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Citizens: A Study On Philippians (Part 8)
August 2, 2020

Citizens: A Study On Philippians (Part 8)

August 2, 2020

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Citizens: A Study on Philippians

(Part 8)


We left off last week entering into chapter 2

  • Remember the story…
    • Paul continues to talk about Joy… but now its joy overflowing
    • And he starts with the words “THEREFORE”
    • Which means we need to ask question “What’s it there for”?
  • And so the REASON for JOY comes from Phil. 1:27 (thesis)
    • Live as citizens of the Gospel of the King
    • Therefore… have JOY OVERFLOWING
  • And then Paul gives the WHY and the HOW to have this joy
    • First he talks about the WHY… the reason is b/c we have…
      • Encouragement in the Son (Jesus)
      • Love in the Father
      • Community in the Spirit
        • The WHY is b/c of all that God surrounds us with
        • That God gives us everything we need 4 life/godliness
    • Second he talks about the HOW
      • And the HOW boils down to UNITY & HUMILITY
      • Again the reason: We are citizens of the Gospel of the King
        • And the how to do that is UNITY & HUMILITY
        • Which is the opposite is DIVISION & PRIDE
        • Which is also the opposite of the Gospel of the King

This week we start in Verse 5… lets read

Phil 2:5-11


Paul writing this letter from a prison in Rome

  • And from what I understand… not personal experience to clarify
    • You have a ton of time on your hands
    • But back then… Time gave Paul a chance to cultivate creativity
  • And from what we read – Paul is a brilliant – creative writer
    • He uses subplots/counterplots/illusions to the OT
    • Subversive digs at the Roman Empire
      • He is a genius… it’s almost as if he had help
  • And at this point in the letter… Paul is grasping for the right words
    • To bring the letter over the top w/ something they won’t forget
    • And he comes up with this idea
    • To add a used for worship in the early church

Paul wants to talk about how God became human in/thru Jesus

  • But that said… this passage is the thickest/complexed in entire NT

Craig Blomberg

These seven verses have received more attention from NT scholars and Christian theologians than any passage in Philippians and easily qualifies for inclusion among the most hotly debated passages of the Bible.

  • But please don’t forget the way Paul starts verse 5…

Phil 2:5

  • So whatever it is… poem/hymn – It’s about
    • And as theological as it gets – It’s about relationships
    • It’s about how you treat your…
    • Husband/Wife… Friends/Family… Co-workers/Boss/Neighbors
      • Those you like AND don’t like
  • And I say that b/c if at any point you get lost as we go thru this…
    • Just remember to go back to the point… All about relationships
    • Because even though Paul is going to dive into a bunch of stuff
  • For Paul doctrine/theology is never just 4 doctrine/theology’s sake
    • There is always practical application for our benefit
    • It’s about you… your marriage… your health
    • Theology when done right puts dirt under ur fingernails
      • And I promise we will tie all of this together

That said: Poem beaks down into (verses)

Start w/ stanza 1 (verse 6)… after relationship preface

Phil 2:6


Greek word used there – Morphe Phayou

  • Which was a philosophical term (think Plato)…
    • It was the outward form or appearance of the gods
    • So the form that was the actual rep of the real true being
  • Paul is saying: When u see Jesus… it’s a true rep of God himself
    • Jesus “who was” existed being in his very nature God
    • And notice that what Paul says – is b4 Jesus comes 2 earth
  • This is about Jesus before he comes from Mary’s Womb
    • Prior to that moment – Jesus was… he existed…
    • He is Morphe Phayou – In his very nature he is God

… didn’t consider equality w/ God something 2 be used to own advantage

Literally in Greek – Not something to be used to his “Har-Pag-Mon”

  • That was a word associated with Robery or grasping to hold on
    • Paul means – Jesus didn’t use equality 4 his own selfish agenda
    • So Jesus… existed as God – Surrounded by worship of 1000’s
    • But didn’t consider that something to use 4 his own advantage
  • Think of Jeff Bezos… worth 177.4 billion dollars… gives tons away
    • But why does someone hold on to 177 billion dollars?
    • In a world where ½ population lives on less than $2 a day
    • In my experience… after you hit 10 billion – It’s all a wash
  • Why does he hang on to that much money???
    • Why… because it is HIS… by right… he earned it
    • It’s not for you to take even though he will never use it all
  • And here is Jesus – in heaven – worshiped in heaven by 1000’s
    • And IT IS HIS… by right… he more than earned that reality
    • But he didn’t even consider it to be used for his own advantage

But rather… (stanza 2 Verse 7)

Phil 2:7

That entire phrase is a paraphrase of one Gk word – Kanosis

  • Picture of pouring out a vase of water to empty (metaphor)
  • Here is what we need 2 understand – The way Paul thinks of Jesus
    • To Paul- Jesus is fully God… Morphe Phayou
    • But at the same time He is fully human
      • So he starts with Morphe Phayou – Nature of God
      • But then uses Morphe Dulou – Nature of a Servant
  • But He isn’t half God – half Human
    • He isn’t (tons of Xians think this) 99% God and 1% human
    • He isn’t God in a body… He isn’t God pretending to be human
    • And he isn’t 99% human with a spark of the divine
      • He is 100% Morphe Phayou & Morphe Dulou
  • But to become Jesus of Nazareth… had to empty/pour himself out
    • As God… Jesus Omnipresent / Jesus: In a body in a place
    • As God… Jesus Omnipotent / Jesus: Hungry/rests/dies
    • As God… Jesus Omniscient / Jesus: Grew in wisdom/knowledge

Gary Bresheer

Jesus laid down the God card

Jesus lays it all down… pours himself out… steps in as a human

  • Staying God in his quality and essence
    • But honestly right here is where words break down
    • And that’s why the Bible talks about Jesus through story
  • Here is God at work in… thru.. and as a human
    • And not only just as a human – but as a servant (slave)
    • Here is GOD – emptying himself – humbling himself

Mark 10:45 (Jesus says)

  • Think of Jesus right before the cross washing his disciples feet
    • What kind of God is found washing his students feet???
    • That was the job of the lowest servant in the house
    • And here is God in Jesus down on his hands and knees
  • What kind of God does that… becomes a human and even a slave
    • That’s why I believe in the gospel… no one would make that up
    • God becoming superman maybe… or at least powerful…
    • You can’t find that story in any mythology… it’s only Jesus

And then he goes on to stanza 3

Phil 2:8

  • And that might sound weird… like he was in disguise or pretending
    • But that’s not what it means… just he was found to be a man
    • When you looked into the eyes of Jesus – He was a man
    • Yes he was God – But he was Jesus… human… had morning breath
  • And that right there is so important… circle that… highlight that…
    • It’s for later b/c this whole text is about what… relationships
    • He humbled himself – HOW?
  • And the word choice is very intentional here
    • It confirms that Jesus died of his own free will
    • It was not forced on Jesus – not an accident… not unplanned

Jn 10:17-18

Jesus was obedient to God’s plan to put the world back together

  • And it would be done in and thru a crucified messiah
    • This is the fulcrum point of human history
    • And this is the ultimate example of obedience and selflessness
    • And then he puts an emphasis on what Jesus did

Now if ur a poet or know anything about poetry… its all about flow

  • Each of these stanzas consists of 3 lines
    • But “Even death on a cross” is a 4th line… breaks poetic flow
    • Which is a way to draw it out and hightlight it
      • Paul says not just death… but death on a cross

A little context– Jesus/Philippians live in society

  • And that’s really hard for us to understand that as westerners
    • Maybe think of South East Asia or Parts of the Middle East
    • In this world… honor is valued above money/success/fame
    • Biggest fear isn’t death/poverty/sickness…. It’s shame
  • The cross was the epidemy of shame (most shameful way to die)
    • In fact Crucifixion was illegal for all Roman citizens
    • Latin word for crucifixion is CRUX – They think around this time
    • The word CRUX was a swear word… found graffiti of it in Rome
  • And that’s to the Romans! To the JEWS!!!
    • The Torah says “Cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree
      • 1st cent Jews believed if u were crucified – cursed by God
      • Yet we have a crucified messiah (oxymoron)
    • Heb 12 talks about Jesus enduring the cross scorning its shame
      • Point is that Jesus > human > servant > gives life > shamed
      • And this poem is written understanding of honor/shame
    • Follows this formula in ancient Greece – Ladder to honor
      • The bottom was a slave and the top was a Roman Senator
      • But this poem filps the formula in reverse
      • Not more and more honor… no… more and more shame
      • But in doing so (why it matters) God redefines HONOR

Verse 9 turns a corner in Paul’s Poem

Phil 2:9

This is a play on words… “THE NAME” was a name for God…

  • It was Yahweh Mashem in Hebrew… THE NAME
    • And Jesus is given the highest name… highest honor
  • It isn’t given to a senator or a roman victorious gladiator or Caesar
    • No it is given to someone not with blood on a sword/on hands
    • THIS is what God points to as the definition of HONOR

Phil 2:10

Now really fast to understand what Paul means by this… Isaiah 45

Is 45:18

Is 45:22-25

  • This is one of most well known texts of 1st century believers
    • It’s about the reality that at the center of everything
    • There is one creator God over everything created in existence
  • Saying I made a promise and this is going to happen by my word

Now back to Philippians… Paul quotes OT but swaps out Jesus 4 Yahweh

  • Says: At the name of Jesus every knee bow
    • In heaven – Meaning Angelic beings (fallen angelic beings)
    • On earth – Meaning us humans
    • Under the earth – Meaning the dead
      • Point: No part of universe that will go untouched by Jesus
  • And: Every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
    • Jesus meaning the guy from Nazareth
    • Christ signifying that he was the Messiah or Savior or King
    • Lord (again) is the Greek translation for name of God Yahweh

Meaning: Jesus Christ is LORD =

  • The crucify messiah who claimed to be God
    • He is back from the dead… exalted 2 the highest place of honor
    • And He is Yahweh in flesh and blood
  • Can you imagine singing that in church!?!?
    • Only a few years after crucified messiah’s shame turned 2 glory
    • And you are in a colony full of roman veterans and loyalists
    • Where the phrase of the city was: Ceasar is LORD
  • Your leader is in prison as an enemy of the state
    • You, your friends and family are in constant danger
      • And at this point you are a tiny group that very few know
      • You have no clue your faith is gonna blow up and spread
      • You’re 40 or 50 in a house
    • But you are singing from the top of your lungs
      • To the truth that: JESUS IS LORD (Imagine singing that)
  • There is actually a letter found from a roman historian (Plainey)
    • A few decades after the church really starts spreading
      • He is writing a letter to the Emperor after exploring Xians
      • One of the things he talks about… direct quote
      • The church would sing to Christ as if to a God

Two thoughts on the text

First: This is a hymn about – What God is like

Looking into the face of Jesus shows what God is like

NT Wright

The decision to become human, and to go all the way along the road of obedience, obedience to the divine plan of salvation, yes all the way to the cross – this decision was not a decision to stop being divine. It was a decision about what it really meant to be divine… his progression through incarnation to death must be seen, not as something which required him as it were to stop being God for a while, but as the perfect self-expression of the true God.”

  • We need to really see that clearly…
    • Its not that he was God and then stopped to become Jesus
    • But now that is all over – Finally – He can go back to being God
  • No that is missing the point
    • It’s b/c Jesus was God… became human… died…
    • Not as a job to do for a little while or just a task to finish
      • But b/c it was the perfect self expression of God’s nature
      • That is what God is like
  • So are we saying if Jesus became a servant.. God is a servant (YES)
    • That is the point… Jesus humbled himself… God is humble (YES)

So many people have hard time believing Jesus is God in modern world

  • Funny – 1st century was opposite (People believing Jesus = human)
    • In modern world Jesus = God is hard because we make mistake
      • Start w/ what we think we understand about God…
      • Try to go from there to understand Jesus
    • Problem is we think as westerner… I know what God is like
      • So I don’t know if I can fit Jesus into that box
    • NT goes the other direction – we have no clue what God is like
      • Closest thing is look out window and see must be a creator
      • But even the word “GOD” is a concept… not a person
        • Out there is a divine being
  • God is the UNKNOWN – Jesus is the KNOWN
    • Start with Jesus/learn of Jesus/interact with Jesus thru Spirit
    • And from Jesus you learn what God is like… Jesus said
      • “When you see me you have seen my Father”
      • “You think u know what Father is like… but you don’t”
  • Point: Not that Jesus is God (he is) but that God is Jesus
    • It’s that God is humble… a servant… the Jesus you read about
      • 1: Not scared to stand up to empire/religious leaders
      • 2: He is gentle/compassionate/patient

And we worship.. b/c Jesus is GOD– But also b/c God is JESUS

  • Not a power hungry tyrant… Like other kings throughout history
    • He stands out as the crucified messiah
    • And he is nothing like all the others
  • He poured himself out… didn’t use his power for personal ambition
    • He is everything you would hope and want God to be
    • And that is why we worship him

Second: It’s a hymn about – Need 2 take ownership

It a hymn about how you and I are to live

Phil 2:5 (Remember how Paul sets this up)

  • This poem is about what… RELATIONSHIPS!!!
    • Paul says: Look at what Jesus is like and think the same way
      • Jesus is the pattern that we are supposed to follow
      • Following Jesus around u can’t help but become like him
    • Think of how toddlers follow their parents around
      • Watching mom… watching dad
      • Starting to sit like them… laugh like them… talk like them
      • That is how we learn
  • Remember this is a letter we are reading
    • Paul didn’t intend it being broken up into 45 minute sermons
    • But to be read out loud in one sitting
      • Remember what Paul just said before this

Phil 2:2-3

THEN Paul launches into a poem of Jesus as that EXAMPLE

  • Tons of parallels b/w what Paul tells us & what Paul tells us Jesus is
    • No vain conceit (Empty) – Jesus emptied himself
    • We are to… in humility value others – Jesus humbled himself
    • We are 2 have this mindset – Its then called the mind of Christ
  • Paul is saying this is how you are to live (about Jesus but also us)
    • And how you are supposed to treat everyone in your life
    • Even if you can’t stand that person
  • We are followers of Jesus – Job is to follow Jesus around and copy
    • Jesus would find the hurting and stay there
    • Jesus would experience offense and he would forgive

What does it look like for you to take on the

  • To empty, pour out, humble yourself
    • What does it look like to step into God’s redefinition of honor
    • Not by making ur way up that ladder… but making ur way down

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