Summary: An exposition of "The Hymn of Christ" recorded in Philippians 2:5-11. This sermon highlights both the humiliation of Christ (vv. 6-8) and the exaltation of Christ (vv. 9-11).
THE HYMN OF CHRIST
Philippians 2:5-11 is called THE HYMN OF CHRIST, because scholars tell us that this passage records an actual hymn that was sung in worship by the early church. Contextually, Philippians 2 is a call to spiritual unity. In verses 1-4, Paul says, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry and conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourself. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” The rest of this chapter gives four models of the selfless humility needed for spiritual unity: Jesus Christ, Paul himself, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. The example of Christ is first and foremost. The supreme example of the Lord Jesus is gloriously celebrated in the hymn of Christ. Verse 5 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” If you truly want to know what it means to humble yourself, look at Jesus and adopt his mindset. Verses 6-11 explain the mind of Christ. This explanation of the selfless humility of Christ simultaneously explains the gloriously majesty of Christ. This text is one of the most important Christological passages in the New Testament. It records a vital statement about the divine nature, redemptive work, and sovereign authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. The text makes this statement about Jesus Christ in two parts.
I. THE HUMILIATION OF CHRIST
Philippians 2:5-8 says: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yourselves in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” These verses explain the humiliation of Christ by contrasting the eternal deity and the human life of the Lord Jesus. First, verse 6 teaches…
A. JESUS CHRIST IS ETERNALLY GOD.
The Bible is clear and consistent in teaching that Jesus Christ is God. Yet the deity of Christ is the doctrine of Christ that has been more often attacked in church history. Other doctrines of Christ have been attacked to undermine the doctrine of Christ’s deity. For instance, there are those who reject the historical fact of his physical resurrection, not because there is no credible evidence for it, but because to affirm the resurrection would be to acknowledge the deity of Christ. The deity of Christ is constantly and vehemently attacked because it is essential to the historical Christian faith. Simply, Christianity is Christ and Christ is God. If you can undermine the deity of Christ and make him merely a good teacher or a great prophet, you render Christianity impotent. All of our hopes rest on the fact that Jesus Christ is God.
First of all, the preincarnate Christ was God by his NATURE. Verse 6 describes Christ as being “in the form of God.” This statement refers to the eternal nature of Christ before he came into the world as a human being. He was “in the form of God.” The word form speaks of the internal reality of a thing being expressed in its external appearance. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus Christ is eternally, equally, and essentially God. Likewise, the preincarnate Christ was God in his STATUS. Verse 6 says that he had “equality with God,” meaning that the preincarnate Christ totally shared the fullness of God’s nature. So Christ must never be placed in any category below or less than God. God the Father and Jesus Christ equally share the nature, authority, and glory of God. But note the contrast. Jesus Christ is eternally God. But…
B. JESUS CHRIST BECAME FULLY HUMAN
Verse 6 says “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” The word grasped translates a Greek term that is used only here in the New Testament. It speaks of plunder, a prize, or anything to be seized or greatly desired. It is used here to speak of the attitude of Christ toward the perfect will and redemptive plan of God the Father. Every privilege of deity belonged to Christ, because he is God. Yet he did not hold on to the glory of his deity, like a robber clutching his stolen loot. Christ, who had every reason to put his rights first, did not. He did not view his divine glory as something that he must hold on to at all costs. Verses 7-8 affirm this humiliation of Christ in two ways: the incarnation and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.