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EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 7

Verse 7. But made himself of no reputation. This translation by no means conveys the sense of the original. According to this it would seem that he consented to be without distinction or honour among men; or that he was willing to be despised or disregarded. The Greek is, eauton ekenwse. The word kenow means, literally, to empty, to make empty, to make vain or void. It is rendered made void in Ro 4:14; made of none effect, 1 Co 1:17; make void, 1 Co 9:15; should be vain, 2 Co 9:3. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, except in the passage before us. The essential idea is that of bringing to emptiness, vanity, or nothingness; and hence it is applied to a case where one lays aside his rank and dignity, and becomes, in respect to that, as nothing; that is, he assumes a more humble rank and station. In regard to its meaning here we may remark,

(1.) that it cannot mean that he literally divested himself of his Divine nature and perfections, for that was impossible. He could not cease to be omnipotent, and omnipresent, and most holy, and true, and good.

(2.) It is conceivable that he might have laid aside, for a time, the symbols or the manifestation of his glory, or that the outward expressions of his majesty in heaven might have been withdrawn. It is conceivable for a Divine Being to intermit the exercise of his almighty power, since it cannot be supposed that God is always exerting his power to the utmost. And, in like manner, there might be for a time a laying aside or intermitting of these manifestions or symbols, which were expressive of the Divine glory and perfections. Yet

(3.) this supposes no change in the Divine nature, or in the essential nature of the Divine perfections. When the sun is obscured by a cloud, or in an eclipse, there is no real change of its glory, nor are his beams extinguished, nor is the sun himself in any measure changed. His lustre is only for a time obscured. So it might have been in regard to the manifestation of the glory of the Son of God. Of course, there is much in regard to this which is obscure; but the language of the apostle undoubtedly implies more than that he took an humble place, or that he demeaned himself in an humble manner. In regard to the actual change respecting his manifestations in heaven, or the withdrawing of the symbols of his glory there, the Scriptures are nearly silent, and conjecture is useless—perhaps improper. The language before us fairly implies that he laid aside that which was expressive of his being Divine—that glory which is involved in the phrase "being in the form of God"—and took upon himself another form and manifestation in the condition of a servant.

And took upon him the form of a servant. The phrase "form of a servant," should be allowed to explain the phrase "form of God" in Php 2:6. The form of a servant is that which indicates the condition of a servant, in contradistinction from one of higher rank. It means, to appear as a servant, to perform the offices of a servant, and to be regarded as such. He was made like a servant in the lowly condition which he assumed. The whole connexion and force of the argument here demands this interpretation. Storr and Rosenmuller interpret this as meaning that he became the servant or minister of God, and that in doing it, it was necessary that he should become a man. But the objection to this is obvious. It greatly weakens the force of the apostle's argument. His object is to state the depth of humiliation to which he descended; and this was best done by saying that he descended to the lowest condition of humanity, and appeared in the most humble garb. The idea of being a "servant or minister of God" would not express that, for this is a term which might be applied to the highest angel in heaven. Though the Lord Jesus was not literally a servant or slave, yet what is here affirmed was true of him in the following respects:

(1.) he occupied a most lowly condition in life; and

(2.) he condescended to perform such acts as are appropriate only to those who are servants. "I am among you as he that serveth," Lu 22:27. Comp Joh 13:4-15.

And was made in the likeness of men. Marg., habit. The Greek word means likeness, resemblance. The meaning is, he was made like unto men by assuming such a body as theirs. See Barnes "Ro 8:3".

 

{a} "made himself" Ps 22:6 {*} "reputation" "account" {b} "and was made" Lu 22:27 {+} "made" "Being born" {1} "likeness" "habit"

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