Friday 04 January 2019

Bible Book:

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. (v 5)

Philippians 2:5-11 Friday 4 January 2019

Psalm: Psalm 98: 1-3 


What is your favourite poem or piece of writing? Does it encourage you, uplift you or comfort you – maybe all three?

Paul’s words to the Church community at Philippi take the form of a letter, but that does not mean that he is averse to including other forms of literature in his communication to them.

In fact, the verses that we are focusing on today from chapter 2 have been identified as an early piece of poetic liturgy or hymnody which Paul then included in his longer letter. It is not clear, however, whether Paul wrote these particular verses or whether they were produced by an earlier writer.

If this poetry existed before Paul wrote this letter, then it could be one of the very earliest statements of faith about Jesus. It affirms his divine origin, his incarnation, his crucifixion and his exalted status as God’s risen and ascended son. Or, as Ian Coffey puts it, “the position Jesus held, the position Jesus took and the position Jesus has.”*

Paul uses words like ‘emptied’, ‘humbled’ and ‘obedient’ to paint a picture of Jesus as a servant who was human and divine. In doing so, he aimed to encourage the Philippian Church to explore living with the same attitude of service and humility.

But in using the word ‘emptied’, there is no suggestion that Jesus somehow ‘got rid’ of his divinity when he became human – more the idea that the truest expression of his divinity was to fully identify with humanity through the incarnation and subsequent events.

These verses are a striking piece of poetry, designed to teach and affirm faith in Jesus. We can see that Paul is using them to encourage the Philippians to do the same, but to do so in a spirit of love and service.


To Ponder:

  • What piece of poetry or liturgy or hymnody would you use to encourage someone today?


*Ian Coffey, Discovering Philippians – Crossway Bible Guide 1999

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