The God Who Took On Flesh

Christmas Story According To Paul: Exposition of Philippians 2:6-7

In these two verses, Apostle Paul wanted the church in Philippi to contemplate that despite pre-incarnate Christ Jesus being “truly God (in essence, morphē)”(Utley: 1997: 178), he did not count equality with God.

The Epistle to Philippian’s expositor, Homer. A. Kent, Jr. outline out two assertions made in verse 6 concerning the Christ’s pre-incarnate status: “He existed in the form of God and he did not regard his existing in a manner of equality with God as a prize to be grasped or held onto. “Being in very nature God” is, literally, “existing in the form of God.””(Kent: 1981: 123)

Christ Jesus emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men

Christ Jesus, who is morphē theos(form of God) pour out (kenoō) himself by taking morphē doulos (form of servant) through the incantation. Christ Jesus, driven by love freely made nothing of Himself by not holding onto his heavenly glory, status and privileges. He humbled Himself in taking the form of being that hungers, thirsts, fears, feels pain, grow in wisdom knowledge and dies.

Kenosis theory advocates, I believe, miss the spirit of the passage when they claim much out Paul’s expression of Christ emptying himself namely “He actually set [omnipotence and omniscience] aside and genuinely took the form of a servant”(Peoples: 2011: ad).

Sean M. McDonough outstandingly noted that: “Paul is not saying that Christ became less than God or “gave up” some divine attributes; he is not even commenting directly on the question of whether Jesus was fully omnipotent or omniscient during his time on earth. Nor is he saying that Christ ever gave up being “in the form of God.” Rather, Paul is stressing that Christ, who had all the privileges that were rightly his as king of the universe, gave them up to become an ordinary Jewish baby bound for the cross. Christ “emptied himself” by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men[1] (roughly equivalent phrases).”(McDonough: 2007: 2283). It was a subtraction by addition[2].

Lesson To be Learned From Philippians 2:6-7

Paul wants Christians to learn from the King of glory, who did not hold onto his glorious status, not “looking on His own things” (Php 2:4), which is rightfully his. Wiersbe wonderfully reasoned that “ Jesus did not think of Himself; He thought of others. His outlook (or attitude) was that of unselfish concern for others. This is “the mind of Christ,” an attitude that says, “I cannot keep my privileges for myself, I must use them for others; and to do this, I will gladly lay them aside and pay whatever price is necessary.”(Wiersbe: 1996: ed)

Christians in all positions and status are called to learn from their Master. Learning not to grasp or hold onto to their privilege positions and status but to pour themselves into mission. A mission that aims towards unity and that may only archived through humility, the art of humbling in love through serving others as we look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others.

This art of humble living in the footprints of Christ Jesus will destroy selfish ambition, struggle for control and power and division within Christian’s ministries and substituted it with the passion and hunger for serving others.

The passion and hunger that will bring Merry in Christmas time.

[1] Emphasis fond on original notes.

[2] Giving up the nature (omniscient and omnipotent) would be, I believe, a long short from Paul’s teaching in this passage, since it would imply that the Philippians were to give up or lay aside one/or more of their natures. Over and above that, verse 4 increases the plausibility of giving up of status and position than that of giving up of nature.

Bibliography:

Gaebelein, F. E., Wood, A. S., Kent, H. A., Jr., Vaugn, C., Thomas, R. L., Earle, R., Hiebert, D. E., & Rupprecht, A. A. (1981). The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11: Ephesians through Philemon. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Utley, R. J. D. (1997). Vol. Volume 8: Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, then later, Philippians). Study Guide Commentary Series. Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Php 2:5). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

McDonough, Sean M. (2007), Note on Philippians in The Holy Bible: English standard version study bible. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Peoples, Glenn. Blogname: Say Hello to my Little Friend: Article: Nuts and Bolts 012: Kenosis(http://www.beretta-online.com/wordpress/2011/nuts-and-bolts-012-kenosis/) Last accessed: 17th November 2011.

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One thought on “The God Who Took On Flesh

  1. This is from one of the greatest passages of Scripture, and it comes to us in a book primarily about finding joy while giving up on what we want for ourselves. In a society that is so concerned about our “rights” and getting more stuff, it is a wonderful reminder that we, as Christians, should covet only a closer walk with Christ.

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