Captivity Captive (Eph. 4:8, “When He ascended on high He led a host of captives…”)

Immediately after His crucifixion and burial in the tomb, the Lord Jesus Christ, descended into Hades/Sheol and preached to the Old Testament deceased, faithful believing saints who had been waiting there captive in Abraham’s Bosom (aka: Paradise). He preached the gospel to all those faithful believers who had faith in a Messiah to come, and now were able to see the in who their faith was placed (1 Pet. 4:6).  He assured them that He would rise from death and would take them with Him to heaven, but they would have to wait forty more days until His ascension.

Many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised out of the graves after Christ’s resurrection.  They went into Jerusalem and appeared to many people.  That particular first century generation of Jews had more firsthand evidence to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, than did any others in human history. (Matt. 27:52-53).

Those who were taken up to heaven at Christ’s ascension no longer had flesh and blood bodies, but they did have a bodily form of some kind that is not fully described that was visible, with eyes, hands, and senses and able to live in the unseen heavenly realm.  This we surmise from Christ’s parable of Abraham’s Bosom and the description of the beggar Lazarus.  Lazarus had feelings of comfort.  The rich man in the torments side of Hades saw Abraham and Lazarus afar off in Abraham’s Bosom.  He asked for Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool his tongue because he was tormented by the heat. (Luke 16:19-31).

8Therefore He says:“When He ascended on high, He led CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE, and gave gifts to men.”  9(Now this, “He ascended”what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?  10He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)”(Eph. 4:8-10).

At His ascension, Christ led CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE, bringing “Paradise” up with Him into the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-4). Some of the martyrs and special ones may have been taken further up with Him to the outer courts under the altar of the Holy of Holies of the heavenly temple (Rev. 6:9-11).

Christ completed His atonement work in the heavenly Holy of Holies at His ascension.  A week later at Pentecost God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell the believers on earth.  This was when the Day of Pentecost had fully come (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 2:16-17; John 14:26; John 15:26).

The captives waited for the consummation of their salvation at His second coming Parousia that occurred in AD 66 (Heb. 9:28).  It was then that they were placed in their permanent dwelling place in the heavenly realm of the New Jerusalem in Christ’s presence.  They also then received their new individual, incorruptible, immortal, glorified, spiritual, visible, heavenly bodies.


For a more in-depth study see the related full “Study Series”:

Study Series 3 What Happened in the Garden

Study Series 16 Lesson 8 Rev. Chapter 20 (sub study on Millennium)