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The Mind of Christ

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Introduction

***Note: This has been written purposely circumventing any issue involving Christology.
We are going to look at one of the most crucial passages in all the Bible, . If you were lost and only had one passage from all the Bible you would do well to have this be your passage. One person said of this passage that, “If the New Testament was a mountain range this passage would be one of the two or three highest peaks.” Another person said of this passage, “There is no passage in the Bible that more powerfully, dramatically, intensely puts this fact that Jesus is God, God himself.”
I have seen this passage used to teach joy, humility, and how Jesus was both a man and God. But this passage teaches so much more. This passage teaches:
How Jesus was God.
How Jesus was God.
How Jesus was human.
How Jesus was human.
How a Christian should think.
How a Christian should think.
How a Christian should act.
How a Christian should act.
What Jesus thought, his innermost thoughts and motives.
What Jesus thought, his innermost thoughts and motives.
Finally, the outcome of Jesus’ actions.
Finally, the outcome of Jesus’ actions.

The Book

Context

So, to begin the first thing we must do is have an overview of the context of the passage. This passage was written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi. The founding of the church of Philippi can be read about in . This is where Paul cast the demon out of a slave girl being used for divination. This caused him and Silas to be thrown in jail and after they were miraculously freed they led the Philippian jailer to salvation.
Scholars believe the letter was written in approximately 60 A.D from Rome where Paul was in prison. The letter itself comprises only 60 sentences in Greek and was written apparently because the Philippians had learned that Paul was not doing well and Paul wanted to encourage them.
The letter is very practical in nature and full of encouragement. It is very different than the other letters from Paul as it does not instruct in church order, correct false doctrine or address any wrong living. It is the only letter Paul writes that does not have something negative to say about the readers.
Now you might think we would start our study with chapter 2 verse 1. But one thing you should always do is when someone gives you a verse or passage to look at look a couple verses before to get a closer sense of the context from which the passage or verse takes place.
Philippians 1:27–30 ESV
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
Paul here states that we shouldn’t be frightened when our opponents come at us, because by our not being frightened it is a sign to them that they are headed for destruction and that our salvation is from God. He then states that we have been granted to suffer for the sake of God, just as Paul did and this is the direct context of our passage.
Paul here states that we shouldn’t be frightened when our opponents come at us, because by our not being frightened it is a sign to them that they are headed for destruction and that our salvation is from God. He then states that we have been granted to suffer for the sake of God, just as Paul did and this is the direct context of our passage.

Exegete

Philippians 2:1 ESV
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,
Paul begins our passage by directly referring to his previous statement. The ESV “so if” and the KJV “If there be” both refer the previous statement, but more than that it affirms that what follows is true. Paul is not asking if there is encouragement, comfort or participation, but stating that there is encouragement, comfort, etc. So, Paul is saying that since you are saved and being granted to suffering for God’s sake, and since you have been encouraged, and since you have been gotten comfort from love and since you participate in the spirit, have affection and sympathy you should do what follows in verse 2-4.
Paul begins our passage by directly referring to his previous statement. The ESV “so if” and the KJV “If there be” both refer the previous statement, but more than that it affirms that what follows is true.
Paul is not asking if there is encouragement, comfort or participation, but stating that there is encouragement, comfort, etc. So, Paul is saying that since you are saved and being granted to suffer for God’s sake, and since you have been encouraged, and since you have been gotten comfort from love and since you participate in the spirit, have affection and sympathy, and you should do what follows in verse 2-4.
Have you been encouraged? Have you gotten any comfort from love? Is there any participation in the Spirit, any affection or sympathy in your life? If there is and you are a Christian then you should be living out the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:2 ESV
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
I love Paul’s statement here, complete my joy. He is saying here that they should “make his joy be full.” The joy here that Paul is suggesting is the anticipation of presenting a mature group of Christians to the Lord.
I love Paul’s statement here, complete my joy. He is saying here that they should “make his joy be full.” The joy here that Paul is suggesting is the anticipation of presenting a mature group of Christians to the Lord.
Now this passage is known as “the mind of Christ,” and here we run into our first use of the word mind.

to have an opinion with regard to someth., think, form/hold an opinion, judge

This is the Greek word phroneo (fro-nay-oh). This has the meaning of thoughtful planning, have attitude regarding, give one mind’s to, set one’s mind on, to think, and to form an opinion. It could be best summed up in modern English by the word attitude. Have this attitude. Paul is saying this is the attitude we should have.
This is the Greek word phroneo (fro-nay-oh). This has the meaning of thoughtful planning, have attitude regarding, give one mind’s to, set one’s mind on, to think, and to form an opinion. It could be best summed up in modern English by the word attitude. Have this attitude. Paul is saying this is the attitude we should have.
This verse speaks of a unity in love and “being in full accord.” There are many who abuse this passage to say that everyone has to think the same, be the same. There are even those today who are using this to preach that we Christians must accept other religions and wrong doctrine. But the unity this passage speaks of is not found in identical life-style or personality. It occurs when Christian people have the same values and loves. It is a unity found among those going in the same direction. It is not superficial, but comes from the core of one’s being.
Philippians 2:3 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Paul has stated that we should have the same love and be going in the same direction. Now he continues his instruction on the attitude of Christ and says we should do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit and we should show humility.
Paul has stated that we should have the same love and be going in the same direction. Now he continues his instruction on the attitude of Christ and says we should do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit and we should show humility.
Before the NT humility was a negative term frequently employed to the mentality of a slave. Paul in many ways here is saying that we should think of ourselves as the slave of others. How do you do this? Humility begins with a realistic appraisal of oneself and others being in the image of God. Once you realize others have the image of God you can place yourself in better relation to them.
Philippians 2:4 ESV
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
In verse 4 Paul sums up the purpose of verse 2 and all of verse 3. We are to think not of ourselves, but of others. Our attitude, our mind, is always to be about others. Look at love. We are to be known by our love, that is what Jesus said in
In verse 4 Paul sums up the purpose of verse 2 and all of verse 3. We are to think not of ourselves, but of others. Our attitude, our mind, is always to be about others. Look at love. We are to be known by our love, that is what Jesus said in
John 13:35 ESV
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Look at these passages on love.
Look at these passages on love.
Romans 13:8–10 ESV
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
1 Corinthians 13:4–7 ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 John 3:16–18 ESV
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Do you notice something about these passages? It is always about other people. Love requires action and another party. This is the reason Christianity can never be done alone in a vacuum. This is one of the reasons why conceit, which Paul mentioned in verse 3 is wrong. Conceit focuses on the self and not others.
Do you notice something about these passages? It is always about other people. Love requires action and another party. This is the reason Christianity can never be done alone in a vacuum. This is one of the reasons why conceit, which Paul mentioned in verse 3 is wrong. Conceit focuses on the self and not others.
It is a very easy and an extremely seductive temptation to move out into other people’s lives more to meet your needs than to meet theirs. Do you want to know if you are moving into their life to meet your need or theirs? What if they don’t respond? What if they’re not grateful? What if they don’t act the way you want them to act? Are you the kind of person who is continually getting hurt feelings? Are you the kind of person continually feeling snubbed? Are you the kind of person who needs to control the people you’re with to get them to do and act just the way you want them to? Do you know what you have there? You have moved out into their lives more to meet your needs than to meet their needs. When you move into another person’s life this way it is always destructive.
Philippians 2:5 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Paul tells us that we are to have the attitude among ourselves, “which is yours in Christ Jesus.” There is much debate about what “in Christ Jesus” means and refers to. I believe the best explanation is that we are to be living out the life of Christ and in living out the life of Christ, the previous verse 2-4, is the attitude that we are to have.
Paul tells us that we are to have the attitude among ourselves, “which is yours in Christ Jesus.” There is much debate about what “in Christ Jesus” means and refers to. I believe the best explanation is that we are to be living out the life of Christ and in living out the life of Christ, the previous verse 2-4, is the attitude that we are to have.
Many people think the mind of Christ that we are to act out is in verse 6-8. However, this is wrong. Verse 6-8 is the example Christ gave us of the attitude we are to act out. No one in the church can repeat what Christ did. No one starts where he started, no one can suffer what he suffered, and no one can be exalted to the position he occupies. The attitude we are to have among ourselves is that of verses 2-4. We are to be unified, showing humility and selflessness.
among ourselves is that of verses 2-4. We are to be unified, showing humility and selflessness.

Phillipians 2:6-11

Now before we start with verse 6 we need to make a note about verses 6-11. Scholars, and the people that study such things, note that verse 6-11 is written with a rhythmical quality using rare words, phrases, and motifs. As such many feel that in verse 6-11 Paul is quoting a widespread hymn. This is something he does in other passages, so it would not be a surprise. If this is the truth then it means very early the church understood that Jesus was God.
Philippians 2:6 ESV
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
The key word in this verse is form. This is a problem. Form in English can mean many things and might only mean an outward appearance. In Greek, there are two words that can be translated as form, morphe and scheme. Morphe means the essential form of something which never alters, a form which corresponds to an underlying reality. Scheme on the other hand suggest an outward appearance or structure of an object.
The key word in this verse is form. This is a problem. Form in English can mean many things and might only mean an outward appearance. In Greek, there are two words that can be translated as form, morphe and scheme. Morphe means the essential form of something which never alters, a form which corresponds to an underlying reality. Scheme on the other hand suggest an outward appearance or structure of an object.
We see this in the words that we derive from these two Greek words. From morphe we get metamorphosis. The caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis and turns into a butterfly. The butterfly is never referred to as a caterpillar the caterpillar changes into the essence the very nature of the butterfly. On the other hand from the word schema we get schematic. A Schematic is like the object it represents, it has some of the form, but it is not the essence of the thing.
It is important here whether the word morphe or schema is used. Did Jesus have the mere outward appearance of God or was he, in his very essence and nature, God? The Greek word used here is morphe. This is saying, in as strong a way as possible, that Jesus Christ was not a demigod. It is not saying that the Father gave his substance to a lesser God. This is saying that Jesus was not under the Father, but equal to the Father. He was not created, but is the uncreated creator. Jesus was as much God as God, as much God as the father. He is God himself. If you ever wanted to know where in the Bible does it says Jesus was God, this is just one of the few places. This says in no uncertain terms that Jesus was God. Not a creation, not something God threw together, but God himself.
And though Jesus was God himself he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” The word grasped here is the Greek work harpagmos. It means seized, to be held onto by force, violent seizure, robbery. Though God, he thought it not something to be held onto. How ironic. Though we are not equal with God we grasp at being God. Though not God we make ourselves God. We do this every time we know that the Bible says, but we don’t do it. Though we are not equal to God we are trying to hold on to it. Though he God, he let it go.
Philippians 2:7 ESV
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
This verse explains how Jesus did not seize at being God. The KJV “made himself” and the ESV “emptied” are the Greek word kenosis. This word is best translated as to cause to lose power or to empty. How Jesus as God did this is open to much debate and beyond the scope of this study.
This verse explains how Jesus did not seize at being God. The KJV “made himself” and the ESV “emptied” are the Greek word kenosis. This word is best translated as to cause to lose power or to empty. How Jesus as God did this is open to much debate and beyond the scope of this study.
However, we can know the result of it and that is Jesus taking the form of a servant. This form is not the mere schema, an outward appearance and structure of a servant, but instead is morphe, the essential form of the thing, the very nature of the thing. In addition, he was born in the homoioma of men. This is the word translated as likeness. It means similarity, a state of having common experiences. The contrast that this brings up explains the emptying. In verse 11 he is Lord, but here he is the servant, in verse 6 he is God, but here he is taking on human likeness
This passage tells you he understands you. Because he’s human he knows what you’re going through. You can go to him. Have you been betrayed? He has been betrayed. Have you been lonely? He has been lonely. Have you had a prayer turned down? He has had a prayer turned down. Are you facing death? He has faced death. He died.
This passage also does something amazing for humanity. Jesus added servanthood to lordship and humanity to deity. In so doing he lifted and elevated humanity beyond anything it had known before.
Hebrews 2:6–8 ESV
It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
This verse also reveals something about the very nature of God. God doesn’t need anything. He doesn’t need our love, he doesn’t need our worship. He doesn’t need our obedience. He ask for it, but he doesn’t need it. Do you know why God created the universe? He created the universe to give. God should be served, but Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. He created humans not to receive love, but so that he could give love. He created us not for us to meet his needs, but so the he could meet ours.
This verse also reveals something about the very nature of God. God doesn’t need anything. He doesn’t need our love, he doesn’t need our worship. He doesn’t need our obedience. He ask for it, but he doesn’t need it. Do you know why God created the universe? He created the universe to give. God should be served, but Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. He created humans not to receive love, but so that he could give love. He created us not for us to meet his needs, but so the he could meet ours.
Philippians 2:8 ESV
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The word translated form here, fashion in the KJV, is the Greek word schema meaning outward appearance or structure. Jesus took on the structure of a human gaining the experiences of a human and he chose humility. Remember my note from verse 3 about how in the 1st century mind humility was a negative term acquainted with the slave? Here God chooses humility.
The word translated form here, fashion in the KJV, is the Greek word schema meaning outward appearance or structure. Jesus took on the structure of a human gaining the experiences of a human and he chose humility. Remember my note from verse 3 about how in the 1st century mind humility was a negative term acquainted with the slave? Here God chooses humility.
We desperately want to become something. We want to be somebody, we want to be kings. We try desperately to be our own god and our own king. He could have been, should have been more than a servant, yet he became a servant. He came and lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died. He came and took and showed us what it means to be a human being.
Paul says he was obedient, as we should be, but even to the cross. The cross is an embarrassment. The Roman could not be executed by the cross so to a Roman anyone that died by the cross was a lessor person. To the Jew the cross was a sign of God’s curse upon that person and to the Greek the cross was the sign of a criminal. Yet this is the symbol God chose. God chose humility.
Philippians 2:9 ESV
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
The actions, the attitude, of Jesus glorified God. This is another lesson to be learned from this passage. Having the “mind of Christ” produces glory and praise. Paul in Philippians verse 1:28 shows that having the mind of Christ, having that attitude is a sign of your salvation and to those that oppose you of their destruction. It leads to the glory of God and praise for God.
The actions, the attitude, of Jesus glorified God. This is another lesson to be learned from this passage. Having the “mind of Christ” produces glory and praise. Paul in Philippians verse 1:28 shows that having the mind of Christ, having that attitude is a sign of your salvation and to those that oppose you of their destruction. It leads to the glory of God and praise for God.

Conclusion

(ESV) is one of the most profound, one of the most theological passages in the Bible. In this passage Paul explains the how of Jesus, tells us who he was, and gives us our response.
The passage could be summed up by saying verse 1 gives you the why you should live out the mind of Christ, verse 2-4 is how you live the mind of Christ, verse 5 is a transition, verse 6-8 is a description of the mind of Christ as lived out in the example of Jesus and finally verse 9-11 gives us the result and reward of the mind of Christ.
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