You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men...

The hebrew laqach is the word used in Psalm 68:18. It means to receive, acquire etc.


Original: לקח

Transliteration: Laqach

BDB Definition:

1) to take, get, fetch, lay hold of, seize, receive, acquire, buy, bring, marry, take a wife

Paul then quoted Psalm 68:18 as follows.

Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men."

The Greek didomi is the word used in Eph 4:8. It means to give, to give of one's own accord etc.


Original: δίδωμι

Transliteration: Didomi

Thayer Definition:

1) to give


Paul was an expert on the writings of Scripture, being a Pharisee and a student of Gamaliel.

1) Was Paul twisting that psalm to suit the point he was trying to make.

2) If he wasn't then why the discrepancy in the way Paul quoted and applied Ps 68:18.


Jerome explained the discrepancy as Paul interpreting the prophesy's having been fulfilled:

It is written in the Psalm, Thou didst receive gifts among men. Why the difference? Since in the Psalm the act had not yet occurred but was promised in the future, the phrase was accordingly, 'He received.' But the Apostle is seeing this as a promise earlier given and later fulfilled. At the time of writing, Christ had already made the gift and the churches had been established throughout the world. Accordingly, He is said to have already given to humanity rather than to have received gifts among humanity.1

Augustine made a similar observation in his commentary:

And let it not move us that the Apostle making mention of that same testimony saith not, Thou hast received gifts in men; but, He hath given gifts unto men. For he with Apostolic authority hath spoken thus according to the faith that the Son is God with the Father. For in respect of this He hath given gifts to men, sending to them the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. But forasmuch as the self-same Christ is understood in His Body which is the Church, wherefore also His members are His saints and believers, whence to them is said, But ye are the Body of Christ, and the members2, doubtless He hath Himself also received gifts in men.

A footnote to the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translation of John Chrysostom's homily on the passage - which provides a similar explanation - reads:

He quotes Ps. 68:18, with the freedom of a Messianic interpretation of the words, and his exposition of the Hebrew words yielded essentially the sense expressed by him. So he took לׇקַתְתָּ in the sense: ‘Thou didst take away gifts to distribute them among men’ and then translated this in an explanatory way, ἕδωκε, &c.

1. Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians
2. 1 Corinthians 12:27


Was Paul twisting that psalm to suit the point he was trying to make ?

Doubtful, inasmuch as no twisting is necessary to suit the Apostle's purpose. The first two parts of this prophetic verse are already explained by Paul himself as relating to Christ (4:9-10). The third and last part also relates to Him, who received, among others, the gift of performing miracles, and the gift of prophecy. Saint Paul's argument is that, just as Christ received these gifts from the Father, so do the Christians also, who believe in His name. So his reasoning still stands, even without any modifications to the Psalm, which is why personally I don't regard the alteration to have been intentional.

If he wasn't then why the discrepancy in the way Paul quoted and applied Psalm 68:18 ?

Since both the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint agree on received, I wonder whether he was quoting a textual variation (perhaps the Dead Sea Scrolls might help shed some light on this), or simply misremembering.


I am convinced that Psalm 68 is celebrating God's deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. God led the People from slavery to greatness:

Psa 68:7  O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:  Psa 68:8  The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

The "gifts" refers to the spoiling of Egypt described in that account:

KJV Exo 3:21  And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty:  Exo 3:22  But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

Paul is alluding to the spoiling of Egypt and the deliverance from slavery there in the victory of Christ over the world, the flesh and the devil to say that the believers did not leave their past empty handed. He is not saying they left with golden earrings though but that God filled their hands with gifts from his spirit.

Peter says the same. He says they didn't leave with gold but rather with Christ, their Passover:

1Pe 1:18  Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed [from slavery] with [gifts of] corruptible things, as silver and gold, from [the slavery to] your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  1Pe 1:19  But with [the gift of] the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

So whereas Israel received gifts from men, God, through Christ gave to the saints apostles, prophets and the rest. 


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