Full Text for The Christology of Philippians 2, 5-11 (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER September 1971 Volume 35, Number 2 The Christology of Philippians 2, 5-11 1 I 1. \' Il-lCL S ]I,\ 1I:~l:I:11 ] El~USr1121~hl on Palm Sunday ";ill tlic i is ocl, sn!ins, lo is tliis?' That question W- 11as col.lti111lc.cI to Iliiu~~t tl~c rni~lcls ok mcn clo\vn tllrough the cel~turics; it js tlic cjucstio~~ l~:hil~tl tilo cl~~c'st ffol: the 1listol.ical Jcsus jn our clay. '1-flat (llicst, st;.~~-t(~l I>\ f Icr~i~anl~ licimarus n~icl contin~tcd by Strnuss i~ntl I:c~iall, 1-cnc1~ctl its csli~~l:~s at the beginning of our century in the rnonuli~c~lca l \\.ark o t.' i\ll,cr.t Scll\\.citzcr. i\Ftcr rcvieiving the ccn- t~1ric.s oi' ~.c~sc~ilrc.li o~i th~s si~l)icct. Sch\i.~it/c'r colicli~c-lcd : -1 licrc is ~~othing niorc' ncg:~ti\.c than thc rcsult of the critical st~~tl\. c.)f tlrc I..ilc of Ic'sus. 'Tlle Jcsl~s ol: N:l-/:~rc.tli \vho came l'i)r\\:ttil l~uhlic.l\- ;IS thc: .\lcssiah, ~vllo ~>rc;~cl-lcd the ctliic of the I\ingclo~ii 01' ~;o'(l, \\ IIO t'ounclccl the I\ing(loni of Ilc:~\,cll upon cart 0, ancl cliccl to ~i\ c: His \\-ol.Ii its filial colisccrntion, never Iiad ;III!. c!sistc~ncc~." . . . ScI~\\.c'it/c.r t):iscbtl his conclusion 011 the fact that there iverc so rn;llI! c.o~it~.;~clic~tions in tlic C;osl,cl life and ~>crsonalitv of C:hrist, sircli as tlic r~nl)ritlgc;~l)lc gulf bet\\.een Jesus at lacob's ;veil. liungs), anti thir:i~,-, i~~itl thc C'hl-ist \\.ho fcd tlie thousnntls \\.it11 miracle I-~rcatl, that it is impossible to acccpt both as historically valitl. This f nl '1 ure ro I-cconcile tlicl Ilclplcss infant nrappctl in swaddling clothes 11.ith thc I:\-c'rlasting Fa thcl-,-- to reconcile thc lowly Carpenter ivith the l',orcl of Glory on t.11~ 3lou1it of Transf-iguration, is horn of thc failure to gr;isp tlic truc' tli~licnsiol~s of: the 11~1miliation of Christ ;is it is prc5cll tcbd ill I'liilil>pians 2, 5-5. 'This section is comniolil~. knon.n as the KESOSIS of Jesus. It is alsc.) rcferrccl to as n ''Crux Intcrpretuiii," and not without rcason. 13cf'orc launcliing jnto ail exposition of thc test, ho\\;c\.c.r, it is well to colisiclcr tllc contcst that prompted it. Thc Philippian congregation \\,as P;ILI~'s pricle ancl joy. But, unlinppily, these saints were still sinl~ors, and tlicir particular area of \.c.cakness, so colnmon in cvcry congregation still, Ivas st.rife, vainglory ilntl self-ccntercdnc.ss. This is u.liat I'nul \\.an tecl to put across to thcnl as he proccetled to call upon tlicm to look at thcmsel\/es in the mirror of Christ's humility and self- ab;iscmcnt. He tells them, "l>ct tllis mind be in vou which ivas also in Cllrist Jcsus, Il~ho, ]Icing in the form of Gocl, tho~i~ht it not robbcrv to 11c cclunl \\,it11 God; But made Hilnselt' of no reputation, ant1 took upon IHini the form of a servant, and ivns matlc in the likcness of mc.11; 1111cl being fo~~nd in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and hcc:rnlc obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." To grasp thc sense of this passage \ve shall have to csta1)Iish the mealling of t.;ich n.ord in its grammatic;il as well as in its historical co~ltrst. To do this wc must carefull!. studr. lexicon and Crammar. 17ersc~ 5 rc'i~tl~: "Let this mint1 he in you, iv11ic.h was also In Christ Jesus." Thc key 1,-ord in this verse is l~ltroneite, 2nd person plural present of ph ro~teo, \\-hicli means : "Think, form us hold opinion, judge." "ils a nian tl~inketh in 111s Ilc;lrt so is I](. ." 1 lit., i'l~il~~~l)i;~~~s were thinl;i~ig onl\ of tht.n~svl\~c:s. !l11c1 so. L);:LI~ ~:,l~:)l.t\ tl1(:111 to thin]; continu;~llv (prcsel~t tclnsc) :IS Ic.5115 tll(,(~glit. :i110 11c.\cr thougl~t of ~ilniclf, b~lt o~~l! of othcr-s. "llc I lilit I ! i,!~\ci 1''' (Horn. 15, 3), sa!-s Z'a~ll. In tlie s~lccct,tlil~g Ti?l-i,i', li~ l~~-o~~t'c~I\ LO illustrate tllat fact. In verse 6 he s;lys: "\\'Iio, l.)c%i~;i; ill 111~ 1'01-111 of God, tl~ougllt it not robl>c.r\. to bc ccj~~;rJ \\:ill1 (;otl." 1 Ijii 1 cuxc is . . the "Gordian I\not" of this cl;t ire scctio~. T"i-c,r!, \~.ort I j, ;J;I~>(.!I.~'II~~., particularly thc noun lt~or-phe. \\'hiit csactli. rlr?c.; tilib ;\ol-tl rilc:;~n? The lexicon definition is simplcb cnough. I~;ILICJ.-.\ rn~!t-~.;i~~gric~li, Tliayer, Schil-litz-Eger, \\-cscott & Hort. agrcc tl~iit it lilC'.ill.i;, "f'ol.lil, outwarcl appearance, sllape." But thtrse defi111 ticul!. c!o 1101 >uit 111c contest. \\'hat does it mean to s;~y tliat C'l~rist I\-!i>, 111 tlic' 1'01.111 of God, or to sav that I-Ie had the out\\.:~~.(l ;ll>i)car;irl~c. (,I' (I;:!d. 01- to S~IL- that He \vas in the ~11:1l)cn of Gc~l? 'This clifficl~lt\- Ij(:~oiili:\ tlo~~l)l> conipo~~~~clcd \\.hen one rcntls on and Icarns that les~~.; i:~iil)t icii I l ill1 self of this ~rzot-llhc and tool< on thc. rt~or-l)J~c of ;I \laic. Ot \\11;!t tliil les~~s cmyty Himsclf I)\. cniptying IIimself of cli\.ir~c. f'o1.111, 01- o~~t\\.i~r(l alqwar;~~~ce, or sli;jpc? Ant1 \\.hat ditl I-Je ;~ct~lall\- :iss[~illc~ if IT(: tool; uj~o~~ Ilim the for~n, the out\va~-tl appearalic,c, or tl~c \II;I~c oI' ;I sl,!\.cb? The difficulty posed here is ret'lcctcd in tlie \.,lriou.; t~iii~sl;~tii~li\ of the passage. Thc K]\' and thc l t?rl~Ii.;ll \\.orit "form." Of all the rc~itlitions, ho\\.c\.cr. tlicrcs ;II-~ 11011c~ (~i~itc* 50 impssible as the tr;lnslations that define IIIOI.~)~IC ;IS "II;I~LII.(:." '1'0 S;I~ that Jesus emptied Hinisclf of His divine ni~turc is to ~.i)l) I~\LIS of Ilis deity and reduce Him to thc nlere 1cvc.l of ma~l. Sor clocs it 111;ll;e m~icli scnse to say that Ilc took on tl~c nature of a sia1.c. 111 \\.11;1t \\-:I!. is the naturc of i slave intl-insicall! diffcrcnt fl-orn that of otllcr man? The sla1.c has the same body and soul, apl)cti tc.5 ;111d :~spil-iitions, fears and frustrations that his master h;is. \\'hat, tlien, c10c.s r~~or-l)lrc mean in the context of this chapter as \\:ell as ill tlicl 1argc.l- contest of the life of Christ? \\%at is this ~rzol-phc that c:nn be usc(l oi' C;otl and usecl of n s1a1.c as jvcll? I ~vould suggest that 111or.1,lic in this connection is I~cst csprcssctl in contem por:iry 1~11gIisl~ 131. th(: ~\,or(l> "st;itus." Jcsus hat1 clivinc statiis from eternity 1)y I~cink c(1~1i11 \\.ith God. Tllc absence of the definite article horc slio\\.s tll;it il~ros means I)i\.inc Being, or Esscncc:. Thc apostlc Incans to s:i!, that Jesus alwavs cnjo!wl conll~lctc ecluality \\.it11 the E';lthcr and tlle Hol\r Gllost. Tl~at \vas His status from everlasting. Ant1 il \-\.as of this status that He emptied Himsclf to takv upon Him t11c statiis of n slave. Now \vc must continue with the ~lcst \\,ortl ill \.crsc 6, \\~hich is 12ypnrcho11, tllc p~rticiple form of hy)arc:ho, \vliich mcans : "exist, be present, be at one's tlisposal." The I<]\' transl;~tcs this \\:ortI as "being in the form of Gocl"; RSV has: "Iie was" in tl~c form of God; Phillips: "Iic has alj~ays beel~"; NEB: "The Divinc Knturc \viis His from the first"; 'TEV: "He always ha1 the nature of God." 1111 of these translations are substantially correct inasmucsll as the Grcck word docs mean "exist," whilc the gran~~l~atical form of it i~ldica~cs t11;lt 1lli5 c~i\tvr>cc: Ilirs I)c:cl~ contil~l~o~~s from ctcrnity aiid \vill ever oii 1 I 0. 1'11;1t, I,\ tlic \\-a!., al5o i~lll,lics that lesi~s tlitl not c~npt\ I lili~5cIl of Ilis lli\illc ;\at111-c in 1 lis i11c:lrnatiull. but toll- tinuo;l to cxi\l. ill I li5 I)i\.i~ic 1: ssc~lcc ;IS I-Ie ]lad al\\.c?!.s ('lone. -1 11c ~ic~t \\or.cl is 11101.~ cliffici~lt. Hnr/)i~gt/~o~~ is rluite rare in sccul;t~- (,~.celi ;i~icI i~ot 1'0~111~1 i~t ;ill ill the 0. '1'. translation, accorcling to I:;tu~r.-!\~.~lcl t-( ;illgt.i~Ii. '1'11~ first meilning of the \\orel is "rob- I~cr\-," !\\-Ii~c.Ii i\ ~it~rt to ilnl)ossiblc in t'hil. 2, 6: the state of being ccl~;;~l \\it11 (.;i,tl c.;!rlllot c(lu:itctl \\.it11 tllc act uf robhcl-y), s;i):s :ll.r~(lt. ,\11otl1(.t. ~lic'i~liilig of thc \\.ore1 is "prize, 1)00ty, 21 picce of good fort^, I \\ i~lt'ill. Jt \\.oi11d ;I~~IC';IT tlii~t "~II-ize" is the OI~C bcst s~litccl to tllc, ~Ilo~lyIlt of' tlic' tcst, not in the scnsc of an ;~\vi~rd, hut in thcx sc:~i\c. of' ;I I~(';ISII~C\ tji;11 is ~.c.'tilincrl :It ill1 costs, iI pri/ctl posses- sioil. \\'I~;tt 111~. ;~jlo\tlc. 1ile:ins to sn\ is t11;lt lcsus clitl ]lot selfislil!. rc.gi~l.iI I lis I)i\ ill', st;lt~~s ;IS somc1lllini to be rctnincd at all costs. F. Iri \.c11.sc\s , ;111(1 ti tlic ;~l)ostle I~TO~C'C(IS to clcliil~;~t~ that life of sc~lf'-;~l)~~c-~;~~ io11 111 lllc: ~\.oi.cls: "11~1t 111:1rle Hi111scIf of 110 rej~~~tatiol~, i~ntl tool; i1l)o11 llilii 111~' EC)~III of ;i scr\.;lnt ilntl \\.as 111adc in thc lilie- ness of' rilct~: ..\II~I I)c'ing founcl in fi~sliion as a mall, He hu~~ildctl lli~ilsclf', ;11i(1 I)c.cal~lc ol)cclicl~t unto death, even the death of the cros5." \\ Ili~t 111~3 I\ 1 \. LI-;IIIS~;I~~S as "matlc I.Iimsclf of 110 rc.13~1 tatioli" ;~lirl t11c XI.:]{ I-oliclc;l-s ;is ~ilntlc. Himself nothing," is ckcrrc;st:rr ill tllc G~.~.t.li. it ~IIC orit of kc1100, v11i~l IS "hlakc clnpt\:. to s, . I l'llc gl.;~liinintic;~! form in this instance implics tli;~t tl~c cnipl! i11g \\.;IS co~i~~>Jctc. TII~I-e \\:as nothing left. \l'e I~ILIS~ take tilis \\.orcl sc>riol~sl!., ant1 realilc* that this cannot ~eofcr to His l)ii.ille .%at~lrc, I lis I)i\.ilic! Ii\.ine status of \\.isdoni, po\vcr ;~nd glor\. of \\ I~icll c~ill,tictl 1-limsclf. The 13ronoun heautotr, I-limsc If. sti~nils ill ;In c~~iph;~tic position, underlining the fact that Hc cnlpticd I-Iiillself: of l~lis I)i\,inc status onlv as far ;IS it ~~otlc*err~cd Hin?.self, not as f'i~l- as it c,o~lcc.rllctl othcrs. '~l;is is also clcnrly tlemonstrated in the Cospcl Iiistol-\. 01' tlis lift. \\'hilt He emplo\.ctl His ollrnipotcncc:, ol~ilriscit~llce ;Inti o~nnil)rcscncc frccly in behalf of others, Ilc nc\.t:r eilil~lo!ctl tlicsc a(l\.nntagcls of His 1I>ivine status ~JL His ol1.11 heh(~1f. l'li;rt cx pl;~ins t l~c ;~pparent contratlictio~l in His life and \\.hat soi~nc tl~colo~ii~~~s arc l>lcase(l to call His ignorance. That esplains n.hv Icsus rlicl ~iot kl~o\v that there \vcrc no figs on that trec by thc roatlsiclc, a110 \.ct \\.;IS ;~I>lc to tlcstrov that tree \\;ith a word. 111 the one cilse I--1c \\;IS ;~cting t'or ~Iimsclf'in search of foorl to appease His hunger. In tlic othcr case 1-Ic was gi\.ing His disciples an object Icsson on the n~ni~l ill ;I \ ,IC IILIII~. 'l'he emptiness was silnult:ineousl~. filled u.ith the stiltus of ;I s1,1\ c:. "I-iiin- self He einptied," says the apostle, “the st;itus of ,I sl,~\c. Iii~\.ing taken." This is 110 ~l~ctapliorical langungc. Icb~is X;I\(> Ilis o\t-n interpretation of that n.llen I.lc said: "The Son of h1;11i c ,rnlc. not to be ministeretl ~~nto, but to minister, and to gi1.c' 1 lis Iit'c ;I r,lllsorn for man!-." (hlatt. 20, 28). The prirnar!, t1iIfc.l-c11c.c l)cstiicc~~ tlie slaw ;~ntl the free is that the slave has 116 optiol~ lo scr\.c Ililnself, but iii~ist surrender hirnsclf complctelv into tlie scr\ icc. of ;~l~othc~.. That, not tlie nature, not the outwarci allpearancc., is tlic r-c.;11 f'or~n, or status of the slave. ;\ntl it is this status that lt,sus tool; ~11,oll I Ii~n- self in His incarnation \vhcn He "\\.as lnntle in the lil;cncss 01 111c.n." Tlie \vord for likeness is horrloiotrln, ~vhicli nlcans : "Siilli li\rI \., ill t hc same \\lay." In other \\rortIs, Jesus \\:as not increl~. ~i~iiscl~~c~~-acli~~g :IS ii Inan, but \\.as made of tlie sanle stuff as the rcst o'f us. In verse 8 the apostle continue his rcflcctioll on tllc* i11c;lrnation as lie iidds: "'2nd bein5 found in fashion ;is ;l mail, Hr Ilu~ilbli~tl 1 Iilll- self, ancl became obedient unto death, eve11 tlic clcatll of' tl~cs cl-oss." The nard "fashion" is from the Grcck \\,orti st*l~cr?ln, \\.llic~h ~l~c~ii~~s: "o~rtward appearanct., form, shape." The I! ortl iillpl ics t 11;it lesus also had the natural appcarancc of a marl in ci.cr!. rcspcct ant1 could bc universally recognizetl as a true man c1.c.n tl~ougl~ Hc \\.iis God incarnate. The word for "humble" is tapci~~oo \1llic11 litc~~-;iIli. III~;~IIS "to run low'' and is used of the River Nile in that scnsc.. C'c~i~c~r;illy it means: "To humble, hu~niliatc by assigning to :I lo~\-cr p1ac.c.. or exl~osing to shgnic." It is significant that this humiliatio~l of jcsus is not cc~uatecl with His incarnation. Thc kit\. 1osc.s ~iothing b!. taking liumanity into itself. The humiliation of ]&s \\.as ;1 olunti\ry act f6llo1vjn~ His incarnation. Even in His li;ilnai~it\. Icsus coultl havc becn "summa cum laudc," but instead Hc hun(11~~1 IIimsc~If a~id became obedient unto tlcath. This docs not 111~i11l tlliit I-lr \\.as obcdicnt, or subservient to death. Dcatli \\-;is rle\.c.r His ~ni~stl'r. On tlie contrarv, He was al\va!ls tlie master of dcatll. \\'lien Mc dicd, He did so oi-' His oivn volition. The wort1 "urlto" in tllc C JL - c'c' I ; 111e:ilis "up to the point to." The humiliation consistccl in subjecting I-li~nself to the perscc~rtion, the ritliculc, the rejection, tlic bitr;i).al antl tlie shame that culminatetl in His death, c.Iren the clcatli upon tllc~ cross. To be esecutctl as criminal n9ns humiliating enough, I~ut to be executcd bv crucifixion was the unkindest cut of all. Jesus Himself said that "He that humblctli l~in~sclf sli;~ll be exalted." That also pro\!ed to be true in His oivn lifc. "\\.herefore," writes the apostle, "God also 1i:itli highly exalted Him, antl gi\.cii Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of' jcsus c.1-cry knee slio~.rld boiv, of t1iin.g~ in hca\.en, and things in ciirtl~, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess tllat Jcsus Christ is Lord, to the glorv of God tlic Fatlicr." In tlic Greek the word for ''highly exalted"' is hyperupsoo, mhicli n1c;ins to "raise someonc to thc loftiest height." Hc nrlio hat1 li~~niblctl Himsclf to the lo\\ csl: clcl)l.l~s is IIO\\. csnlted to the highest rank. By the same token, I-lc \\-as gi\ c.11 to (illonla, thc h'ii>l l;, ~vliich is hyper r~an O~ZOIII~, ;I~)o\,c c\.c~\ II;I~I~C. Tliis Niihll-:, \\:liich declares the true ch;~l-nctcl- ;111(l tlighit\ of Christ, is 11otll thc 11asis and object of morsllil,. l'l~c il~~ft:i~l;lc gr;111cIc~ir CS~I~CSSC~ in his NARE is beyond ever!, i~~~;~gii~;\tioll, 11111 i\.Iic11 it is rc\.ealed to the ivorld at last every tongue \\-ill conf'css tllat tlic lo\\-l\. Alan of Nazaretli, maligned and crucilictl, is 1 ol-ci, to t11c (;lor!. of &l the Fitther. Thc wliole purpose of tllc \\wt-lii~~g out- of' snl\-ation is the glor!~ of God the Father. This cnc1 is ;~t~;tinccl \\-l~c.~i 1nc.n \.iclcl to I-Iis operation and ackno~vledge Clirist as I_ortl. In tl~c coilcl~~dii~g ~xtr-;~grapll of Ilis QUIZST, Schjveitzer wrote of Jcslis : "llcb co~llc>\ to LI~ as 01l:k u~ihi~o\~ n, \\it11 namc, as of old, by the li~lic.siclc, I4c c'111-ie to tllosc 1nc.n \\-llo knciv I-Iinl not. He speaks to (14 tllc s;\I~-~c \\ orcl: "l.ollo\\- thou me!" i\nd sets 11s to the tasks \I llic.11 Jlc ll;\s to f'~11till for our time. EIe commands. Ancl to tl~osc. \vho ol~cy Him, \vlhctllcr they be \vise or simple, He 11~il1 rc\c;ll Jlinlwlf ill the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings ~vhich tl~c\- sllall pi\ss tllrougli in His fc~llonsliiy, and, as an ineffable 111!.;tcrj7, tllc!. sllall Icam in thcir o\vn eslxrience Who He is." 111 coiltrast to this sentimental eulogy to an unknown Christ of llu~ll:~nisnl, I1c;tr ;\gain the tri~nscentlellt pacan of Paul: "\Vherc- fore God also hat11 I~ighly csaltcd Hi111, and given Him a name which is al)o\-c c\.crjr llallic; that at thc name of Jcsus every knce should l)o\\-, of tliings in Ilc~l\ cn, ancl things on earth, and things under the c~trtll; ~111d that c\.cr\ tongue sho~~ld confcss that Jesus Christ is Lord, to tllc glor!- of God tlic Fatl~er."