Philippians 2:1-11

Last time we took a look at Philippians 1:27 – 2:2, and saw Paul encouraging the Philippians (and us) to be united in one mind and Spirit in Christ Jesus. We looked at several other scriptures quoting Paul, Peter, Solomon, and Jesus Himself encouraging unity within the Body of Christ. What should this single-mindedness be like?…
Philippians 2:3-4
3Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Jesus preached continually on the subjects of humility and ministry (service) to others. You have heard me pray often, seeking the will of God in my life, when any Sunday school pupil can tell you what it is…
Matthew 22:34-40
34But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus calls us to ministry – that is service – to all people. Time and again He proclaims that those who would be great in the kingdom of Heaven must be servants – ministers – in their earthly lives.
Mark 9:33-37
33Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?”34But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 35And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
These guys just don’t seem to get it. At the last supper, right after Jesus had proclaimed to them that He would not eat and drink with them again until the coming of the Kingdom of God, and then established with them the New Covenant in His own blood, once again they were disputing among themselves about who would be the greatest…
Luke 22:24-27
24Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
Then after supper, Jesus demonstrated for them the perfect symbol of devotion and humility, by washing their feet, instructing them (and us) to be devoted to the same kind humility in service…
John 13:3-17
3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
7Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
8Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
10Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”
12So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
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Jesus modeled this mind of service perfectly…
Philippians 2:5-8
5Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Verse 5 – Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Jesus set the perfect example of the single mind which Paul is calling us to mimic.
 
Verse 6 – who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
Paul declares here that Jesus is God, but what an odd way to say it. We understand and believe when Paul says that Jesus is “in the form of God,” but what does Paul mean when he says that Jesus “did not consider it robbery to be equal with God?” The key to understanding this verse is the Greek word ἁρπαγμός harpagmos. This word appears only once in the New Testament, and has two possible meanings…
(a) in the Active sense, “the act of seizing, robbery,” …
(b) in the Passive sense, “a thing held as a prize.”
[Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words]
Thus, the NKJV translation isn’t a bad one, but I believe the NASB puts this verse a little more clearly…
who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
So it seems what Paul is trying to express in this verse is that Jesus did not view equality with God as something to be obtained, since Jesus, by His very nature, is, always has been, and always will be God, and thus “equal” to Himself. How could Jesus hope to acquire something He already has?
 
Verse 7 – but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
“but made Himself of no reputation” isn’t a very good rendering of the Greek – ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν (alla heautou kenoō). The NASB renders it better – but emptied Himself.”
 
But regardless of the accuracy of the translation into English, the mystery of the idea remains completely unfathomable. How could an omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God somehow set aside these three defining characteristics, and become a man? In Christianity, we are fond of saying that Jesus during His earthly ministry was “fully God” and yet “fully man,” but how is it possible for Him to be both? Jesus certainly exhibited the characteristics of both God (e.g. prediction of the future, restoration of life from death, healing incurable diseases, making the lame whole, etc.), and man (e.g. hunger, thirst, fatigue, temptation).
 
Indeed, Jesus had to become a man, and live a perfectly sinless life in the flesh of a man in order to become the spotless Lamb of God required as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind, and thus redeem us from the righteous judgment of God which is the rightful punishment for sin. Jesus had to be tempted as we are, yet without sin…
Hebrews 4:14-16
14Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We accept the concept that God became a man and dwelt among us by faith, without being able to understand it rationally. I’m fairly sure none of the many great theologians of the last two millennia (including Paul) really has a complete grasp of how this transformation is possible. I’m completely sure that I myself do not. Perhaps someday it will be clear…
1 Corinthians 13:9-12
9For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
Again in verse 7, we see the word δοῦλος doulos (translated here as “bondservant”). Remember when we looked at Paul’s greeting in this letter, we learned that this word refers to a slave who gives his life willingly to his master, accepting the ear piercing as a sign of his devotion to his master. Jesus models this complete devotion to God the Father for us, signifying that we are to follow His example.
 
Verse 8 – And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus models for us total subordination to the will of God the Father, His (and our) master. He lived His life, and faced His death in total obedience to the will of the Father, knowing full well the cost. Remember His prayer in Gethsemane…
Luke 22:41-42
41And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
Nearly all of the Jewish leaders, scholars, and teachers of His day failed to recognize Him as the promised Messiah, because they were expecting a Messiah of their own imagining – a conquering king to free their nation from the hand of the oppressor, not a humble servant who would lay down His very life in the service of both His master and His flock. They had forgotten the words of Isaiah…
Isaiah 53
1Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
11He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

Notice that even the unbelief of these Jews (and by extension most of mankind through the ages) is prophesied in Isaiah 43:1!
 
It is a sad fact of history that many inside the church (and notably anti-Semites outside the church – most notably the Nazis) revile the Jews of Jesus’ day (and by extension Jews throughout the ages) as the ones who “killed Jesus.” I myself have a T-shirt reading “I killed Jesus…,” but the Biblical fact is that no one took Jesus’ life from Him. He willingly laid it down for us all in the ultimate demonstration of conformance to the will of the Father…
John 10:11-18
11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep,and am known by My own. 15As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

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Philippians 2:9
9Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
What is this name above every name? The Hebrew name Yeshua (ישוע) Given in the Greek New Testament as Ἰησοῦς Iēsous, and transliterated into English as “Jesus,” means something like “Yahweh is salvation.” Thus we see the angel proclaiming to Joseph after he had learned of Mary’s pregnancy in…
Matthew 1:21
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Of course, all of the names of God are Jesus’ names. Isaiah gives us a few…
Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
How about the Name יהוה (Yod, He, Waw, He – Yaweh or Jehovah) by which God introduced Himself to Moses; the name that we today don’t actually know how to pronounce because it was considered so sacred among the ancient Hebrews that it was forbidden to say it out loud; the name that Hebrew scribes must cleanse themselves in a ritual bath whenever they encounter it, before transcribing it…
Exodus 3:13-15
13Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

14And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’

Jesus referred to Himself by this name, and it was this proclamation of His own deity for which the Jewish leaders of the day finally decided He must be killed. You all know the story…
John 8:48-58
48Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

49Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

52Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ 53Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”

54Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

57Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

58Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

Note – Most English printings of the Old Testament print this covenant Name of God as “Lord” in either all upper-case letters or in a “Small Caps” font.
See the handout – The Name of God.
 
Yet I don’t believe even this one is the “Name above every name” of which Paul writes. I believe that Jesus’ greatest Name – the Name above every name – is “The Word.”
John 1:1-5 & 14-18
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” 16And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Revelation 19:11-16
11Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Why do I say that “The Word of God” is Jesus’ greatest name?…
Psalm 138
A Psalm of David.
1I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
2I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
3In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.
4All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD,
When they hear the words of Your mouth.
5Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
For great is the glory of the LORD.
6Though the LORD is on high,
Yet He regards the lowly;
But the proud He knows from afar.
7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
8The LORD will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
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Philippians 2:10-11
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Paul is quoting Isaiah…
Isaiah 45:22-25
22“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other. 23I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.
24He shall say,
‘Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength.
To Him men shall come,
And all shall be ashamed
Who are incensed against Him.
25In the LORD all the descendants of Israel
Shall be justified, and shall glory.’ ”
Make no mistake. The Word is clear. One day every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. When Paul speaks of those in Heaven, he refers to all of the angels, elders, living creatures, and great multitude of saints we see in Revelation 4, 5, and 7:9-17. When Paul speaks of those under the earth, he is on the one hand referring to those Old Testament saints who were followers of the One True God before the advent of Jesus, the Son of Man. After testifying of these, Hebrews 11 – the great Hall of Faith – concludes…
Hebrews 11:39-40
39And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Jesus also told a parable about these saints who dwell in “The Bosom of Abraham” awaiting the return of the Lord Jesus to gather all of His children to Him at the end of the age…
Luke 16:19-31
19“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
27“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”
In this parable, we see both the Old Testament saints who await Jesus’ return unto salvation, and those who have died in unbelief who await His return unto eternal condemnation. All will one day bow knee to Him and confess that Jesus is Lord, even Satan himself.
 
After reviewing the great list of Old Testament saints, Hebrews continues with an admonishment for us…
Hebrews 12:1-2
1Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
And what is the joy that was set before Him for which Jesus endured the cross? My beloved brothers and sisters, it is your hearts and mine.
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