Philippians 1 & 2
The majority of Paul’s New Testament Epistles begin with him introducing himself as “Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ”. By referring to himself as an “Apostle” he is underlining the authority with which he is writing – he is saying he has a status conferred on him by Jesus himself. The Epistle to the Philippians has no such emphasis on his position of authority: here he introduces himself, alongside Timothy as “bondservants of Jesus Christ”. Slaves (which is what the word ‘bondservant’ effectively means) were in reality at the opposite end of the spectrum of human status from “Apostles”. So, to people with a serious, enquiring mind, the question arises as to why did Paul use this particular description of himself in this Epistle. And it is the content of the Epistle which will supply the answer to that question.
The Epistle is addressed to an ecclesia (or “church” if you prefer – the New Testament always refers to churches as congregations of believers, and not to the buildings where they meet) which was established by Paul on his first visit to ‘Europe’ as recorded in Acts ch 16. And it is very clear that this ecclesia had a special place in Paul’s affections – just read Philippians 4:13-18 to discover how much he appreciated their practical support for him when he had left them and moved on to Thessalonica. They were a loving group of people, and he obviously held them in high regard. But all was not well, and earlier in ch 4 we hear about 2 of the female members of the ecclesia who were not getting on together – obviously something had happened which resulted in them falling out. So he urges them to “be of the same mind in the Lord” – a simple appeal, but one which is uses language that takes us back to the earlier part of the Epistle.
In the opening chapter it is worth noting the emphasis that Paul places on them as a united group of people – notice the number of times he uses the little word “all”; 6 times in that 1st chapter. Inevitable there were differences which challenged that unity as we’ve already seen in ch 4, but he starts by emphasising the ideal. And then in ch 2 he will define for them and for us the basis on which unity of purpose and action can be achieved – by being individually united with Jesus Christ. Look at verse 2:
“Fulfil my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind”.
Let us now see what Paul will say to us about the “mind” of Christ = his attitude/outlook/disposition. He tells us that Jesus was “in the form of God”. For the majority of Christians here is confirmation that Jesus and God are one in person and substance – the widely-believed doctrine of the Trinity. But this passage does not say that Jesus was God – only that he was in the form of God and then became manifest in “the form of a bondservant” (v7). In fact it explicitly denies the foundation-stone of the Trinity because it says that Jesus did not ‘grasp at equality with God’. He came to show men and women what God is like – see for example John 14:8-9 – but he explicitly states that “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Jesus’ mission was to perform a service to the human race, which could only be done by someone fully identifying with humanity in every respect. Read Matthew 20:25-28 for confirmation of how Jesus understood his own rôle. And see how that attitude of service is exemplified in the incident recorded in John 13:1-10 where Jesus washes his disciples’ feet – a job normally done by the household slave!
There is an interesting incident recorded in Matthew 12:15-21 where Jesus, having performed miracles of healing then requests that the beneficiaries of his healing touch do not publicly broadcast what he has done. There then follows an extended quote from Isaiah 42 where God is prophetically referring to the work to be carried out by Jesus as ‘God’s servant’; he was not to stand on the rooftops shouting out his unique status as the Son of God, but was quietly to go about his work of preaching the gospel – the good news about the kingdom of God available to both Jews and Gentiles (=non-Jews). That was the work of God’s “servant”. And what Jesus has achieved is:
Victory over sin – he was tempted like us to sin, but he never gave in to temptation – he was sinless (Heb 4:15) Victory over death – he died without deserving death, thereby earning the right to be raised from the dead, and creating a hope of resurrection from death for others associated with him (Acts 2:22-24, 1 Cor 15:20-23)
Philippians 2 becomes a summary of all that Jesus achieved, not by drawing attention to his legitimate status as the Son of God, but by making his life an extended act of service. He “became obedient to death, even the death of the cross”. The only other place in the New Testament where the obedience of Jesus is referred to is Hebrews 5:8 which, again sets aside his titular claims to emphasise his achievement:
“though he was a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered”.
Someone who is co-equal and co-eternal with God cannot ‘learn obedience’ – only someone who is fully experiencing the everyday realities of human nature. The same point is made in the way the passage in Philippians 2 concludes: because Jesus accepted the role defined for him by God as a servant:
“God has highly exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” (2:9-10). Jesus could not have been exalted by God if he were already enjoying the status of co-equality with God. The Father has always been greater than the Son, and will always be so (see 1 Corinthians 15:28). Jesus has now achieved a wonderful status through his voluntary submission to the will of his Father: he is at his Father’s right hand waiting for the instruction to return to the earth and beautify it by filling it with the knowledge of God’s glory (Num 14:21, Isaiah 11:9, Habakkuk 2:14, 2 Corinthians 4:6), or in the words of Philippians 2:11
And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
No surprise, then, that Paul should introduce himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ – sharing in the work of service to those whom God wishes to save. And we can now well imagine the 2 ladies at Philippi who had fallen out now understanding that if they are both trying to develop and manifest the mind of Christ then they must inevitably be reconciled to each other in order to participate in the work of ecclesial service.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” (4:23)
Please do read also:
- Paul and Christ
- Who was Jesus? Video
- Who is Jesus #1 Introduction
- Who is Jesus Christ? #1 What does the Bible say
- Who is Jesus #2 Jesus Christ, man who died
- Who is Jesus #4 Clear statements that our heavenly Father is his “God”
- Who is Jesus #6 Jesus prays to God
- Who is Jesus #7 Also. Trust in God; trust also in me
- Who is Jesus #8 Father greater than Jesus
- Who is Jesus #9 100% or not
- Who is Jesus #10 Jesus was tempted in every way
- Who is Jesus #11 What do famous people say about Him
- Who is Jesus #12 Conclusion
- Jesus as fully human
- Da Vinci Code: Was Jesus Human or Divine?
- Jezus, Yeshua, Yahushua
- Lord or Yahuwah, Yeshua or Yahushua
- Jesus spitting image of his father
- God of all Ages a simple book about God (D. Whitehouse)
- Jesus three days in hell
- Jesus and his God
- Jesus son of God
- “Son of God” – “God the Son”
- Christian thought: acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God
- Was Jesus Religious
- Clean Flesh #2 Purity of Jesus
- Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever
- Yeshua a man with a special personality
- How people see Jesus placed in history
- Good-News Jesus among the partisans
- The Word being a quality or aspect of God Himself
- Scriptures That Show That Jesus (Yahshua) Is Not Yahweh (Jehovah)
- One Mediator between God and man
- Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends
- Pre-existence of Christ #1 Look #4 Jesus – His Parents #2
- Pre-existence of Christ #1 Look #5A Jesus – Had to learn
- Pre-existence of Christ #1 Look #5B Jesus – The Creator #1
- Pre-existence of Christ #1 Look #5C Jesus – The Creator #2 Wisdom
- Can we not do what Jesus did?
- Christ entered our world to transform our lives
- Life and attitude of a Christian
- Practical Principles for my Life in Christ
- To belong to Christ= Christus toebehoren
- Prefering to be a Christian
- Are Christadelphians so Old Fashioned?
- Christadelphian people
- Concerning gospelfaith
- Being prudent – zorgvuldig zijn
- Parts of the body of Christ
- What part of the Body am I?
- Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father
- Every man’s work is always a portrait of himself
- How we think shows through in how we act
- People should know what you stand for
- If you want to go far in life
- A Living Faith #3 Faith put into action
- A Living Faith #4 Effort
- A Living Faith #8 Change
- A Living Faith #9 Our Manner of Life
- A Living Faith #12 The Love for Jesus
- Caring for to become Christ-like
- If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life be
- How us to behave
- Followers with deepening
- Commitment to Christian unity
- Being one in Jesus, Jesus in us and God in Jesus
- Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience
- A learning process for each of us
- Abhor evil. Adhere to goodness
- No time for immorality
- Our attitude at a difficult task
- Choosing your attitudes
- Attitude to others important for reaching them
- Act as if everything you think, say and do determines your entire life
- Remember that who you’re being is just as important as what you’re doing
- Not the circumstances in which we are placed constitutes our comfort
- Raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair
- Prefering to be a Christian
- Efeziërs 2:21-22 Church no longer holds a central place in many Christian lives
- Not liking your Christians
- To exercise blind-faith you must expel your honesty
- You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind
- Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap
- Determined To Stick With Truth.
- I serve
- Turn the Other Cheek
- There is no such thing as a “Christian politics.”
- Only worhsip the Creator of all things
- Belief of the things that God has promised
- Rebirth and belonging to a church
- Ransom for all
- This month’s survey question: Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
- Yesterday He died for me
- Understanding The Atonement
- How is it that Christ pleased God so perfectly?
- Suffering redemptive because Jesus redeemed us from sin
- The Happiest Man in the World (5ptsalt.com)
Philippians is one of the most personal of all of Paul’s epistles. It shares this characteristic with II Corinthians, I Thessalonians, and Philemon. Nowhere are we brought closer to the real Paul, pouring out his heart to those whom he deeply loves.
- Philippians 4:19 (faithfulnibbles.wordpress.com)
God shall supply all our needs, not our wants.
- The “Mind of Christ” (instrument-rated-theology.com)
for our purposes we will say that “mind” and “attitude” are fundamentally synonymous.
The opposite of having the mind of Christ would be to have the mind of the world (3:17-4:1). This is precisely what my first 4 articles were designed to illustrate. We cannot have both the mind of the world and the mind of Christ.
- Indian River Baptist Church AM Sermon, April 15, 2012 – Jeff Gwilt: Philippians 1:1-5 (thelightheartedcalvinist.com)
- Paul’s Frame Of Mind (scripturenuggets.wordpress.com)
Before he was killed, a group of Jews visited Paul to get from him what insight they could. They sought to touch his “frame of mind.” They probably were not prepared for what they found: a frame of mind in line with the Kingdom of God.
Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians was written while he was a prisoner in Rome. Many times he made use of the word phroneo, which means “to have a certain frame of mind.” We may conclude that in this letter he expounded in greater measure what we have in outline form in Acts 28:22-23 as he responded to the men who wished to hear his thoughts…
- The goal is Christ! (waltbrite.wordpress.com)
when we, as pastors make it our goal to build and pastor large congregations; build up our ministries to a certain fame, we may be pursuing the wrong goal. For most of the people I know with this kind of notoriety, they didn’t go looking for it. The glory of God and the salvation of souls has been and still is their number one goal and pursuit.Like the apostle Paul,our goal should be Christ, how to please him, serve him, become like him and bring others along side of us.
- Philippians 4:13 Bible Verse for the Day (momsfirstscreenn.wordpress.com)