What does Philippians 2:7 mean?
ESV: but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
NIV: rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
NASB: but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men.
CSB: Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man,
NLT: Instead, he gave up his divine privileges ; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,
KJV: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Verse Commentary:
Rather than coming to earth to demand others serve Him, Jesus "emptied himself." This does not mean Jesus stopped being God. Rather than coming the first time as a king, Jesus chose not to exhibit His unlimited powers. He came to serve rather than to be served (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). He chose the "form" of a servant rather than the "form" of God (Philippians 2:6).

One way Jesus came as a servant was taking on the limitations of a human body. Though eternal, Jesus entered earth as an infant. He was born to His mother Mary, who remained a virgin until His birth (Matthew 1:25). He was born in a humble situation, coming into this world among the animals in a stable, and sleeping in a feed trough (Luke 2:1–7). The first people to visit Him were not kings, but shepherds (Luke 2:8–20). His birth was common, yet His life was anything but common. His humility is emphasized in this verse as the example believers are to follow.
Verse Context:
Philippians 2:6–11 is a poetic description of Jesus' willingness to humble Himself for our sake. Rather than coming first as God and King, Jesus freely took on the form of a human being. He was humiliated and oppressed, following the will of the Father, in order to be the sacrifice for our sins. As a result, ''Jesus'' will be given the ultimate glory and honor. Eventually, all people, whether they want to or not, will admit that Jesus Christ is, in fact, Lord. For some, this will happen too late.
Chapter Summary:
Paul describes Jesus Christ as one willing to be humble, in obedience to God the Father. For this, God will exalt Jesus' name above all others. Someday, one way or another, all people will admit that Jesus Christ is Lord, and submit to Him. Paul wants the Philippian believers to live with contentment and unity, without complaining. Instructions are given regarding two visitors. The first is actually the one delivering this letter, Epaphroditus. The other is Timothy, Paul's trusted friend, who hopefully will be visiting soon.
Chapter Context:
Philippians 1 focused on the importance of perspective. A Christian's life, lived for Christ, may be hard or easy, but all things can give God glory. Chapter 2 frames this concept through the humility shown by Jesus Christ. His willingness to obey God the Father, even being crucified, is the ultimate example of humble service. In return, His name will be honored more than any other. Paul's instructions regarding Timothy and Epaphroditus also form a bridge to chapter 3, where Paul will contrast these good men with the dangers of false teachers.
Book Summary:
Philippians is Paul's discussion of living the Christian life. In this letter to the church of Philippi, Paul highlights themes such as joy and glory. He also puts great emphasis on how a Christian's thinking—their attitude—affects the way they live out their faith. Paul is very thankful for the support of the Philippian church, but is also concerned about the influence of various false teachers. This letter is less theological than most of his other writings, and more practical.
Accessed 2/25/2024 11:14:03 AM
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