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Captives

Like the first readers of Psalm 68, we can pretty well understand the force of verse 18. The enemies have been conquered, and the Victor leads His captives in demonstration of absolute triumph.

Captives under authority

Paul takes up the same thought in Ephesians 4:8. The mighty power of God has been witnessed in the resurrection of Christ. The captives, now under His absolute control and authority, are led upward in victory. Presumably, the reference in the next verse to 'the lower parts of the earth' is indicative that the captives were those in Sheol, who had died in faith. How magnificent the effect upon so many captives when in their order they were led from there! In anticipation of such things, Christ could proclaim Himself the Resurrection and the Life, and bring Lazarus bound from the tomb! What comfort to bereaved ones today, that their believing loved ones will also be subject to that mighty Victor's cry, and will join His triumphal train in the day of His coming.

Subject to the Law of God

Again, Paul uses the illustration: 'God... always leads us in triumph in Christ...' (2 Cor. 2:14). Paul and others became fellow prisoners in Christ Jesus. In Christian service we, too, display the power of our Saviour by our obedience; our subjection demonstrates His triumph. Some seeing this will wish to join our ranks; others will not, but their unwillingness to become His captives cannot prevent God gaining satisfaction from our service (vv. 15,16). We must not for a moment consider 'Escape attempts', for either we stay subject to the law of God, or we will only find ourselves captives of another; the law of sin, the very state from which we have been delivered (Rom. 7:23;6:17).

Thoughts brought into captivity

It is sadly true that not all believers will subject themselves to Christ. The response of Paul to this may provide an example; using spiritual weaponry, he sought to deal with all opposition to the truth. The thoughts and intents of the heart are exposed by the Word of God. Paul sought thereby to bring opposing thoughts into captivity (2 Cor. 10:5). The meaning is to make them prisoners of war. The purpose was to bring the thinkers of those thoughts into obedience to Christ.

You and I might never have been imprisoned. Only through the media might we have witnessed war-time captivity. But we can be demonstrating the victory of Christ in our subjection as His captives, living in the power of His resurrection, and using His Word to convince others of His supremacy.