Paul’s Use Of Psalm 68:18 In Ephesians 4:8 -- By: Gary V. Smith

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 18:3 (Summer 1975)
Article: Paul’s Use Of Psalm 68:18 In Ephesians 4:8
Author: Gary V. Smith


Paul’s Use Of Psalm 68:18 In Ephesians 4:8

Gary V. Smith*

The use of the Old Testament by the New Testament writers continues to be one of the most difficult areas in the field of hermeneutics. Theological overtones of Messianic interpretations frequently make this area of exegesis problematic for those who seek to follow the grammaticabhistorical method of interpretation. Many of these problems of interpretation are due to an inability to understand the methods of exegesis used in the New Testament.1

Since the discovery of the Qumran material, the pesher approach has become a popular method of handling difficult New Testament quotations. This is especially true in Matthew.2 It is tempting to automatically find apesher treatment being used where textual deviation, or a “this is that” type of treatment is given to an Old Testament text. In the present discussion of Paul’s hermeneutical principles, we shall look at: (a) the problems raised by Paul’s use of Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8; (b) the meaning of Psalm 68:18; and (c) the exegetical principles used by Paul when quoting Psalm 68:18.

I. Problems Raised By Paul’s Use Of Psalm 68:18 In Ephesians 4:8

Paul’s background in Judaism naturally leads one to expect Jewish exegetical methods in his writings. The interpretations and teachings of Christ and the early church also influenced his thinking. As Paul wrote, an Old Testament text which seemed relevant to the subject under consideration would be remembered. If he were taught or had seen the allegorical method used by the early church preachers, apologists, and interpreters, his mind from time to time would recall the method used and the interpretation. If a passage was Messianic, he would use it in that way. Paul’s genius and the inspiration he received through the Holy Spirit also brought to his consciousness new relationships between the

*Graduate of Wheaton College, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from Dropsie University and now on the faculty of Winnipeg Theological Seminary, Otterburne, Manitoba.

Scripture of his day and what he was writing.

Paul’s awareness of the word “gifts” in Psalm 68:18, for some reason, caused him to use this verse as a proof of his statement in Ephesians 4:7 that “e...

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