Every community of believers struggles to maintain unity, and the church in Philippi was no exception. Selfish ambition and grumbling were tearing the community apart (Phil. 2:3, 14). In Philippians 2:3, Paul reveals the antidote to such disunity: act in humility, considering others more significant than yourself (Phil. 2:3). He then points the Philippians to the ultimate example of humility: the incarnation of Christ. For Paul, Christ modeled true humility when He took on human flesh. Jesus calls His followers to imitate His life of sacrifice.
The Christ hymn of Phil. 2:5–11 celebrates Christ’s life of selflessness, from His preexistence to His undeserved death to His exaltation. It can be difficult to unpack the theologically rich and complex ideas loaded in these short verses. Lexham Bible Guide: Philippians, the latest volume in the Paul’s Letters Collection, helps you dig deeper into this famous Christ hymn by identifying its key exegetical and theological issues and surveying the major commentaries, articles, and monographs in the Logos Bible Software library.
Let’s look at an excerpt from this volume, which covers one of the hymn’s most difficult topics:
Form of God
Paul opens the hymn by asserting that Christ Jesus was “in the form of God” (en morphē theou hyparchōn). As O’Brien (1991, 206) observes, the exegesis of this significant phrase influences the interpretation of the entire hymn. The phrase “form of God” not only stands at the beginning of the hymn, but it marks the first of several seemingly sequential statements regarding Jesus’ status. [Read more…]