Summary: A sermon on Philippians 2:3-11, focusing on the incarnation of Jesus Christ (First point taken from Dr. Jack Cottrell's book, "The Faith Once For All," Chapter 13 The Person of Christ; Second point taken from Warren Wiersbe, "Be Joyful", Chapter 5 The Gre


Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships. Often he dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar, and went to the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited thought that he was their ruler. One time he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, “I am your king!” The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn’t. Instead he said, “You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!”


Sunday morning talking about the incarnation from John 1:1-18.

Sunday evening talking about many other Scriptures that talk about the incarnation. John is not the first one to discuss the doctrine.

Thesis: Tonight let’s discuss the hypostatic union and what this means to us from Philippians 2:3-11

For instances:

The hypostatic union from Philippians 2:6-8

What is the hypostatic union? “hypostatic union” may sound fancy in English, but it’s a pretty simple term. Hypostatic means personal. The hypostatic union is the personal union of Jesus’ two natures. Jesus has two complete natures—one fully human and one fully divine. What the doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches is that these two natures are united in one person in the God-man. Jesus is not two persons. He is one person. The hypostatic union is the joining of the divine and the human in the one person of Jesus.

Just wanted to say something different than “incarnation” all of time. Quiz on these terms after service (Ha! Ha!).

Vs. 6- Morphe and harpagmos

“In the form of God”-ESV, KJV, NASB. The word for “form” is morphe. Sometimes in English we use the word “form” to represent the outward, changeable aspects of something, as opposed to its essence or content. But this is not how morphe is used here. This Greek word actually refers to the essential nature of a thing, its unchanging essence. It refers to the sum of those characteristics that make a thing precisely what it is. When its says that Jesus existed in the morphe of God this means that in his prehuman state he possessed all the attributes of deity, all the characteristics that make God God.

Other expression is parallel to this: “equality with God” in NIV and others. This phrase “expresses the God equal existence of our Lord Jesus Christ in His prehuman state, and He has this condition of existence because He is very God from all eternity.”

“Did not count, regard, consider equality with God a thing to be grasped”- “A thing to be grasped” translates harpagmos. It is from the verb harpadzo, meaning “to steal, to seize, to snatch up, to take away forecefully.” It means that the Logos did not consider his equality with God a thing to be grasped after, since it was already his by nature. The Son of God did not consider his status of equality with God as something to be selfishly guarded or clutched or clung to, but he was willing to set it aside in some sense in order to accomplish salvation for lost mankind.

Vs. 9-11 talk about Jesus Christ in his glorified state after his ascention and exaltation. Similar to the way he was before the incarnation but with more than before.

Vs. 7- Kenosis

He “made himself nothing”- NIV and ESV, “emptied himself”- NASB, “made himself of no reputation,”- KJV; the word here is kenosis, which means “to empty, to make void.” What does this mean?

One idea is that Jesus emptied himself of some or all of his divine attributes. He “laid aside his deity,” some might say. As the TEV says, “He gave up all he had.” The result of this idea is that the Logos in the flesh is less than fully God. This cannot be because of Colossians 2:9: “For in Christ all the fulness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”

What is a more corrrect teaching? This has to do with function, not essence. The incarnate Son of God voluntarily laid aside the preorogatives, privileges, and advantages of deity (God) and chose instead to experience the limitations of human life. He did not selfishly insist on his “rights” as a divine being. As the KJV says, He “made himself of no reputation.”

How did he do this? Not by subtracting something from his divine nature, but by adding something to it. “taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” or as the ESV says it “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

On top of this, Jesus added to himself not just the full human nature, but also the role of a servant who was unselfishly willing to go to his death on the cross for our salvation. (Vs. 8)

Through it all Christ did not thrust aside his Godhead; He never ceased to be God.

The hypostatic union (incarnation) in the expanded form is this: Jesus of Nazareth was one person with two complete natures: a complete human nature and a complete divine nature. At the same time he has only one center of consciousness, one unified center of thinking, willing, and emotional experience.

four precautions that would protect the Christian from error when contemplating this doctrine:

1) Attribute true and proper divinity to Christ.

2) Attribute true and proper humanity to Christ

3) Do not so mingle the human and divine that you end up with being neither human nor divine.

Do not dissect Christ so that there are two persons in one being.

So what? What does this mean to us?

John Chrysostom warned that Philippians 2:6-11 might be used by those who would deny Christ’s divinity- making him into merely an outstanding human example of humility and obedience. There are some things where we cannot follow his example:

the incarnation- Philippians 2:6-7. I am glad we know that we are not God.

His atoning death- Philippians 2:8

His victorious enthronement- Philippians 2:9-11. By understanding this passage of Scripture properly, we look to the conclusion of Paul’s hymn. If Paul’s intention had been merely to inspire the behaviors of humility and obedience in his readers, there would have been little reason for him to include the exalted ending he provides in vs. 9-11. The humbled Christ is now “exalted.” His name is held above all else (and always will be), his position is recognized and honored by everything “in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

Like Christ, are we to empty ourselves of our rights and privileges not of the Godhead but as members of the human race? Not quite. 4 things:

Christ thought of others, not of himself. Vs. 3-6

A reporter was interviewing a successful job counselor who had place hundreds of workers in their vocations quite happily. When asked the secret of his success, the man replied: “If you want to find out what a worker is really like, don’t give him responsibilities- give him privileges. Most people can handle responsibilities if you pay them enough, but it takes a real leader to handle privileges. A leader will use privileges to help others and build the organization; a lesser man will use privileges to promote himself.” Jesus used his heavenly privileges for the sake of others- for our sake. We should do the same.

Humility, Rick Warren reminds us, is “not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

Christ serves (Vs. 7)

Have we noticed as we read the 4 gospels that it is Jesus who serves others, not others who serve Jesus? A few exceptions to this but not much. “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” Matthew 20:28, NIV. In the Upper Room, when His disciples apparently refused to minister, Jesus arose, laid aside His outer garments, put on the long linen towel, and washed their feet (John 13). He took the place of a slave! This was the submissive mind in action- and no wonder Jesus experienced such joy!

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” - Albert Einstein

Christ sacrifices (Vs. 8)

A wise man said, “Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.” If there is to be any blessing, there must be some “bleeding.” At a festival in Brazil, a missionary was going from booth to booth, examining the wares. He saw a sign above one booth: “Cheap crosses.” he thought to himself, “That’s what many Christians are looking for these days- cheap crosses. My Lord’s cross was not cheap. Why should mine be?” It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life that the more we give, the more we receive; the more we sacrifice, the more God blesses.

"Self-preservation is the first law of physical life, but self-sacrifice is the first law of spiritual life." --Warren Wiersbe

Christ glorifies God (Vs. 9-11)

Paul warns against selfish ambition and vain conceit in vs. 3. This is the opposite of giving God the glory. Jesus humbled himself for others, and God highly exalted Him; and the result of this exaltation is glory to God. This is the great goal of all that we do as Christians.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16, NIV.

Just let me live my life; let it pleasing, Lord, to thee. And if I gain any praise, Let it go to Calvary. With His blood He has saved me; with his power He has raised me; to God be the glory for the things He has done.