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Imitating Christ’s Humility
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Php 2:1-30. Continued Exhortation: To Unity: To Humility after Christ's Example, Whose Glory Followed His Humiliation: To Earnestness in Seeking Perfection, that They May Be His Joy in the Day of Christ: His Joyful Readiness to Be Offered Now by Death, so as to Promote Their Faith. His Intention to Send Timothy: His Sending Epaphroditus Meantime.
1. The "therefore" implies that he is here expanding on the exhortation (Php 1:27), "In one Spirit, with one mind (soul)." He urges four influencing motives in this verse, to inculcate the four Christian duties corresponding respectively to them (Php 2:2). "That ye be like-minded, having the same love, of one accord, of one mind"; (1) "If there be (with you) any consolation in Christ," that is, any consolation of which Christ is the source, leading you to wish to console me in my afflictions borne for Christ's sake, ye owe it to me to grant my request "that ye be like-minded" [Chrysostom and Estius]: (2) "If there be any comfort of (that is, flowing from) love," the adjunct of "consolation in Christ"; (3) "If any fellowship of (communion together as Christians, flowing from joint participation in) the Spirit" (2Co 13:14). As Pagans meant literally those who were of one village, and drank of one fountain, how much greater is the union which conjoins those who drink of the same Spirit! (1Co 12:4, 13) [Grotius]: (4) "If any bowels (tender emotions) and mercies (compassions)," the adjuncts of "fellowship of the Spirit." The opposites of the two pairs, into which the four fall, are reprobated, Php 2:3, 4.
2. Fulfil—that is, Make full. I have joy in you, complete it by that which is still wanting, namely, unity (Php 1:9).
likeminded—literally, "that ye be of the same mind"; more general than the following "of one mind."
having the same love—equally disposed to love and be loved.
being of one accord—literally, "with united souls." This pairs with the following clause, thus, "With united souls, being of one mind"; as the former two also pair together, "That ye be likeminded, having the same love."
3. Let nothing be done—The italicized words are not in the Greek. Perhaps the ellipsis had better be supplied from the Greek (Php 2:2), "Thinking nothing in the way of strife" (or rather, "factious intrigue," "self-seeking," see on Php 1:16). It is the thought which characterizes the action as good or bad before God.
lowliness of mind—The direct relation of this grace is to God alone; it is the sense of dependence of the creature on the Creator as such, and it places all created beings in this respect on a level. The man "lowly of mind" as to his spiritual life is independent of men, and free from all slavish feeling, while sensible of his continual dependence on God. Still it INDIRECTLY affects his behavior toward his fellow men; for, conscious of his entire dependence on God for all his abilities, even as they are dependent on God for theirs, he will not pride himself on his abilities, or exalt self in his conduct toward others (Eph 4:2; Col 3:12) [Neander].
let each esteem—Translate as Greek, "esteeming each other superior to yourselves." Instead of fixing your eyes on those points in which you excel, fix them on those in which your neighbor excels you: this is true "humility."
4. The oldest manuscripts read, "Not looking each of you (plural, Greek) on his own things (that is, not having regard solely to them), but each of you on the things of others" also. Compare Php 2:21; also Paul's own example (Php 1:24).
5. The oldest manuscripts read, "Have this mind in you," &c. He does not put forward himself (see on Php 2:4, and Php 1:24) as an example, but Christ, THE ONE pre-eminently who sought not His own, but "humbled Himself" (Php 2:8), first in taking on Him our nature, secondly, in humbling Himself further in that nature (Ro 15:3).
6. Translate, "Who subsisting (or existing, namely, originally: the Greek is not the simple substantive verb, 'to be') in the form of God (the divine essence is not meant: but the external self-manifesting characteristics of God, the form shining forth from His glorious essence). The divine nature had infinite BEAUTY in itself, even without any creature contemplating that beauty: that beauty was 'the form of God'; as 'the form of a servant' (Php 2:7), which is in contrasted opposition to it, takes for granted the existence of His human nature, so 'the form of God' takes for granted His divine nature [Bengel], Compare Joh 5:37; 17:5; Col 1:15, 'Who is the IMAGE of the invisible God' at a time before 'every creature,' 2Co 4:4, esteemed (the same Greek verb as in Php 2:3) His being on an equality with God no (act of) robbery" or self-arrogation; claiming to one's self what does not belong to him. Ellicott, Wahl, and others have translated, "A thing to be grasped at," which would require the Greek to be harpagma, whereas harpagmos means the act of seizing. So harpagmos means in the only other passage where it occurs, Plutarch [On the Education of Children, 120]. The same insuperable objection lies against Alford's translation, "He regarded not as self-enrichment (that is, an opportunity for self-exaltation) His equality with God." His argument is that the antithesis (Php 2:7) requires it, "He used His equality with God as an opportunity, not for self-exaltation, but for self-abasement, or emptying Himself." But the antithesis is not between His being on an equality with God, and His emptying Himself; for He never emptied Himself of the fulness of His Godhead, or His "BEING on an equality with God"; but between His being "in the FORM (that is, the outward glorious self-manifestation) of God," and His "taking on Him the form of a servant," whereby He in a great measure emptied Himself of His precedent "form," or outward self-manifesting glory as God. Not "looking on His own things" (Php 2:4), He, though existing in the form of God, He esteemed it no robbery to be on an equality with God, yet made Himself of no reputation. "Being on an equality with God, is not identical with subsisting in the form of God"; the latter expresses the external characteristics, majesty, and beauty of the Deity, which "He emptied Himself of," to assume "the form of a servant"; the former, "His being," or NATURE, His already existing STATE OF EQUALITY with God, both the Father and the Son having the same ESSENCE. A glimpse of Him "in the form of God," previous to His incarnation, was given to Moses (Ex 24:10, 11), Aaron, &c.
7. made himself of no reputation, and … and—rather as the Greek, "emptied Himself, taking upon him the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men." The two latter clauses (there being no conjunctions, "and … and," in the Greek) expresses in what Christ's "emptying of Himself" consists, namely, in "taking the form of a servant" (see on Heb 10:5; compare Ex 21:5, 6, and Ps 40:6, proving that it was at the time when He assumed a body, He took "the form of a servant"), and in order to explain how He took "the form of a servant," there is added, by "being made in the likeness of men." His subjection to the law (Lu 2:21; Ga 4:4) and to His parents (Lu 2:51), His low state as a carpenter, and carpenter's reputed son (Mt 13:55; Mr 6:3), His betrayal for the price of a bond-servant (Ex 21:32), and slave-like death to relieve us from the slavery of sin and death, finally and chiefly, His servant-like dependence as man on God, while His divinity was not outwardly manifested (Isa 49:3, 7), are all marks of His "form as a servant." This proves: (1) He was in the form of a servant as soon as He was made man. (2) He was "in the form of God" before He was "in the form of a servant." (3) He did as really subsist in the divine nature, as in the form of a servant, or in the nature of man. For He was as much "in the form of God" as "in the form of a servant"; and was so in the form of God as "to be on an equality with God"; He therefore could have been none other than God; for God saith, "To whom will ye liken Me and make Me equal?" (Isa 46:5), [Bishop Pearson]. His emptying Himself presupposes His previous plenitude of Godhead (Joh 1:14; Col 1:19; 2:9). He remained full of this; yet He bore Himself as if He were empty.
8. being found in fashion as a man—being already, by His "emptying Himself," in the form of a servant, or likeness of man (Ro 8:3), "He humbled Himself (still further by) becoming obedient even unto death (not as English Version, 'He humbled Himself and became,'&c.; the Greek has no 'and,' and has the participle, not the verb), and that the death of the cross." "Fashion" expresses that He had the outward guise, speech, and look. In Php 2:7, in the Greek, the emphasis is on Himself (which stands before the Greek verb), "He emptied Himself," His divine self, viewed in respect to what He had heretofore been; in Php 2:8 the emphasis is on "humbled" (which stands before the Greek "Himself"); He not only "emptied Himself" of His previous "form of God," but submitted to positive HUMILIATION. He "became obedient," namely, to God, as His "servant" (Ro 5:19; Heb 5:8). Therefore "God" is said to "exalt" Him (Php 2:9), even as it was God to whom He became voluntarily "obedient." "Even unto death" expresses the climax of His obedience (Joh 10:18).
9. Wherefore—as the just consequence of His self-humiliation and obedience (Ps 8:5, 6; 110:1, 7; Mt 28:18; Lu 24:26; Joh 5:27; 10:17; Ro 14:9; Eph 1:20-22; Heb 2:9). An intimation, that if we would hereafter be exalted, we too must, after His example, now humble ourselves (Php 2:3, 5; Php 3:21; 1Pe 5:5, 6). Christ emptied Christ; God exalted Christ as man to equality with God [Bengel].
highly exalted—Greek, "super-eminently exalted" (Eph 4:10).
given him—Greek, "bestowed on Him."
a name—along with the corresponding reality, glory and majesty.
10. at the name—rather as Greek, "in the name."
bow—rather, "bend," in token of worship. Referring to Isa 45:23; quoted also in Ro 14:11. To worship "in the name of Jesus," is to worship Jesus Himself (compare Php 2:11; Pr 18:10), or God in Christ (Joh 16:23; Eph 3:14). Compare "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord (that is, whosoever shall call on the Lord in His revealed character) shall be saved" (Ro 10:13; 1Co 1:2); "all that call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord" (compare 2Ti 2:22); "call on the Lord"; Ac 7:59, "calling upon … and saying, Lord Jesus" (Ac 9:14, 21; 22:16).
in earth—men; among whom He tabernacled for a time.
under the earth—the dead; among whom He was numbered once (Ro 14:9, 11; Eph 4:9, 10; Re 5:13). The demons and the lost may be included indirectly, as even they give homage, though one of fear, not love, to Jesus (Mr 3:11; Lu 8:31; Jas 2:19, see on Php 2:11).
11. every tongue—Compare "every knee" (Php 2:10). In every way He shall be acknowledged as Lord (no longer as "servant," Php 2:7). As none can fully do so "but by the Holy Ghost" (1Co 12:3), the spirits of good men who are dead, must be the class directly meant, Php 2:10, "under the earth."