Thursday 31 December 2020

Bible Book:

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus… He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name… (vs 5-9)

Philippians 2:5-11 Thursday 31 December 2020

Psalm 103


Paul is writing to the Christians in Philippi from a prison, probably in Rome (Philippians 1:12-14). The theme of this letter is primarily one of joy and thanksgiving, in fact it has been said that the words ‘joy’ and ‘rejoice’ appear 16 times, though that may depend on the translation.

However, a careful reading of elsewhere in Paul's letter (1:15-18, 27) suggests that there may have been certain issues in the church at Philippi which compel Paul to write, even from prison. Is Paul pleading with his friends to complete his joy by "being in full accord and of one mind" (2:2)?  Is he taking an opportunity to remind them that it was precisely because Jesus humbled himself that God the Father exalted him? And it is in this letter (4:2-3) that Paul goes so far as to name two people, Euodia and Syntyche, who, though they are "struggling in the work of the gospel", are struggling with each other and need the help of the community to overcome their differences.

Verses 6-11 of today's passage are believed to be an early Christian hymn, and it may be for that very reason that Paul recites them here, to remind his friends of what they already know and celebrate in worship. These words rehearse the Jesus story of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. The believers in Philippi – and in all times and places – affirm the truths of this ancient hymn. Paul challenged them – and us – to live out these truths "to the glory of God".

As we reflect on this, it may be helpful to reach for a hymnbook and note how several familiar hymns echo these verses, for example "May the mind of Christ, my Saviour" (StF 504) and "At the name of Jesus" (StF 317).

Points to Ponder:

  • How is God glorified when we are being humble? Isn’t that something of a contradiction in terms?
  • The words and tunes of hymns often linger in our minds for years. Think of some which come to you now – and reflect on how they may have informed your faith.
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