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Christ’s Humility – our Supreme Example

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Philippians 2:1-18 NASB

Philippians 2:1-18  1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.  

 

 



OUTLINE                    

Christ’s Humility – our supreme example1-   Joy Made Complete – verses 1-42-   Christ’s Attitude – verses 5 - 83-   Christ the Exalted One – verses 9 - 114-   God’s work in Us – verses 12 - 18

 

 


TEACHING OUTLINE:

 

Christ’s Humility – our Supreme Example

HOOK:

-      How do you think the common “man on the street” views Jesus Christ?

-      Who would they say He was?

o   A good man,

o   Just another religious nut

o   Just one of many of God’s messengers or prophets

o   A lunatic or deceiver

o   God in the flesh, God come down to live and dwell among us

-      What did He do while on this earth?

o   one who did good deeds and taught good truths

o   deceived people

o   died for the sins of those who would believe on Him

-      What difference did He make?

o   Had little impact in history

o   Caused a stir for a few years in the Middle East

o   Started another religion

o   Made it possible for sinful man to be forgiven of his sins and be reunited in fellowship with God for all eternity

-      Did anything that He did then affect you and how you live today?

-      If you are a follower of Christ, do you think anyone around you can tell?

 

 

LOOK:                Observe – Just the Facts

First let’s discover the facts & context of what Paul is saying to the Philippians.

·        In Chapter one we note Paul’s love and concern for them 1:7-11

·        He is in prison and it is for the furtherance of the gospel.  1:12

Ø The gospel of forgiveness of sin and of salvation is reaching more people then ever due to Paul’s imprisonment

·        Paul’s reason for living 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

·        Paul tells them to be prepared to suffer as he has.  1:29

·        “Therefore”  2:1; now based on what I’ve said previously listen up! Chapter 2

Now Paul commands them to do what in verse 2:2?  Make my joy complete.

How is Paul’s joy made complete? 2:2b – 4

-      being of the same mind - verse 2

-      maintaining the same love                 (agape)

-      united in spirit

-      intent on one purpose

-      Doing nothing from selfishness – verse 3

-      Doing nothing from empty conceit

-      Have humility of mind

 Paul states to them another command in verse 5. What is it?

-      Have this attitude (which was also in Christ Jesus) – verse 5

Paul now describes Christ. Who He is and His attitude

          How does Paul describe Christ?

-      He existed in the form of God – verse 6

-      Emptied Himself                         - verse 7

-      Took the form of a bond servant

-      Made in the likeness of men

-      Found in appearance as man

-      God highly exalted Him             - verse 9

-      God bestowed on Him the Name above every name

How does Paul describe Christ’s attitude?

-      He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, Vs 6

-      He humbled Himself by becoming obedient – verse 8

Paul now concludes this portion of his letter with the “So What”.

         

Verse 12 – “So Then”

-      What is Paul concerned about in verse 12?

o   Obedience

o   The Philippians working out their salvation

-      What is truth does Paul state in verse 13?

o   God is at work in you!

-      Paul now shows us what the results of working out our salvation looks like in life. What does he say?

o   Do all things without grumbling or disputing – verse 14

o   Hold fast to the word of life – verse 16

o   Rejoice and share your joy with him – verse 18


BOOK:                          Interpret

Now let us step through the text to find out what Paul meant when he wrote this passage.

Going back to the beginning of chapter  2:

o   Paul reminds the Philippians of the blessings they have as Christians to prepare their minds for what he is going to tell them.

o   Listen to how The New Living Translation states this:

Ø Philippians 2:1 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?

There is so much more we have in Christ, but Paul says, if just any of these things are true then -

Now Paul gives them the command to “make my joy complete”. (verse 2)

-      Paul is not giving the Philippians an option here. It is a command.

-      Why would this be so important as to not be an option?

-      Look at what it means to Paul to have his joy made complete:

Complete: to fill, “fill up Paul’s joy, make it full

o   If you could live and work with people who lived as Paul describes would your joy be complete?

§  being of the same mind - verse 2

§  maintaining the same love  (agape love)

§  united in spirit

§  intent on one purpose

§  Doing nothing from selfishness – verse 3

§  Doing nothing from empty conceit

§  Have humility of mind

I’d say these would be pretty important for Christians and should not be an option.

If Paul stops here then they are no better off then the “self help” gurus of their time, the Dale Carnage of their day. It is trying to clean up humanity without any  power to do so.

But now Paul goes much deeper in regards to his original command of making his joy complete. He now commands the Philippians what?

-      Have this attitude (which was also in Christ Jesus) – verse 5

-      This is where the difference is made in being a Christian, a true follower of Christ versus just being human with a human philosophy. 

-      Christ makes all the difference!

-      The key, according to Paul, is to have the same attitude of Christ

So if we are going to understand this command and what it means to us we need to first of all make sure we have the correct understanding of who Christ is and then know what attitude He has. Paul does not let the Philippians or us down. Look again at what he states about Christ:

How did Paul describe Christ?

-        He existed in the form of God – verse 6

-        Emptied Himself                             - verse 7

-        Took the form of a bond servant

-        Made in the likeness of men

-        Found in appearance as man

-        God highly exalted Him                  - verse 9

-        God bestowed on Him the Name above every name

Paul does not stutter here. He does not leave it to anyone’s doubt about who Christ is.

-      Christ is God! (He existed in the form of God)

-      Christ is man! (Made in the likeness of men and found in appearance as man).

-      Christ is the highly exalted one! (God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name above every name.

It is important to be reminded that we as followers of Christ, do not just follow a person who lived a good life and gave us a wonderful example of how we should live our lives. He certainly did that, but much more!

He was God, come to earth and He took on the appearance of man. He became a man! How much clearer can it be made?

How do we conclude this?

Paul says He existed in the form of God. What does this mean?

He existed: HUPARCHŌ (ὑπάρχω , (5225)), primarily, to make a beginning (hupo, under, archē, a beginning), denotes to be, to be in existence, involving an existence or condition both previous to the circumstances mentioned and continuing after it. This is important in Phil. 2:6, concerning the Deity of Christ. The phrase “being (existing) in the

form (morphē, [mor, fay] the essential and specific form and character) of God,”

carries with it the two facts of the antecedent Godhood of Christ, previous to His Incarnation, and the continuance of His Godhood at and after the event of His Birth (see Gifford, on the Incarnation, pp. 11, sqq.)

Vine, W., & Bruce, F. (1981; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996). Vine's Expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words (2:I-61). Old Tappan NJ: Revell.

What does form mean?

o   It does NOT mean the shape of an object as we might conclude.

o   It does mean “that expression of being which carries in itself the distinctive nature and character of the being to whom it pertains, and is thus permanently identified with that nature and character.”

o   As applied to God, the word is intended to describe that mode or way in which the essential being of God expresses itself.

o   Thus the Greek word for “form” refers to that outward expression which a person gives of his inmost nature. This expression is not assumed from the outside, but proceeds directly from within.

§  To illustrate: “I went to a tennis match yesterday. The winning player’s form was excellent.” We mean by that, that the outward expression he gave of his inward ability to play tennis, was excellent The expression in this case took the form of the rhythmic, graceful, swift, and coordinated movements of his body and its members.

o   We also need to note that the word “God” is without the definite article in the Greek text, and therefore refers to God, with a capital “G” not “a” god, little “g”. Christ is the divine essence.

We of course have other very clear references to the fact that Jesus Christ was God. He was not “a” god, little “g”, but God.

John 1:1 (NASB95) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Colossians 1:19 (NASB95) For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,

Colossians 2:9 (NASB95) For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,

Here in Colossians we clearly see the emphasis of Christ completely being God, but in bodily form.

As Wuest says: “This word alone is enough to refute the claim of Modernism that our Lord emptied Himself of His Deity when He became Man.”   Christ was God in the body of a man!

 

Other verses pointing out Christ as God:        SKIP THESE

2 Corinthians 5:19 (NASB95) namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Hebrews 1:3 (NASB95) And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

John 8:58 (NASB95) Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

John 14:9 (NASB95) Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

This is what makes Christianity unlike any other religion ever to exist in the universe! We have a God who created this universe, heaven, and earth. One who did not create it and then go off somewhere else to live leaving us on our own. He loved us so much He became like one of us!

 

Now look at the attitude of Christ. This is the attitude the Philippians and we are commanded to have.

          How does Paul describe Christ’s attitude?

- He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, Vs 6

- He humbled Himself by becoming obedient – verse 8

First let’s look at verse 6. “He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,”

Paul is saying that even though Christ existed on this earth in bodily form as a man He did not “hang onto” or continue to grasp His equality of being God. Here we see the miracle of the incarnation.

The word grasped could be translated “seized” and is the Greek word for “robbery”.

-      In this context it means that Christ waived his rights to express His divine essence and did not treat it as such a treasure that He would hold onto at all costs.

-      This is the supreme example of humility.

Note how Wuest translates this verse:

         

Translation: Verse 6: Who has always been and at present continues to subsist in that mode of being in which He gives outward expression of His essential nature, that of Deity, and who did not after weighing the facts, consider it a treasure to be clutched and retained at all hazards, to be equal with Deity (in the expression of the divine essence);

Therefore we see Christ’s attitude of humility being displayed. He is not clinging to His rights to be God. He came down to our level, that of being a human being, BUT, while still being God, but not flaunting His Godhood.

This humility was not limited to just becoming a human. He could have come as a human but have flaunted His deity by coming as a ruling king. Instead, He became a human being on the lowest level. He became a bond-servant.

Look at verse 7:

He “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

First, what did “becoming a bond-servant” imply?

-      This the same word Paul used to describe himself in verse 1:1.

-      It is important to understand the sequence of events that we may miss with our English translations.

-      The way the sentence is constructed in the original language indicates that the act of taking upon Himself the form of a servant preceded and was the cause of the emptying. The translation could read, “having taken the form of a bondslave, emptied Himself.  He first became a servant then emptied Himself.

Next we must ask what “emptied Himself” meant.

-      What did He empty Himself of?

-      We know He did not empty Himself of His deity. Colossians 2:9 makes it clear that He is deity in a bodily form

-      He could not empty Himself of His own deity or He would be denying His very being which in itself would be sinful

o   2 Timothy 2:13 (NASB95) If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

-      Form as we said before meant “that expression of being which carries in itself the distinctive nature and character of the being to whom it pertains, and is thus permanently identified with that nature and character.” Wuest.

-      Therefore the outward expression of Christ’s inmost nature in this case is that of being a servant or bondslave.

-      We see then that Christ was setting aside or emptying Himself of His legitimate and natural desires and prerogatives as God.

-      This is the ultimate example of humility. Christ illustrated this when He washed the disciples feet in John13:1-17.

-      We conclude that Christ is today a Person with two natures. He is absolute Deity – God, and absolute humanity – man!

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

Translation: But emptied Himself, having taken the outward expression of a bondslave. Now this expression of a bondslave came from and was truly representative of His nature as God, but entering into a new state of existence, that of mankind.   

My Modified version of Wuest’s translation.

Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament  : For the English reader (Php 2:7). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Now the next attitude of Christ we see is that of Him humbling Himself.

Verse 8: Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

-      This is a continuation of Christ’s emptying Himself. We get an even more vivid and clearer meaning of what true humility is.

-      We would describe someone as humble perhaps when they do things for others with no regard to themselves.

Humble: not proud or haughty, reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission, unpretentious

Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

-      We see Paul describe ultimate humility as Christ displayed it. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient and that obedience meant He would die. He would die in the cruelest way a man could die at that time in history.

-      I’m reminded of what Paul said about this kind of humility

Romans 5:6-11 (NASB95) 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Paul now completes his description of Christ. Look at verse 9:

Verse 9: For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

-      For what reason? Well, for the reason of what we see stated in verses 6, 7, and 8.  The Son of God, Christ, humbles Himself, takes on the likeness of man in appearance but being without sin, and is obedient to His heavenly Father to the point of death, sacrificing His life on the cross for the payment of sin to all who would believe.

-      Therefore Paul tells us that God “highly exalted Him”.

o   The words “highly exalted” are the translation of a Greek word which means “to exalt to the highest rank and power, to raise to supreme majesty.” It refers to a super-eminent exaltation.           Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament  : For the English reader (Php 2:9). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

-      Lest there be any doubt about this exaltation, Paul provides us with the fact that Christ was given “the Name which is above every name.”

o   “That which was graciously bestowed was not “a name,” but “the Name.” This was “The Name of God” in the Old Testament, denotes the divine Presence, the divine Majesty, especially as the object of adoration and praise.

o   The definite article appears in the Greek text and refers to a particular name. The title, THE NAME, is a very common Hebrew title, denoting office, rank, dignity. The expression, “The Name of God” in the Old Testament, denotes the divine Presence, the divine Majesty, especially as the object of adoration and praise. The context here dwells upon the honor and worship bestowed on Him upon whom this name was conferred.”

Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament  : For the English reader (Php 2:9). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.


Now verses 10 & 11:

10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

-      Let us not be confused at what name “every knee will bow”.

-      It is not at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, but at “THE NAME” of Jesus, that NAME that is highly exalted above all names.

-      This will be the ultimate and final demonstration to all creation of the fact that Jesus Christ is God, the only one true and living God, the only way to salvation for mankind.

Some day, the entire universe will agree with God the Father on the testimony which He has given of His Son.

They will know and acknowledge what Jesus said in John 14:6:

As Christ said John 14:6 (NASB95) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

People will not confess, Jesus was such a wonderful person or such a great prophet. NO! The will confess He is Lord. He is the one over all.

The word “Lord” is the translation of a word found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where it is used to translate the august title of God, Jehovah.

- Listen to the translation by Wuest:

Translation: Because of which voluntary act of supreme self-renunciation, God also super-eminently exalted Him to the highest rank and power, and graciously bestowed upon Him THE NAME, the one which is above every name, in order that in recognition of THE NAME belonging to Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven, of things on earth, and of things under the earth, and in order that every tongue should plainly and openly declare that Jesus Christ is LORD, resulting in the glory of God the Father.”


TOOK:                So What?  How should I respond?

12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

-      Paul concludes this part of his letter to the Philippians with “So then”

-      Here comes the “So What” or how should you respond to what I’ve just stated to you.

-      Paul is concerned with obedience.  God is concerned with obedience.

o   It is not to be “feigned obedience”, that is to be done only when someone is looking.  “not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence”

o   God wants our obedience whether someone else is looking or not.

o   When you are all alone and no one is watching – who do you obey?

-      Now Paul goes on to show us what this obedience looks like in very common everyday life

o   He begins by giving a command: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”

o   Time does not suffice, but Paul is not saying “earn your salvation” with this statement “work out your salvation”.

o   It is in the same vain as you would say to someone “work out the solution to this math problem”.

o   He is in essence saying keep striving to show you are a follower of Christ by the way you live your life! You should be striving to be Christ-like.

13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

-      But we are reminded that even though we have this responsibility to keep striving to be Christ-like, we are able to do and CAN only do this because God is at work within us to accomplish His good pleasure

-      He not only enables us to do this, but gives us the desire and energy to accomplish His good pleasure.

“It is God the Holy Spirit who energizes the saint, making him not only willing, but actively desirous of doing God’s sweet will. But He does not merely leave the saint with the desire to do His will. He provides the necessary power to do it. This we have in the words “to do.” The Greek construction implies habit, the habitual doing of God’s will.”

Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament  : For the English reader (Php 2:12). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;

-      Very practically, Paul now shows us what Christ-likeness is by giving another command: 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;

-      This again is not an option for the follower of Christ. It is part of us being obedient that Paul mentioned back in verse 12.

-      How much more practical can we get in modeling Christ-like humble behavior as a servant then by doing all things without grumbling or disputing.

-      Then look at the results of this behavior in verse 15:

o   15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

-      Look at how we as followers of Christ will look to the rest of the world:

o   We will be blameless and innocent

o   People will know we are children of God

o   We’ll appear as lights in a very dark world of sin

Think of how Christ humbled Himself for your sake.

I can’t think of a better way for you and me to honor God then by looking to Christ as Paul describes Him in this passage we’ve just studied and emptying ourselves and being a humble servant for Christ.

 

May this be said of us as we go from here today and live for Christ! Christ came almost 200 years ago as God in the flesh. He now wants to live His life through us.

Galatians 2:20 (NASB95) “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Do I, Do you, look any different to the world because we follow Christ?

CLOSE IN PRAYER

Remember: How did Paul describe Christ?

-      He existed in the form of God – verse 6

-      Emptied Himself                         - verse 7

-      Took the form of a bond servant

-      Made in the likeness of men

-      Found in appearance as man

-      God highly exalted Him             - verse 9

-      God bestowed on Him the Name above every name

May we make Christ’s joy complete:

§  being of the same mind - verse 2

§  maintaining the same love  (agape love)

§  united in spirit

§  intent on one purpose

§  Doing nothing from selfishness – verse 3

§  Doing nothing from empty conceit

§  Have humility of mind

How does Paul describe Christ’s attitude?

-      He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, Vs 6

-      He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – verse 8

What will characterize a true follower of Christ?

-      God wants our obedience whether someone else is looking or not.

-      But we are reminded that even though we have this responsibility to keep striving to be Christ-like, we are able to do and CAN only do this because God is at work within us to accomplish His good pleasure

-      How much more practical can we get in modeling Christ-like humble behavior as a servant then by doing all things without grumbling or disputing.

-      The results of this behavior will be Christ living His life out through us for His glory and to touch other lives for Christ.

-      Look at how we as followers of Christ will look to the rest of the world:

o   We will be blameless and innocent

o   People will know we are children of God

o   We’ll appear as lights in a very dark world of sin

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