Exhortation To Unity Of Love And Lowliness Of Mind (2:1-4)
The second chapter of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians contains one of the greatest declarations coming to us from the pen of the apostle, the theological statement of the humiliation and self-emptying of Christ and the exaltation of Christ which follows. This section pivots on the great affirmation of verses ten and eleven: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Contemplated in this statement is the universal acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
The church at Philippi had relatively few spiritual problems as compared to the church at Corinth. There seems to have been no doctrinal heresy or serious breach of morality among the Philippians. Though Paul takes up in chapter four the problem of two women in the church who had some differences, there was no serious schism, and on the whole a united testimony was being maintained. Yet there was room for improvement along several lines. The plea of the apostles in chapter one for a spirit of abounding love, spiritual discernment, and for a fullness of spiritual fruit summarized the spiritual need of the church. Having referred to the need for unity in verses nine and twenty-seven in chapter one, the apostle now deals with the problem of unity more in detail in the opening four verses of the second chapter.
Most translations of these four verses do not carry the full implication which the original language connotes. The fourfold “if” of verse one has no sense of uncertainty, but is rather a statement of fact. The passage could be translated: “Because there is consolation in Christ, comfort of love, fellowship of the Spirit, and tender compassions and mercies, therefore fill my joy full by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind, doing nothing through faction or empty pride, but in lowliness of mind each considering the other to be better than themselves, not looking every man on his own things, but every man also giving consideration to the things that belong to others.”
Essentially, these four verses are a plea for thoughtfulness and an exhortation to approach the work of God in a spirit of unity in which all work together sympathetically to accomplish their common task. In view of the blessings which are common to all Christians, such as consolation in Christ, the comfort of love, the fellowship of the Spirit, and God’s tender mercies and compassions, we should also manifest the unity of the Spirit in the ministry of the church. The Philippians in doing this would fill Paul’s cup of joy to the full. He is already rejoicing in their faithfulness, the certainty of their salvation, and their efforts to further the gospel. Now he wants them to add to this the supreme grace of working together unselfishly for the goal God has set before them.
The admonition of the apostle is at once good common sense and good spiritual sense. It is according to the mind of God. It is the kind of common effort that should characterize every body of Christians, though sometimes it is sadly lacking. In the Corinthian church, for instance, there were four contending parties, each considering itself right and regarding the other three as wrong. The only way it is possible to have one mind is to have the mind of God derived from the unity of the Spirit of God, a unity which comes only when believers find the will of God and give themselves unselfishly and unstintingly to its fulfillment.
The Example Of Christ (2:5-8)
Having set before them the precept of unity and humility, the apostle now introduces the supreme example, the Lord Jesus Christ in His act of incarnation, suffering, and death. This is often called the kenosis passage because in it Jesus Christ is described as emptying Himself. The word kenosis is derived from the Greek word ekenosen, meaning to empty. The passage is not without its theological and expositional problems, but presents more succinctly and pointedly than any other Scripture the practical application of the attitude of Christ to the attitude of the individual believer.
The great truth of the humiliation of Christ is introduced in support of the exhortation: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” The passage then reveals in detail what Jesus Christ did in becoming incarnate: “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.”
It is declared first that He existed in the form of God. The expression “being12 in the form13 of God” means not only that Christ is God, but that He always was God and that He existed as God, not simply because He possessed all the attributes of God, but because these were manifested outwardly and He had the appearance and glory of God. Being thus from eternity past all that God is both in substance and in manifestation, He did not consider His being on equality with God something that needed to be retained by self-effort, but rather “made himself of no reputation,” literally, “emptied Himself,” taking on the form of a servant.14
The fact that the Apostle Paul here reveals that Jesus Christ emptied Himself has given rise to much discussion. Some have attempted to prove from this statement that Christ partially gave up His deity and reduced Himself to the level of man. This, however, the passage does not say, and our understanding of what it means should be indicated by what the passage itself reveals. What Paul is actually stating is that Jesus Christ, though essentially God and entitled to the outer manifestation of His deity, voluntarily set aside the manifestation of His glory and substituted instead the appearance of a servant, or a slave. This of course is what Christ did when He was born a babe in Bethlehem and lived among men, and became in outer appearance no different than that of an ordinary servant.
The apostle goes on to speak of the complete humiliation of Christ in dying on the cross. Because He “was made in the likeness of men” and was “found in fashion as a man,” that is, His outer appearance was that of a man. He was able to humble Himself, become “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” His great act of condescension in becoming man and His willingness to be completely humiliated in the death on the cross is set before us here as the supreme example of what our attitude should be. If Jesus Christ the Lord of glory was willing to be obedient unto death, how much more should sinners saved by grace who owe everything to God give back to the God who saved them the life which He has redeemed.
There is much for the spiritual soul to contemplate in this great declaration of what Christ did for us. It of course reveals the genuine humanity of our Lord and Savior. Though He was born without human father, He was a genuine man in every respect apart from sin. He had a real human soul and spirit. He had a genuine physical body. Unlike other men, however, He was God incarnate, all that God is and all that man is in every essential particular. His genuine humanity is revealed not only in His birth, but in His growing maturity as a child and young man. At the age of twelve, though the scholars of His day were astounded at His wisdom, they did not question His humanity. Later after being introduced by John the Baptist to His public ministry, He labored for three and one half years walking the dusty roads of the Holy Land and ministering in word and deed. Finally, rejected by His own people and sentenced by a Roman ruler, He submitted Himself to the supreme ordeal of being crucified on the cross at Calvary. It should be obvious to any careful and discerning reader of Scripture that Christ was under no external compulsion to submit to the cross. He was the eternal God, and, though He was in human flesh, He could have stepped down from the cross if He wished or prevented His crucifixion from coming into reality. He did not die because it was impossible for Him to prevent it, but He died willingly in obedience to the will of God the Father. He died in submission to God in keeping with His prayer in Gethsemane: “Not my will, but thine be done.” There was no holding back. He went all the way to the cross. This was the supreme manifestation of His yieldedness to the will of God and His willingness to accept the utmost in humiliation.
No one else has ever come from infinite heights of glory to such a shameful death. If there had been a better way or another way by which the sin of the whole world could have been taken away, surely God would not have required His beloved Son to submit to such a death. This was the only way. There had to be a perfect sacrifice, an atonement of infinite value. This could be accomplished only by a person who was both God and man, who was without sin and yet was truly a man representing the human race. No other could take the place of Christ, no act of devotion, however unselfish, no act of ordinary man, however courageous, could atone for sin. As we contemplate the mind of Christ which made Him willing to die on the cross, we must realize that if Christ had not died men would still be in their sins with a hopeless eternity and facing just as certain a judgment as that which is the lot of the lost angels who know nothing of salvation.
With this reminder that eternal life is ours because of the mind of Christ in being willing to go to the cross, certainly our complaining lips and murmuring hearts should be stilled as we realize that God never asks His children to suffer or bear what Christ endured upon that cross. Whatever our measure of sacrifice, it is insignificant in comparison to what Christ did. We cannot share His sacrifice, but we can have the same attitude, the mind of Christ. We can be like Christ, obedient unto death. It is this attitude which yields the precious fruit of the unity of the Spirit and humility of mind which Paul sought to inculcate in the believers in the church at Corinth.
The Exaltation Of Christ (2:9-11)
The story does not end, however, with Christ on the cross or His dead body in the tomb. Evangelical Christians use as a symbol of their faith an empty cross because the work is now finished. The body of Christ was taken off the cross, temporarily laid in a tomb only to rise in triumph and victory over death and the grave. Our Savior now is a glorified Savior, not only possessing the glory which was His from eternity past as the Second Person of the Trinity, the outer manifestation of which He laid aside when He became incarnate, but now He has the added glory of victory over sin and death, the demonstrated power and work which He accomplished while in the earthly sphere. Of His present glory the apostle writes, beginning in verse nine: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The same Christ who divested Himself of the outer form of deity, condescended to become man, and humbled Himself by becoming obedient unto death, now is highly exalted and given a name which is above every name.
There has been some speculation as to just what this name is before whom every knee should bow. The simplest explanation however seems to be the best. As indicated in the text, the name before which everyone will bow is not some mystical unrevealed name which is yet to be given, but it is rather the simple name Jesus, the human name of Christ, the name which means Savior. It is this name which gathers in the whole story of His victory over sin and death and represents the added glory which was obtained by Christ through becoming man.
Those who are described as bowing the knee to the name of Jesus, though not named, are declared to be in heaven, in earth, and under the earth. This probably includes all created moral intelligences, namely, angels and men. Because of the exaltation of Christ, everyone in heaven should bow the knee to Him. Everyone in earth should recognize His supremacy and even those under the earth. Those in heaven undoubtedly include the holy angels and the saints. Those on earth may have primary reference not only to those now living on the earth, but to those over whom Christ will reign in His millennial kingdom. All will bow the knee to Him on earth in that future day. Those under the earth seems to be a reference to those who die without salvation and are forever lost. As stated in the text, the glory of Christ is presented as being such that everyone should bow before Him and confess Him as Lord.
A number of ancient manuscripts with slightly different reading affirm that not only should everyone confess Jesus Christ as Lord, but state that everyone shall confess Jesus Christ as Lord.15 In our present earthly experience it is clear that not all will bend the knee, nor will all acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, but the day is coming when every moral intelligence, both men and angels, will recognize that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord and that He is worthy of worship and adoration. Whether or not lost men and lost angels will ever bend the knee, they will not be able to gainsay in that day that Jesus Christ as their Judge is also their Lord.
Their reluctant confession in that day, however, will be too late. The Scriptures make plain that now is the day of salvation. Now is the time to receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. The Scriptures do not promise further opportunity on the morrow. The universal recognition that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord, which will occasion the shout of triumph and the adoration of the saints, will wring a cry of despair from those who have neglected their day of opportunity. But now it is still the day of grace and the day of opportunity. This is the impelling motive for evangelism, for missions, for translation of the Scriptures into all the languages of the world. It is still true that whosoever will may come.
If these things be true, let us heed the admonition of Scripture to bow our hearts, to bend the proud knee, and to acknowledge Him now, while there is time, as our Lord and Savior. May we not only enter into that which pertains to our personal salvation, but may we worship and adore the one who throughout all eternity will be the revelation of divine love, the one who considered the outer manifestations of His deity not something to be retained, but was willing to go all the way to the death on the cross. If we are able to enter into this blessed truth of what it means to have the mind of Christ, we will have opened the door to achieve the will of God for our lives.
As we examine our own meager vessels of devotion, our own limited yieldedness to the will of God, we have set before us the great example of a Savior who loved us to infinity, who gave Himself without stint, who held nothing back. For Him no task was too hard, no shame too great, no physical suffering beyond endurance. How necessary in the church of Jesus Christ as well as in our own souls is this attitude. As we sometimes find ourselves unwilling to do even a simple thing to the honor and glory of God, how important it is to turn away from all that is selfish and to be willing to serve God in unstinted love and devotion.
Application Of Christ’s Example (2:12-16)
Following the great declaration of the self-humiliation of Christ in His sufferings and death and the significant exaltation of Christ in glory which followed, the apostle now drives home to his Philippian readers the practical application of these truths to their own lives. This exhortation found in verses twelve to sixteen has its key thought in the expression of verse thirteen: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
The work of Christ on the cross was only the beginning of the work of God for man. Rich as was its provision in the redemption provided for the entire world, the application of that redemption to the individual and the realization in spiritual experience of victory over sin involves a subsequent undertaking of God. God’s method, using the work of Christ as the basis and the example of Christ as the pattern, is to reproduce in the life of the Christian the mind of Christ. The secret of this is bound up in the little phrase: “God worketh in you.” This portion of Scripture does not intend to unfold the complete doctrine, for it is clear that the total process of salvation, beginning with conviction before the transformation and consummating in perfection in glory, is a work of God involving many doctrines. In verse twelve, however, it is presented as a Christian experience of manifesting the salvation which God provides in a life of victory and obedience.
In approaching this subject the Apostle Paul is encouraged by the fact that the Philippians are not novices in the faith, but are already mature Christians. He addresses them therefore in these words: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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.” These verses have been subject to considerable misunderstanding in that the emphasis seems to be upon self-effort. What does it mean to work out one’s own salvation? Some have attempted to support the idea that when God saves a soul it is then up to the individual to possess and achieve the ultimate goals of salvation in Christ. They view Christianity as a step-ladder which reaches from earth to heaven which it is our duty to climb. A careful examination of this passage, however, will not justify this immature conclusion.
First of all, the salvation which is in view in this passage is not salvation from the guilt of sin. This is accomplished once and for all when a sinner receives Jesus Christ by faith as the One who bore his sins in His own body on the cross. In this sense, salvation is accomplished once and for all. Many times in Scripture, however, salvation is presented as a process which is not completed until the redeemed saint stands perfect in glory. The salvation that is in view in this passage, therefore, is deliverance from the power of sin, and the experience and manifestation of the new life in Christ. Like all other forms of salvation, it is a work of God but involving to a larger degree the element of individual experience and participation. It is therefore described as a human work in the expression: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” What does this mean?
As many have pointed out, it is not possible to work out something which is not already possessed. In other words, having received Christ as our Savior and having become a child of God, one has received many things which relate to his salvation which are true of every Christian, such as the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, eternal life, and the new possibility of serving God acceptably. The exhortation is to the point that this manifestation of salvation in life is one of the supreme goals of Christian experience, the details and realization of which is of such importance that one should approach the task with fear and trembling. The exhortation to accomplish this is couched in most loving terms by the apostle. He reminds the the Philippians of their past experience of always obeying, a yieldedness to God that was manifested not only when he was there but also in his absence. Now without his presence in their midst they were to give themselves all the more to a diligent working out of their salvation. In a word, it is an exhortation to realize the whole program of God in sanctification, testimony, and growth in grace.
Having thus alerted them to the necessity of serious effort, he assures them, however, that salvation fundamentally is a work of God for, in, and through man, not a work of man for God. It is God’s work in us. It is something that God does for us. Whatever effort we may expend, our salvation is nevertheless the working out of God’s plan in our life and experience. Accordingly, in verse thirteen he assures them: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Though the Scriptures recognize the validity of human choice, it is no contradiction of the principle of human responsibility that God works especially in His children inclining their wills to do the will of God and providing spiritual enablement that they may accomplish His good pleasure. Even the present experience of salvation depends upon divine provision. The present tense of the word worketh is most significant. It is God who keeps on working, not content with initiating the believer’s salvation, but continuing the work of salvation until the process is complete in glory.
With the great principles of experience of salvation set forth in verses twelve and thirteen, a series of particular exhortations follow. Though at first glance they may not seem to be sweeping in their character, a closer study will reveal that the apostle has set forth in these three verses the great essentials of the believer’s testimony in the world. In verse fourteen he categorically commands them: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” There are few exhortations in Scripture that are more incisive or demanding than this simple command. It demands of the Christian that he avoid complaining, not only in some things but in all things. The very common failing of the saints of God of murmuring, as illustrated in the life of Israel in the wilderness, is regarded as a very serious failure in the eyes of God. Their complaint about lack of water and lack of food, though very human, nevertheless brought sweeping divine judgment upon them. Their murmuring, though understandable, reflected an attitude of insubordination and lack of faith in their relationship to their God.
The saints at Philippi were exhorted to avoid murmuring and disputings or arguments in regard to all things. The order of Greek words is very significant, the word all occurring first and the verb second. Further, the tense of the verse is in the present, emphasizing that in all things and at all times they were not to murmur, or to substitute human reasonings for faith in God. This attitude of complete submission and complete trust is of course the key to working out our own salvation in fear and trembling and is the mark of a truly spiritual Christian.
In verse fifteen the apostle makes the further point that complete avoidance of murmurings and human reasonings is essential to a true testimony for God. The achievement of this standard will make possible, as he states in verse fifteen: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” They were to be blameless, or more accurately, without blemish and harmless, pure in the midst of a wicked world. As the children of God (tekna, born ones), they were to be like lights in a dark world. Their moral purity was to be in contrast to the immoral world, their testimony as lights in a dark place.
Their position in the world, however, was not to be one of silent display, but they were actively to proclaim the gospel. This the apostle expresses in verse sixteen in the words: “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” The primary object of Christian testimony is not simply to illustrate in life the holiness and purity of Christ, but to proclaim in word the way of salvation that others may participate also in God’s salvation. They were to run the race to win the prize (Gal. 2:2; 1 Cor. 9:24; 2 Tim. 4:7). Paul holds this before them as an objective that they bring his own testimony in their midst to mature fruition. He anticipates the day of Christ, an expression earlier mentioned in chapter one, verses six and ten, referring to the rapture of the church and the judgment seat of Christ. The full fruit of his ministry in Philippi was not achieved simply by leading them to a knowledge of Christ as Savior, but depended upon their manifestation of that new life in Christ and the full extension of their Christian testimony. Evangelism and missions do not achieve their goals simply in the salvation of souls, but in the maturing of saints and the establishment of a true testimony for Jesus Christ.
The Example Of Paul (2:17-18)
The second chapter of Philippians falls naturally into four divisions. The chapter opens with four verses devoted to the exhortation to unity and humility. The second division deals with the humiliation and exaltation of Christ as the supreme illustration of the mind of Christ which should be in the believer. The exposition of what the mind of Christ is as manifested in working out one’s own salvation is contained in the third section, verses twelve to sixteen. In the concluding section, beginning with verse seventeen, a threefold illustration of the mind of Christ is offered in the life and witness of the Apostle Paul (w. 17-18), in Timothy (vv. 19-24), and in Epaphroditus (vv. 25-30). The mind of Christ as presented in this chapter therefore is not an unattainable ideal, but that which has been realized in large measure by those who have committed themselves completely to the will and service of the Lord.
The first illustration is that of Paul himself in which he speaks of his rejoicing in whatever measure God has used him to be of help to the Philippian church. He writes: “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.” Paul is here contemplating the possibility that his service for the Lord may result in his martyrdom. He therefore contemplates what would be his reaction if he, like a drink offering, were poured out. The word offered is literally “to be poured out,” a figure of speech which might refer to his own blood shed in martyrdom, but perhaps more generally to be understood as the offering or pouring out of his life. Whether as a sacrifice or in priestly service, Paul would rejoice in the sacrifice and service of God up to the time of his writing in which he and the Philippian church had joined. Like Paul, the church at Philippi rejoiced in its sacrifices for it was to the glory of God and in it Christ was magnified. In some real measure Paul approximated the mind of Christ in being like Christ, willing to suffer and die in achieving the will of God.
The Example Of Timothy (2:19-24)
Not all of God’s servants, however, face martyrdom, and faithfulness in life and ministry are also an acceptable sacrifice to God. In this light the apostle commends Timothy to the Philippian church as his beloved son in the gospel, and announces his intention to send Timothy to them in verse nineteen: “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.” Paul’s concern for the Philippian church is manifested in this plan to send Timothy to them that Timothy may in turn report their progress in spiritual things. He therefore also includes a commendation that they may receive Timothy as his personal representative.
Paul describes Timothy’s testimony in these words: “For I have no man likeminded,16 who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.” In thus referring to Timothy he is not casting reflection on others who have served with him, such as Luke, but it is rather that Timothy to a pre-eminent extent had revealed the mind of Christ. Timothy’s care for the saints at Philippi was a natural or genuine solicitude. In contrast to others described as seeking their own advantage rather than the things of Christ, Timothy was genuinely unselfish in his love for others just as Christ manifested His love for the world. This was not idle sentiment on the part of Paul. He reminds the Philippian church that they knew Timothy’s testimony proved by a long life of service for God. Under Paul’s tutelage, as a son with his father, Timothy had demonstrated his faithfulness in the past in his service in the gospel.
Paul, however, will delay his sending of Timothy until such time as Timothy can bring report to the Philippian church of the outcome of his trial before Caesar. Paul anticipates that he will be able to follow Timothy shortly with a personal visit after his freedom. This he states in verses twenty-three and twenty-four: “Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.”
The Example Of Epaphroditus (2:25-30)
This great chapter of Scripture concludes with another illustration of a saint who had attained the mind of Christ in his life and witness. Epaphroditus, who had come from Philippi with the offering of the Philippian church to Paul, is being sent with this epistle back to Philippi with a word of apostolic approbation. As Timothy would be delayed until after the outcome of the trial, he is sending Epaphroditus at once. He describes him in verse twenty-five in these words: “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.” In these words the apostle graciously describes Epaphroditus first as his brother in Christ, then as his companion in labor and fellowsoldier, that is, one who has borne the hardness of the spiritual conflict with Paul. He reminds them that Epaphroditus is also their messenger and one who faithfully ministered to Paul on their behalf.
In the providence of God, Epaphroditus had been very sick while in Rome, and in that state had been full of concern for he learned that the Philippian church had received tidings of his illness. Paul bears witness that their concern was not without foundation for in verse twenty-seven he indicates that Epaphroditus “was sick nigh unto death.” A further word of praise comes from the pen of Paul as he contemplates God’s mercy, not only upon Epaphroditus in raising him up, but also on Paul himself lest the added sorrow of Epaphroditus death should be laid upon him in his already burdened state in prison.
The sending of Epaphroditus to the Philippian church therefore has a double meaning. Paul states: “I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.” In stating that he “sent him the more carefully,” the meaning is that Paul has been more diligent in returning Epaphroditus to them promptly because of their concern about him and his desire that they may rejoice in his full recovery, thereby relieving any concern on the part of the apostle for the Philippian church in this time of testing.
He exhorts them: “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation.” Epaphroditus was not only to be received as one of their own number who had served the Lord well, but they were to recognize his faithful ministry in Christ. This ministry is described in verse thirty. “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding17 his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” Paul is not complaining here about any lack of service on the part of the Philippian church, but rather taking note of their separation by distance which made impossible any other means of service than that which they had employed in sending Epaphroditus with their offering. The devotion of Epaphroditus to his responsibility toward Paul, even to the experiencing of sickness which might have resulted in his death, is an occasion of thankfulness to the Philippian church because in effect he was their substitute or representative.
12 The Greek here is not the usual verb on (to be), but huparchon in the form of an imperfect participle, meaning continued existence, emphasizing the fact that Christ had always been and still is in the form of God. The imperfect tense is in contrast to the aorist verbs used in reference to the incarnation which describe acts in time.
13 Three Greek words are used to describe the outer appearance of Christ: (1) Morphe (form), referring to divine nature and attributes in their manifestation. The form of God is in contrast to the form of a servant (v. 7) or the manifestation of Christ in the substance and attributes of a servant. (2) Homoiomati (likeness), meaning that Christ was made like other men in His essential attributes and manifestation as a genuine man (v. 7). (3) Schemati (fashion), referring to outer manifestation and more transient characteristics of humanity (v. 8). The use of the three words together affirm that Christ was from eternity past all that God is in substance, attributes, and manifestation. Becoming incarnate He was all that was necessary to genuine humanity apart from sin. In appearance he looked like a man and acted like a man. In His incarnate state Christ continued to be all that God is though appearing in the form of man. After His ascension and glorification He continued to be all that man is apart from sin, limitation, and human characteristics that pertain only to this life.
14 The Greek expresion ekenosen, meaning to empty, is a strong word speaking of the dramatic act of incarnation. It must be interpreted, however, by its context. Christ did not empty Himself of deity, but of its outward manifestation. He emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant (Gr. labon, meaning taking, an aorist participle indicating simultaneous action). The incarnation did not change the person and attributes of Christ in His divine nature, but added to it a complete human nature. To achieve the divine purpose of becoming the Savior, the divine glory needed to be veiled. Christ voluntarily, moment by moment, submitted to human limitations apart from sin. The humiliation was temporary. The incarnation was everlasting.
15 Translators have preferred the reading giving the form of confess (Gr exomologesetat) as the aorist subjunctive (found in Aleph and B). An alternate reading in the form of the future indicative achieved by the change of one letter would make this a prophecy, i.e., “shall confess” instead of “should confess.” This is supported by a number of ancient manuscripts (ACDFGKLP).
16 The word translated likeminded (Gr. isopsuxon) is found only here in the New Testament and means literally like-souled.
17 In some versions with slight change of rendering the meaning is risking or gambling his life.