The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
January 15, 2012
1) Philippians 2:6-8 (continued from last week) (Tom
(continued from last week)
by Tom Edwards
Last week, we considered Bible passages that set forth the humanity,
as well as the divinity, of Jesus while on earth. Concerning
His divinity, we closed with verses that show names, such as
"Immanuel," that indicate Christ's deity; and also passages that
refer to the eternal nature of Jesus.
Another point that can be made with reference to His deity is the
sinless life He lived. For only He, out of all accountable people,
ever maintained a perfect life throughout all His days, having never
violated even one of His Father's holy commandments. Peter
says of Jesus, He "...COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN
HIS MOUTH" (1 Pet. 2:22).
In addition, the miracles Jesus performed also bear witness to His
deity: "Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the
presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but
these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His
name" (Jn. 20:30,31).
One might ask, "Well, the apostles also did miracles, but it didn't
mean that they were Deity. Why is it different for
Jesus?" First of all, the apostles gave glory to God and
pointed out that it was because of Jesus that miracles were
performed through them (e.g. Acts 3:6,12-16). So the miracles
of the apostles confirmed their word, which, in turn, pointed to
Jesus as truly being the Christ, the Son of God, and the only Savior
of the world.
Jesus' miracles bore witness of Him. Though John the Baptist
was the great forerunner for the Lord in preparing His way, note
what Jesus says about His miracles in comparison to John's
testimony: "But the witness which I have is greater than that of
John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the
very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent
Me" (John 5:36). So for those who would not believe His words,
Jesus pointed them to His miracles by which they could know
assuredly that He was in the Father and the Father was in Him (Jn.
While on earth, Deity dwelt in Jesus. "For in Him all the
fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Col. 2:9). "And He
[Jesus] is the radiance of His [God the Father's] glory and the
exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the
word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat
down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3).
Jesus had much more than merely human abilities while on earth: He
could see beyond normal eyesight (e.g. John 1:47-50). God's
vision far exceeds that of man's. "The Lord looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out on
all the inhabitants of the earth" (Psa. 33:13,14). A person,
therefore, cannot hide from God. Even if one would try to do
so in the dark, the psalmist says of the Lord that "Even the
darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to Thee" (Psa. 139:12).
Another divine ability that the Lord demonstrated while on earth was
being able to look into the hearts of men, as seen in Matthew 9:4:
"And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, 'Why are you thinking evil
in your hearts?....'" That truly is an ability that Deity
possesses. For instance, in speaking of God, the psalmist
declares in Psalm 139:1-4, "O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known
me. Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou
dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize my
path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my
ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O
LORD, Thou dost know it all." Yes, God "...knows the secrets
of the heart" (Psa. 44:21); and it will be Jesus who will be judging
those hidden things in the Great Judgment Day, according to Romans
2:16, where Paul states that "...God will judge the secrets of men
through Christ Jesus."
It's interesting to see how that some of the Lord's miracles
actually served to backup or confirm some of the statements Jesus
made about Himself, or that which other inspired men had said about
Him. For example, in turning the water into wine (John 2), Jesus
shows that He is the "Master of change" (as expressed by Irvin
Jensen, who also refers to Christ as having exemplified His Deity in
many of the following "Master" relationships, as well).
In being the "Master of change," Jesus also transformed a storm into
a calm, and the weak and afflicted people into strong and
healthy. But the greatest change of all is making a child of
God out of one who formerly was a child of the devil (cf. Matt.
Christ is also the "Master of quality." For he not only turned
the water into wine, but also made it into the best wine. And
what a glorious quality it will be when the mortal will put on
immortality when the last trumpet sounds and the dead will be raised
imperishable (1 Cor. 15:49-57).
Jesus certainly is Master over all. When He healed the
nobleman's son (John 4:46-54), He did so from a distance of about 18
miles. For the sick boy had been in Capernaum, while Jesus was
in Cana of Galilee. This miracle, therefore, illustrates that
Jesus is the "Master of distance or space." He is not limited
by it. As we considered earlier in Psalm 139, distance is
irrelevant to God. No matter where one could go in this entire
universe, the Lord would always know exactly where the person was --
and not only that, but also what was going on in that person's
In healing the sick man of John 5:1-9, Jesus shows that He is the
"Master of time." For that man had been in that condition for 38
years, but time is also irrelevant to God. Peter writes, in 2
Peter 3:8, that to the Lord, "one day is as a thousand years and a
thousand years as one day." In other words, it would be no
more difficult for God to heal this man whether it had been 38 years
or 38 seconds with that illness.
In multiplying the few loaves of bread and the few fish so that He
could feed a multitude of more than 5,000 men (Jn. 6:5-14), Jesus
shows that He is the "Master of provision," the "Master of
quantity," and the "Master of creation." Jesus has the ability
to bring things into existence that were not there before.
Corresponding to that, the Bible shows Jesus to have been
instrumental in the great work of Creation itself: For "All things
came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into
being that has come into being" (Jn. 1:3). Paul also
makes this known: "For by Him all things were created, both in the
heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or
dominions or rulers or authorities -- all things have been created
through Him and for Him" (Col. 1:16).
In John 6:16-21, Jesus shows that He is the "Master over natural
laws" by walking on the water and defying the law of gravity, which
was a law that He Himself had established. He also could calm a
storm by simply saying, "Hush, be still" (Mark 4:39) and bodily
ascend into the heavens (Acts 1:9-11). .
In addition, in John 11, Jesus not only declares Himself as being
"the resurrection and the life" (v. 25), but also proves that He is
the "Master over death" by raising His friend Lazarus from the dead.
No mere mortal could be a master over all these things as Jesus was
Furthermore, Christ received worship as Deity while on earth.
But if He were just a man, how could He allow that? Though
Peter was an apostle, he still would not allow Cornelius to worship
him (Acts 10:25,26). For when Cornelius had tried to,
"...Peter raised him up, saying, 'Stand up; I too am just a
man.'" Even an angel of the Lord would not allow the apostle
John to worship him: "But he said to me, 'Do not do that. I am
a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of
those who heed the words of this book. Worship God'" (Rev.
22:8,9). So while on earth, Jesus was not only a man, but also
God. And the fact that He received worship is just one of the
things that indicate that.
This is quite a contrast: Jesus who was in "the form of God" took on
"the form of a bond-servant" (Phil. 2:6,7). The Greek word for
"form" ("morphe") is defined as "1) the form by which a person or
thing strikes the vision. 2) external appearance"
(Thayer). So in laying aside this "form of God," Jesus
was not laying aside His deity; but, rather, the glorious form (the
outward appearance) He had in heaven. By becoming a man and
taking on the form of a bond-servant, there was nothing in His
physical appearance that would indicate He was God. For
example, when Jesus had come to His hometown of Nazareth (Matt.
13:54-56), He began teaching in the synagogue. They said of
Him, "Where did this man get this wisdom, and these miraculous
powers? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His
mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and
Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where
then did this man get all these things?" Verse 57 then states
that "...they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, 'A
prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, and in his own
household.'" This was the place where Jesus grew up, and there
was nothing in his physical appearance that his neighbors could
equate with God.
This Greek word "morphe" is used in just 3 places of the NT.
Two of those in Philippians 2:6,7: the "form of God" and the "form
of a bond-servant." The only other place is in Mark 16:12,
which refers to the Lord's encounter with the two men on the road to
Emmaus. The verse says that "He appeared in a different FORM
In becoming a man, Jesus was even taking on a lower form than the
angels, as Hebrews 2:9 shows, in order that He "might taste death
The KJV states in Philippians 2:6 that Jesus "thought it not robbery
to be equal to God." This is rendered in the
Analytical-Literal Translation as, "...did not consider being equal
to God something to be held onto." It is "did not regard
equality with God a thing to be grasped" in the NASB. In other
words, Jesus was willing to unselfishly give up the glorified
existence He shared with God the Father in heaven in order to come
to earth, taking on the form of a bond-servant, and ultimately going
to the cross to make an atonement for our sins by undergoing a very
The KJV begins Philippians 2:7 by saying, "But made himself of no
reputation." James Strong shows that the idea of "no
reputation" comes from a Greek word ("Kenoo") that means "to make
empty, that is, (figuratively) to abase...." The NASB
translates this passage by saying that Jesus "emptied himself...."
(which many other translations also use). And what He emptied
Himself of was that glorified state that He shared equally with the
Father. The Weymouth NT also makes this clear by declaring,
"...He stripped Himself of His glory...." So in coming to
earth, Jesus not only gave up His glorious heavenly "body," but also
the splendor and bliss of heaven, which was definitely a sacrifice
Plus, in coming to earth, Jesus also took upon Himself a subjective
role in His relationship to His Father in heaven. So that,
too, was different from His glorified state in heaven. In this
sense, we can better understand John 14:28, where Jesus declares
that "...the Father is greater than I."
In this subjective role, Jesus always sought to do the Father's
will. For example, Jesus states, "I can do nothing on My own
initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just,
because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me"
Consider also Hebrews 5:7-9: "In the days of His flesh, He offered
up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the
One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His
piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the
things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to
all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation[.]"
The very concept of one person of the Godhead being referred to as
"the Father" and another as "the Son" illustrates for us the
subjective role Jesus took upon Himself. For we normally think
of the son who is to be in subjection to the father, rather than
vice versa (e.g. Eph. 6:1). And it appears from Scripture that
this Father-Son relationship has not always existed; but, rather, it
was one that began with reference to Christ's mission on
earth. For instance, Hebrew 1:5 says, "For to which of the
angels did He ever say, 'YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU'?
And again, 'I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO
ME'?" As we noted earlier, prior to Christ's incarnation, He
is referred to as being the "Word" who had been with God and was God
(Jn. 1:1). But even though Jesus took on this subjective role,
which made the Father greater, Jesus was still equal with the Father
when it came to Deity, for the Lord never gave up any of that.
Therefore, we find Jesus saying in John 10:30, "I and the Father are
one." And because of that, Jesus was able to tell His
apostles, "If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also;
from now on you know Him, and have seen Him..." (John
14:7-11). So though Jesus was still Deity, He was made "in the
likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7) and which was an exact likeness,
according to Hebrews 2:14: "Since the children share in flesh and
blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same...." "Therefore,
He had to be made like His brethren in all things..." (v. 17).
May we never forget the great sacrifice Jesus made for us by leaving
the glories of heaven and the heavenly "body" He had there, in order
to come to earth and take on human flesh so that He could taste
death for every transgressor. So much He did for us -- and did
so willingly and out of a great love for us and for His Father in
heaven. Truly, Jesus did something for us that we would never
have been able to do for ourselves. For He made salvation from
sin possible. May we, therefore, submit our lives to His plan
of salvation so that the Lord's sacrifice in coming to earth and His
atoning death at Calvary will not be merely a vain or ineffectual
thing in our lives; but, rather, that of which we will be full
recipients of and can, therefore, be ever so thankful for,
continually rejoice in, and be always mindful of His wonderful
grace, mercy, and forgiveness, which will always be greater than
what we could ever earn or deserve.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)