In receiving Christ’s grace or favour we are sharing in his spiritual victory over sin, death and spiritually evil forces. Which is why Paul quotes Psalm 68:18, ‘You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men.’ Paul applied the Syriac and Aramaic translation of Psalm 68 where the victorious king gave as well as received gifts. Psalm 68 celebrates God’s salvation of his people where they are given victory over their enemies and the Lord dwells on Mount Sinai having defeated the foreign gods who are worshiped on other mountains (Mt Bashan) creating the opportunity for Gentiles to worship the Lord in addition to Israel. This image of God’s triumphal ascension to his throne having defeated his enemies is perfectly applied to Christ’s ascension, the captives are the spiritual powers Jesus defeated on the cross. Because of his victory he is the one able to give spiritual gifts to his people. His rule following his victory and ascension fills all things. ‘By cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.’ Colossians2:14-15
The apostles had a very strong awareness of Jesus ascension and heavenly rule as they were first hand witnesses. Paul himself had been taken up into heaven as part of his commissioning and equipping for taking the gospel to the Gentiles. To equip ourselves for service we also need to spend time in prayer, worship and bible reflection taking in the power, glory and authority of the ascended Christ. It will increase our love, awe and faith in him.