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The Mind of Christ in Us (1) (Philippians 1 and 2)


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“Being in the Form of God” (Phil. 2)





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Philippians 2

The mental attitude of Christ to be our example
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, 2 make my joy full by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself; 4 each of you not looking to his own things, but each of you to the things of others.
   5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. 6 Who, though being in the mental image of God, did not consider grasping at being equal with God, 7 but poured himself out, taking the mental attitude of a servant, and was the made just the same as all ordinary men. 8 And being perceived as a normal man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name-  10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
   12 So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work, for His good pleasure.
   14 Do all things without complaining and questionings, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or laboured in vain. 17 Yes, and if I am poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 And in the same manner you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Paul’s messengers
19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may also be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one likeminded, who will truly care for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served as an apprentice with me in declaring the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly.
   25 But I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick and near to death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I have sent him more diligently, so that when you see him again, you may rejoice and that I may be less sorrowful. 29 Therefore receive him in the Lord with all joy and hold such in honour. 30 Because for the work of Christ he came near to death, hazarding his life to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me.


2:6-11 “God also has highly exalted” Jesus “and given him a name” (v.9) shows that Jesus did not exalt Himself - God did it. It follows that He was not in a state of being exalted before God did this to Him, at His resurrection. The whole process of Christ’s humbling and subsequent exaltation by God was to be “to the glory of God the Father” (v.11). God the Father is not, therefore, co-equal with the Son.

The context of this passage must be considered. Phil. 1:27 speaks of the importance of our state of mind. This is developed in the early verses of chapter 2: “Being of one accord, of one mind... in lowliness of mind ... Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus...” (Phil. 2:2-5). Paul is therefore speaking of the importance of having a mind like that of Jesus, which is devoted to the humble service of others. The verses which follow are therefore commenting upon the humility of mind which Jesus demonstrated, rather than speaking of any change of nature. Just as Jesus was a servant, so earlier Paul had introduced himself with the same word (Phil. 1:1 cp. 2:7).

The attitude of Jesus is set up as our example, and we are urged to join Paul in sharing it. We're not asked to change natures; we're asked to have the mind of Jesus- so that we may know the "fellowship of sharing in His [Christ's] sufferings, becoming like Him in His death and so to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:10,11). Jesus was “in the form [Greek morphe] of God”. Although Jesus was perfect, He had a totally God-like mind, yet He was willing to take on the demeanour of a servant. Later Paul encourages us to become “conformable unto (Christ’s) death” (Phil. 3:10). We are to share the morphe, the form of Christ which He showed in His death. Christ “made himself of no reputation”, or “emptied himself” (R.V.), alluding to the prophecy of His crucifixion in Is. 53:12: “He poured out His soul unto death”.

He “took upon Himself the form (demeanour) of a servant” by His servant-like attitude to His followers (Jn. 13:14), demonstrated supremely by His death on the cross (Mt. 20:28). Is. 52:14 prophesied concerning Christ’s sufferings that on the cross: “His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men”. This progressive humbling of Himself “unto death, even the death of the cross” was something which occurred during His life and death, not at His birth.