Philippians 2:5-11 The Mind of Christ WC McCarter
In today’s sermon, we are after one main point “unity through humility.” Our text today exhorts us to be united by following the example of Christ. The passage contains what is known as the “Carmen Christi,” or “The Christ Song.” Verses 6-11 are universally seen as poetic in nature and may have been an early Christian hymn or confession about Christ Jesus. Before we look at that passage, look back to the previous text which we looked at last week. In 1:27-2:4 the apostle exhorted the Philippians to be united. Now he is going to tell them how to be united: “unity through humility.”
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Exhortation: Have the Mind of Christ (5)
The mind that he is talking about is found vv3-4.
The “you” (plural) refers to the church which should have the same mind (thought process, frame of mind) as Christ.
The Example of Christ (6-8)
Now, to prove his statement true (that Christ had the mind described in the previous paragraph), Paul describes Christ’s actions in the incarnation. This is called the “Kenosis,” that Christ “emptied” Himself (this comes from verse seven which the NKJV translates “made Himself of no reputation”).
(6) It is difficult to pin down a technical definition of what Paul meant by “being in the form of God,” but there is no question that it must be equivalent to the phrase “to be equal with God.” “Form of God” + “Form of slave” (added humanity to divinity). So, as the Christmas hymn says, “veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail incarnate deity.”
“Consider” can be compared to “esteem” in v3. It is the same root word (can be translated esteem, regard, consider, think of, count). Esteeming others better than yourself is not to say that they (in the natural sense) are better at you at whatever given matter. To esteem someone better than yourself is to “count” them better no matter the circumstances.
Christ did not view equality with God something to be “seized” as though He did not already have it, or as something to be “retained,” or grabbed tightly, or clutched closely. When we look at others and think that we are better than them at so many things yet we count them as better, we have the same mind as Christ. He looked at His divinity and did not count it as something to eagerly hold. Instead, He emptied Himself of it (made Himself of no reputation).
(7) “No reputation” translates what’s called the kenosis (meaning to empty, evacuate, divest one’s self of one’s prerogatives). Did not give up divinity (in essence) but privileges.
“Likeness of men” tells us that He did not come as sinful flesh, but only in the likeness thereof. He remained fully God while incarnate. The church has traditionally understood, I think rightly, that Jesus was fully God and fully man. He was in the form of God and came in the form of a slave. The “form” seems to mean “status” in my humble opinion. To be in the status of God is to be in the highest possible position. To be God is to be that than which “none greater can be conceived.” In contrast, the lowest position someone could be in is that of a slave. SEE John 13:3-4. So, Christ’s Deity was veiled by human form and few could see past the veil.
John says the disciples quickly realized Jesus’ divinity past the veil, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only” (1:14). Hebrews teaches us that He had to become like His brothers (human) in every way so that He might become a merciful and faithful High priest to make atonement for the sins of the people.
(8) Not only did He empty Himself (of His right to independently use His divine attributes), but He also humbled Himself. Why is the word “obedient” used of His death? It shows His Sonship and His slave form. “Obedient to death” = wages of sin is death, but Christ was sinless. He did this for sinners—for you and for me. He was obedient to the will of God the Father.
“Cross” = Romans—crucifixion was for slaves, foreigners, worst criminals
Jews—to be crucified was to be cursed by God
Isa 53:12: “He poured out His soul unto death.”
The Exaltation of Christ (9-11)
How humiliating it is for God to become man! That is why Muslims find Christians to be repulsive. They see us as blasphemous because we believe God became man and was crucified. The Jews also find the cross to be a stumbling block and a rock of offense. In fact, many people can not grasp the idea of God as the Suffering Servant. Yet, the Scriptures are clear that Jesus was/is God and that He died for the sins of many. The Philippians believed this fact and it was necessary that Paul conclude the short narrative of Christ’s story. Though He suffered, he was exalted. Why was it necessary? The Philippians were suffering and would suffer.
(9) Christ was restored to His exalted position. Moreover, he has been that much more glorified, that much more exalted than ever before in that position He has been exalted “to the highest possible degree.” He bears the name which is above every name. There are basically two options for the “name.” Either the name is Jesus or it is Lord. “Lord” would be the equivalent of “Yahweh” (it is Hebraic tradition to substitute for the name of God). The context points to “Jesus” in the very next phrase. So it seems clear that that earthly name “Jesus” has now become the highest of all names (in heaven, on earth, and under the earth). Yet, by looking at verse eleven we may be able to add that the name Jesus is equivalent to Lord. (Will give refer at end).
(10) To bow one’s knee always refers to a pledged reverence and submission to something or someone. And Paul declares the full scope of the bowing, “of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.” One commentator says, “Those ‘of heaven’ refer to all heavenly beings, angels and demons; those of earth refer to all those who are living on earth at his [Second Coming], including those who are currently causing suffering in Philippi; and those ‘under the earth’ probably refer to ‘the dead,’ who shall also be raised to acknowledge his lordship over all.”
(11) Not only will every creature bend their knee, but “every tongue” will confess Jesus is Lord. The confession then will not be of conversion, but of final acknowledgement (of Acts 2:36).
Isa 45:23: “I 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.”
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) The Christian experience is one of a renewed mind. Greco-Roman culture despised humility. They thought that humility demonstrated inferiority. Yet, Christians made it a high virtue (one of the highest).
(2) Luke 9:23: “Then [Jesus] said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
(3) “Unity through Humility”