Ephesians 4:8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
Messiah’s ascension to heaven, which may very well be signified by this phrase, “on high”; see Psalms 102:19, and which ascension is to be taken not in a figurative sense, but literal sense, and as real, and visible, as Christ’s ascension to heaven was; when He ascended from Mount Olivet, attended by angels, in the sight of his apostles. After he had conversed with them from the time of his resurrection forty days; and which ascension of his was in order to fulfil the type of the high priest entering into the most holy place; and to make intercession for his people. And to send down the Spirit with his gifts and graces to them, and to make way and prepare mansions of glory for them, and receive the glory promised to him: in the Hebrew text it is, “thou hast ascended”. ( John Gill)
He led captivity captive; which is expressive of Christ’s conquests and triumph over sin, Satan, the world, death, and the grave; and indeed, every spiritual enemy of his and his people, especially the devil, who leads men captive at his will, and is therefore called captivity, and his principalities and powers, whom Christ has spoiled and triumphed over; the allusion is to the public triumphs of the Romans, in which captives were led in chains, and exposed to open view. Refere back to Ephesians 4:1 where Paul makes reference to being a prisoner of the Lord, Paul knows all about being a prisoner. We were being held captive with no hope or desire to escape, in bondage to Satan the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. And now being joint airs with Christ we to have power over Satan, the world, death, and the grave.