2003-08-31 - The Great Parabola

Philippians, Part 15

  1. The Submissive Mind - Cont.d

    James Montgomery Boice gives an excellent introduction to the verses we are going to consider in this study:

    "IN THE FOURTEENTH CHAPTER of Isaiah there are two verses that tell of the thoughts that entered Lucifer’s head at the moment when he first rebelled against God. Isaiah writes, 'For thou has said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High' (Isa. 14:13,14). Every verb in this passage, every image, points to Satan’s desire to rise to the apogee of God’s universe. I will ascend above the clouds, above the stars, above the heavens. I will sit on the mount of congregation. I will be like the Most High. Satan boasted that he would go up. But the words that follow speak of his actual destiny: 'Yet thou shalt be brought down to sheol, to the sides of the pit.'"

    The second chapter of Philippians contains the New Testament counterpart to Satan’s words in Isaiah. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And, being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things, in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (2:5-11).

    These verses have been called the great parabola of Scripture, for they picture the descent of the Lord Jesus Christ from the highest position in the universe down … down … down to His death on the cross, and then they carry the mind of the reader up again, to see Him seated once more on the throne of His glory, before which every knee shall bow. "I will go up … up … up," said Satan. "You will be cast down to hell," God answered. "I will go down to the cross," said Jesus. "You will be given a name that is above every name," said God our heavenly Father.

    This passage is among the most glorious sections of the New Testament. In these few verses, we see the great sweep of Christ’s life from eternity past to eternity future. And we are admitted to the breath-taking purposes of God in man’s salvation." 1

    Recently we looked at these verses in light of our focus on living in the joy of the Lord. We saw that Paul was focusing on people as joy stealers, and how a focus on Christ prevents the loss of our joy.

    Now I want to step aside from our general focus and reexamine these verses in light of their great theological import. In these few verses, we are shown the foundational truths of Christianity. These include the deity of Christ, his incarnation and his glorification.

    Verse 5: Paul starts this section by reminding his readers that Christ is to be our model. And as we will see, the model here is one of servanthood or an attitude of humility. As we saw last time, it is by following this model that we will not lose our joy though the behavior of people.

    The dictionary defines HUMILITY (Heb. anawah, Gr. tapeinophrosyne). Humility and the related substantive and verb humble, translate several OT Hebrew words and the NT Greek tapeinoo family. The meaning shades off in various directions, but the central thought is freedom from pride--lowliness, meekness, modesty, mildness. 2

  1. Boice, James Montgomery, Philippians, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1971, p. 125-126.
  2. Douglas, J. D. and Merrill C. Tenney, editors, NIV Bible Dictionary, Zondervan Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1989, Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by OakTree Software, Inc.

Questions or Comments?

[email geoff] gkragen@aol.com