Lesson 7

Paul's Letter to the Philippians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

2:5 Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, 2:6 who, existing in the form of God, didn't consider it robbery to be equal with God, 2:7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. 2:9 Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, 2:11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  

Today's Lesson 

Today's Scripture in the single most important passage in this letter and is considered one of the most significant and challenging passages in the New Testament. Some scholars believe that this passage may have been a hymn of the ancient church that Paul has quoted. It does have a certain rhythm and flow to the language that makes it stand out from the rest of this letter. Whether Paul is quoting a song or he originated these lines, Paul uses this information to emphasize a point he is trying to make. Even if these lines are so beautiful they could be taken out of the letter and studied exhaustively by themselves, Paul includes them here for a purpose and in a context.


Paul has told the Philippians that they must be united in spirit with one another. They are to be of the "same mind" and of "one accord". They are to be humble toward one another and they must put each other's interest above their own. Paul then illustrates exactly what he means. As he does so many times, Paul uses Jesus Christ as the foremost example of how the Christian should live.


Jesus existed as God. Before the beginning of creation, Jesus was. He existed in unity and communion with God before anything was created. He was instrumental in the creation of all things. Jesus was God. But Paul writes that He "emptied himself." Christ did not cease to be God but He did set aside all the glory and the prerogatives of deity. He became a servant and took upon Himself the likeness of men. As John writes, "The Word was made flesh."


Being found as a servant, Jesus humbled Himself and was obedient to the will of God, obedient even unto death on a cross. After Jesus died, God exalted Him and set Him in the heavens with complete authority and power over all creation. There will be a day when every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. All of these things were done to bring glory to God the Father.


Paul told the Philippians to be united with one another and to treat each other humbly. Then he holds up Jesus as THE example of what that means. Jesus has reconciled God and man. He has brought both together into perfect unity. And Jesus demonstrated humility in two ways. First, He was willing to set aside all of His glory and power. Who among us can set aside even the smallest amount of power and prestige that we accumulate unless we are forced by some circumstance to do so? Second, having become a man, Jesus showed humility through His obedience to the will of God. He was obedient even unto death. Through humility, Jesus was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice.


Would you be willing to set aside any power and prestige you may have earned within your church to become closer to other Christians around you? Would you be willing to humbly serve even the least of them? Will you dedicate yourself once more to being obedient to God's will no matter where that obedience might take you?


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