Leading Captivity Captive
Vol: 18 Issue: 30 Saturday, January 30, 2016
”And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
The Apostle’s Creed was first written by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, sometime towards the end of the 4th century.
Ambrose (“Aurelius Ambrosius” in Latin) was born into a Roman Christian family between about 337 and 340. Ambrose was a strong opponent of Arius the Heretic who taught against the Trinity and argued that Jesus was a created being.
Ambrose’s “Apostles Creed” was published as a rebuttal of Arian theology.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell, and on the third day He arose from the dead. He ascended into Heaven were He sits at the right Hand of the Father, from where He will judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen
First off, let me make a couple of points. The ‘holy, catholic church’ of the Apostle’s Creed is not the Vatican — it isn’t even Catholic denomination — in fact, ‘catholic’ means the exact opposite of denominationalism.
It means ‘universal’ — in the sense of invisible Body of Christ consisting of all believers. It was later appropriated as the name of one denomination, but in so doing, the Vatican reversed its original meaning.
In the original sense of the word, we are ALL catholic by virtue of being Christians. In the Vatican sense of the word, one is a Christian by virtue of being a Catholic.
There is a huge difference between the two, which is why one can be a Catholic but not a Christian, or a Christian but not a Catholic.
(Hitler was a Catholic. So was Mussolini. It didn’t make them Christians.)
The second point I want to clear up is the real meaning of the ‘communion of saints’ — which has NOTHING to do with either the Catholic sacrament of communion or of ‘saints’ in the sense of those beatified by the Vatican.
The communion of saints originally meant the ‘coming together of believers’ as in Hebrews 10:25:
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
The Apostle’s Creed is not the doctrinal statement of the Roman Catholic Church — it is the doctrinal statement of the universal Body of Christ, later appropriated and rebranded by the Vatican.
Applying the original intent and meaning of ‘catholic’ and ‘communion of saints’ the Apostle’s Creed is a universal statement of Christian faith.
But there is this one confusing part where “He descended into hell.”
The Hebrew word for hell is ‘sheol’, meaning the ‘place of the dead’ — but it is distinct and different from the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the SECOND death, according to the Book of Revelation.
Hippolytus of Rome (died 235) pictured the “lake of unquenchable fire” as the eternal destiny of the unrighteous, who, while awaiting execution of the judgement upon them, are tortured in the abode of the dead (Hades) by the vision of their doom.”
Jesus Christ told the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Of extreme significance is the way He began the story. He didn’t say, “learn the parable of the rich man” but instead opens with the definitive statement,
“There WAS a certain rich man. . . ” (Luke 16:19)
There was also a certain beggar named Lazarus, Jesus said. The two both died, but Jesus said that Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham’s Boson, but of the rich man simply that he “also died, and was buried.”
“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
The rich man complains of the torturous flame and burning thirst. Abraham explains:
“Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” (Luke 16:25)
When Jesus was on the Cross, He said to the repentant thief, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
But the Apostle’s Creed says, “He descended into hell and on the third day, He arose”. That day, according to the Apostle’s Creed, He descended into hell. The “third day” is not “today” as Jesus promised the thief.
Is this a conflict with Scripture?
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
(Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:7-10)
What does “He led captivity captive” mean?
In Paul’s world, when Rome conquered some new territory, the conqueror would be placed in an elevated chariot and given a parade upon his return to Rome.
The conquered kings and generals were bound behind the conqueror’s chariot and led through the streets, demonstrating to the rebellious that those who fought against him now submit to him.
Jesus descended into hell where He demonstrated His complete victory over the devil in a triumphant parade throughout Paradise and before all those rebels that will one day bow their knee and confess Jesus is Lord.
Having held His victory parade before both the liberated and the conquered, on the third day, Jesus arose from the dead and was seen by Mary outside the Tomb.
“Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.”
Mary recognized Him and rushed to embrace Him.
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.” (John 20:16-17)
Jesus had been resurrected, but had not yet stood before the Father to present full payment for the sins of mankind, including those of the righteous dead in Paradise.
In essence, Jesus stopped by to pick up His Resurrection body before He ascended into Heaven to present Himself before the Father to complete His redemptive mission.
Mary could not defile Him by touching Him until after His mission was completed, which is why He sent the message that He did to His Apostles. (“I”ll be along shortly, but I still have something to finish up.”)
Jesus DID descend into hell where He spent three days. (That must have been quite a party. No wonder the enemy is so furious.)
When Jesus led captivity captive and bound behind His chariot, the enemy knew that Jesus wasn’t just cleaning out one side of hell to make room.
He knew it meant that he had lost and that one day he will be cast into the lake of fire, no longer anymore important to the grand scheme of things than the rich man was when he first arrived.
“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?” (Isaiah 14:15-18)
Jesus didn’t simply defeat the enemy — He made a fool of him first.
“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. “(1st Corinthians 2:8)
Like I said, it must have been quite a party.
Originally Published: February 11, 2010