Hello everyone. Welcome back to our Trinitarian commentary here at Deeper Waters. We are right now in the epistle to the Philippians and looking at the great hymn in chapter 2. It is often called the kenotic passage, although by this, I do not mean that I believe in what is known as the kenotic heresy, the idea that Jesus forsook his deity while he was on Earth. Tonight, we’re going to be looking at 2:6b. Let’s go to the text.
Did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.
Keep in mind in all of this that our passage has been focusing on the nature of Christ and how he is to be our example. We are to esteem others as better than ourselves and the basis for doing such is to look at what Christ did. He was one who came for the suffering of others. Note that he is not saying we are better than he is in doing so. We certainly are not. Instead, he is seeking our greater good. He is taking upon himself the evil in the world selflessly so that we might be saved.
What does this passage tell us about the nature of Jesus? It tells us first off that he had equality with God. Again, we see an implicit understanding that God refers to God the Father. There was already room for a Trinitarian idea even if that hadn’t been fully conceptualized yet at this point. The Jewish system of the day was open to the possibility of the divine nature of God including more than one person. This is something anyone should be open to as well. It is a strange idea that we assume that when we come to God, he must be one person. He can do anything at all that is not a contradiction, but yet, he cannot be more than one person. Now in saying that, I do not mean to say that he chooses to exist in three persons. He has always existed in three persons by necessity of his nature.
When Jesus is seen in relation to the Father, he is seen as an equal in his nature. We know this for certain because of the usage of the word form in the prior passage. It means that Jesus was in his very nature God. Yet we are also told that he did not consider that equality as something to be grasped. What does this mean?
The grasping means more of a clinging. This means that Jesus was not holding on to his deity as an excuse to avoid the incarnation and not come to bring about the salvation of man. He did not see being deity as a reason to not come to Earth and bring about the salvation of man. Instead, he took upon a position that would be lowering. This is a concept that we will explore further as we go through this beautiful passage.
It does not mean he gave up his deity. That would imply he was not God on Earth, which the texts as we have seen show he was. Theologians debate exactly what it was that Jesus forsook, because he did forsake something. I would argue that Jesus forsook a sort of divine prerogative. He came and in many ways played by the rules unless his very mission necessitated that he act in a different manner. Of course, this is a point that we can debate, but we must not say that Jesus forsook deity or ever lacked deity.
Tomorrow, we shall look at verse 7.