“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.’ (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:7-10).
For the gospel to be a factual announcement of the good news of spiritual victory in Christ, Jesus first had to conquer sin, Hades, and death.
Before the Son of Man could ascend to God’s right hand and be given “dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him” (Daniel 7:14), before Jesus’ dominion could be an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14), before the Christ could be given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18) and become “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15), Jesus had to secure the possession of the keys of Hades and death (Revelation 1:18). To do this, He first had to descend into the lower parts of the earth. He had to die for our sins according to the Scriptures, be buried, and rise again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Then, when the day of Pentecost had fully come (Acts 2:1)—about fifty days after His descension into the earth and ten days after His ascension into heaven—Jesus Himself began giving gifts to humanity, thus demonstrating He had been coronated a priest on His throne (Zechariah 6:13). He baptized the twelve apostles with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:2-4)—just as He had promised (Acts 1:4-5) and Joel had prophesied (Acts 2:17-21). To all humanity the offer of salvation was extended to whoever would call upon the name of the one Lord (Acts 2:21). On that day, about 3,000 Jews gladly received the joyously good news of spiritual victory in the descended and ascended Christ and were baptized (Acts 2:41). On that day, the keys of the kingdom could be and were used by Peter (cf. Matthew 16:19; Acts 2:37-38), and the construction of the church—the one body of all the saved—began right on schedule (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47).
From that day in Jerusalem until Jesus’ final act as Lord—the baptism of fire at His second appearing—the offer of salvation from sin remains for all (Acts 2:39).
Thank God for the descended and ascended Christ.