Who is Jesus? (Part 1): The Humility of Christ Philippians 2:5-7

Who is Jesus? (Part 1): The Humility of Christ Philippians 2:5-7

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1) Jesus is fully God and full of glory. (5-6)

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,: Paul continues with his previous exhortations to the Philippian Church about their need to be humble. He presents them with a grounding that is rooted in Christ. This phrase points to two things:

First, the believer is united with Christ. You and I are in union with the Savior. He has clothed us with His righteousness and He was made our sin so that through His death, God’s wrath would be justified. Christ indwells us through the Spirit, so we are quite literally united with Jesus. He is in us and we are in Him.

Second, the believer is to increasingly have the mind of Christ. He is our Savior but also our example. We will never be perfect like Christ, but we will live our lives in light of his gift of salvation. We live our lives in light of the cross. Therefore, the Spirit will continually sanctify us, growing us to become more like Christ in our thoughts and actions. So like Christ we are to humble ourselves.

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,: Paul now begins what Scholars consider an early Christian Hymn that centers on the nature and the glory of Christ. In verse 6 we can make three crucial observations to the nature of Christ Jesus.

I. Jesus is God: Going back to John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

Philippians 6 uses the word “form”, which in the Greek is “morphe”. Boice aptly explains this term, “This word points both outward to the shape of an object and inward to ask about things that cannot be detected on the surface.” This means that Jesus is the very same nature and being as God.

II. Jesus is co-equal with the Father: The term “equality” is translated from “isos”, which literally means equal measure. Therefore, we see that Jesus is equal with God and the same nature of God.

III. Jesus is full of glory: In other words Jesus is of the same worth of God. He is of the same value, displays the same character, shares in the same attributes, and worth the same praise. This glory or worth of God, which isn’t only in Christ’s possessions, it’s His nature, is not something that He holds to Himself as a treasure.

A parallel understanding of glory can be found in the Old Testament. Moses as he approached God at Mount Sinai came down to the Israelites and it’s said that “the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory”. (2 Cor. 3:7) This is the same glory mentioned in Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration of Jesus as the disciples witnessed God’s glory radiate from Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.

So Jesus is the same worth and radiant glory of God.

The fascinating thing when looking at the Scriptures is the dichotomy between Adam and Jesus. Jesus is often compared to Adam in the New Testament. Adam sinned against God by seeking God’s glory for Himself. Jesus having possession of God’s glory looks to set aside that glory. In a way, Jesus would rather mask his glory from man by taking on flesh so that He can save man from his rebellion against God. A rebellion that began by craving the glory which Jesus sets aside.

2) Jesus is fully man and full of humility. (7)

7 but emptied himself,: Paul now pens one of the most misunderstood phrases in the New Testament. This phrase “emptying himself” has been used by non-Trinitarians and those who reject the deity of Christ to support their errant theology.

Paul is simply stating that Jesus set aside His royal privileges. Jesus masked His glory and divine-nature from humanity by taking on a human-nature. This is what we call the hypostatic union, which is the dual nature of Christ. He is fully God and fully man.

In other words, Jesus emptied Himself of all significance. He is not a selfish God but a self-giving God who didn’t count His equality with God something to behold but emptied Himself of all significance.

The Dutch Theologian Herman Bavinck states Christ’s human nature in this way, “As a human he remained indeed finite and limited: in the state of his humiliation, he also had a variety of defects (susceptibility to suffering and death) and affects (sensations of grief, hunger, cold, and so on). Still, at his incarnation he all at once received all the wisdom of which his human nature was capable.”

 by taking the form of a servant,: The first part of verse seven provides for us the significance of God’s sacrificial from God’s perspective. This second part of verse seven explains the significance of Jesus taking on flesh from a human perspective.

Jesus by setting aside His royal privileges takes the form of a servant. This word “form” is the same that was described earlier in regards to Jesus having the same form of God. So Jesus literally takes on the form of a servant to the same measure He is already the same form as God.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Paul exhorts us to have this same mind of Christ. What does he point to in this Christological hymn? He points us to the sacrificial and self-giving nature of Christ. You can’t be content as a self aware selfish follower of Jesus. That phrase is oxymoronic and if you think that you can achieve such a lofty position then you yourself are suffering from moronic thinking.

 being born in the likeness of men.: Finally Paul ends the seventh verse with a third part. This phrase indicates for us the method of God emptying Himself and taking on the form of a servant. He enters into our history as Gordon Fee states, “not as Lord, but as a slave, a person without advantages, with no rights or privileges, but in servanthood to all”.

Jesus achieves this feat of taking on servanthood by taking on the flesh of men. He set aside all of His privileges, masking His glory and significance, so that He could save all who would believe in Him. The paradoxical nature of God is found in the manner in which He chose to save us… masking His glory in order to fully manifest it. And now He continues to call and save the most wretched among us so that we would manifest His glory in our midst.

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