TRUE GODHEAD AND TRUE MANHOOD
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:But made Himself of no reputation,and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:And being found in fashion as a man,He humbled Himself,and became obedient unto death,even the death of the Cross (PHILIPPIANS 2:6-8).
This is one of the greatest passages written about Jesus.With this passage Paul states a favorite thought.The essence of it is the simple statement,that,although,Jesus was rich,yet for our sakes He became poor (IICORINTHIANS 8:9).Here that simple idea is stated with a fulness and a richness which is without parallel.Paul is pleading,with believers to live in unity and harmony to lay aside their dishormonies and their discords,to shed their personal ambitions and their pride,and their desire for prominence and prestige,and to have in there hearts that humble,self desire to serve,which was the very essence of the life of Christ.His final and unanswerable appeal for unity is to point at the example of Jesus Christ.
This passage we have to try to fully understand,because it more fully,we must in this case look closely at some of it's Greek words.Greek is a far richer language than Enlish.Where Enlish has one word to express a idea,Greek has often two or three more.In one sense these words are synonyms,but they never mean entirely the same thing;they always have some special flavor, and some special significance.In this passage every word is choosen by Paul with meticulous care to show two things;(1)the reality of the manhood;and (2)the reality of the Godhead of the Godhead of Jesus Christ.
Verse6:Who being in the form of God;He was by nature in the very form of God.Here two words are most carefully chosen to show the essential and unchangeable godhead of Jesus Christ.The word tanslated being is from the Greek verb huparchein.That word is not the common Greek word for being.It describes that which a man is in very essence,that which cannot be changed,that which he possesses in alienably and in such away that it cannot be taken away from him.It describes the inate,unchangeable,unalterable characteristics and abilities of a man.It descibes the part of a man which inspite of all the chances and the changes,and in any circumstances,remain the same. So Paul begins by saying that Jesus was essentially,,and unchangeable God.Then Paul goes on to say that Jesus was in the form of God.There are two Greek words for form.There is the word morphe,and there is the word schema.They both mean form,because there is no other English word by which to translate them,but they do not mean the same thing.Morphe is the essential form of something which never alters;schema is the outward form of something which changes from time to time and from circumstance to circumstance.For instance the initial morphe of an human being is manhood;the fact of his manhood is constant, and never changes;but a person's schema,his outward form will be continuallychanging.A baby,a tot,a youth,a young man, amiddle aged man,and a old man always have the morphe of manhood,but the outward shema changes all the time.Now the word Paul uses for Jesus is being in the form of God is morphe;that is to say ,Jesus being inalterably in the form of God;His essence,His unchangeable being is devine.However His outward schema might alter,He remain in essenceand being divine.
In the same verse Paul went on to say Jesus did not think it robbery to be equal with God:He did not regard existence in equality with God as something to be snatched at.The word Paul uses for robbery,and which we have translated a thing to be snatched at is harpopagmos.Harpagmos comes from a verb which means to snatch,or to clutch. This phrase can mean one of two things, both of whichat the heart of them the same: (a) It can mean that Jesus did not need to snatch at equality with God because He had it as a right. It was His and there was no need for Him to try to snatch it.(2) It can mean that Jesus did not clutch at equality with God as if to hug it jealously to Himself,and to refuse to let it go. He laid it willingly down,for the sake of men. However we take this, both meanings are perfectly possible,it once again stresses the essential unchangeable Godhead of Jesus Christ.
Verse 7; He emptied Himself; He made Himself of no reputation. The Greek word for empty is kenoun. It means quite literally to empty. It can be used to remove things from a container, until is empty;of pouring something out,until there is nothing left. Here Paul uses the most vivid word possible to make clear to us the sacrifice of the Incarnation. The serenity,the peace,the glory of divinity - Jesus gave them up voluntarily and willingly inorder to become man. He emptied Himself of His deity to take upon Himself His humanity. It is useless to ask how;we can only stand in awe at the sight of Him that is almighty God, in hunger, in weariness, and in tears. Here in the last reach of human language is the great saving truth that He who was rich, for our sakes became poor.
Paul went on to say He took upon Him the form of a servant, He the very form of a slave. The word Paul used for form is morphe, which we have seen means the essential form. What Paul means is that when Jesus became man it was no play acting;it was reality. He was really and truly man. He was not like the Greek gods, who sometimes, so the stories go became men, but kept their devine privileges. Jesus really and truly became man in the sense of true human manhood. But there is something more here:He was made in the likeness of men;He became like men. The word made and became are translated from the Greek verb gignesthai. This verb describes a changing phrase, which is not a permanent state. The whole idea of it lies in the idea of becoming, not of being permanently made something. It descibes a changing phase, which is completely real, but which passes and moves on. That is to say, the manhood of Jesus was not permanent;He became man only for a time;He is essentially divine;but He was for a time human. His manhood was utterly real, but it was something which passed;His Godhead was utterly real, but it was something which abides forever.
Verse 8; He was fond in fashion as a man; He came in appearance as a man for all to recognize. The word fashion and appearance in the Greek is schema, and we have seen that that is a word that translates a form which alters, and changes. Jesus came in the true form of a servant, really like a man,but for Him that was a stage, a temporary thing to which He came out of deity, from which He returned to deity.
Verse 6-8, form a very short passage, but there is no passage in the whole New Testament which so movingly sets out the utter reality of the Godhead and the manhood of Jesus Christ, and which makes so vivid the irreconceivable sacrifice that Christ made when He laid aside His Godhead and took manhood upon Him. How it happened we cannot tell. The end is a mystery, but it is a mystery of a love so great that we can never fully understand it, although we can blessedly experience it and adore it.