Philippians 2:1-11 (1) Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

Note: For more information relevant to this passage of Philippians two, see the accompanying Appendix (PDF download) that deals with the following topic: A Consideration of the Exaltation and the Name Bestowed upon Jesus Referred to in Philippians 2:9-11.

1. What is the first thing that is said about our Lord Jesus Christ in Philippians 2:6 (printed below?) What do you think this means?

…existing in the form of God, he did not regard his being on an equality with God as a thing to be exploited (Philippians 2:6)

Christ Jesus was “existing in the form of God.” The Greek word translated “form” was a philosophical term meaning “all the attributes and qualities that make a specific person or thing what it is and that distinguish it from every other person or thing.” Thus, “the form of God” includes all those attributes and qualities and characteristics that make God what He is, and that distinguish Him from everyone and everything else. When the apostle informs us that our Lord Jesus Christ “exists in the form of God” he is telling us in the strongest possible terms that the Lord Jesus Christ possesses all the attributes and the very identity of God; i.e., all that defines God defines Christ Jesus (cp. John 1:1; John 14:9).

2. What is the next thing the apostle Paul tells us about our Lord in Philippians 2:6 (printed above under question #1?)

The Lord Jesus is further defined as “being on an equality with God.” Whereas the former term (“the form of God”) refers to the reality and the fullness of His deity; this present term (“equality with God”) refers to the divine dignity and honor Jesus Christ possesses because of His absolute deity.

3. Did our Lord Jesus seek to use His divine identity and status for His own personal benefit? See Philippians 2:6 (printed above under question #1)

We are informed that the Lord Jesus did not consider His being on an equality with God as “a thing to be exploited;” or, as something to be used for His own benefit. The Greek phrase translated, “a thing to be exploited,” was used to describe a situation in which a person held a valuable privilege or possession that he could exploit for his own personal gain or benefit. Our Lord Jesus, bearing the very identity of God and the equality with God, did not insist upon exploiting His position and privilege and rights for His own personal benefit.

4. In obedience to His heavenly Father, what did our Lord Jesus do? See Philippians 2:7 (printed below)

…he emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:7)

In verse 7 we learn that our Lord Jesus Christ willingly assumed the role of a servant. Our Lord Jesus Christ “emptied himself.” He did so not by laying aside His absolute deity, for throughout His earthly ministry our Lord continued to exhibit and exercise that divinity and authority. He emptied Himself “by taking the form of a servant.” Just as “the the form of God” includes all the attributes and qualities that define God precisely as God, so “the form of a servant” includes all the attributes and qualities that define a servant. Specifically what it meant for our Lord to take the form of a servant (and so become the servant of the Lord) is explained by the following phrase of verse 7: “being made in the likeness of men” (i.e., He really and totally identified Himself with men).

5. Because of our Lord’s willingness to submit Himself to His Father and become the servant of the Lord, what reward did the Father bestow upon Him? See Philippians 2:9 (printed below)

Therefore, God exalted him to the highest position and bestowed upon him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9)

The exaltation and honor of the Lord Jesus is described as the reward bestowed upon Him by God the Father for His willingness to humble Himself and take the form of a servant. God exalted Christ “to the highest position.” The Greek term means to “super exalt,” to lift up to the ultimate height of exaltation (cp. Psalm 110:1). God highly exalted Jesus Christ by bestowing upon Him “the name that is above every name.” What is the Name that has been bestowed upon the Son of God in His incarnate state as Jesus of Nazareth in reward for His total obedience to God the Father? The name bestowed upon Jesus is none other than the name of the LORD (the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament JEHOVAH)—note Acts 2:36.