Publication Date

April 2008


School of Communication



Primary Subject Area

Religion, Biblical Studies


descend into hell, descent into hell, Ephesians 4, Ephesians 4:8-9, lower parts of the earth, Psalm 68:18


Ephesians 4.8-9 presents a challenging passage exegetically. The reference to Psalm 68.18 is ambiguous; it may picture Moses receiving the Torah or a king conquering an enemy army. Furthermore, Ephesians 4.9 is so closely linked to Ephesians 4.8 that one cannot validly interpret “the lower parts of the earth” (τα κατωτερα μερη της γης) from verse 9 without determining the meaning of the preceding verse. Therefore, Ephesians 4.8-9 is analyzed grammatically, contextually, and historically, in order to find the most likely interpretation for this particular passage. The study concludes that Paul in Ephesians 4.8 pictures a Davidic king conquering an enemy and applies this concept metaphorically to Christ as descending to earth, conquering sin, and ascending back to heaven.