Philippians Part Two: Deep Dive
THE CHRIST HYMN | KATIE HALDANE
In Philippians, Paul shows us examples to follow and the ultimate one is Christ. Paul goes even further than thinking on good things and says we should have the same mind as Christ. Let me show you what this means. In some versions, including NIV, Philippians 2:1-11 is in a different format to the rest of Philippians, which is why most scholars believe that this was a hymn sung by the early Church about Jesus. This Christ hymn contains some of the most incredible theological revelation about Jesus in the whole New Testament. It calls us to a new level of servanthood, thinking and unity that our greatest role model, Jesus, lived Himself, without grumbling or complaining.
the mind of christ
Phil. 2:5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
Couldn’t he have picked someone easier? I think I could possibly try and have the same mind as Peter — he was fiery, passionate for God and got it really wrong at times. I could probably work really hard to be that, but to have the same mind as Christ? Wow, that one is hard.
Let me jump back a bit and we’ll check out the English Standard Version.
Phil. 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (ESV)
Look at the terms Paul uses for the mind of Christ: but he ‘emptied himself’, ‘taking the form of a servant’, ‘he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross’. What does that mean? Not only did Jesus humble Himself by leaving His position in heaven and becoming a human, but He chose to die for us. And not just a natural death, He chose to become a despised criminal and die in the most humiliating way imaginable. Criminals were crucified, those who were the outcasts of society and Jesus willingly chose to not only be demoted into a human but take on the shame and humiliation of a criminal’s death.
the kenosis hymn
Ryan Kerrison, one of our amazing TYB writers, studied this concept further and the key found in the term ‘kenosis’. Let me show you what he discovered.
“I want to take a moment to draw you to the second chapter, verses 6-11, commonly referred to as the Christ Hymn, or sometimes the Kenosis Hymn. This hymn is arguably one of the most informative passages within Scripture which helps theologians today construct an orthodox Christology. Whether penned by Paul himself, or taken from liturgy used by the church at Philippi in their worship, one cannot deny the profundity and beautifully poetic nature of Paul’s writing here. Scholars today find support in this text for the Christological ‘Kenosis’ Theory, ‘kenosis’ coming from the Greek ‘kenoo’ meaning ‘to empty’. Kenosis theory is the idea that when Christ, as the divine Logos, became incarnate, He emptied Himself or ‘set aside the divine metaphysical attributes (such as omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence), in Christ, while retaining the moral attributes’”.
Read Ryan’s whole paper here.
If the Word says ‘do nothing out of selfish ambition’, where is the grace? In Philippians, Paul is calling us to have humility, love for one another above ourselves, to look after the interests of others over ourselves, to choose to humble ourselves for the benefit of others, to pour out what is rightfully ours for the sake of others just as Jesus humbled Himself to die a criminal’s death for us.
The ‘Therefore’ found in Philippians 2:9 is the key to this whole scripture! In my class, we have a saying if you have a ‘therefore’ in the Bible, find out what it is there for. The ‘therefore’ in Philippians 2:9 is saying this: because Jesus chose to let go of His equality with God and emptied Himself and become a servant, being born in ‘likeness of man’ human and because He chose to humble Himself to a criminal’s death, therefore (because of everything previously mentioned) God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, that every knee should bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is because of the first that He was given the second. Everyone wants the reward but we are not always prepared to do the servant-natured action for the reward. People want to be honoured but are not prepared to be the servant in humility.
Jesus was exalted by God because He emptied Himself of His equality with God. What are you holding onto, thinking it is the way that you are going to get where you want to go when God is calling you to let it go, to humble yourself so that He can honour you in His way and in His timing. Is your seat in church more important to you than the visitor next to you? Would you give that up spot for someone else to hear the gospel for the first time?
To have the same mindset of Christ is to be humble, to love others over ourselves, to give up our seats instead of fighting for our own rights, to let go of something that means the most to us, to think of others above ourselves, to do nothing out of selfish ambition and leave the reward and honour to God. The Bible calls us to truth and it is our responsibility to hear the truth, fill our minds with it and change our actions to align with it. Today, fill your mind with good things and fill your heart with humility and servanthood so your actions reflect it! Have fun reading Philippians and journalling all that God is showing you in this incredible book!