INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:
Background to Philippians…
The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).
Some of the main divisions of the book include:
1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2
2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11
3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26
4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18
5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30
6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11
7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21
8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9
9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20
10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23
Php 2:5-8 – “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Paul now encourages the Philippian believers to share in Christ’s attitude of humility and servanthood…
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Christ was in the “form of God”. This does not mean Christ had the physical appearance of God. It is speaking more of Christ displaying God to man through His wisdom, grace, miracles, life, death, resurrection and glorification etc. Christ was constantly showing God to man through the many events of His life on earth.
However, Christ was not simply a man who displayed God throughout His lifetime on earth… He was also God Himself, coming to earth as a man. This is why, although Christ was on the earth as a man, He still did no injustice by claiming to be God Himself.
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Although Christ was God Himself, He willingly humbled Himself. The humility of Christ is clearly shown to us as He:
1. “made himself of no reputation” – Christ, who retained His divinity while on earth, “emptied” himself of all His divine trappings and choose to not take His rightful place as Sovereign God over all. He did not come to the earth as Sovereign God but came as a baby born in a manger, who lived a simple life of servanthood on earth.
2. “took upon him the form of a servant” – Christ, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, choose to not exercise His ruling authority, but lived the life of a servant living to meeting the needs of others around Him.
Just like being in “the form of God” (vs 6) involved displaying God to man in His works, and lifestyle; so too, being in “the form of a servant” involved displaying His attitude of servanthood in all that He did. Everything Christ did during His life, was an act of servanthood to God and man. His life was filled with works that fulfilled His Father’s commands and met the needs of all mankind.
3. “and was made in the likeness of men” – Christ, as His first coming to the earth, appeared as a man, although He was God. His physical appearance was that of a man. His needs for sleep, food, oxygen etc was that of a man. When others saw Him both in appearance and lifestyle, they simply saw a man.
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Christ, who was God Himself, came to the earth in human form, living a life of humility and service. The greatest proof of these principles is found in the death of Christ:
1. Proof of Christ’s humanity – God cannot die, for Christ to be able to die on the cross He had to come as a man. When Christ died on the cross it was His human life that departed from Him, His Godly nature exists eternally with no end, unable to be touched by death.
2. Proof of Christ’s humble obedience – Christ’s death was an act of obedient service to His Father. His death was also an act of humility, love, grace and mercy as He made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross to meet all their spiritual needs. His people did not deserve for Him to die, on the contrary, they only deserved to be eternally punished for their sins. And yet, in spite of this, He gave His life for them. This is true humility… giving of ourselves to those who do not deserve our kindness.
Christ’s humility and servanthood were on display consistently in every area of His life. Everything that He did was in submission to His Father’s will and for the benefit of His people. This is the attitude we are to share with Christ.
It is an attitude of desire to follow the will of our Lord, and in doing so, meeting the needs of those around us. This is why humility and servanthood go hand in hand. A humble spirit engenders acts of servanthood towards God and man. May we all share in this most wonderful attitude!
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