[CF Devotionals] 2003-09-06 - Philippians

Part 16

  1. The Submissive Mind - Cont.d

    Verses 6-7: We see how Christ models humility in the following verses. Paul starts out by speaking to the deity of Christ, His preincarnate state. We are told in this state, that He was "existing in the form of God." 3

    This is in contrast to what we see in verse 7, where the reference is to "the outward appearance, which may be temporary." 4

    The reason Christ didn’t act as if His deity was something "to be grasped" or held on to, was because this was His very nature and the incarnation did not change that. Christ was, is and always will be God! Therefore, since Christ’s focus was on His task, not His condition, He was willing to become "nothing." Fee puts it this way:

    "Equality with God is something that was inherent to Christ in his preexistence; but he did not consider Godlikeness to consistent in "grasping" or "seizing" or as "grasping it to his own advantage," which would be the normal expectation of lordly power—and the nadir of selfishness." 5

    For Christ, humility was demonstrated in a five-step downward process. Swindoll identifies them as:

    1. He emptied Himself.
    2. He took the form of a servant.
    3. He was made in the likeness of humanity.
    4. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient unto death.
    5. He accepted the most painful and humiliating way to die—crucifixion. 6

    We see steps one, two and three here in verse 7. The creator took on the form of His creation. This was the addition of something and not exercising something else. He emptied himself of self-interest, not deity. Kent expresses it this way:

    "In summation, Christ did not empty himself of the form of God (i.e., his deity), but of the manner of existence as equal to God. He did not lay aside the divine attributes, but "the insignia of majesty" (Lightfoot, p. 112). Mark Twain’s novel The Prince and the Pauper, describing a son of Henry VIII who temporarily changed positions with a poor boy in London, provides an illustration. Christ’s action has been described as the laying aside during the incarnation of the independent use of his divine attributes (A.J. McClain, "The Doctrine of the Kenosis in Philippians 2:5-8," Grace Journal , vol. 8 , no. 2; reprinted from The Biblical Review Quarterly , October, 1928).

    This is consistent with other NT passages that reveal Jesus as using his divine powers and displaying his glories upon occasion (e.g., miracles, the Transfiguration), but always under the direction of the Father and the Spirit." 7

    "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside." … "Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son also does." … "So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me." … "Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (Luke 4:14; John 5:19; 8:28; 14:10).

  1. Kent, Homer H., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, “Philippians,” Zondervan I nteractive Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990, Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by OakTree Software, Inc.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Fee, Gordon, D., Philippians, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1999, p. 94.
  4. Swindoll, Charles R., Laugh Again, Word Publishing, Dallas, TX, 1992, p. 85
  5. Kent.

Questions or Comments?

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