Philippians 2:5-11

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

We are in the process of looking at -


We have already seen -

A. Paul's Exhortation to Unity in View of Difficulties from Unbelievers - 1:27-30

We have also seen -

B. Paul's Exhortation to Unity In View of Difficulties from Believers - 2:1-4

We continue with -

C. Paul's Exhortation to Unity in View of Christ's Example - 2:5-11

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

Verse 5 introduces a section which is in contrast to verses 3 and 4 in which Paul has basically advised the Philippian believers how they should not be acting; whereas, in verses 5-8 he advises them how they should be acting.

The word ordinarily translated for appears at the beginning of this verse in the Greek text, but it was not translated into the English. Here its use is emphatic and understood in the sense of indeed or in fact.

Let this mind be in you implies that its action may already be in progress and must be continued.

This refers to what was said in verses 3-4,

(3) . . . In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

(4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Let this mind be in you is let this thought be in you, let this attitude be in you, or let this disposition be in you. It means that this mind (this thought, this attitude, or this disposition) must be in you believers in Philippi. Of course, what was good for those believers in Philippi would be good for us as well.

Which was also in Christ Jesus indicates that the sort of mind, which needs to be found in the Philippian believers, has been illustrated in Jesus. He is being held up as an example of having an attitude that was not looking on His own things but was instead looking on the things of others.

In the Greek text there is no appreciable difference between Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ other than emphasis. Whereas Christ Jesus emphasizes that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus Christ emphasizes that He is the Savior. Paul is telling the Philippian believers to think as the Lord Jesus Christ thought and to act toward others as He acted toward others. He did not act in accordance with His own best interests; instead, acting in accordance with God the Father's will, He voluntarily became a man and went to the cross where He died for the sins of all humanity. He thus acted in accordance with the best interests of all humanity by providing eternal redemption for them. Similarly, believers should be acting in the best interests of others. This starts with having a proper mind or attitude toward self and toward others.

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

Verse 6 introduces the mindset found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who being, which refers to Christ, is understood as because He was, since He was, or inasmuch as He was.

In the form of God indicates that Jesus was actually God.

Form refers to His outward appearance. In the form of God means that He was in the form which is God, i.e. He was God and had all the attributes of God. His outward appearance was that of God.

Thought it not means He did not think it, He did not consider it, or He did not regard it.

Robbery implies that He did not think His being in the form of God (or that His having an outward appearance of God) was something He would have to acquire through robbery. It has been translated in the King James Bible in an active sense, i.e. He did not have to grasp or seize this as if He had to acquire equality with God through robbery. This is because He already had equality with God inasmuch as He was fully God.

The term translated robbery may instead be understood in a passive sense as something to be held on to as if He had to prevent its being taken from Him; rather, He voluntarily set aside equality with God. Jesus did not think that equality with God had to be held on to. He left heaven voluntarily. He was not forced against His will to become a human being and die on the cross to pay for the sins of all humanity.

Although both the active sense of robbery and the passive sense of a thing to be held on to are supported by other Scripture, in my opinion the passive sense fits better in this context than the active sense.

What He did not think to be robbery or a thing to be held on to was to be equal with God. He already was equal with God in that He was God, and He did not have to make Himself equal with God. Jesus did not think that equality with God was something which He had to acquire through robbery (because it was already His) or something He must hold on to (because it would be restored to Him at His exaltation); instead, He voluntarily gave up some of what was His when He became a man. What He voluntarily and temporarily laid aside was heaven's glory, but not His deity or any of His attributes. He was still eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and holy. However, He limited His use of these attributes. What He gave up was the outward appearance of His being God the Son.

A glimpse of this glorious appearance was seen by Peter, James, and John at the transfiguration.

Matthew 17:1-2 - (1) And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart [i.e. apart from the others or by themselves], (2) And was transfigured [i.e. changed in form] before them [i.e. He took the form of His heavenly glory]: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment [i.e. His garments or His clothes] was white as the light.

In II Peter 1:15-18 Peter refers to his experience at the transfiguration when he, James, and John saw Christ's glory.

II Peter 1:15-18 - (15) Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. (16) For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (17) For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (18) And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

Made himself of no reputation means He made Himself empty, He emptied Himself, or He divested Himself of His privileges. Although many suggestions have been made regarding what made himself of no reputation means or its extent, it is best to let the Scriptures speak for themselves. The way Christ made himself of no reputation or emptied Himself is indicated by what is stated in the rest of verse 7 and all of verse 8,

Philippians 2:7-8 - . . . Took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

And took upon him is and took upon Himself.

What He took upon Himself was the form of a servant, i.e. the outward appearance of a slave. The form of is the same term used in the previous verse where it says being in the form of God. Jesus was never actually a slave to any human being. However, He was a servant of God. At the same time, He went from the highest position, that of being God the Son in heaven, to a position which was basically equivalent to the lowest position on earth, that of a slave.

And was made in the likeness of men is and became in the form (or appearance) of human beings. At the same time, however, He did not give up His deity; and He never became a sinner. In reference to Christ's emptying Himself, Paul wrote in -

II Corinthians 8:9 - For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich (emphasis added).

In John 17:4-5 , Jesus prayed,

John 17:4-5 - (4) I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (5) And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was (emphasis added).

John 17:4-5 indicates that Christ gave up heaven's glory when He became a man. In verse 5 Christ's prayer is that the glory He had before the creation of the world be restored to Him. This was restored to Him following His ascension to heaven.

Likewise, in John 1:1-2 , 14, John indicates that Jesus was God and that He was also with God but that He became a human being. He also indicates that Christ's glory, the sort of glory one would expect to see in the Son of God, was seen.

John 1:1-2 - (1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God (emphasis added).

John 1:14 - (14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld [i.e. we saw or we looked at] his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (emphasis added).

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

And being found is understood as after He was found or and He was found.

In fashion means in outward appearance, in form, or in shape.

As a man suggests as a human being (is found).

He humbled himself implies He humiliated Himself.

And became obedient does not mean that Christ was previously disobedient to God the Father, because what He became was something He had never previously been: He became obedient unto death. Although He had always obeyed His Father, He had never previously been called upon to die.

Unto death is until death or even to the point of death. The reference, of course, is to Jesus Christ's dying on the cross in payment for the sins of all humanity. Although He was the Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus humbled Himself when He became a man and was obedient to God the Father all the way up to and including dying on the cross for sin.

Even is emphatic and means indeed, in fact, or certainly.

The death of the cross makes it specific regarding which death Paul is writing about. It is not any death as if it were death by choking or death by strangulation, but it was death by crucifixion on the cross where His blood was shed. It restricts His death to a death which comes as the result of His having been crucified rather than dying in some other fashion. His humbling Himself to become a man went even farther when He died the most despicable death imaginable, that of crucifixion. It was God the Son dying on the cross as if He were a common criminal and in the process, even though He had never committed so much as a single sin, became sin for us. What an example of looking out for the best interests of others, even of those who would deny Him.

II Peter 2:1 - But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (emphasis added).

Philippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.

Wherefore introduces a strong inference and is used in the sense of for this reason.

God is God the Father.

Also suggests the first of two things God did for Christ.

Hath highly exalted him (i.e. has highly exalted the Lord Jesus Christ). It means has raised Him to the loftiest height. This exaltation took place immediately following Christ's ascension to heaven.

And (hath) given him [i.e. Christ] a name which is above every name indicates the second thing God the Father has done on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What God the Father gave Jesus is a name. This is not just any name; instead, it is restricted in its meaning to being a name which is above every other name. It takes on the sense of the name superior to.

And what the name given to Jesus is superior to or above is every name which can be mentioned. The name which is above every name which God the Father has given to Jesus is Lord, the name by which God was known in the Old Testament.

Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.

Verses 10 and 11 indicate the reason God the Father highly exalted Jesus and gave Him a name which is above every name. Therefore, that is understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that. It may introduce intended result in the sense of so that or with the result that.

At the name of Jesus implies whenever the name of Jesus is mentioned. It is not the name Jesus that is intended but the name of Jesus, i.e. the name belonging to Jesus or the name possessed by Jesus. It is the name Lord.

At the mention of the name Lord, i.e. the name possessed by Jesus, every knee should bow (don't put too much emphasis on the word should. It is that every knee bow). The fact that every knee will bow is indicative that everyone will individually submit himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and will recognize Christ's Lordship and sovereignty over his life. By no stretch of the imagination does this indicate that all these people will be saved persons. It does, however, indicate that everyone will ultimately acknowledge the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The knee, whether human, angelic, or demonic, is used to represent a being just as a part is used to represent a whole.

Of things in heaven indicates that the knee belonging to every heavenly being will bow. This includes not only those beings that are angelic spirit beings but also any other beings that might be found in the heavens.

And things in earth indicates that all earthly beings will also bow in submission at the mention of the name belonging to Jesus. The phrase of things in earth is likely limited to intelligent beings, but at least one writer has suggested that it includes members of the animal creation. However, the animal creation has never rebelled against God; so, I don't think it includes the animal creation.

And things under the earth implies of beings who are subterranean and implies beings or powers under the earth. Every being that has ever been created, whether angelic or fallen, is going to bow in acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ when the name Lord, the name which belongs to Jesus, is mentioned.

Philippians 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

As indicated by and that, verse 11 continues the thought begun in verse 10.

Every tongue implies that the entire creation will confess to God and that this confessing will be done individually. There will be no exceptions. Every tongue is each tongue and represents each being, whether human, angelic, or demonic. It is another example of using a part to represent the whole.

Should confess means should admit or should acknowledge. Again, don't put too much emphasis on the word should. It is that every tongue confess. What every tongue will acknowledge is that Jesus Christ is Lord. Thus, there will be a recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ by all. Furthermore, the fact that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord suggests that the name of Jesus, the name which is above every name, the name which has been given to Jesus, is the name Lord.

Although there were attempts to force believers to say that Caesar is Lord, all will eventually acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.

To the glory of God the Father indicates the purpose for which every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. God the Father will be the recipient of glory from all beings, even from the fallen creation. All glory ultimately belongs to God the Father, and every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord will bring glory to God the Father.