The Servant’s Humility
1 Peter 2:21-25; Philippians 2:5-10
1 Peter Lesson #074
December 8, 2016
“Father, you are a righteous God, a holy God who has created all things. You have created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that is in them. Father, we are thankful for the privilege to gather together to worship you and to be adopted into your royal family as your sons and daughters.
Father, we are thankful that we have Your Word to study, to reveal to us the nature of creation, the nature of our salvation, the need for our salvation, and all that you have provided for us in Christ Jesus. Father, we are so thankful that you have blessed us so richly.
Father, we pray that we would respond to Your Word by obeying it and by putting it into practice in our lives, recognizing that we were called to that purpose and that we may glorify You in everything that we say and do.
Now, Father, as we study Your Word, help us to understand this difficult concept that runs so contrary to our sin nature, this issue of humility and submission to Your authority as well as to other authorities. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Before we get into our topic tonight, I want to give you a little rundown on what took place at the Pre-Trib Rapture Study Group Conference. The conference, as usual, lasts for three days—starts on Monday goes till noon on Wednesday. Monday morning opened up with a devotional by Dr. Ed Hindson; that is always very good, focused on the Scripture. And then the first paper was by Dr. J. B. Hixson.
J.B. was in Houston for a number of years. He taught at the College of Biblical Studies and was the academic dean there for a while. Since then he’s gone through too many ministries for me to count. He’s pastored a couple of churches, and now he’s got his own ministry operating out of Southern California. But he is solid dispensational, pre-Trib, and he presented a paper called, “One Minute After the Rapture.”
Most of us think about what’s going to happen after the Rapture in terms of what happens on the earth after the Rapture, but he started off the first half talking about what will happen to believers one minute after the Rapture. That was about half the paper—and it traces through the judgment seat of Christ, our presence in Heaven, a number of other things. Then he shifted gears to talk about what’s going to happen on the earth. It was not imaginative; it was biblical—talking about all the different things that will take place on the earth that the Scripture reveals that happen as a result of the Tribulation.
In Heaven, he talks about the Judgment Seat of Christ. He talked about worshiping before the throne of God, Revelation 4–5, and things of that nature. So that was a good paper, a great summary of Rapture passages, and other passages, talking about what happens at that time.
The second paper that morning was by David Mappes—an unusual spelling for the last name. I enjoyed getting to know him. Pastor Roseland has taken a number of courses with him in his PhD program at Baptist Bible Seminary. He’s got some tremendous insights, because previously he was a professor of theology at Cedarville University, which has been a traditional, conservative, Regular Baptist university. Dan Inghram went there for his undergraduate work, as well as a few others. But they went through a real battle for orthodox theology, and he was one of the casualties as the liberals took over—he was telling me this at lunch the other day.
A couple of conservatives on the board realized what had been happening. They called a board meeting, and after a couple of days of debates they voted—by one vote—to return to the traditional, historical position of the school. Those kinds of things don’t happen too often; usually we lose. But he was one of the casualties, and he left there and went to Liberty for a year and then to Baptist Bible Seminary, where Mike Stallard was the head of the PhD program and head of the graduate school.
It was a great paper. It says, “A Biblical and Theological Discussion of Traditional Dispensational Premillennialism.” He really focused on hermeneutics. If there was one thread through all of these papers that was really excellent and informative, it was on hermeneutics and was a reminder of what it means to consistently, literally interpret the Scripture and what the challenges and issues are today coming from within the camp of the historically conservative seminaries.
One thing came through in all of these discussions. If you have little understanding of church history, between 1850 and 1870, all of the religious schools—all of the seminaries or universities in Germany—went liberal—rejected the truth. During that period of time, American churches were sending their boys back to Europe for the prestigious degrees at the various universities in Germany and then, later, in Britain and France as well. And they brought back what we now know as liberal 19th century theology. This they began to teach in their pulpits and began to teach from the seminary lecterns. They had the chairs of theology that they were appointed to. This is what turned all the major denominations in the United States liberal, and it was called the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy. It really culminated by 1927 when the conservative Presbyterian seminary at Princeton was turned, and the Board of Directors voted to shift their doctrinal statement. And that was sort of the end.
But as some of us have observed and presciently forecast in the late 80s, we are in another Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy. What happened in the teens and 20s is, with the rise of liberalism, and as the conservatives split off, they founded new schools. In the late 19th century, there were the Bible institutes like Moody and Biola in Southern California, a number of others, as well as seminaries like Dallas Theological Seminary. There was the rise of the Conservative Baptist denomination, and Bob Thieme’s father-in-law was one of the three founders of the Conservative Baptist denomination. Western Conservative was founded in that period and several others.
All of these schools that we have looked to for conservative, Bible-based teaching have drifted now, and we have entered into a second phase of the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy. But the problem is that the leaders of the so-called fundamentalist conservative evangelical movement have now been turned to the dark side. We have very few people who are willing to put forth the clarion call that we need to wake up: We have lost another battle. So that came through loud and clear, and we are losing it in all of these different areas.
Gary Gromacki, whose father taught Dan Inghram Greek at Cedarville College, is a professor at Baptist Bible Seminary. He gave a paper on the times of the Gentiles, which was absolutely excellent. He began with Daniel and he had a paper that went on for over 30 pages that listed every major date and event in the history of the times of the Gentiles. It may have been boring to some people, but for a pastor to have that kind of chronology summarized in one paper is just absolute gold. And he did an excellent job with that.
Then Soren Kern spoke at 3:15 p.m. Soren Kern is an evangelical Christian. He is originally from Germany, I believe. I think he lives in Spain; he is between Spain and the United States now. He writes for Gatestone Institute. If you’re not reading Gatestone Institute, you ought to read Gatestone Institute. But if you don’t know how to use a faith-rest drill, it will give you nightmares at night.
Gatestone Institute will give you insight into what is really going on in Europe, Germany, France, and England. They have numerous writers that have been talking about what’s happening with Islam, what’s happening with the refugees in the refugee crisis.
Sweden, which is in Europe, has the highest—exponentially the highest—incidence of rape in Europe. If it’s stranger rape—that is, where the two people don’t know each other—then it is almost 100% Muslim on ethnic Swede. They are not being taken to court; they are not being sent to jail; nothing is being done. And because of political correctness, nobody wants to address that it’s happening now across Europe. Soren goes through all of this.
I’m going to take Soren Kern’s message and the message from Bill Koenig—which was the last message. Bill was not on the schedule, but he replaced Dave Hocking. He is a White House correspondent; he is very conservative. He has a website called watch.org, but he basically gave an hour talk on what’s happening in Washington D.C. since November 8. It’s really interesting. You don’t get this kind of insight in any news organization. He just says that we have to really be in prayer, because it’s a battle royal. You think there’s been a battle the last eight years? It is going to get exponentially higher—and the stakes are higher. He had really good insights on the people that Trump has appointed—or wants to appoint—to the cabinet and other positions. It was it was really good.
Bruce is going to put both of those messages on one DVD, and we are going to have those at church Sunday, so that everybody can get those, go home, and watch them. That’s going to be your current event education. Watch Soren Kern first, so that you understand the horrors that are going on in Europe, and then watch Koenig, because that will lift you up and give you hope.
Okay, back to the schedule. Soren Kern was in the afternoon. That night we had a banquet, and the speaker was a pastor from Calvary Church in southern California. “The Pulpit and Why the Rapture Must be Found in it” was a very good motivational sermon.
Then Tuesday morning were two sessions with Dr. Abner Chou, a young 35-year-old American–Chinese young man, who speaks like a machine gun. You think Arnold Fruchtenbaum speaks fast? Arnold is slow. Somebody commented to me, “I thought you could get a lot of material into an hour. You’re nothing compared to Abner!” I said, “Yea. Don’t forget Bob Thieme, when he was 35 years old, was called, ‘Rapid Robert’.” When you are 35 years old, you can talk fast and think fast. And you can listen fast! That’s the key.
He gave two excellent presentations on the consistent use of grammatical historical hermeneutic through the Old Testament. The papers are dense; it is going take a lot of time to work through. But he has brilliant insights; the guy is incredible. His total grasp of Scripture is tremendous. I’m hoping to get him as a speaker for the Chafer Conference in March 2018.
Then, in the afternoon, Michael Rydelnik gave a little bit of his testimony, but he gave a tremendous presentation and summation of things in his book, The Messianic Hope. You are going to want to see that.
Then came Dr. David Farnell, who will be one of the two keynote speakers we have. We have two keynote speakers for the Chafer Conference in March. Farnell will be talking about the battle for the Bible, the battle for inerrancy, and then Wayne House is going to speak on hermeneutics. Each of them will have four sessions.
Andy Woods is going to talk about hermeneutics in genre and the problems there. David Roseland is going to talk about another aspect of church history in the 19th century, the relation of Scottish Common Sense Realism and Princetonian theology. Now, the importance of that is that Princetonian theology is where the doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy—in contrast to liberalism—was really structured, systematized, and formulated.
But the other side says, “No, they didn’t get that from the Bible; they got it from common sense philosophy. So it’s just philosophical; it’s not biblical.” David will show that what made Scottish Common Sense Realism accurate was the heavy influence of the Bible in those philosophers’ backgrounds. So he’s done some excellent work there. Then there are a couple of other papers that are going to be given.
So Farnell was really good. One guy I went through seminary with had never been to Pre-Trib until last year. I was talking to him, and I wasn’t sure where he was on a lot of issues. I said, “What did you think of Farnell?” He said, “I wanted to hear the rest of the 336 slides that he had.” You think I come up here and rip through a lot of slides sometimes.
But this guy said, “I want to hear him.” So I told him about the Chafer Conference, and he’ll probably come.
Then, that night, Paul Wilkinson and Tommy [Ice] did an analysis of this horrible video that came out called, Left behind or Led Astray? It’s filled with the ad hominem arguments, wrong historical facts, things of that nature. So if you are really getting into debates with people over the Rapture, that’s going to have a lot of great information in it.
There was a paper by a young man in his mid to late 30s who finished his PhD work at Southeastern Baptist Seminary. He gave a summary of what he did on the Day of the Lord. It was different. I asked Bill Wright, “What you think about what he said?” He said, “I don’t know. I have to read the 400-page dissertation to really think it through.” He had some different things to say. And then that was it.
So that was the conference, and it went really well. I don’t know what’s coming next year, but the dates next year will be December 4–6. It’s a great conference. If you enjoy coming to the Chafer Conference and learning there, you would love going to the Pre-Trib Conference. It’s just a lot of great information, great fellowship with other believers, and it’s going to continue.
Open your Bibles to Philippians 2. Looking at The Servant’s Humility. Now, let’s just review a little bit. I’ve got about 49 slides that I’m going to rip through. Some of this I can go fairly fast. If we don’t finish, then it will be a two-parter.
As I said last week, Philippians 2 is one of my favorite passages. It’s probably the most significant passage on the Person of Christ in the New Testament. But what it emphasizes, at its very core, is the Servant’s humility.
It has two sections: Philippians 2:5–8 deal with the Servant’s humility; Philippians 2:9–11 deal with the Servant’s exultation. So we have the Servant’s humility and then the Servant’s exultation. That really summarizes what Peter is saying. In all of these examples of submission to authority, when you submit to an earthly authority, you are submitting to your heavenly Father’s authority.
Those who submit to the authority of God, God will exalt. This is summarized at the end of 1 Peter, in 1 Peter 5. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you.” He will lift you up. The path to exaltation, the path to approbation, the path to recognition, the path to eternal positions of authority is through humility in this life to authorities.
So we see, in 1 Peter, his argument is that Christ left us an example. He’s the innocent Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, who is our redemption—He pays the price for our sins.
He suffered for us, leaving as an example. We are to follow in that example.
He was sinless. He was guiltless. He did not deserve to go to the Cross. He did not deserve to be arrested, or tried, or beaten, or whipped, or executed, but He did that in submission to the Father’s will.
So that He could bear our sins on the Cross for the purpose that we might live for righteousness.
That introduces the idea of humility. Last time I looked at Numbers 12:3. Moses was the most humble man. The Hebrew word is on the left, anaw, meaning humble or meek. It is translated into Greek with the word PRAUS.
That word is important, because it used by Jesus to refer to Himself as gentle and lowly, PRAUS and TAPEINOS. So we see those two words linked by Jesus to describe His humility. The word TAPEINOS is the word that shows up in Philippians 2. It’s the noun form.
The verb form is used here in Philippians 2:8, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient.” What we will see is the participle translated, “became obedient,” is a participle of means. How did He humble himself? How was He able to show humility?
He humbled Himself by being obedient. That’s what humility is. It is authority orientation. It is submission to the authority, even if that authority is wrong, even if that authority, for a slave, is harsh. It is submission to that authority that is the essence of humility.
Last time I looked at the set up in Philippians 2, where Paul says, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy.” Those are four realities. I charted this for us today so we can understand it better.
Here are four realities that we have in Christ. Because of those realities, Paul is able to command us, “Fulfill my joy.” Then he lists several things, “by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
That word “like-minded” is the same word that is used in Philippians 2:5 in Paul’s command to have the same mind as Christ. We are to think like Christ. That means it’s not hard for us to humble ourselves and submit to one another if we’re like-minded. It’s carnality that causes the problem.
Then, in verses three and four, Paul says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind.” TAPEINOS is the noun. TAPEINOO is the verb “to be humble.” This is “the quality or state of humility,” TAPEINOPHROSUNE.
I pointed this out last time. In Greek culture, from fifth century BC on, this was never a positive value. This was never a virtue in Greek thought. You were to assert yourself. But, in Christianity, this word is taken over to define the essence of Christ in hypostatic union, His character. But it’s not just in hypostatic union, is also in terms of His deity; He is in submission to the Father.
From the time of Christ on, this word is no longer used as a negative in Greek literature. Language was transformed by the incarnation of the Logos, the Word of God.
So here’s a little chart I put together to help us think it through. In the first two verses, Philippians 2:1–2, we are told that in Christ we have four things.
- We have encouragement.
- We have comfort.
- We have fellowship.
- And affection and mercy.
That’s what we have in Christ. As a result of that, Paul says we are to do certain things. If these are true (and they are, because they are all first-class conditions), then we are to do these five things.
1. We are to make his joy complete.
That’s an experiential concept. Paul is like all of us; if we are focused on God, we share the happiness of God. But at another level, we experience joy and exultation when we see people trust Christ as Savior and they are saved. When we see them grow and mature in the spiritual life, and we see them living out the spiritual values, that gives us a greater joy.
2. We are to have the same mind.
That’s the key phrase. We are to think and have the same attitude. But it’s not something we develop autonomously. You see these liberal Christians come along—especially their reaction in the latest election—and they created an autonomous mindset that’s based on a liberal form of pseudo-compassion for the refugees, the poor, the disenfranchised, and everything else. It’s not a unity of mind based on Scripture.
We are to have a unity of faith, according to Ephesians 4. We have one faith—and that’s the content of faith. And they have a false faith.
“This same mind” is the mindset of Christ, based on the Scripture. 1 Corinthians 2:16, “We have the mind of Christ.”
3. We are to also have the same love. That is, a biblical love, a Christ-centered love.
4. United in spirit, and
5. Having one purpose.
Having said that, then in Philippians 2:5, Paul says, “Have this attitude [or thinking] … which was also in Christ.”
The problem with liberalism is that they create an idolatrous, or a pseudo-Christ, a Christ based on liberalism’s values of pseudo-compassion and pseudo-love and pseudo-care for people—not on a biblical sense of love and compassion and care. So they want to unite the church around this false Christ, this false Jesus, this idolatrous Jesus that is the manufactured image of their carnal minds.
But to understand the thinking and the attitude of Jesus, we have to get into the text of Scripture, and we have to believe it first and foremost. In extreme liberalism they doubt that 90% of the words that are attributed to Jesus were ever spoken by Jesus or believed by Jesus. They were invented by the second century church in their view. And that’s what undergirds this liberal thinking—they’ve reinvented Jesus according to their own image.
But we have to get into the text. We have to get into the details of the text. If we believe that every jot and tittle is going to be fulfilled, then we have to understand the jots and the tittles. That means we have to get into the details of the text.
That’s why it’s very boring for some people when they listen to someone like me, when I dig down into the details of the text, but the details of the text are what tell us what is really going on, what is really being said, and helps us understand it. If we just fly at the surface level of the text, often we will make mistakes and misunderstand what the Word says.
So to understand the thinking of Jesus, we have to understand the Word of Jesus. The living Word gave us the written Word, and it’s His mind. So that’s why we study the Word.
The first part of this great section is from Philippians 2:5–11. The first part, which is really verses five through eight, is the Servant’s humility, but that’s described mostly in verses six, seven, and eight. Verse five just says, “Let this mind be in you.”
The key verse we are looking at is Philippians 2:8, because it tells us that humility is related to obedience. That if you want to be humble, then you have to be obedient: obedient to the government; obedient to the master (for the slave); obedient to the husband (for the wife); obedient to the parents (for the children). The husband gets off scot-free? No. He has to be obedient to God; he is answerable to God for the welfare of the family.
So in Philippians 2:5–8, to summarize it and read through it. “Let this mind (or this attitude) be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, [now we have to understand who Jesus is], who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” That’s an awkward translation; we will have to understand that. “But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant” [in the Greek it’s the word “slave”].
See, that’s the thread we are following from 1 Peter 2, where the slave is to be obedient to the master. And then the four- or five-verse section that Paul develops on Christ is filled with quotations and allusions to Isaiah 53, which is talking about the Messiah as the Servant, the Slave of YHWH. So what ties these passages together is this concept of being a servant of God, a slave of God and being obedient to God.
He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant [slave], and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” We cannot understand “He humbled Himself” unless we understand who the “He” refers to and who the “Himself ” refers to; that refers to Jesus. Well, who is Jesus? Why is this important to understand that Jesus is the God-man?
This seems like very dense theology for a lot of people, but it’s very practical. Because the whole point here is to teach us how to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and to do that we need to understand the intricacies of the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Trinity. They are equal in person, but They have different roles. In Their roles, They are submissive to one another. But it doesn’t mean that if the Son is being submissive to the Father, that He is less equal than the Father or any less God than the Father.
Human viewpoint today says that if a woman is obedient to a man, then that means she’s less equal than the man. That doesn’t follow biblically. In fact, if the feminist dogma is true, then God is false. If the feminist dogma is not true, then it’s blasphemy of the highest order. That is the bedrock foundation of modern feminism—that submission to a man means that the woman is less than the man. That has theological implications that are purely heretical and blasphemous, and yet today more and more young women in our culture are choosing feminist options.
They may not understand the philosophical, theological underpinnings, but rather than getting married and focusing on motherhood and having children and raising them to the glory of God for an eternal spiritual impact, they don’t want to have children; they want to have a career. They are selling their inheritance like Esau did for a mess of pottage.
And the men are going right along with it, because they’ve both been brainwashed by this modern culture and this modern society which is based on totally anti-biblical values. So we have to renovate our thinking completely about relationships, and authority, and submission in order to change the way we think and the way we live.
So it starts off in verse five. Paul says, “Have this same mental attitude in yourselves.”
The Greek word there is a present active imperative. Present active imperative means this is the standard operating procedure for the way you think in the Christian life. This is something that should characterize you, day in and day out, every morning, every afternoon, every evening; you think and you breathe like this, like Jesus did. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
The Greek word PHRONEO has the idea of thinking and reasoning, or it talks about a mental attitude. That’s important, because so many people want to feel about Christianity; they want to emote about Jesus. They don’t know enough Bible to know who Jesus is, biblically, but they’re in love with this image that their emotions have generated in their soul. They are bowing down and worshiping this idol of Jesus rather than the biblical Jesus. So they don’t understand that the spiritual life is not based on emotion; it’s based on reason, on thought, based on what comes out of the communication of the Scripture.
So we are to model our thinking after Jesus; He is the standard. Not the pastor, not the spiritual leader, not the missionary—it’s focusing on Jesus; we have to know Jesus.
Philippians 2:6 carries this idea on. It says, “who,” and then it introduces a phrase that starts with that word, “although.” “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
Now, there is a lot of debate over this verse. Almost every word has been debated and discussed and written about ad infinitum for the last 200 years in the battles that go on between biblical conservative theology and liberalism—especially when it comes to the battles that have taken place between feminist Christians and traditional biblical Christians.
That phrase, “although He existed,” is based on a participle that is called a concessive participle. As soon as I mention grammar, some people just start taking a vacation to Hawaii. But it’s important to understand what these terms mean, because thoughts are communicated and organized by grammar.
A concessive participle indicates a state of affairs that might have been expected to rule out what is described in the main clause. In other words, His existence in the form of God would be expected to cancel what’s in the main clause which is equality with God. So that’s the idea here.
This word HUPARCHO is an interesting word, because that’s the word for “existence”. And it doesn’t indicate eternality; you get that from the context. But it does indicate a prior existence. So, “although He existed [before His humanity] in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
In the New King James, it translates it, “who did not consider it robbery.” That really is a fuzzy idea. I think the New American Standard translates it better: “He didn’t regard it equality.” The robbery is stealing the essence of God, or grasping after it. But “regarding equality with God” is a better thing.
But what does it mean that “He existed in the form of God”? Now we think of “form” to mean shape. You look at the pulpit. What’s the form of the pulpit? We think of “form” as describing physical shape. That’s how we use it most of the time. But God doesn’t have a physical shape. God is spirit. So He doesn’t have, necessarily, a physical shape.
So what does the word MORPHE mean? When we talk about the forms of words, we talk about their morphology. The form of the word—is it a present active indicative, or is it aorist active indicative—what’s the form of the word? What’s its morphology?
This word means and is translated with phrases like, “form, outward appearance, what we would think about in terms of shape; shape or expression.” But it is also used to describe the nature or essence of something. Now what I just said is what’s debated. There is a huge debate over this. And I found a great quote in a commentary that I’m going to go through here, because it sort of summarizes the essence of this debate.
It is from a contemporary commentary by Moises Silva, a professor who used to be at Westminster Theological Seminary, in The Biblical Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, on Philippians 2:6. He says, “Much of the debate centers on the first line, ‘although he existed in the form of God,’ particularly the force of the word “form” (MORPHE). If we stress the classical usage of this term, the technical sense of Aristotelian philosophy suggests itself ...”
Now I just lost everybody. They heard “Aristotle” and they went, “Let’s go on vacation again.” We are going to get a lesson in Aristotelian philosophy. Aristotle said that every object is made up of two basic things. That’s what he talks about here; it talks about attributes and essence.
The attributes are its shape, its color, a number of other physical descriptors. Tall, short, wide, narrow, black, green, yellow, cold, hot, yellow, green—all of those things are attributes. The essence of something you can’t see. You see a table, but what you perceive, in Aristotle’s thinking, are the attributes—its color, its height, its width, its shape. Those are just attributes; you don’t see the essence of a thing.
In Platonic philosophy, the essence of a chair was “chairness”. Think about a metal folding chair that you sat on in the lunch room in high school in the cafeteria. And then you think about a leather upholstered recliner that costs about $2,000. They both look very, very different, but they both share the concept of being a chair. You can look at one of those canvas foldout chairs you take camping or on a picnic; that looks very different from either of the first two illustrations I gave you, but they all share something in common.
So when I say “chair,” you have an idea of what “chairness” is in your head. Well, for Plato, that is the essence of the thing—that’s it’s MORPHE. But, see, that was typical of philosophical language in the fifth century BC.
That’s like saying that’s the way “charity” was used for “love” when the King James Bible was translated. Now we usually update the language to “love.” The meaning of the words change. So by the time you get to the first century, people aren’t using fifth century BC definitions for words. Although the main idea of this was still used that way—but not always—that’s the debate.
He goes on to say here, “MORPHE, although not equivalent to OUSIA.” OUSIA is the Greek word for “essence, or being.” So you can’t say that MORPHE means, “essence.” Although, the bottom line on what everybody says, it is pretty close to that. But it’s not a one-to-one equivalent of OUSIA. “Although not equivalent to OUSIA (being, essence), speaks of essential or characteristic attributes and thus is to be distinguished from SCHEMA (the changeable, external ‘fashion’).”
He goes on to say, “In a valuable excursus,” that is an additional development in his writings. JB Lightfoot now these guys. I love going back and reading the conservative 19th century scholars, because these guys were really educated. They had to learn Greek in a classroom where it was taught to them in Latin, and they had to take their Greek exams in Latin. That’s a real education! You had to think in different languages to learn different languages. And these guys knew more about Greek and Roman culture and history and language before they went to university than 99.99% of master’s students do in our culture. We are uneducated; we are trained a lot, but we are not educated.
Education comes from learning the arts; it doesn’t come from learning how to do skillful things like engineering and science. You are trained; you are skilled; but that doesn’t mean you’re educated in the classic sense of the word “educated.” These guys were educated! Before they were eight years from seminary, they knew more than PhDs from seminary know today. That’s why it’s so good to go back and read them on the languages—because they really knew the languages. They had been studying Greek and Latin—and in some cases Hebrew—since they were seven, eight, or nine years old. We get guys who go to seminary when they are 30 years old and start studying Greek; they are never going to have the depth of knowledge and perception.
So we go back to these guys. Lightfoot was one of the top Greek scholars in England in the latter part of the 1800s and fairly conservative, considering what was happening. He argued along these basic lines, and so did a guy named RC Trench in a book called, Synonyms of the New Testament, which is something every Greek student, every pastor, ought to have on a shelf. But it’s in the 19th century, so most guys don’t even learn about it today. It’s really tragic.
Then Silva goes on to say, “Though MORPHE [form] is not the same as PHUSIS [nature] or OUSIA [essence].” MORPHE is not the same as PHUSIS; form is not the same as nature or essence.
“Yet the possession of the MORPHE [form] involves participation in the OUSIA [essence] also: for MORPHE [form] implies not the external accidents [height, width, color—things like that], but the essential attributes. Similar to this, though not so decisive, are the expressions used elsewhere of the divinity of the Son …” What he lists are some other passages that show that when you compare this with other passages—comparing Scripture with Scripture—you see things like the following.
In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul says, “Christ, who is the image of God.” That means He is the exact representation of God.
Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God.” You see Christ, you see God the Father.
Hebrews 1:3, He is “the express image of His person.” Okay? Talking about essence—not that they are the identical person.
So Philippians 2:6. We could expand it a little bit to get a better understanding. “Although He existed previously in the form …” Another way that we can translate the word “form” is “mode of existence.” Now think about it this way. If Jesus existed in the mode of existence of the Father, can a creature exist in the mode of existence of the Father? Not at all. So, therefore, has by simple context discussion, the word MORPHE has to refer to—although it’s not a synonym for “essence,” that’s basically what it’s talking about.
It is saying that Jesus did not “regard.” This is the word HEGEOMAI; it is an accounting term, and it has to do with “considering, adding things up; it talks about an intellectual process.”
Notice—we are to think like Jesus—not emote like Jesus. And what did Jesus do? He thought. So it emphasizes that the relationship with God doesn’t exclude emotion, but it puts emotion in the trunk. The engine that drives the car is thought, and emotion follows along behind. But what we have today is most people want to put emotion under the hood and put thinking back in the back—close and lock the trunk. That’s mysticism.
So Jesus is thinking about His relationship with God. He knows He is equal with God, but He doesn’t consider that something to be grasped. Now you’ll get a surprise when we get to that word.
To paraphrase this, or to give it an expanded translation, “Who (the Lord Jesus Christ) although He eternally existed with identical essence to God.” Now we can say that because in the context, in verse six, it’s talking about He was in the form of God, and that’s where the word is debated. But then it’s compared with being equal with God later in verse six, “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”
The form of God is compared with being equal with God, and then it’s contrasted in Philippians 2:7 with taking on the form—that’s the same word MORPHE—the form of a bondservant.
So being in the form of God is contrasted with being in the form of a slave—and also with the likeness of men. Context tells us that it is really talking about the nature or essence of God, not the Person of God. He’s not identical to the Person of God; He’s distinct from the Father.
Here is your thought question. Wake up a little bit—get those dendrites thinking a minute. When it says, “Who, although He eternally existed with identical essence to God, yet He did not think equality with God was something to be grasped.” Is that thinking occurring after hypostatic union or before hypostatic union? Is that thinking His mental attitude as God—part of His deity or His humanity? It is grammar—it’s deity. See, it’s, “although He eternally existed of God. He didn’t think, as God before hypostatic union, that holding onto deity was something to be grasped.” So it’s not till the next verse that He becomes a man. You have to think this through.
We are to be Christ-like and emulate the same thoughts as Christ, who is God. We emulate that thinking. We cannot be perfect. We are not going to be omniscient, but we emulate that thinking. He had every right to say, “I’m God and I’m going to hold on to it. And I am not going to let it go.” He was saying that as God. If He, as God, has every right to be treated as God, and yet He says, “I’m not going to assert My rights,” then we who are creatures—who have no right to be treated as God—have no right to assert our own self deity. That’s the point.
So in Philippians 2:6 we read, “who, although He existed in the form of God [or the nature or essence of God], did not regard [that] equality with God a thing to be grasped.” It’s interesting. “To be equal with God” uses the word ISA in the Greek rather than the form ISON. ISA refers to attributes; ISON will say He’s the same person, according to Lightfoot.
So ISA indicates that He’s equal in essence, nature, attributes. They share the same sovereignty, justice, righteousness, love, eternal life, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability, and veracity. But He is not the same person. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Father. But the Father is equal to the Son in essence, and the Son is equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit in essence.
He doesn’t regard this equality with God something to be grasped. Now this is a noun form of the Greek verb HARPAZO. Anybody remember what HARPAZO is? Such an interesting word. Because you and I, hopefully, will be HARPAZOed. “The Lord will return in the clouds … and the dead in Christ will rise first. And we who are alive and remain will be HARPAZOed.”
Hal Lindsey called it “the great snatch.” We will be caught up; we will be snatched; we will be ripped out of this existence. Okay? So HARPAGMOS is the noun; it means a violent seizure of property, such as robbery. That’s why the old King James translated it as robbery. It’s equivalent to the word HARPAGMA, which means something which somebody can claim or assert a title by grasping or gripping. That’s more the idea here. Jesus is not going to assert His deity to the exclusion of entering into human history and becoming a man. He’s not going to say, “I’m God. I have every right to be God. I’m going assert my deity. I’m not going to become a man.”
He does not do that. You are a slave. You’re not going to say, “I’m created in the image of God, and you can’t tell me what to do.” As a wife, you’re not going to say, “I’m an equal partner in this marriage. I am a woman, I have equal rights, and I’m not going to do what you say.” As a child, you’re not going to say, “I am created in the image of God. You are my parent, and you’re no better or worse than I am. Screw you; I am not going to listen to you.” That’s how it works, isn’t it?
See, Jesus doesn’t say that to the Father. That’s what submission is. That’s what obedience is. He is God, but it is not something to be held onto.
Many people have used the illustration with Adam and Eve. Satan said, “See the fruit? It looks good, doesn’t it? God doesn’t want you to eat it. Not because of any other reason other than He doesn’t want you to be like Him.” And Eve goes, “I want to be like Him,” and grabs—deity; that’s the idea. Jesus has it, but doesn’t grab it. Eve and Adam didn’t have it, and grabbed it. That’s the difference.
Who (that is, the Lord Jesus Christ) although He eternally existed with identical essence to God the Father, yet He did not think equality with God a claim to be asserted.
But what did He do? Instead, He emptied Himself. So now we are going to have a contrast.
“But emptied himself.” And then, asserting His right to be worshiped as God, He said, “No. I’m going to empty Myself.”
Now this is another huge debate. It’s the verb KENOO, and the noun is KENOSIS. You’ve probably heard somebody talk about the KENOSIS problem; you probably couldn’t explain it if you had to, and that’s okay. Because the way it’s translated is, “emptied Himself.” It was understood by liberals to mean He gave up His deity.
Now the way some people will translate this is, “Jesus willingly restricted the independent use of His attributes.” Walvoord used that definition; a lot of people used that definition. I was reading that one day, and I said, “I’ve got a problem with that, because that presupposes that Jesus could independently use His attributes before the Incarnation.” Did Jesus ever independently use His attributes in eternity past? He never operated independently of the Father; They are totally unified.
So the word “independently” in there is not necessary, and it implies something that is wrong. Jesus willingly gives up the use of His divine attributes for the sake of becoming a servant to man. That doesn’t mean He got rid of them; He just doesn’t use them other than in relation to the Father’s plan.
When He is giving evidence of His deity, when He changes the water into wine, He is not solving a personal problem; He is demonstrating that He’s the Creator. And He can make wine faster than the winemakers. They turn water into wine all the time—it takes them a couple of years. Jesus did it in a split second; He turned water into wine.
So how did He empty Himself? That’s the participle. Grammar is very important to understand all this. He emptied Himself by taking the form of a bondservant. He doesn’t empty Himself by giving up deity; He emptied Himself by adding humanity to His nature. That’s what we see here.
He emptied Himself by receiving the form of a servant, which means He’s adding—He’s not giving up—He’s not subtracting. He is adding humanity to His deity; He is not getting rid of His deity. He is just limiting its use during His humanity to fulfill the Father’s plan. So that’s the idea.
KENOO means, “to make empty.” In other words, it’s being used figuratively here; it’s not used literally.
He takes on the form of a bondservant. He becomes essentially a slave, and He is a picture of that to mankind.
He’s made in the likeness of men. The verb there in the Greek means that now something new comes into existence. It is GINOMAI. It’s not something stated that it exists, but it comes into existence. Therefore, this is how He empties Himself—by taking the form of a bondservant, and by coming into existence—something new—in the likeness of men.
He emptied Himself by means of taking the form of a servant, and by means of coming into existence in the physical form of a man.
So that now He is found in appearance as a man. “Being found in appearance as a man.” It’s not this docetic idea. Do you know what I mean by Docetism? That said it was just a phantasm—He does look like a man. He wasn’t physically there.
No, He’s physically there. All these are the words that are used for likeness—SCHEMA and form—they all indicate that He is physically a man. So He is found in appearance here as a man.
As a human being, now, He humbles Himself. He humbled Himself before as God by not asserting His deity. Now He humbles Himself in His humanity by being obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
So Jesus demonstrates humility in both His deity before hypostatic union and from His humanity after hypostatic union. And it shows that the essence of humility is to be in proper relationship to authority.
“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” That’s the issue.
All right, we’ve gotten the main idea here. I want to come back one more time and look at the rest of Philippians 2:8 and then we’ll get into Philippians 2: 9–11 related to the exultation of the Servant.
Not bad. I did almost 41 of 44 slides. So we will come back next time and review it a little more, because this is not easy. Synthesize it, so we can understand it a little better—that Jesus, who is God, doesn’t say, “Hey! I’m God! I’m not going to go down there with those scuzzy little human beings.”
He’s willing to take on the form of a human being and be a Servant and live with all these sinners in order to fulfill the Father’s plan. So He humbles Himself by being obedient to God and taking on the form. Instead of wearing His divine clothes, He’s going to wear the beggar’s clothes and die on the Cross for us. That’s what humility is.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to work through this passage, to understand it, to have our understanding of who Jesus is shaped and changed and refined, realizing what He did on the Cross.
We understand what He did in terms of dying for us. But Peter says this is an example to us of how we are to relate to authority, how we are to relate to the authorities around us, even when they’re unjust—like the authorities that Jesus submitted to were unjust. This is difficult for us because our sin natures want to assert our own self will; we want to think just the opposite of Jesus.
Instead of asserting His deity, He was willing to restrict it. But we don’t have deity; we are not at the center of the universe, but we want to act like we are. And that’s the difference between arrogance and humility.
Help us to think this through objectively in terms of our own thinking, that we can truly exhibit the humility of Christ in terms of right relationship to authority. Remembering that great leaders, like Moses, were great, but they were also rightly related to God’s authority—and that’s the issue. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”