Paul continues his words of encouragement by appealing for unity and for submission to the mind of Christ.
2:1–4 An appeal for harmony
Verse 1: To give content to his appeal Paul refers to the realities of the Christian experience which the Philippians
have known. They are “in Christ”, members of his body; the Lord Jesus has loved them and does love them;
the Holy Spirit indwells their church and each member; and they have the love of God in their hearts which should make them
Verse 2: Paul does not hide the joy which the Philippians have brought to him. The only thing which detracts
from this is their jealousies and rivalries. He wants them to set these aside and put on love for each other instead.
Verse 3: Paul pinpoints some of the baser motives which were affecting some
Christians. They are selfishness and conceit. Concern for self and for self-glorification are root causes of divisions.
To think of oneself as better or higher than others is a constant temptation which Christians face. Humility and
the willingness to count others as better than oneself must replace selfishness and conceit.
2:5–11 A hymn to Christ
This relates the drama and story of salvation achieved by Jesus Christ. Paul uses it as a basis for urging the Philippians
to have the same attitude to one another as Christ has shown to them.
Verse 6: Paul here speaks of the pre-existence of Christ. As the eternal Son of God he was with the Father eternally.
However, he gladly agreed to become man and in so doing did not cling to the privileges of heaven.
Verse 7: In emptying himself he did not cease to be divine; rather, he ceased to live surrounded with all the glory
of heaven. The Incarnation involved the move from the heaven of glory to the earth of suffering and humiliation.
Verse 8: As the Son of God in human form and thus as the Suffering Servant of God (see Isaiah 53) he followed the Father’s
will and offered himself for the sins of the world.
Verse 9: The name “the LORD” is the name which is above every name. In Jewish thought the name of
God – Yahweh or Jehovah, the LORD – was above all names, superior to all names. To give this name to Jesus
Christ means that the Father is sharing with the exalted Savior the sovereign lordship of the universe.
Verse 10: Both human and spiritual beings will acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ. Paul pictures them as
kneeling down in worship before him
Verse 11: It is the Father who exalts Christ and confers lordship upon him (in
his resurrection and ascension). That which Christ had refused to snatch or to grasp before the Incarnation (verses
6–7) is now granted freely to him, but not only to him as the Son of God. It is also given to him as the second
Adam, the head of a new humanity (Romans 5:12ff.).
1. What are some of the factors which cause divisions and rivalries in today’s churches?
2. What does participation in a Spirit-created community involve?
3. How important is it to insist on both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus Christ?
4. What are the differences between on the one hand the position and state of the Son of God before his birth by
the virgin Mary, and on the other hand after his ascension into heaven?