Philippians 2:1-11

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 24, 2000


Though it doesn’t seem that Paul spent any more than a couple of months at a time in Philippi, the church there was dear to his heart.  As we read through the letter, we see a great tenderness and affection for these Christians.

But as it seems can happen in most any church, there was some problems in the church, particularly just learning to get along with each other.

:1  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

consolationparaklesis – a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); importation, supplication, entreaty; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment

comfortparamuthion – persuasive address, whether made for the purpose of persuading, or of arousing and stimulating, or of calming and consoling

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

fellowshipkoinonia – fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

bowelssplagchnon – bowels, intestines, (the heart, lungs, liver, etc.); the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.); a heart in which mercy resides

merciesoiktirmos – compassion, pity, mercy; bowels in which compassion resides, a heart of compassion; emotions, longings, manifestations of pity; the inward feeling of compassion which abides in the heart.

(Phil 2:1 NLT)  Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic?

Paul is asking a question that expects a “yes” for an answer.  Do these things exist?  Yes.

All these things are supposed to be found among Christians.  These are all supposed to be qualities found in the church.

:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

fulfilpleroo – to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally; to render full, i.e. to complete; to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim

Paul is asking them that they make him a happy man by doing these things.

(Phil 2:2 NIV)  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

likemindedphroneo (the word autos, “same” is also paired with this word) – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to think or judge what one’s opinion is; to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious

one accordsumpsuchos – of one mind, of one accord; This word is made up of two words "sun" (together with) and psuchos (soul, self, inner life, or the seat of the feelings, desires, affections).  So the word refers to being united in spirit or harmonious (A&G).

mindphroneo  – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to think or judge what one’s opinion is; to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious

These are all pretty difficult tasks.  It’s a pretty amazing thing when you can get any group of people to agree on any one thing.

Apparently, some of the folks in Philippi weren’t getting along with each other. Paul is going to give them some advice about how to get along…

:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;

nothingmedeis – nobody, no one, nothing

strifeeritheia – electioneering or intriguing for office; a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts; partisanship, fractiousness; This word is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means.

With our presidential elections coming up in November, we are currently beginning to see some great pictures of what “electioneering” is all about, doing anything to try and win your vote.

Strife is when you are at odds with someone, and you are seeking to sway others to your side of the argument.

vainglorykenodoxia – vain glory, groundless, self esteem, empty pride; a vain opinion, error; it comes from kenodoxos – glorying without reason, conceited, vain glorious, eager for empty glory

(Phil 2:3 NLT)  …don't live to make a good impression on others…

We need to not only be careful to avoid “strife”, but to also be careful that we’re not out just to make a name for ourselves.

:3  but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

lowliness of mindtapeinophrosune (“lowliness” + “mind”)–  having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness; modesty, humility, lowliness of mind; not the making of one’s self small when he is really great, but thinking little of one’s self, because this is in a sense the right estimate for any human being, however great.

Humility is not a great person learning to do “humble” kinds of things, or a great person stooping “down” to help us poor peons.

It’s an attitude of your heart that says that you’re really not all that great to begin with. 

You don’t think this to draw sympathy to yourself.  You don’t think this because you’re having a “pity party” for yourself.  You don’t go around telling people you are a “lowly person” so they can say, “No you aren’t, you’re a wonderful person!”

You simply think this because it’s true.  It’s an attitude that leads you into serving others because they need to be served.

esteemhegeomai – to consider, account, think; a belief resting not on one’s inner feeling or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, and the weighing and comparing of facts; the idea of a deliberate and careful judgment.

Don’t just “feel” like the other person is of more value, give it consideration and find it true.

better thanhuperecho – to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power; to excel, to be superior, to surpass

:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

lookskopeo – to look at, observe, contemplate; to fix one’s eyes upon, direct one’s attention to, any one

(Phil 2:4 NASB)  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.


Becoming “other” centered.

The sad thing about marriage counseling is that you rarely ever get to talk to people who are having a happy marriage.  Instead, you always get to talk to people who are having trouble in their marriage.
One of the common things that I come across whenever there is conflict is that usually one or both parties are thinking strictly about their own needs.
If I ask a husband and a wife to write down what they think they need in a marriage, they can fill up a couple of sheets of paper with their own needs.  But if I ask them what their partner needs in the marriage, there is usually a lot of silence and scratching of the head.
Do you know what the needs of your partner are?  Do you REALLY know, or would your list of things just be what you hoped they would be?

For example, husbands, what would you say your wife’s needs are?  Would you tell me that she has this great need to cook you a great supper every night, to have it ready when you come home from work, that she needs to greet you with a great big wet, juicy kiss and just stare silently at you with goo-goo eyes all night while you watch football?  Those might be some of your wife’s needs, but more likely they’re just your needs.

If we played that old “Newlywed Game”, and I had each of you make up a list of what the wife’s needs were in a marriage, would your two lists agree at all?  How about the husbands needs?

This is much great than just dealing with marital problems.  Paul is talking about people in the church getting along with each other.

When you have a conflict with any other person, how often do you stop and think to yourself, “What is that person needing right now?”

:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Let this mindphroneo – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to have an opinion of one’s self, think of one’s self

If you need a better picture of how this kind of thing is lived out in life, the best picture is that of Jesus Christ.

:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

The idea is this:  Even though Jesus existed from eternity as God, He didn’t feel like He had to hold on to His position of glory in heaven.

formmorphe – the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision; external appearance

robberyharpagmos – the act of seizing, robbery; a thing seized or to be seized; booty to deem anything a prize; a thing to be seized upon or to be held fast, retained

thoughthegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think; a belief resting not on one’s inner feeling or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, and the weighing and comparing of facts; the idea of a deliberate and careful judgment

equalisos – equal, in quantity or quality


Jesus is fully God.

There are many, many references to choose from.  Here are just a few.
(John 1:1)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
In case you don’t know what or who the “Word” is, if you read on in the gospel of John, you find clearly that the “Word” is Jesus.
In Romans 9:5; Paul calls Jesus the Christ, the one who is, “God, who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.”
(1 John 5:20)  And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
The Greek grammatical construction requires that you connect “his Son Jesus Christ” with “the true God”.  It’s the Son that is the true God.  John is calling Jesus “God”.
(John 20:27-28)  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. {28} And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
It would be incredibly blasphemous for Jesus to be receiving worship from Thomas, let alone to allow Thomas to call Him “Lord” and “God”.  But Jesus received this from Thomas.  Thomas called Jesus “God”.
In John 8:58, Jesus calls Himself the “I AM”, which refers to the meaning of God’s name, Yahweh (Exo. 3:14).  Even the Jews understood what Jesus was saying because they took up stones to stone Him for calling Himself God.
(John 8:56-59 KJV)  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. {57} Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? {58} Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. {59} Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
The phrase Jesus uses, “I am” (Greek:  ego eimi), was a way of referring to Himself as the “I AM” of the Old Testament.  When God called Moses, God told Moses,

(Exo 3:14 NASB)  "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

In Hebrews 1:1-8, you will find that even God calls Jesus “God”.
(Heb 1:1-8 KJV)  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, {2} Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; {3} Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; {4} Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. {5} For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? {6} And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. {7} And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. {8} But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
God has called Jesus “God”.  Pretty solid stuff.

Not only is Jesus God, He never stopped being God.


Jesus let go of His rights

Even though Jesus is God, He carefully considered that holding on to His place in heaven was not something that He had to hold on to.
He was able to let go of His rights.
(Eph 5:25 NASB)  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;
Peace comes in relationships when we learn to let go of our rights.

:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

made himself of no reputationkenoo – to empty, make empty.  The idea is that Jesus emptied Himself of His glory.  He never stopped being God, but He limited Himself when He took on the form of a man.

A.T. Robertson:  “Of what did Christ empty himself? Not of his divine nature. That was impossible. He continued to be the Son of God…Undoubtedly Christ gave up his environment of glory. He took upon himself limitations of place (space) and of knowledge and of power, though still on earth retaining more of these than any mere man.”

“He stripped himself of the insignia of majesty” (Lightfoot).

servantdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition; a slave; devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests

Instead of being in the “form” (morphe) of God, He was now in the form of a servant.


A servant’s heart

(John 13:1-17 KJV)  Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. {2} And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; {3} Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; {4} He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. {5} After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

This was a servant’s job.  This was the job that belonged to the guy at the bottom of the pecking order at work.  Jesus did it.

{6} Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? {7} Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. {8} Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. {9} Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. {10} Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. {11} For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. {12} So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? {13} Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. {14} If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. {15} For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

If Jesus lived like a servant, we ought to also.
I think that one of the secrets of learning true humility is learning to do “servants’ work” and to do it willingly, joyfully, quietly, and lovingly.  If you are a person that struggles with pride, look around you and find others that need a helping hand and help them.  Look around the church and see what needs to be done and do it.

{16} Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. {17} If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

If my Lord was a servant, and if I can never be greater than my Lord, then I too must be a servant.  I don’t think God wants me to ever outgrow that mentality.
For years I’ve always heard stories about what a servant Pastor Chuck is.  I’ve heard stories about him picking up cigarette butts, stories about him serving food at youth camps, stories about him pounding nails with a hammer.  I think I’m beginning to get it.  I think that Chuck has learned that even he is not above being a servant.  None of us are.  When we start to get the attitude, “I don’t do windows,” I think we’ve lost it.
Jesus promises happiness if we will learn to serve.

likenesshomoioma – that which has been made after the likeness of something; a figure, image, likeness, representation; likeness i.e. resemblance, such as amounts almost to equality or identity

:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

fashionschema – the habitus, as comprising everything in a person which strikes the senses, the figure, bearing, discourse, actions, manner of life etc.

humbledtapeinoo – to make low, bring low; metaph. to bring into a humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances; to assign a lower rank or place to

This is the root of the word “lowliness of mind” in verse 3.

obedienthupekoos – giving ear, obedient

These are part of the footsteps we’re to follow if we’re to learn to get along with each other.


Harmony through death

This seems to be the key to learning to “get along” with each other. Circle the words “humbled”, “obedient”, and “death”.
Ultimately, if you’re going to get along with others and you find that you come at odds against each other from time to time, someone is going to have to die.  I’m not talking about murder, I’m talking about dying to “self”. The tension comes in relationships when we are too “alive”, too willing to kick and struggle for our own personal ideas.
If we aren’t willing to learn to die to our “selves”, we shouldn’t be surprised when we find a death in our relationships.
A Russian scientist and a Czechoslovakian scientist had spent their lives studying the grizzly bear.  Each year they petitioned their respective governments to allow them to go to Yellowstone to study the bears.  Finally their request was granted, and they immediately flew to NY and on west to Yellowstone.  They reported to the ranger station and were told that it was the grizzly mating season and it was too dangerous to go out and study the animals.  They pleaded that this was their only chance, and finally the ranger relented. The Russian and the Czech were given portable phones and told to report in every day.  For several days they called in, and then nothing was heard from the two scientists.  The rangers mounted a search party and found the camp completely ravaged, with no sign of the missing men.  They followed the trail of a male and a female bear. They found the female first and decided they must kill the animal to find out if she had eaten the scientists because they feared an international incident.  They killed the bear and opened her stomach to find the remains of the Russian.  One ranger turned to the other and said, “You know what this means, don’t you?”  The other ranger responded, “Of course ... The Czech is in the male.”
Bad joke!  But if the scientists had listened to reason and simply died to their own desires, they wouldn’t have ended their trip being eaten by bears!


The gospel

Who was Jesus being “obedient” to?
He was being obedient to God. 

In the garden, He prayed, “Not my will, but Thine”.

He was thinking more of our needs than His own.
Jesus’ death on the cross was not some big foul-up in the plans of some new religious upstart.  His death was very carefully planned since the beginning of time.
A thousand years before His birth, David wrote Psalm 22, describing the crucifixion in detail, including the mockery, the bones being out of joint, the thirst, the piercing of hands and feet.
Eight hundred years before His birth, Isaiah prophesied:

(Isa 53:5 KJV)  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Five hundred years before His birth, Daniel prophesied that the Messiah would be “cut off”, but “not for Himself” (Dan. 9:26).
Jesus didn’t die because the Jewish leaders and the Romans got the upper hand.
Jesus died in order to offer Himself up as a sacrifice to pay for our sins.
He paid a debt He didn’t owe, because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,

highly exaltedhuperupsoo – metaph. to exalt to the highest rank and power, raise to supreme majesty


Don’t look for the exalting

If you’re going to do this “humility thing” as a way to become great, you’ve missed it.

:9  and given him a name which is above every name:

givencharizomai – to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favour to, gratify; to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent; to give graciously, give freely, bestow.  Related to the word for “grace” (charis).  God “graced” Jesus with a name above every name.

(Acts 4:12 KJV)  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

in heaven – both angels and those who have already died and gone to heaven.

in earth – everything on earth will bow

under the earth – referring to those in hell

:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

confessexomologeo – to confess; to profess; acknowledge openly

Be careful here. Paul isn’t saying that everyone will be saved.

Even those in hell will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, but they will do it too late.

Remember that old oil filter commercial?  There is a mechanic standing in front of a car, and he’s telling you, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later”.  The idea is that you can pay him a little now to buy a new oil filter, or you can pay him a whole lot of money later to have your engine repaired.

Every knee will bow before Jesus Christ.  You can bow now, or you can bow later.

I’ve done three funerals in the last month, two of them just last week.  Death is very, very real.  You need to be ready.