It may help to know what John was dealing with in his letters, where he is talking about those who deny that Jesus came in the flesh.My Response:
There were Gnostics in John's day who had a seriously flawed view of things. They believed that physical matter was inherently evil, and that includes our physical bodies. Out of that flawed foundation came the idea that the Messiah could not have truly been born of a woman and become flesh and grow to become a real man. They believe that Jesus only appeared to be a physical being. This is the doctrine known as docetism. Because physical matter is evil, there is no way that the Savior of the world would take on evil flesh.
Of course, if we really think about it, to deny Jesus became flesh is to deny any possibility of salvation through His sacrifice and subsequent resurrection. The Gnostics actually denied that is why He came. It was not to save us from sin, but to save us from our bodies. While the physical body is evil, our souls or spirits are good. They believed Jesus came to set our spirits free of our bodies. Also, to deny He came in the flesh is to deny the prophecies concerning His coming as a fleshly descendant of David.
I was not equating the denial of Jesus' deity by some here with the denial of His coming in the flesh as found in John's letters. I believe those are two different matters, although both pertain to a denial of some basic nature of who He is that created man and then later became flesh and brought salvation to His fallen creation.
Again, some may find the concept of God Himself becoming a man too incredible to grasp, but that just makes what Paul said even more spectacular:
Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.
Both His deity and humanity are positively affirmed in that scripture. Jesus existed in the form of God, and was equal with God, before He came in the flesh. This could not be said of anyone but God. If Jesus was not God, then Paul could not have written this about Him. The passage goes on to say that He did not hold on to that equality with God, but gave it up and became a bond servant, becoming a man and being obedient, even to the point of dying on the cross for us.
I have copied statements from both author 1 and 2
. I have inserted my comments, and have sometimes put some sentences in the order I felt made it easier to comprehend their exigencies more readily. Of course, everything has been condensed. Author 1:Philippians 2:5-9http://www.biblecenter.de/bibliothek/baixeras/philippians2.htmPhil 2:5 (KJV)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God
, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:…7 (BLB)
Himself, having taken the form of a servant
, having been made in the likeness of men.
Before starting let me state the best way to understand these verses. This hymn is best understood within the framework of Adam Christology (James Dunn, Christology in the Making pg. 114-115).
Though the hymn is obviously about Christ, it defines him against the background of Adam’s failure. The hymn presupposes Adam’s fateful choice, his desire to "be like God," (Gen. 3:5),
his failure, and his downfall. Jesus is the second Adam. Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam is victorious. Where the first Adam sought his own interests, the second Adam remained obedient to the point of death.
Then in verses 5-8
he uses the life of Christ as an example of what he is speaking about. He tells them to have the same attitude as Christ. The point of the hymn in this context is that suffering, humility, and obedience to God
for the faith leads ultimately to exaltation. Phil 2:6 (KJV)
"Who, being in the form (image) of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”
interpretation of verse 6 goes completely contrary to that idea.
It does not convey humility, it states the opposite, grandeur
. It says that although Jesus was like, or represented God, that he did not think that there was anything wrong in being considered equal to God. It is basically hypocritical.
The majority of Bibles including the NAB, NASB, NRSV, NIV, and The Amplified Bible, just to name a few, interpret it as:
6 "Who though he was in the form ( image) of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
The conclusion to these verses is that Jesus is the second Adam created in the image of God as Adam was. As Adam, Jesus is in esteemed position
, they are both called "son of God." Like Adam, Jesus was faced with a choice: seek his own interests or God’s; obey or rebel. Adam’s temptation was that he wanted to be like God (Gen. 3:5).
Adam sought to grasp (the NRSV has grasp as, "something to be exploited") equality with God
. But Jesus in contrast to Adam’s selfish choice did not seek to usurp God’s authority but instead took the position of a slave to God and obeyed him to the point of death.
The word form
(morphe) and image
(eikon) are interchangeable
Being in the form or image of something means that it is not the original
Let us review the context of this chapter. It is about being humble.
Now on to verse 7-9. It says: "Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him.Comment
: The below is from the link and demonstrates what Trinitarians think about Phil 2:7
Let me start with the phrase "he emptied himself." Many people use this verse in defense of the Trinity when confronted with questions such as
"If Jesus is omniscient then how come he does not know the day of his return? Their answer
is that Jesus doesn’t know that because he emptied himself
of His divinity
when he came as Jesus. This idea has an actual name. It is called the Kenotic Doctrine. Before going on, let me show you the Creed of the Council of Chalcedon, which is the definition of Jesus which all good Trinitarians adhere to, Catholic and Protestant.
First, the definition of The Kenosis
doctrine from another author:
There are many variations of the kenosis doctrine, but the main doctrine and idea is that in order for Jesus to be capable of being a human being, i.e. in order for Him to be able to come in the flesh, He had to give up some or, in some variations, even all characteristics of God
and God's power and to walk on earth as a human being only. In different variations of the doctrine, some say that Jesus still remained God, even though He gave up some of His Deity. The kenosis doctrine is based on Philippians Chapter 2:7
. "But made himself of no reputation (ekenosen - kenoo), and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (KJV) Comment:
But this is in contrast to of DEFINITION OF THE Trinity at the COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON (451 AD)
“ Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance
with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation
; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union
, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.”Author’s response:
The Kenotic Doctrine claims that Jesus emptied himself of his deity. Well, you can simply read in the Chalcedon Creed that it defines Jesus’ nature as fully God and fully man at all times, without division, without separation
. You cannot say that you believe in the Trinity and use this excuse. If you subscribe to the Kenotic Doctrine, then you have already rejected the Trinity. You cannot be both.Encyclical of Pope Pius the 12th on the Council of Chalcedon September 8, 1951
There is another enemy of the faith of Chalcedon, widely diffused outside the fold of the Catholic religion. This is an opinion for which a rashly and falsely understood sentence of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (2:7),
supplies a basis and a shape. This is called the kenotic doctrine, and according to it, they imagine that the divinity was taken away from the Word in Christ. It is a wicked invention, equally to be condemned with the Docetism opposed to it. It reduces the whole mystery
of the Incarnation and Redemption to empty the bloodless imaginations.Author: The Amplified Bible states Verse 7
"But stripped (emptied) himself of all privilege and rightful dignity
so as to assume the guise of a servant." Comment:
So what is the answer?
– "Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?"
He could have summoned them, but he didn’t. He could have used his esteemed position to call for angels to protect him, but he chose to empty himself of his right and privilege in obedience to God. Now let us look at the remaining verses.
: "Coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance."Fashion (eidos)
– "In general the state and relations of a human being, so that in the entire mode of his appearance he made himself known and was recognized as a man."
In the simplest of terms, this definition states that Jesus was just like us. Paul speaks of the same thing in Hebrew 2:17 - 18, it states:
"Therefore, he had to be made like his brethren in all things, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propiations for the sins of the people. For since he himself was tempted in that which he has suffered, he is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted