Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Paul backs up his appeal for public spirit by the example of Jesus Christ. If the Philippians will only entertain a like mind with Christ, then all needful abnegation for the good of others will be forthcoming, even up to self-sacrifice itself. And here we have to -
I. CONSIDER CHRIST'S EQUALITY WITH GOD. (Ver. 6.) The Revised Version puts this verse more accurately than the Authorized Version when it gives it, "Who being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God." Or, as another still more emphatically gives it, "Being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God a prize to be retained; but emptied himself." Consequently we must begin with Christ's equality with God, if we would understand the magnificence of his descent. As eternal Son of the eternal Father, he had been the coequal of the Father from all eternity. As he lay in the bosom of the Father, he was "very God of very God," in the language of the Nicene Creed. It was from the abode of absolute Being he began his pilgrimage to save as.
II. CONSIDER HIS EMPTYING OF HIMSELF. (Ver. 7.) The idea is hazarded by some that, in his emptying of himself, he laid aside for a season his Divinity and became man; but this is not to be entertained for a moment. The "form" of God (μορφὴ) presupposes "existence (οὐσία) and "nature φύσις, but is not to be identified with either. It is, as we might say, the accidental manifestation of the essential being, It might, therefore, be laid aside without the essential being undergoing any change. This is, then, all that the emptying implies. He exchanged "the form of God" for "the form of a servant." Instead of forcing conviction about his Divine nature by a glorious manifestation of it at all times, he allowed this conviction to spring up quietly and gradually by veiling his Divinity behind a servant's form. The everlasting Son, who shared the glory in the bosom of the Father, became the servant that he might raise us to the dignity of sons. Such was his consideration for us that he took this immense step downwards that we might be redeemed.
III. CONSIDER HIS ASSUMPTION OF HUMANITY. (Ver. 7.) "He was made in the likeness of men," having taken upon him the form of a servant. He thus "entered upon a course of responsible subordination." The incarnation of Christ was his becoming all we are, saving only sin. "The body," it has been said, "which had been prepared for him by another was sustained by that other's power. When' his disciple 'went to buy meat,' it was because their Master was really hungry; when he asked drink of the woman of Samaria, it was because he was really thirsty; and when he fell asleep in the midst of the howling tempest, it was because nature was overwearied with endless labors of love. We ask why the all-glorious and blessed One should have lived in such bodily dependence as this. The apostle answers - He had emptied himself. His almighty power could easily have sustained his body. And though he ate and drank and slept, it might have been for the eyes of those around him only. But this would not have been man's real bodily life. Nay, soul and body are so wondrously connected that it would not have been man's life at all. And had not the Son of God taken the life of man, no son of man could have found the life of God. Every Christian knows what man's nobler life is. Trust in God's love, hope in his eternal mercy, that spirit of filial love which submits itself cheerfully and gladly to a heavenly Father's will, give him strength and ability to serve God in the world. And of this life, as every Christian knows, Christ is the Source and Fountain-head. But he is something more - its Example. It is the life which he himself lived when it pleased him to dwell among us Possessed of infinite strength, he 'emptied himself,' leaning always on another's arm. Possessed of infinite wisdom, he ever lifted up the eyes to heaven, and took counsel with the Father who dwelt there. Willing only what was right and good, having no wish but what was pure and true, he nevertheless submitted that will in all things; the will of another was his continual law. 'Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,' i.e. demeaned himself, as man ought to do. Man ought to trust in God and walk by his counsel. This, therefore, was his course."
IV. CONSIDER HIS HUMILIATION EVEN TO THE OBEDIENCE OF DEATH. (Ver. 8.) The Incarnation was the first step in the humiliation of God. We do not realize as we ought how tremendous a descent that is. If we as intelligent beings were to undergo a metempsychosis and be incarnated in the lowest creature that crawls, it would not be so great a descent for us as it was for Deity to become incarnate, But Christ undertook a second descent. "The Son of God did not live human life only; he died human death. Oh what a step downward was this! We may be feeble and dependent, still we are alive. And how great is the difference between the living and the dead! We enjoy the society of a friend; we sit at his table; we interchange the thoughts of living men. But there comes a day when, on repairing to his dwelling, we are conducted to the darkened room, and behold his lifeless remains; the friend of yesterday is ready for the grave to-day!... What, then, must the disciples have felt as they prepared their Master for his burial! They were covering up and putting out of sight, as what they could no longer bear to look upon, that blessed countenance in which Divine beauty had shone. They were closing, as they thought for ever, those eyes of tenderness in whose light they had rejoiced to live. He had said, 'Ye shall weep and lament,' and verily his words were fulfilled. And when the transition from life to death is accomplished by the hand of violence, the sorrow of bereavement is of a much more overwhelming character. We see on a friend's dead body the marks of rude hands, of instruments of savage cruelty, and emotion altogether overpowers us. How true to nature are the words which Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Mark Antony as he comes upon Caesar's body, 'Pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth'! He sought pardon for uncontrollable emotion, for the wild bursts of grief. What, then, must have been the emotion of the disciples as they gazed on their dead Master! His had been 'the death of the cross.' It was in a bloody shroud they wrapped him. His sacred person was disfigured by marks of savage violence; his hands bore them, his feet, his wounded side. They had never had any difficulty about his living human life. Though they knew him to be the Son of the living God, habit had accustomed them to the sight of his eating and drinking and sleeping as they did. And they knew that he believed and hoped and prayed as they did, for he taught them by his example so to do. But from this dire consummation - death, and such a death! - they had always shrunk. And now they saw it realized, He who but yesterday taught, and cheered, and comforted, and blessed them, now lay before their eyes, covered with blood and wounds, and. ready only for his sepulcher. A second step in the Christ's descent indeed! From the throne of God to the grave of man!" We have here, then, in the "double descent of the Christ," in his humiliation to become man, and in his humiliation to be obedient as far as to death (μεχρί θανάτου), and this death that of the cross, the sublimest enforcement ever afforded of the duty of looking, not upon one's own things, but upon the things of others. The self-sacrifice of Christ is the perfection and ideal of public spirit. It is God moving from the abysmal depths of his absolute being to perform an unparalleled public service and save a ruined race. At the foot of the cross we become the tenants of a large-hearted, public spirit. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: