The Victorious Procession of Christ
In the Epistle to the Ephesians, written relatively late in his ministry, the Apostle Paul put a particular emphasis on the Lord’s Ascension—as the defeat of the hostile powers on high. As Christ conquered sin by his death, and defeated death by his Resurrection, so by his Ascension he was victorious over the inimical powers of the cosmos, the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).
When Christ ascended on high, Paul wrote, God “seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all [hyperano panton] principality and authority, power and dominion” (1:20–21; cf. 3:10). Christ’s Ascension, then, was a victory parade up to his enthronement, and the forces of evil were led as captives in his train.
Paul took this image from Psalm 68 (Greek 67), which he cited in reference to the Ascension: “When he ascended on high, / he led captivity captive, / and gave gifts to men” (Eph. 4:8; Ps. 68:18). In fulfillment of the prophetic voice in that psalm, wrote the apostle, Christ “ascended far above all [hyperano pases] the heavens, that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4:10).
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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