Ephesians 4:8 is a quote from Psalm 68:18, but it is miss-quoted by Paul. The verse in Ephesians says “gave gifts to men,” while Psalms says “received gifts from men”. Please explain. Thank you.


In Ephesians 4:8 it is likely that Paul is quoting the Aramaic Targum rather than the Septuagint.  The Aramaic Targum is a Jewish translation of the Hebrew into Aramaic (a language quite similar to Hebrew).  It may seem quite odd at first glance that the Jews would translate what is, literally in Hebrew “received gifts from men” into Aramaic as, literally, “gave gifts to men.”  But, when you look at the passage in its context, both the giving and the receiving are implied, even in the Hebrew.  In the context of Psalm 68:18, there is both the giving and receiving.  I do not think I can improve on the explanation from the web site      where the author says,

In any event, the idea given by these two translations of the Hebrew is that God received or took gifts so that they could then be distributed to men. Since both ideas are in the text, both renderings are correct. Thus, Paul says, “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). In other words, Paul quotes this OT passage to show that Christ was victorious over our spiritual enemies, taking from them the spoils of battle and passing on the gifts to believers who in the exercise of these gifts can be victorious over the enemy. Therefore, there are no discrepancies to be found in Paul’s use of this Psalm, since this is precisely what David did when he robbed his enemy of their gifts and gave them to his men.

John Oakes

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