“7 Now to each one of us was given this grace, according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” LEB
“Christ’s gift” I believe this refers to the general endowment or equipping of the Church (Eph 4:12). “to each one of us was given this grace” Each one of us, as individual members of the Church, has received grace (literally, “the grace”).
Thus, I understand Paul to be saying: “To each one of us, as individual members of the Church, has been given grace, that is, the endowment of Christ has been measured out to us individually; each one of us has been equipped to serve in the body of Christ.” “8 Therefore it says, ‘Ascending on high he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men.” This is apparently a quote from Psalm 68:18, which says: “You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men….” ESV It seems clear that this is a prophecy about the Messiah (the Christ), considering the context in which Paul is quoting it. This gives us the picture of a returning, conquering hero, leading his captives, bound hand and foot with shackles. He is thus honored with gifts as a reward for his victory. However, Paul turns that around and sees him as the giver of the gifts. I believe what that implies, is that this leader shared those gifts with his men who fought so valiantly with him. Jesus is our “conquering hero,” having defeated His enemies, and ours too. What enemy did Jesus defeat? Both the writer of Hebrews and Paul answers that for us: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” ESV (He 2:14) “25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death…….54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ESV (1 Cor 15:25,26,54-57)
See also Romans 6:1-11 The enemy Jesus defeated was both death (the consequence of sin) and Satan, “who has the power of death.” Thus we see Christ leading us in “triumphal procession” (2 Cor 2:14), with our enemies chained behind us. While a victorious Commanding General may be able to share the glory with his men, in our case, Jesus alone has that honor. It was He alone who brought total defeat to our enemies, and provided the salvation that only He could provide. However, as the old hymn says, we have “victory in Jesus,” and as Paul said in 1 Cor 15:57, God “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Thus as the victorious General shared gifts with his men, the victorious Lord and Savior and King has bestowed gifts to His people so that He may carry out His plan and purpose through us. These gifts are part of the many spiritual blessings that we have in Christ (Eph 1:3).
“9 Now ‘he ascended,’ what is [it], except that he also descended to the lower regions of the earth? 10 The one who descended himself is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order that he might fill all [things].” LEB
“to the lower regions of the earth”
I believe the ESV and the NET Bible have it correct:
“into the lower regions, the earth” ESV“to the lower regions, namely, the earth?” NET Bible
Jesus left His throne in Glory and came to this earth (descended) in human form. He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave, thereby defeating His enemies. He then returned to Heaven (ascended) and is now seated at the right hand of the Father (1 Pe 3:22).
“in order that he might fill all [things]”
The Greek word for “fill” is pleroo, which means the following:
To fill to the full
With those definitions in mind, Paul may be referring to the fact that Jesus fulfilled all things, and has thus completed His mission. Or it may refer to His omnipresence, where He fills the universe with His presence and glory and power over all things. It think it probably has all of that in view.