Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:…
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, etc. "From a practical introduction in the familiar exhortation to follow the example of our Lord, St. Paul passes on to what is perhaps the most complete and formal statement in all his Epistles of the doctrine of his great humility. In this he marks out first the Incarnation, in which, 'being in the form of God, he took on him the form of a servant,' assuming a sinless but finite humanity; and next the passion, which was made needful by the sins of men, and in which his human nature was humiliated to the shame and agony of the cross. Inseparable in themselves, these two great acts of his self-sacrificing love must be distinguished. Ancient speculation delighted to suggest that the first might have been even if humanity had remained sinless, while the second was added because of the fall and its consequences. Such speculations are indeed thoroughly precarious and unsubstantial - for we cannot ask what might have been in a different dispensation from our own, and moreover we read of our Lord as 'the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world ' (Revelation 13:8; see also 1 Peter 1:19), but they at least point to a true distinction. As the 'Word of God' manifested in the Incarnation, our Lord is the treasure of all humanity as such; as the Savior through death, he is the especial treasure of us as sinners" (Dr. Barry). This is one of the grandest passages in the Bible; it has been the arena of many a theological battle, the subject of many a sermon ay, and of many volumes too. Eschewing, as far as possible, all verbal criticism and speculation, I shall turn it to a practical account by using it to illustrate the moral history of the Christly spirit - the spirit which the Philippians in the preceding verses are exhorted to obtain and cherish. Using it with this view, there are two great facts to be noticed.
I. IT IS A SPIRIT OF SELF-ABNEGATION. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," etc. Now, this "mind," or spirit, he details as developed in Christ himself.
1. In what Christ did not do. "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Or, as Dr. Davidson renders the words, "Did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped at." "The term 'God' here and in the following paragraph," says Bengel, "does not denote God the Father; the form of God does not mean the Deity himself nor the Divine nature, but something rising out of it. Again, it does not signify the being equal with God, but something prior, the manifestation of God, that is, the form shining out of the very glory of the invisible Deity." The form of man is not the man himself, so the manifestation of God is not God himself. Now, Christ did not seize at this manifestation, did not consider it a thing to be grasped at. Of the true Christly spirit it may be said that, when great good is to be done, it does not hold on to privileges, honors, dignities, etc. This is strikingly illustrated in St. Paul, "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ" (Philippians 2:7).
2. In what Christ did do.
(1) "He made himself of no reputation." This should be rendered, "he emptied himself," or stripped himself of his original glory, the glory which he had with the Father before the world was. Not that he was less Divine and great in time than he was before all time. But he did not appear so. He concealed his splendor in the veil of his flesh, so as to fulfill his redemptive mission.
(2) He "took upon him the form of a servant." "The three words," says Bengel, "'form,' 'likeness,' 'fashion,' are not synonymous, neither are they virtually interchangeable; there is, however, a connection between them; form means something positive, likeness signifies a relation to other things of the same condition, fashion relates to the sight and perception." The King of the universe a servant!
(3) "He was made in the likeness of men," and "found in fashion as a man." This does not mean that he had merely the appearance of a man and nothing more. He was a man," made in all parts like unto his brethren."
(4) He "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." "His death," says Dr. Barry, "is not here regarded as an atonement, for in that light it could be no pattern to us, but as the completion of the obedience of his life. He followed out the Divine will even to death, and to the death of the cross - a death of anguish and ignominy." Here is self-abnegation, and this self-abnegation is essentially the Christly spirit. Self-sacrifice is the essence of religion. He that does not lose himself in the swelling tide of benevolent sympathy for lost souls has not the "mind that was in Christ Jesus."
II. IT IS A SPIRIT OF DIVINE EXALTATION. Because of this self-abnegating love "God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a Name which is above every name; "rather," the Name above every name." Perhaps all intelligent creatures through the universe have appellations by which they are distinguished from others and recognized. Angels have their names: Michael, Gabriel, etc. Some names are greater than others. It often happens that the name of one man towers in significance and grandeur above the name of a whole generation. Such names as Moses, Paul, Luther, Howard, Garibaldi. But the apostle declares that there is one "Name above every name," either on earth or in heaven.
1. It is a transcendent Name. "A Name which is above every name." It is idealistically and independently perfect. There is no name like unto it in the universe. Above every name in every hierarchy in the creation.
2. It is a morally conquering Name. "That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow." There is a talismanic energy in this Name. It has wrought wonders on our earth already, and far greater wonders it will work in the human mind "until all his enemies be made his footstool." It wins the mastery over the soul, ay, and gains ascendency over all minds in the universe. "Of things in heaven, and things in earth," etc. For "things," read "beings." "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
3. It is a God-glorifying Name. "And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The acknowledgment of the glory of Christ is the acknowledgment of the glory of the Father as the source of Deity manifested perfectly in him. "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28).
CONCLUSION. Here is the fixed law of heaven. The moral spirit that would ascend to true dignity, win a name that shall command the reverence both of earth and heaven, must empty itself of all selfish motives and personal interests. There are two hills lying opposite each other, one is the hill of personal pride - barren, bleak, cloudy; the other is the hill of Divine dignity - grand, sunny, blooming in beauty, and abounding in fruit, crowned with the pavilion of the Godhead. No soul can ascend the one without descending the other; he must go down the brow of selfishness step by step, till he reaches the dark valley of self-abnegation, and then upward he may commence scaling the sublime altitudes of Divine dignity and bliss. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: