Summary: Sixth in series expositing Philippians dealing with Jesus as our supreme pattern of living
"The Word Became Flesh”
Paul’s letter to the Jesus followers living in a Greek city called Philippi contains the necessary ingredients of a life of “Joy No Matter What”. The first ingredient is found in the first chapter where Paul calls us to adopt the Right axis in life. Make sure our life revolves around the superior life perspective of exalting Christ in everything. It is possible to exalt Christ no matter what may be going on around us by the furtherance of the Kingdom or by our Christ-honoring response to it. He modeled that by his own experience which he shared in chapter 1. He then mandated the kind of behavior worthy of a citizen of the eternal kingdom.
Unity against the opposition. Unity with each other based on humility
Paul based this call to unity on the reality of…
encouragement through our unity with Christ
meaningful consolation from the experience of God’s love
essential partnership with the indwelling Sprit
God’s deep compassion and mercy for us.
Paul exhorted the Philippians to fill up his joy cup by a manifested humble unity.
He next urged them to consider how Jesus actually modeled everything he asked them to do.
…doing nothing from rivalry or empty conceit
…humbly esteeming others more important than Himself
…looking to the interests of others over His own
This becomes the second clue to maintaining the joy of the Lord no matter what.
II. MAINTAIN THE RIGHT ATTITUDE -- SUPERIOR PATTERN OF LIVING
Humble Obedience modeled by Jesus
These seven verses have been considered some of the most powerful in the New Testament. Paul instructed the believers to continually have the same kind of thinking that Jesus had concerning humble obedience and service to others. Today I want to spend some time on one critical nature of Jesus’ Incarnation to our wonderful salvation. John clearly taught the identity of the Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. John 1:1-3
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
This passage expands on that one short phrase, “the Word became flesh.” Jesus clearly brought joy to the heart of His Father by His actions.
Have this thinking in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Three realities stand out in this passage.
1. Christ’s eternal divine form/nature
2. The decision to take on mortal human form/nature
3. The Father’s response to Jesus’ sacrificial obedience
1. Christ’s eternal divine form
Paul used both His Messianic name (Christ) and His given name (Jesus). Paul referenced his eternal existence. The original text uses a present tense participle (ing word). Many translations translate this phrase “although He existed”. Others, I think more accurately, translate the present participle “although existing”. The Greek scholar Wuest expands on this phrase.
who has always been and at present continues to subsist in that mode of being in which He gives outward expression of His essential nature, that of absolute deity, which expression comes from and is truly representative of His inner being
The true eternal nature of Jesus must remain clear. Paul here affirmed that Jesus always eternally existed and still is in a nature equal with God. The term “form” refers to the nature and attributes of a thing. Sometimes it could refer to an outward manifestation of an inner nature.
After these things Jesus appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Mark 16:12-13
Paul contrasted “divine form” and “human form” in this same passage.
Jesus, eternally existing with a divine nature, at a point in time took on human nature. This has traditionally been called the “Incarnation”. This refers to embodiment of a spirit in a human form. “The Incarnation” specifically refers to the eternal Christ taking on mortal flesh. Paul clearly spelled out the reality of Jesus’ equality with God to the Colossians.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Colossians 1:15
The writer of Hebrews was equally clear regarding His Divinity.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… Hebrews 1:3