Philippians 4:10-13 - The Secret of Paul's Independence
This is a poem that is central to Philippians and Christian theology
We find this poem sitting between two major themes. That which comes before the poem is about the unity of the church and that which comes after the poem is about the holiness of the church
Paul seems to put this poem right in the middle as a hinge between the two. The hinge that holds them both together
For either unity or holiness to be achieved, and certainly them being achieved together, they must necessarily come out of the person of Jesus Christ which is revealed within the poem
Within the whole of the poem we find the story of Jesus Himself and who He was before being a human and the choice He made to take on a human life and ultimately to His human death but leading to exultation and receiving the name above every other name
This Poem also echoes the poems from Isaiah 40-55 which sees Israel as the servant and then Israel looking forward to someone that takes on this role of the servant and does for Israel and the world what they could not do for themselves
This poem has this line at its center v.8 “even death on a cross”
This poem has for its purpose the idea Paul leads into it with “having the mind of Christ”
This is for our learning to have the mind of Christ, which again, is the only way to hope to achieve unity and holiness. We must think differently
The poem reveals the example of Jesus as the pattern by which the Philippians were to do nothing from selfish ambition and consider others more significant
Our from among all of the viewpoints and comments on this passage, which there are many, there are a few things that are still standing when the smoke clears
The Incarnation, Life, and Death of Jesus are the great examples of living humility and self-sacrifice
Consider this and then we will open with the poem itself
To be born was His supreme act of condescension. It was love which made Him assume the vesture of human flesh. To die was the climax of His voluntary obedience, and of His devotion to us.
The Divine Nature
The Divine Nature
Jesus Christ is the great exemplar of the qualities that Paul has been exhorting the Philippian Christians toward
Paul just finished encouraging the Philippian Christians to
· STAND FIRM
· SINGLE SPIRIT
· SIDE BY SIDE
· ONE UNITED INTENT
· THINKING INLINE WITH ONE ANOTHER
· HOLDING ONTO THE SAME LOVE
· INNERMOST LIVES INTO HARMONY
· FIX OUR LIVES ON THE SAME OBJECT
Now, Paul holds out the exemplar and pathway for these things to be a reality in our lives and in our community
Jesus Christ did not act to please Himself but gave His life for others
The example suggests that we too should not live to please ourselves but have the mind of Christ
Jesus humbled Himself
Do we have the right to live in pride?
Jesus took on the form of a slave
Do we have the right to dominate others by power?
Jesus took on the greatest humiliation—death on the cross
Do we strive after honors, positions, and titles?
Paul sets these qualities and questions before us as a challenge toward normative Christian behavior
Can we empty ourselves of ourselves? Can we take the form of a slave? Can we live in humility?
Paul answers with appropriate motivation and inspiration toward having the mind of Christ
though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be (grasped) = harpagmos = epitome of selfishness
Jesus, being in the form of God and equal to God, did not consider this status, which He already possessed, to be grounds for grasping, plundering, or acquiring things by force
Jesus actively decides not to take advantage of what He already possessed
In Greek mythology the gods and goddesses could do whatever they wanted because they had privilege, power, and glory = harpagmos
Paul is expressing the upside-down nature of Christ compared to the world
If harpagmos speaks of privilege, power, glory, grasping, plundering and acquiring by force the life of Christ speaks of the opposite
It is a true picture of
Selfishness – Selflessness
In the Temptation of Christ, the Satan tempted Jesus to use His power for selfish gain
It is another example of Jesus taking what we would normally think and turning it on its head
We think that God or one that is equal to God would do whatever they liked and simply destroy anyone that gets in the way of a whim on a whim
But, in Jesus we see what the world had never seen. A God who gives Himself for others to the point that love is all that is left remaining
The Cross and Not the Crown
The Cross and Not the Crown
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
· Jesus gave up privileges
· Emptied Himself
· Became a servant
· Spent Himself
· Obeyed God
· Died a slave’s death on the cross
And all of this revealed the true nature of God
Consider it, the Romans used the cross as a means of shame, humiliation, and death and to keep their subjects fearful and obedient
God used the cross to show us His love unparalleled
Expanding on Luther’s meditations about the theology of the cross, Williams, 13, concludes,
“Because of the very existence of the crucified Christ, a sober decision has to be made—God will either be sought elsewhere, or the cross itself will be the foundation and criterion of all thought about God.”
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
When Paul says “to live is Christ” this is the living to which he refers
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death
Listen, Jesus did not make one humble choice to be a man, but His whole life proceeded in the same condescension of love
His whole earthly life continued the decision to be ‘despised and rejected of men’
This was a moment by moment choice grounded in chosen humility
Jesus chose to be seen in the words of
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name
The death of Jesus on the cross was not the end of the story
God exalted Jesus to the highest status, not any higher than before, but as high as possible
Jesus is the name above every name
Jesus is the highest name because of His service and self-giving
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is an image that finds grounding in
By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.
The context of this leads to the following passage just a moment later
Isaiah 45: 21c-22
Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.
22 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
Every tongue will confess/swear allegiance in a public declaration that Jesus is Lord
I discovered looking at the Greek word for ‘under the earth’ includes things and impersonal forces that will exult (rejoice exceedingly/delight) Jesus as Lord
Paul is calling the Philippians to serve as Christ has served
We are challenged by the possibility of imitating Him in His most brilliant act and quality
To have the mind of Christ
 Garland, David E. 2006. “Philippians.” P. 221 in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition), vol. 12, edited by T. Longman III. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.