Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Does Philippians 2:4-11 prove that God became a man?

*Brief disclaimer*Please don't take my word for anything!If your spirit doesn't bear witness with God's that something you read is true,don't accept it.Prayerfully consider what seems rational and question EVERYONE.Question your teachers and preachers as much as you question me!Question your traditions and trust the spirit to guide you.The youtubes are below.

The historical context is that the Philippian church had within it “selfish ambition” (1:15; 2:3) and “vain conceit” (2:3), arguing and lack of consideration for others (2:4 and 14), and a need for humility, purity and blamelessness (2:3 and 15). (scriptures I gathered from a website.)These are the human tendencies we sometimes have to be disciplined for thanks to the Adamic fall and our tainted flesh.So Paul here in Philippians is exhorting them to imitate Christ in how he humbled himself,not to conceive we're *Gods who become men* but men who put others first,not seeking our own interests but those of others.We are told to have the same mind as Christ so if that mind was one of God who became a man then these scriptures aren't helpful to anyone.Let's examine them.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Verse 4 establishes a context of self sacrifice and humility.Though we are free future kings in Christ,a holy priesthood being built up,gifted and privileged to know God and be in his love,a special inheritance(1 Pet. 2:5)..we are to be willing to sacrifice anything for others and even give our own lives for the sake of Christ and the good news if need be!Christ knew he must accept the horrendous fate of a degrading humiliating death to ensure the fulfillment of God's word and purposes for mankind!Would we be willing to do the same,knowing our exaltation is imminent,for God's love?The "dual nature" doctrine robs Christians from actually being able to imitate Christ because he wasn't ever a true man,only God with an "added nature."He never ultimately emptied anything,but rather "gained something" that limited him whenever a trinitarian so tells you that is the case to fit their mold. These texts are rather about being faithful by putting others before our own interests and desires and being willing to suffer anything for Yah and the kingdom and others like Christ was.to:

Phil 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

Is the mind we're asked to have here one of a True God or preexistent heavenly spirit creature willing to empty ourselves of that glory to become a Godman(fully God with only a "man nature") or a man?OR is the mind we're asked to have one of self sacrifice,again,being willing to suffer anything for the sake of the kingdom?The answer to that question should give you the key to the true understanding of these verses and the KIND of humbling in view that Christ suffered for his ultimate glory.In other words, NOT a preexistent creature falling to earth to live among men but of a king with a privileged inheritance and relationship with God being willing to suffer like a good for nothing criminal/slave.

Here's a quote from:http://www.biblecenter.de/bibliothek/baixeras/philippians2.html

"In reality these verses are very simple. They are very practical verses written to the Philippians on how they are to conduct themselves in this world. How are we to conduct ourselves? Not by imitating Adam who lost everything by his attempted grab for power (his own desires), but by imitating Christ who through his humility and obedience to God (God’s will) gained it all."--
Juan Baixeras

Moving on..

Phil 2:6: who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Morphe(*form* in Greek) is synonymous,interchangeable even,with eikon(the word for image).Even the FIRST Adam had the image of God.And the first one(Jesus is called the Last Adam),being in the image of God,gifted and made to live forever to fulfill the will of God by caring for the earth in perfect peace and bliss,DID count equality with God "a thing to be grasped" when he partook of the fruit that Satan told him would ensure his "being like God."Jesus is being contrasted here from the first Adam in these texts' historical context.You might occasionally(or often depending upon your studies) encounter trinitarian sophistry where a theologian will claim something like James White does when he says "form" in Philippians 2:6 means "the outward display of the inner reality of substance"(people are ACTUALLY buying this)which is HIGHLY improbable given the use of the word in other texts where it has nothing to do with an inner substance.(Mark 16:12,2 Timothy 3:1-5,Dan. 3:19,Is. 44:13).Put simply,in the first Adam/Last Adam contrast that Paul is establishing in these verses,the Last One(our extolled Lord and king)did not try to seize equality with God like the first one did by defying his creator when he partook of temptation thinking he could "be like God",again.Christ rather,unlike Adam,didn't want or try to seize or snatch violently(what the Greek word for *grasp* means) equality with God which can ONLY mean he didn't possess equality with God in the first place.Because no way can you steal or try to snatch violently from someone something you already possess.Somehow trinitarians have ventured from the true meaning of "grasped" to a fictional idea of "holding fast" (in that they say Christ could try to rob what he already has?!)It makes moot of the true sense of the verse.

The Expositor's Greek Testament says: “We cannot find any passage where [har·pa´zo] or any of its derivatives [including har·pag·mon´] has the sense of ‘holding in possession,' ‘retaining'. It seems invariably to mean ‘seize,' ‘snatch violently'. Thus it is not permissible to glide from the true sense ‘grasp at' into one which is totally different, ‘hold fast.'”—(Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1967), edited by W. Robertson Nicoll, Vol. III, pp. 436, 437.

I believe Jesus was God's image and form the same way Christians conform to the image of Christ,by imitating him and demonstrating the same character.By speaking as he would and doing what he would as he works through us.Same goes with God and Christ.God was IN CHRIST reconciling a world unto himself.(2 Cor. 5:19)Which means he wasn't Christ.Unless we're Christ because Christ is in us.God was pleased to dwell in and work through Christ just like Christ will hopefully be pleased to dwell in and work through us by means of an operation of God's spirit that God has given to Christ "without measure" to dispense to us,he being mediator after all.(John 3:34,1 Tim. 2:5)This is how God and Christ are one and we are one with God and Christ.It all has to do with God's spirit bearing testimony to us that we are his children in Christ even as Christ is in us and God is in Christ.(Jn. 17:21)

Moving on,

Phil. 2:7 says: but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

The reference to Christ taking the form of a slave pertains to his suffering unto death(the MAN Christ's humiliation is in view) as opposed to his emptying a preexistent glory.What's in view was a willingness of his to accept utter degradation and an ignominious fate when it was certainly undeserved..for he was sinless king,created for inimitable exaltation by his own God for the glory of God,himself,and obedient mankind.Despite that(& his unmatchable rights as one who could call for legions of angels if he so desired!Matt. 26:53),he was willing to suffer unimaginable humiliation,atrocities, and horrors on our behalf to save mankind from the first Adam's inherited corruption.And this is HOW he "made himself nothing" and appeared as a servant(when he was REALLY the Lord who serves not because he has to but because he wants to in willful submission.)

"This hymn is best understood within the framework of Adam Christology (James Dunn, Christology in the Making pg. 114-115). Though the hymn is obviously about Christ, it defines him against the background of Adam’s failure. The hymn presupposes Adam’s fateful choice, his desire to "be like God," (Gen. 3:5), his failure, and his downfall. Jesus is the second Adam. Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam is victorious. Where the first Adam sought his own interests, the second Adam remained obedient to the point of death.This Adam Christology is a feature of Paul’s writings (Rom.5:12 – 21, 1Cor. 15: 20 – 28) and of early Christianity. For example, the temptation stories in Matthew and Luke have in their background the temptation of Adam in Genesis."--Juan Baixeras (from website linked above)

This is a fantastic summary:

"the great antithesis in this hymn:
Adam the audacious man -
Christ the man who humbled himself;
Adam the one who was humbled forcibly by God -
Christ the man who voluntarily humbled himself before God;
Adam the rebellious man -
Christ the man who was utterly obedient;
Adam the one who was ultimately cursed -
Christ the one who was ultimately exalted;
Adam who wanted to be like God - and in the end became dust;
Christ, who was in the dust and indeed went to the cross - and is in the end the Lord over the cosmos"--Karl-Josef Kuschel "BORN BEFORE ALL TIME?: The Dispute over Christ's Origin " pp. 251-252

"His(Christ's) life proved him to be in form as man.Notice,not "as a man",but AS MAN--that is,as representative man,as one with fallen man,as Adam."-James Dunn "Christology in the Making" p. 118

I know a lot of trinitarians will scratch their heads wondering why I don't recognize that Jesus wasn't *just* the Last Adam but also the very Son of God!The title "Son of God" doesn't advocate the conception of a trinity. Jesus was the Son of God not because he WAS the same God(whose Son he was) who caused his birth but because God was his father:

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; THEREFORE the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God."

You will not find a description here of any preexistent glorious being transmigrating through Mary's womb.He found himself as MAN because God willed him to be the specially born Last Adam to reverse Adam's curses when the "full limit of the time" (Gal. 4:4)had arrived for his word to come to fruition in Christ's flesh,God's bread from heaven..(Jn. 6:51)The first Adam was also a special son of God while being fully man without ever being "fully God."So it is with the Last One.How apropos!

These Philippians verses call to mind:

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

This text speaks of "grace" which is always connected with Christ's death and resurrection (Rom. 5:15,21;Gal. 2:20;Eph. 1:6) as opposed to a preexistent being(God or archangel or any other) becoming a man.Again,this truth should help us understand Paul's intended purpose for Philippians in relation to HOW Christ became poor.Because we have an obvious correlation here with other texts that describe what that grace was exactly.Christ the man humbling himself unto death on the cross as opposed to God becoming man,again.

"Paul would not think of creatureliness as poverty over against the riches of deity.But he could readily think of Adam's fallenness as poverty over against the riches of his fellowship with God,just as the reverse antithesis,becoming rich(despite our poverty),presumably denotes a coming into fellowship with God(Rom. 11:12,1 Cor. 6:10;9:11;and the not so very different profit and loss imagery of Phil 3:7).Though he could have enjoyed the riches of uninterrupted communion with God,Jesus freely chose to embrace the poverty of Adam's distance from God,particularly in his death,in order that we might enter into the full inheritance intended for Adam in the first place."James Dunn "Christology in the Making" p. 123

Moving along..

Philippians 2:9 *Therefore* God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Why has God "highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name?"We need only go back to verse 8.It was because "he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death."Hebrews 1:9 expounds further that it was because he "loved righteousness and hated wickedness" that he was "anointed with the oil of gladness beyond his companions."So what we DON'T have is an "ontological right" as the second person of a Greek triune consubstantial substance because Christ was also the true God he called his father the only one of(John 17:3) but rather a deserved and gifted exaltation of a beloved Son by a proud and kind father who epitomizes love precisely because that Son was faithful and true,a humble and extraordinary servant.A servant as a man and not in some "subordinate" preexistent glory.In my opinion,it should go without saying(which is the language Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15:27 & 28) that the "name above every name" isn't a name above Yahweh's name.Because even though Christ is Lord of all with all things subjected to him,as Paul makes clear there are certain things that should go without saying.And one of those would be that even though Christ has been exalted to the second most high position in the entire universe,there is still one who is his God(Rev. 3:12,1 Cor. 11:3) above him,the one who subjected all things TO him.Let us never forget that we don't worship any other unless God commands or allows it to his own glory,oft being relative worship of an exalted king.(1 Chron. 29:20)Sometimes God commands people(even angels in the case of Jesus!) to venerate those he adores because he loves them.(Revelation 3:9)This does not make them "people" of his "own being."

To summarize, in conclusion:

"Adam was already in the image of God(Gen. 1:26) and was created for immortality.But he chose to grasp at the opportunity to be (completely) like God himself-Gen. 3:5,22).Snatching at the opportunity to enhance the status he already had,he both lost the degree of equality with God which he already enjoyed and was corrupted by that which he coveted(Rom. 1:21-23,7:9-11)Not content with being like God,what God had intended,he became like men,what men now are.The contrast in other words is between what Adam was and what he became,and it is this Adam language which is used of Christ."James Dunn "Christology in the Making" p.116

It is the remarkable power and authority (as the anointed Messiah that God fully performed through and lived within by spirit) that Jesus sacrificed in his horrible death and humiliation at the cross.He willingly accepted what he certainly did not deserve!And this is the humbling in view in Philippians.He appeared as a powerless *everyman*(falsely deemed criminal even!) in the face of his mockers and killers and accusers.Christ's sinlessness,perfection,and special relationship with God as savior of the world and as the Messiah ,who didn't need to be reconciled to God at all like the rest of fallen mankind does,entitled him to NOT have to suffer unto a torturous death because he wasn't a sinner who grasped at equality with God like the first Adam. Despite this, he didn't "toot his own horn." He wasn't haughty & proud for who he was,he exceptionally being the Great Amen and fulfillment of all God's purposes from the beginning to the end of time,but he rather suffered the worst humiliation and degradation anyone could ever imagine because he was love like his father,loved BY his father,and determined to fulfill his father's will and make sure we're kept in his love all the way to the kingdom.Now that's a man we can imitate in whatever we might have to suffer,whatever humiliation we might have to endure as we carry OUR cross.What we cannot imitate,the mind we cannot have,is that of God willing to become a man.

"His(Christ's) whole life constituted his willing acceptance of the sinner's lot(2 Cor. 5:21).In other words,Phil. 2:6-8 is probably intended to affirm that Christ's earthly life was an embodiment of grace from beginning to end,of giving away in contrast to the selfish grasping of Adam's sin,that every choice of any consequence made by Christ was the antithesis of Adam's,that every stage of Christ's life and ministry had the character of a fallen lot freely embraced...Phil. 2:6-11 depicts its character in terms of Adam typology in language drawn from Gen. 1-3."--James Dunn p.121

I agree with Dunn when he says "the question of preexistence is rather more an irrelevance and distraction than a help to interpretation."(p. 19) and that there's no evidence anywhere that Christ was "contemporaneous with Adam" but Adam was rather a "type of him who was to come."(Rom. 5:14)Christ came AFTER Adam as the Last Adam.The only way he preceded Adam was in that he was "slain before the foundation of the world"(Rev. 13:8) in God's forethought and plans for a kingdom realized in & through his Lamb and beloved Son.Purposed before the world was made to save it from the fall because of Adam's sin that God foreknew.He intended from the beginning to save us in Christ who was his will for mankind's salvation and redemption,his word and wisdom and gift to the world,to appear in the flesh when the time came for all to be fulfilled.

"Christ by his life,death and resurrection has so completely reversed the catastrophe of Adam,has done so by the acceptance of death by choice rather than as punishment and has thus completed the role of dominion over all things originally intended for Adam"--James Dunn "Christology in the Making"p. 19

And thanks to that he has ensured his brothers and sisters who have his *same mind* of humble service that we may also share in that role of dominion over the upcoming restored new earth,even as we look to him as Lord and savior and as the forerunner to our own exaltation for all time!Yes,we shall all confess that Jesus is Lord to God's glory!Now and forevermore.Like Jesus,we can receive unimaginable gifts by God's grace and love.We don't have to have an "ontology" that's worthy.Simply a mind like Christ's and faith in him!Why?Because God's beloved Son made it possible for US too to be beloved children!Every perfect gift comes from God and his greatest gift was Christ and the eternal life he offers us in Christ.

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