1. Who: relative pronoun referring back to Christ but with
a view to the status of the Godhead before the incarnation, in fact, the
status of John 1:1.
"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with The God
and the Word was God."
The exhortation to humility is amplified by appealing
to the person of Jesus Christ as our perfect example in life and godliness.
His example is one of total sacrifice from impartial, beneficent love that
always seeks the best for those loved. He knew what was of greatest value
for the human race and accomplished what needed to be done in order to
provide that value. True "beneficent" love does not consider
the character and merits of the one loved but provides what is needed because
of its own character and motivations. Motivations that always regards God's
value system as the most important thing in life.
"God so loved the world that He provided His only
begotten Son," (Jn 3:16)
"But God demonstrates His love for us, in that while
we were yet sinners,
Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:8).
2. While existing: huparchō, present active
Temporal participle to communicate the status of Christ prior to the incarnation
and from eternity past.
A. In the form of God: morphā plus
This refers to the inner essence of the Godhead which can be summarized
by the 10 absolute attributes of the divine character.
B. John 1:1 indicates that whereas the Word was distinct
from God, He was nevertheless still equal with God. That equality is found
in the phrase, "one in essence" and the distinction within the
Godhead is indicated by the phrase, "three in person" or better,
"three in structure."
C. This word, morphā, is then explained by
the phrase, "being equal with God."
1. The word is isos which is an adjective that means,
2. Plus the articular (definite article) present infinitive
of eimi used as a direct object = Lit: the being equal, but means, the
state of being equal.
3. Morphā plus isos indicates that the equality
exists in the fact that the divine Word possessed the very essence of the
D. See topic: the Godhead
E. CT: "Who, while existing in the essence of God,
3. Regarded: hāgeomai means to think or consider.
It occurs in the aorist middle indicative which indicates that in a specific
point of time in the plan of the Godhead, the Word evaluated His role in
that plan and made a decision based on His attribute of divine love.
A. There is no "negative" (not) with the verb
so it should be viewed as a positive thought process in the mentality of
the divine Word.
B. The object of His consideration is the state of being
equal in essence with the other members of the triune Godhead.
C. That equality of essence would manifest itself by the
expression of the 10 attributes.
D. He thus looked at His "right" through equal
status, to express the attributes of the Godhead, and evaluated that right
as NOT something to selfishly cling to and hold on to.
4. NOT a thing to be grasped: Two words. The negative
(not), and the word harpagmos. This noun which refers to a treasure which
is to be coveted and retained at all costs. It is a word that reflects
selfishness and violence in one's actions in order to retain possession
of the item.
5. CT: Who, while existing in the (inner) essence of God,
decided that the state of being equal with God (in the expression of essence)
was not a thing to be selfishly retained."
1. But: alla - strong contrast to indicate something that
is totally opposite to the expression of essence which characterized the
Word prior to the incarnation.
2. He emptied Himself: Verb is kenoō, and
means to make empty, render inoperative, or make ineffectual. It occurs
in the aorist active indicative, which indicates that the Word made a determined
decision to empty from Himself the expression of those deity attributes
that constitute equality with God.
A. But HOW does He do this? God cannot stop being God.
B. He does it in two ways:
1. By adopting an "attitude" or inner essence
of humility and servitude,
2. and by becoming in physical form, a man.
C. The inner essence of a bond-servant is the attitude
that places Himself totally under the authority of the Father as is described
Heb. 10:7, "To do Your will;"
Jn 5:30 and 6:38, "not my own will, but the will
of Him who sent me;"
and here in v. 8, "by becoming obedient."
D. As a man and within that restricted "environment"
of true humanity with human soul, spirit and body, He functions as a man
instead of as God. (hunger, thirst, etc.)
E. Thus, He set aside or "emptied" Himself of
the independent use of His deity attributes and depended totally on the
Father and the Spirit during the time of his ministry here on earth.
John 5:19-20; 8:28-29; 12:49; 14:10; Luke 4:18-21
3. By taking the essence of a bond-servant:
A. By taking: lambanō as an instrumental participle
(aorist active participle) which indicates the "how" of emptying
Himself. The verb means to take or receive. The aorist tense indicates
that this "adjustment in attitude" took place in a specific moment
of time when the Word decided to empty Himself.
B. The form: morphā, again indicates the inner
essence and refers to the attitude of subordination to the Father's will
in all things.
Morphe is used to show the first step in the "act of emptying"
which is theologically called "kenosis."
C. of a bond-servant: doulos indicates voluntary and devoted
The issue then, is not the "physical condition" of servitude
but the attitude that governs the manner in which one serves.
4. By being made in the likeness of men:
A. By being made: This is another instrumental participle
from the verb, ginomai (aorist middle participle), which means to become.
1. It is the same word used at Jn. 1:14, "and the
Word BECAME flesh."
2. It refers to taking on a physical form He did not have
B. In the likeness: homoiōma - physical form,
Again, this is clear from John 1:14 with the word, "flesh."
C. Of men: The "physical" structure of man is
body, soul and spirit.
1. 1 Thes. 5:23; Heb. 4:12
2. All men also have a sin nature: Ps. 51:5; Rom. 7:14-18
3. But Jesus was born sinless: 2 Cor. 5:21
1. And being found: heuriskō in the aorist
passive participle, describes the status of the Word after the virgin birth.
The verb means to find or discover, but idiomatically in the passive voice
it indicates a condition or sphere of existence.
2. In appearance: schāma refers to outward
form or physical pattern.
It indicates that the Word was now functioning in a human body with human
3. As a man: hōs anthrōpos indicates
TRUE humanity (body, soul and spirit).
4. He humbled Himself: The verb, tapeinoō
occurs in the aorist active indicative. Humility means to recognize oneself
as totally under the jurisdiction of God's viewpoint and policy in every
area of life.
A. It means then to place yourself under the authority
B. As a man, this is exactly what Jesus did as stated
at John 8:29,
"I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."
5. By becoming: the verb, ginomai, in the aorist middle
participle is instrumental and describes "how" He manifested
this recognition of divine authority over His human life.
6. Obedient: hupākoos is an adjective which
indicates total subjection to the authority of another.
7. In this case, that authority is God the Father and
the extent of His submission is unto death, even death on the cross which
fulfills the divine plan for the redemption of the human race.
Return to Commentary Index