Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
I. THE HEIGHT FROM WHICH HE. CAME IS THE MEASURE OF THE DEPTH TO WHICH HE DESCENDED. He was for ever "in the form of God;" i.e. with the essential nature of God (cf. John 13:3, 4).
II. HIS HUMILIATION WAS NO LOSS OF GLORY OR ESSENTIAL WORTH. He is for ever in the form of God; this he could not renounce. He laid aside for a time his external equality with God. This he considered not to be a possession of any great importance. How contrary to ordinary human ideas, which "catch at" anything which confers external honor!! But to catch at an external resemblance argues that we do not possess the essential likeness. Only the truly great can afford to humble themselves.
III. HIS HUMILIATION A REALITY. He takes the" form of a servant;" i.e. he actually becomes such, as he was actually in the "form of God." He assumes also the "likeness of a man," becoming in appearance, as in reality, one of ourselves.
IV. HE ACCEPTS THE TRUE POSITION OF MAN, WHICH IS THAT OF OBEDIENCE, This is man's truest and essential glory. The true man cannot live any other life than that of obedience and service. His obedience is to death, even to a death of shame, if such is required of him. Our glory is to accept whatever may be the will of God for us. - V.W.H.
Who being in the form of God.
3. Glory.These three are essential to the argument, for take away any of them and the example he proposes is lost.
I. IF YOU REMOVE THE STATE OF CHRIST'S NATURAL DIGNITY THE SECOND STATE WILL NO LONGER BE THAT OF HUMILIATION, nor Christ any longer an example of humility.
II. It is implied that HE WAS IN POSSESSION OF WHATEVER BELONGED TO HIS STATE OF DIGNITY BEFORE HE UNDERWENT ANYTHING THAT BELONGED TO HIS STATE OF HUMILIATION. He was in the form of God, before He was made in the likeness of men.
III. It is implied that HE UNDERWENT WHATEVER BELONGED TO HIS STATE OF HUMILIATION BEFORE HE ENJOYED ANYTHING THAT BELONGED TO HIS STATE OF EXALTATION; because His exaltation was the effect and reward of His humility, and being purchased and obtained by His humility could not be antecedent to it. From whence it follows, that the term of God, being the dignity He possessed before His humiliation, does not belong to Him in virtue of anything He did or suffered, nor is any part of that glory to which He was exalted after or on account of His sufferings. To maintain otherwise is to confound the distinct states of glory which belong to Christ: the glory He had with the Father before the world was, and the glory which He received from the Father at the redemption: one the glory of nature, the other the glory of office; one the glory of the eternal Loges, the other the glory of the Son of Man. These are carefully distinguished elsewhere.
1. We find the original glory founded upon creation (Colossians 1:15-17), and in the next verse the apostle mentions a honour belonging to Christ's exaltation founded on His resurrection. As Lord of all, He is styled the firstborn of every creature; as Head of the Church, the firstborn from the dead.
2. To raise the dead is a power equivalent to creation, and therefore St. John tells us, "The hour is coming," etc. (John 5:25). In ver. 27, however, speaking of His being Judge of the world which belongs to Him in virtue of Redemption, lies one of the glories of His exaltation. He says, "The Father," etc.
3. In Hebrews 1:1-2 the apostle describes the dignity of the Person sent for our redemption, and evidently describes Christ's original glory. Then follows, "When He had purged our sins," etc., which speaks of His state of exaltation which He received after His sufferings. And in chap. Philippians 2:9, it is said that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, but here, "better." If He was made lower in order to redeem us, it seems to imply that He was really, and by nature, higher. We may expound Hebrews by Philippians. For when He, who was in the form of God, made Himself of no reputation, He was made lower than the angels; but when, after His suffering death, He was exalted by God then He was made so much better than the angels, as He had by inheritance a more excellent name than they (Cf. ver. 9-10).
(T. Sherlock, D. D.)Him, was in the form of God, he does not merely intend that He was God in Himself, and that He had the true nature of the divinity; but, further still, that He possessed the glory and enjoyed all the dignity, majesty, and grandeur due to so high a name. This is precisely what our Lord means in St. John by the glory which He says He had with the Father before the world was.
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