see Bro. Coffman's explanation of "The Triumph Metaphor" from his commentary on 2 Corinthians 2:14, which provides a further commentary regarding Ephesians 4:8.

The following is my concise analysis of Ephesians 4:8 along with other supportive texts:

Our Lord told the Jewish leaders of his day “I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:34 NET). When we practice sin, we are taken captive by the devil "at his will" (2 Timothy 2:26). We literally become a prisoner (or slave) to sin! The prophet Isaiah prophesied that Christ would "bring out prisoners from the prison" (Isaiah 42:7; 61:1), to which prophecy our Lord made application to Himself (Luke 4:18). Sin places an individual into a confining prison.

However, through our obedience to the saving gospel of Christ (Romans 6:1-18), we can now be "free" from the law ("the law of sin and death" - Romans 8:2)  free from that prison that condemned us to eternal damnation (spiritual death) (Romans 7:22-25; cf. Romans 6:20-21,23). The animal sacrifices under the Mosaic law were not sufficient to take away sins (Hebrews 10:1-4), but Christ's one-time sacrifice was sufficient (Hebrews 10:6-18).

Beloved, because of Christ's shed blood on the cross, we can now have forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:11-28; cf. 1 John 1:7-9), no longer a captive in prison — a slave to sin (Romans 6:17-18; Hebrews 2:9-18).

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets

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