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Philippians 2:5-11 (The Bible’s Hidden Gem)

Philippians 2:5-11

(The Bible’s Hidden Gem)

by Richie Cooley

Licensed by:

Richie Cooley (2017)

Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International

Some Old Testament Scripture is taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE® (NASB), copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Most New Testament Scripture is taken from the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament: Third Edition (ALT3). Copyright © 2007 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry. Previously copyrighted © 1999, 2001, 2005 by Gary Zeolla.

Table of Contents

I. Hidden?

II. The Pretext

III. The Revelation

IV. The Result

V. Citations

Before getting started, let’s review a few notes that will help make sense of this booklet…

*This work mostly uses British spelling, except for the quoted material, which often employs U.S. spelling.

*The version of Philippians 2:5-11 featured below is my own translation. As for other Bible references: unless otherwise stated, the Old Testament quotes are from Young’s Literal Translation and the New Testament quotes are from the ALT3.

*“LORD” or “Jehovah” signifies the personal name of God, more accurately rendered Y-h-w-h.

The ALT3 distinguishes between singular and plural second-person pronouns by means of an asterisk ().

*Divine pronouns are normally not capitalized, unless they appear that way in Bible versions or other quotes.

*Words that appear in brackets within quotes are not found in the original texts, and were added by the translators or are my personal comments, etc.

*The textual basis for all New Testament quotations is the Robinson/Pierpont Byzantine Textform.

I. Hidden?

To call Philippians 2:5-11 a hidden gem might seem very odd. It is one of the most famous texts in the history of Christianity. From the very beginning it was recognized for its wonderful theology and hymn-like quality. It is preached from pulpits across the world on a very regular basis, especially at the Christmas season. So why am I pretending that it is something unique and unheralded? Well, there’s a special blessing in this portion of Scripture which is lesser known, and that is why I’m writing. I simply want to share my discovery with you.

II. The Pretext

The church at Philippi was founded by the apostle Paul on his second missionary journey from Antioch, Syria. The precise time of Paul’s arrival is unknown, but most likely it was around A.D. 51. [Melick; pg. 28]

Paul had been called of God to take the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the gentile world. He went on several journeys, planting churches in uncharted territory. Upon having a dream he knew it was the will of providence to visit the city of Philippi, a Roman colony of Macedonia (cf. Acts 16). He made converts there by preaching the Word and demonstrating the power of God, and later would write a letter to the fledgling church, called in our Bible Philippians.

The occasion of the letter was probably owing to the church’s encouraging support of Paul, and also to comfort the believers there about an ailing brother who had recovered. The apostle took the opportunity to briefly admonish and edify the believers, including a wonderful ballad concerning the person and work of Christ, which is found in chapter 2, verses 5 through 11.

III. The Revelation

The section in question begins with a plea to be Christ-like, as Paul was seeking unity among the believers. In order to exhort the Philippians to have a humble, selfless heart, he holds forth the example of Christ to them…

(5) For let this mind be in you which [was] also in Christ Jesus, (6) who in [the] form of God existing, did not regard being equal to God a thing to cling to, (7) but he [rather] emptied himself, taking [the] form of a bondservant, in [the] image of humanity [or, “men”] having become [or, “having been born;” (Brown; pg. 688); cf. also the NRSV].

The Greek word behind my rendering, “a thing to cling to,” is difficult to translate perfectly. This is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament. It had a more strict meaning of “robbery,” but idiomatically this probably means what BDAG relates as a secondary definition…

Someth[ing] to which one can claim or assert title by gripping or grasping, someth[ing] claimed… [Danker; pg. 133]

Imagine someone showing up on your front doorstep and informing you that you actually belong to the royal House of Windsor. They begin to wax eloquent about the wonderful life that awaits you. In the middle of this rapturous speech your phone begins to ring. Your spouse is on the other end of the line. Your child has been in a horrible accident. Suddenly all the finery of Buckingham Palace would seem very paltry. The grand speech would be cut short as you rush to your ailing child.

Even so, the Lord Jesus Christ regarded not the glories of his transcendent throne-room, pining rather to help the afflicted sinners among humanity. He left the singing angels and the unfettered authority to embark upon a strange, humiliating quest…

(8) And being found in fashion as a person [or, “man”], he humbled [or, “humiliated, abased;” Burer/Miller] himself, having become obedient unto death—even death of a cross. (9) Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and bestowed to him a name—the (one) above every name.

This is where things get really interesting. I’m sure what I’m about to relate has been put forth by others, but it was new to me when I saw it, and I really wanted to share.

Okay, so following Paul’s argument, he wants the believers at Philippi to have an attitude like unto Jesus Christ. He wants them to be humble. He points out that Jesus existed in the very form of God. Of course Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, are the three Persons of the Triune God. They are the same as to essence, but are noticeably distinct as to individuality.

Yet in context, when Paul is talking about being in the form of God, he is speaking of a visible role of the pre-incarnate Christ. In other words, Jesus was sitting on God’s throne before he was ever born in Bethlehem. It is the glories of this role that he vacated; he poured these things out, as David poured out the sweet water of Bethlehem. Jesus Christ left behind his throne for a lowly manger. He was despised and persecuted, condemned and killed. His glory had to remain hidden and his privileges had to be suspended; his power could not be used, except in keeping with the strict will of the Father. He became a slave of God, even when the end result of the service was to be beaten, stripped, and nailed to a high cross—to be mocked and hated and gawked at, while pining in searing pain.

Ah, but there was a reward for his service. The Father “highly exalted” him. This phrase is a translation of the Greek term that throws open the door to a wonderful chamber of Christology…

The word huperupso-oh [pardon my horrible transliterating] appears only here in the New Testament. It is a combination of the preposition huper (similar to hyper in English) and hupso-oh, which appears over twenty times in the New Testament, and means “to lift or raise up” (Abbott-Smith). Thus huperupso-oh is an expressive form, hence my translation, “highly exalted.” Abbot-Smith says it means, “to exalt beyond measure, exalt to the highest place; to extol.” BDAG generally renders it, “to raise to a high point of honor” (Danker; pg. 1034)… Then in the context of Philippians 2:9 it adds the explanation to “raise…someone to the loftiest height.” Liddell-Scott says it means to “exalt exceedingly,” and cites two occurrences in the Septuagint (vol. 2; pg. 1869).

The Septuagint references bring us to our treasure. There are three mentionings: Psalm 37:35, 97:9; Daniel 4:37 (mind you, these are the locations in the English Bible). Psalm 37:35 is simply describing the growth of the wicked, and Daniel 4:37 contains the praise rendered by Nebuchadnezzar unto God. Psalm 97 is about the deeds of Jehovah; it hits a highpoint in verse 9…

For Thou, Jehovah, [art] Most High over all the earth, greatly Thou hast been exalted over all gods. (This is from Young’s Literal Translation, based upon the inspired Hebrew; the Hebrew employs a combination of ‘meod’ [meaning “very/exceedingly”] and a passive form of the verb ‘alah’ [signifying, to “be brought up”].)

Jehovah is the One True Godhead who made the universe and upholds it, eternally consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus how can he be exalted? Who is doing the exalting? At first glance that might seem like a silly question. After all, Nebuchadnezzar exalted God through his praise in Daniel 4:37. The wicked exalted himself in Psalm 37:35. So you might just assume that in this Psalm a similar thing is going on. Thus, stating that Jehovah has been “exalted over all gods” doesn’t mean that someone physically placed him there, but rather that the worship directed to him exceeds any other homage rendered to idols, or that God has proverbially exalted himself via a growing adulation.

The problem is, neither of these options is how the New Testament understands the Psalm. It understands the exaltation as describing an act of the Father upon the Son. Let me explain…

In various parts [or, Bit by bit] and in various ways in time past, God having spoken to the fathers by the prophets, in these last days He spoke to us by [His] Son, whom He appointed heir of all [things], through whom also He made the ages [fig., universe]; who being [the] outshining of His glory and [the] exact expression of His essence, and sustaining all the [things] by the word of His power, having Himself made by Himself a purification [or, purgation] of our sins, sat down at [the] right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels [or, messengers [of the Lord], and throughout epistle], as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son; today I have begotten You?” And again, “I will be to Him for a Father, and He will be to Me for a Son?” [Psalm 2:7; 2Sam 7:14; 1Chr 17:13] Now again when He brings the Firstborn [fig., the Pre-existent One] into the inhabited earth, He says, “And let all [the] angels of God prostrate themselves in worship [or, reverence] before Him.” [Deut 32:43, LXX; Psalm 97:7 , LXX] -- Hebrews 1:1-6

Gary Zeolla notes the two places that are perhaps being referenced in the last verse. The quote was either taken from Deuteronomy 32:43 or Psalm 97:7. A lot of discussion has been made about Deuteronomy 32:43 because of the Dead Sea Scrolls. While I try to respect such discussions, I will never discard the Masoretic for the sake of the bizarre Essenes. The Jews didn’t tamper with the Old Testament (or Tanakh). If they had, surely it would have been remarkably easy for them to completely destroy dozens of troubling passages, such as Zechariah 12:10, etc. Some well-meaning theologians in times gone by (cf. Justin Martyr for example; Dialogue with Trypho, chapters 71-73) have castigated scribal efforts of Jews. History however doesn’t bear this out (for example, the Masoretic scribes were incredibly professional and impartial), and what such people get bent out of shape over is more likely to be spurious variants thrust upon the Judeo-Christian world via the messy Septuagint tradition.

Deuteronomy 32:43 is not generally thought to be Messianic and is not the correct option for citation ala Hebrews 1:6 (cf. Albert Barnes for a brief yet poignant discussion). Psalm 97 is VERY Messianic, and therefore a much better choice. Let’s review the Psalm now, which will eventually lead us back to Philippians 2:5-11…

(97:1) Jehovah hath reigned, the earth is joyful, many isles rejoice.

How is it that the gentiles rejoice at the reigning of the God of Israel, unless the Messiah unites the gentiles to God?

(97:2) Cloud and darkness [are] round about Him, righteousness and judgment the basis of His throne.

This is a very clear reference to the Messiah via Daniel 7:13 and Revelation 1:7.

(97:3) Fire before Him goeth, and burneth round about His adversaries.

Again, this is a famous depiction of the Christ: “…The revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven, with [the] angels of His power [or, His powerful messengers], in a fire of flame [or, a flaming fire], giving [fig., inflicting] vengeance on the ones not knowing God and to the ones not obeying the Gospel [or, Good News] of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8)…

(97:4) Lightened have His lightnings the world, the earth hath seen, and is pained.

The same is said concerning the Parousia of the Lord Jesus: “For just as the lightning comes out from the east and shines as far as [the] west, in this way will also be the Arrival of the Son of Humanity” (Matthew 24:27).

(97:5) Hills, like wax, melted before Jehovah, before the Lord of all the earth.

Yet again, this is speaking of Jesus Christ. Not only is he “Lord of all” (1 Corinthians 8:6, etc.), but there will be a violent tumult among mountains and hills at his arrival; for example: “And stood have His feet, in that day, on the mount of Olives, that [is] before Jerusalem eastward, and cleft hath been the mount of Olives at its midst” (Zechariah 14:4; compare with Acts 1:11-12; please also consider Nahum 1:5-6 and Micah 1:3-4 [these are very relevant verses]; by the way, a divine Messiah is the only way all such passages may be fulfilled).

(97:6) The heavens declared His righteousness, and all the peoples have seen His honour.

People can’t see the Father; they can, however, see his Son. That is the whole point to the Second Person (John 1:18). Take one of the most famous Christian citations from the Old Testament—Isaiah prophesying about the coming of John the Baptist… “A voice is crying — in a wilderness — Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, make straight in a desert a highway to our God. Every valley is raised up, and every mountain and hill become low, and the crooked place hath become a plain, and the entangled places a valley. And revealed hath been the honour of Jehovah, and seen [it] have all flesh together, for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5).

(97:7) Ashamed are all servants of a graven image, those boasting themselves in idols, bow yourselves to him, all ye gods [if context absolutely demands, Elohim may be understood as “angels” instead of “God” or “gods”].

This brings us back to our text from Philippians 2:

(8) And being found in fashion as a person [or, “man”], he humbled [or, “humiliated, abased;” Burer/Miller] himself, having become obedient unto death—even death of a cross. (9) Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and bestowed to him a name—the (one) above every name.

Here Paul says that he became a man, and after his work was finished, “God highly exalted him.” Being as I’m fully convinced that Paul wrote Hebrews, it doesn’t surprise me to find a perfect match with Hebrews 1:6… “Now again when He brings the Firstborn [fig., the Pre-existent One] into the inhabited earth”—i.e., when he was found in fashion as the victorious man—“He says, ‘And let all [the] angels of God prostrate themselves in worship [or, reverence] before Him.’” He was highly exalted, being given the name above every name [meaning more than receiving a lovely surname etc., but rather being cloaked with the regality befitting deity], as he says in Hebrews 1:4…

…Having become so much better than the angels [or, messengers [of the Lord], and throughout epistle], as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

There are five more verses in Psalm 97, but most don’t follow the same line of thought, so we’ll not bother reviewing them. The only exception is of course verse 9:

For Thou, Jehovah, [art] Most High over all the earth, greatly Thou hast been exalted over all gods.

Remember, the Greek word behind “greatly…exalted” was used very sparsely in the Septuagint. The New Testament (via Hebrews 1 and Philippians 2) states that this Jehovah whom has been exalted (Psalm 97:9) was first born into the world (Psalm 97:7). That is the gem. Jehovah has been exalted by Jehovah. The Father exalted the incarnate Son. Based upon this we can be edified by all of Psalm 97. Jehovah-Son reconciled gentiles through his incarnation and mission. He will come again with the clouds, change the face of the earth, be seen by all of creation, and burn all his adversaries.

So, the treasure is simply that Paul wrote Philippians 2:5-11 (or transposed it from another source, etc.) with Psalm 97 in mind. It played a part in his theology, as demonstrated by his initial argument in Hebrews. This goes far to confirm the authenticity of the Masoretic over-against a plethora of modern cynicism, and it also goes far to confirm the New Testament witness to the deity of Jesus Christ. Jesus is Jehovah, who will come again in the flesh.

IV. The Result

Let’s close now by looking at the final two verses from our portion of Philippians 2…

(10) So that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow—of heavenly (beings) and earthly (beings) and subterranean (beings)—(11) and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to [the] glory of God [the] Father.

“Lord” could be taken to mean “Jehovah” or simply represent “Adon/Adonai.” It’s impossible to tell based upon the context, and it doesn’t really matter. The point is that the Father has exalted Jesus Christ, and when all of creation recognizes this, the Father will be honoured. How?

It’s simple. The Father bound up all truth in Jesus. He is the perfect representation of the Godhead; he taught the only way of Salvation; and lastly, it is the Word of God that delivers to us the truth about his person and work. Multitudes of legions have attacked God’s Bible with manifold devices, ranging from philosophy to textual criticism. Multitudes have rejected the exclusivity of the Christian message and the validity of God’s theological assertions. Multitudes have denied the historicity of Jesus Christ, ranging from attacks upon his very existence to attacks upon every aspect of his intrinsic nature.

With each battle against the Word, the Way, and the Son, God the Father is called a liar and a hapless overseer of his most important affair. One day however everyone will bow to Jesus, and thus vindicate God. His Word was always true and perfectly preserved. His Son is indeed the salvific God-man; and indeed, whoever called upon the name of Jesus Christ had their sins forgiven eternally and received irrevocable righteousness. Unfortunately, for many of these confessors, their words will come too late. Grasp Jesus now through faith, or spend an eternity lamenting the fact that you justified weak, selfish, carnal, vainglorious men, over and above the Only True God.

V. Citations

Brown, Robert K. and Philip W. Comfort. The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1990.

Burer, Michael H. and Jeffrey E. Miller. A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Digital Editions, 2010. [Epub; citations are from Philippians 2]

Danker, Frederick William (editor). A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (Third Edition). Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: University Press, 1940 [this is the last date given in the opening pages, but the actual date of publication isn’t clear].

Melick Jr., Richard R. The New American Commentary: Philippians/Colossians/Philemon. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1991. [Epub]

[ * ]

Works by Richie Cooley

[Anything not here that bears my name I’ve discarded due to poorness of quality]

Is the Bible Divinely Inspired? (Special Edition)

The Book of Joel and the Coming Stellar Invasion

Psalm 22 (A Song of Easter, the End Days, and Eternity)

Death and Darwin (A Refutation of Modern Racism)

Dinosaur (The Bible’s Forgotten Prophecy)

God’s Great Proof A New Translation and Commentary of Isaiah 53

A Fortnight from God (A Dialogue with Dom)

The Mark of the Beast (Prophecy’s Crown Jewel)

The Gospel Salvation by Grace

2084 (A Short Story)

Zechariah’s Dreamscape

Christmas in Eden (A New Theory of Adam)

A Biblical View of UFOs

Dystopia (A Christian Essay on Huxley’s, Brave New World)

A Brief Look at Hell

Daniel and the Dhammapada Eastern Beauty and Ancient Prophecy

The Rising of Antichrist How Donald Trump Foreshadows the Coming Storm

The Coming False Revival and the 144,000

A Biblical Survey of the Rapture (Predicting the Vanishing of Millions)

House of Abaddon (The State of Modern Science)

The Inferno: A Biblical Survey of Plagues

The Day the Sun Stands Still (A Translation and Commentary of Revelation 16)

Werewolf (A Biblical View)

The Future Implosion of Nature (A Translation and Commentary of Revelation 6)

Philippians 2:5-11 (The Bible’s Hidden Gem)


Philippians 2:5-11 (The Bible’s Hidden Gem)

  • ISBN: 9781370411887
  • Author: Richie Cooley
  • Published: 2017-09-30 05:20:10
  • Words: 3541
Philippians 2:5-11 (The Bible’s Hidden Gem) Philippians 2:5-11 (The Bible’s Hidden Gem)