When it says, “He ·went up [ascended],” what does it mean? ·It means [L …except] that he first ·came down [descended] to the ·earth [or lower regions, namely the earth; or the depths of the earth; C probably refers to (1) the Incarnation, though possibly (2) Christ’s descent to Hades after his death (1 Pet. 3:19–20), or (3) Christ’s descent through the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2)].
(Note the implication here—to say that Christ “ascended” means that he must previously have “descended”, that is from the height of Heaven to the depth of this world. The one who made this descent is identically the same person as he who has now ascended high above the very Heavens—that the whole universe from lowest to highest might know his presence.)
But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is, He climbed the high mountain, He captured the enemy and seized the booty, He handed it all out in gifts to the people. Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
But what is it, that he ascended up, no but that also he came down first into the lower parts of the earth? [Forsooth that he ascended, what is it, no but for he descended first into the lower parts of the earth?]
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