Thinking Out Loud

August 25, 2019

Teaching Notes for Philippians 2:5-11

Filed under: Christianity — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:00 am

To hear the audio of the sermon and see the slides, click this YouTube link.

Have the same mindset as Jesus

  • Paul invites us to copy him as he copies Christ. 1 Cor 11:1 “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
  • Mindset = worldview. KJV uses attitude.
  • Contrasting with Rom 12:2a “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think…
  • “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi”
  • Stephen Crumbacher’s Hollywood analogy: “I’m an understudy to the star of the show.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QiqZqSe6xs

Although He. Was. God.

  • Not half-God, half-man, but fully each
  • “His head in eternity, his foot in Eden.”
  • phrase “son of man” echoes his dual nature
  • concept of “incarnation” is one of the most difficult for Christians to process
  • trinity diagram (see below), but with an extension for the years the son of God walked the earth as “Jesus Barjoseph”
  • “I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence..” John 8:38a
  • “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” – John 8:58

Did not see his divinity as something to be leveraged

  • Sermon on the Mount presents radically new teachings, but not presented with arrogance.
  • Divinity not used for personal gain; there is always an outward focus
  • He willing assumed certain self-limitations
  • [aside: “something to be grasped” in KJV creates misunderstanding, as in ‘I tried Advanced Calculus but I couldn’t grasp it.’ The question of ‘What did Jesus know and when did he know it?’]

Rather, he chose the path of Humility

  • part of the much larger upside-down Kingdom that Jesus introduced
  • Philip Yancey in Vanishing Grace: “…Jesus has a different set of qualifications for his kingdom than does civilization. His stories consistently made the wrong character the hero: the prodigal son not the responsible elder brother, the Good Samaritan not the good rabbi, a scabby beggar not the rich man. Those people most attracted to him included undesirables such as a half-caste woman with a checkered past, a blind beggar, ten exiles with leprosy, a corrupt tax collector, a prostitute, a Roman soldier – all outcasts by the standards of proper Jewish society. Religious professionals, legal scholars, a king, and a governor: these were the ones who arranged Jesus’ death.”
  • a) in comparison to what he gave up (“He left the splendor of heaven” – Gaithers, If That Isn’t Love.)
  • b) in comparison to others; an itinerant peripatetic ministry; “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'”  – Luke 9:58  also in Matthew 8:20
  • The poem, One Solitary Life: “Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place he was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.”
  • What is humility? An extension of the “love” foundation upon which other character traits should build. I Cor 13, replacing humility for love, 4-5a Humility is patient and kind. Humility is not jealous [humility is not] boastful [humility is not] proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.”
  • Similar to “meekness” – strength/power under control; Blessed are the meek
  • Looking out for others, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – from the verses immediately preceding the Philippian hymn.
  • “We who are strong ought to bear with the shortcomings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” – Romans 15:1
  • “Humility is the 10th fruit of the spirit.” – source unknown

And took (chose) the role of a servant

  • “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;” John 13:3… what will Jesus do next? Smite the Pharisees?
  • line is reminiscent of ‘He. Was. God’ in this passage
  • verse 4/5, “so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”   Wait. What?
  • Some have dared to argue that rather than the cross, ‘The towel and the basin ought to be the symbol of the church.’
  • …but we’re getting ahead of ourselves…so…

He entered into the human condition

  • Jesus grew in wisdom (knowledge), stature (physically) and in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially). – Luke 2:52 (languages echoes that of description of Samuel in I Sam 2:26)
  • verse 40 of same chapter: ” He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.”
  • ‘Love was when, God became a man.’  – incarnation
  •  John 1:14a – The Message: “The Word became flesh and blood,
        and moved into the neighborhood.
    We saw the glory with our own eyes,
        the one-of-a-kind glory,
        like Father, like Son…
  • took up residence among us
  • pitched his tent among us – widely used metaphor – ‘God goes on a camping trip’

Just. Like. Us.

  • contrast with He. Was. God.
  • some things are mystery
  • [Sidebar: Just like us unless you count the whole ‘mount of transfiguration’ thing, or the whole walking on water thing!]
  • We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with us – Hebrews 4:15
  • “What if God were One of Us?” – Joan Osborne song; but if we were try to put some positive spin on this song (which I’m not recommending) it would be in relation to Matthew 25:43-5 “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ But generally, the song is too problematic to be useful to us here. Better to focus on a song like “Servant King” by Graham Kendrick. “From heaven you came helpless babe / entered our world your glory veiled / not to be served but to serve…”

Even to the point of death

  • the thing which, honestly speaking, is perhaps our greatest fear, the thing many most dread
  • One Solitary Life, continues, “While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends deserted him. He was turned over to his enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had – his coat. When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.”

And a death of the worst possible kind.

  • (Generally) John Stott: ““Let him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted. Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured. At the last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let him die. Let him die so that there can be no doubt that he died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it.”
  • Carrying His own cross, Jesus went out to a place called The Place of the Skull… There they crucified Jesus. They also crucified two other men, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle. — John 19:17-18
  • (Specifically) Wikipedia: “Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally “out of crucifying”), gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period.”

and then…*

At this, God elevated him to the highest office

  • For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. – Matthew 23:12
  • A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.
     – Proverbs 29:23
  • But He gives us more grace. This is why it says: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  – James 4:6 (referring to Proverbs 3:34)
  • Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you. – I Peter 5:6

And granted him the highest title

  • lit. “name above all names”
  • His earthly name, Jesus, is a form of Joshua, a theophoric name, referring to the fact that Yeshua is embedded in it. It’s certainly noble, but not what’s in view here. Name is certainly revered however, and outside of Latin America, it is uncommon for parents to name a child Jesus.
  • a) Honor — same verse, The Message Bible: “honored him far beyond anyone or anything.”
  • b) Authority — Matthew 28:18 “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.'”
  • c) Power — Ephesians 1:18-23 NET “This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
  • d) Control — Col 1 (The Voice Bible) 16-18 “ It was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities. Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes.  He has always been! It is His hand that holds everything together. He is the head of this body, the church. He is the beginning, the first of those to be reborn from the dead, so that in every aspect, at every view, in everything—He is first.”

That at the mention of his name

  • a whole study can be done on the scriptural significance of names, their meaning and what it means to do something under the authority of someone’s name, i.e. praying ‘In Jesus’ name.’

Every knee will bow (in physical submission)

And every voice announce (in verbal proclamation/declaration)

  • This passage is also in Romans 14:11, “It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” where you also see a reference to Isaiah 45:23:
    By myself I have sworn,
    my mouth has uttered in all integrity
    a word that will not be revoked:
    Before me every knee will bow;
    by me every tongue will swear.
  • So what would be the opposite of “Every knee shall bow?” Not bowing? Yes, but also bowing to some other God. This is expressed in the second commandment Exodus 20:4-5“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”
  • So what would be the opposite of “Every tongue confess?” Not proclaiming? yes but also misusing, trivializing, or profaning his name. That is expressed in the 3rd commandment: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
  • So where is the 1st commandment? Wouldn’t it be nice to tie it all up with a bow and have all three covered? I believe that “You shall have no other gods before me” is implicit in Christ being Lord, of having supreme rule over our lives.

That Jesus Christ is Lord.

  • The early church adopts “Jesus is Lord” after the style of “Caeser is Lord” (Earlier, Jesus asks, ‘Whose image is on this coin?’)
  • Lord’s Prayer: Kingdom is repeated twice; Jesus came to set up God’s kingdom over which God is sovereign
  • “that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” – John 5:23
  • If you want a verse that goes full circle on this, look at Jesus prayer in John 17:5 “And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed.” Jesus returns to the father to the glory that he had, but based on what we see, with greater honor, because,
    “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!”

To God be the Glory!

►►So what do we do with all this in our world?

While we often name pride as the culprit that undermines a humble spirit, ambition can be equally deadly. Being able to name the players in the spiritual battle that’s always ongoing really helps us see the root of the problem.

Philip Yancey, in What’s So Amazing About Grace wrote about how the larger society operates by the rules of un-grace. Probably most people equally operate by the laws of un-humility; the laws of selfishness.

In writing to Timothy, Paul spoke of the last days being characterized by people who were “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…”

We certainly do see a lot of that. When I remember how contagious these attitudes are I recognize the need to guard myself from such things and keep a humble spirit.



*the situation reverses; for more on this form, which occurs many, many times in scripture, research the phrase chiastic structure.  For more on the dual nature of God, check out kenosis, but be aware that there are different takes on this doctrine and diving in was beyond the scope of this teaching.


The point about the diagram you’ll hear on the audio transcript is that you want to want to draw a “friendly amendment” to the diagram in the bottom left corner to somehow note the incarnate years of the Son. There wasn’t time to get into this, but we need to frame our language to distinguish between the Son who was co-creator with the Father and now sits at the Father’s right hand, and Jesus who grew up with Mary and Joseph. Similarly, we need to distringuish the difference between God the Father, and what some, for reasons of clarity call “the Godhead;” which the diagram as a whole represents.

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