Faith in  Christ   leads to action


 page 13 of 14


Jesus Our Lord and the Model for Us


            A key reference for background on this passage in Philippians is Isaiah 45:23 “that the auctor of the [Phil 2:5-11] hymn is drawing upon this prophecy and applying it to Christ. . . . The prophet had expected a turning to Yahweh of all the nations upon earth. The hymn extends the scope to include all sentient beings throughout the cosmos.”[1] The meaning of the word confess in verse 11 is also key. It is “taken to denote either ‘admit and acknowledge’ or ‘confess with thanksgiving’. While it is true that the Septuagint typically employs the term of the confession of praise and thanksgiving, it can occasionally be used of acknowledging something against one’s will. . . .”[2] If the word confess means admit and acknowledge, every person should acknowledge Jesus as Lord; if it is confess with thanksgiving, every person should be united with Jesus as Lord and Savior. There may be a universal purpose behind this text. “It was in order that every created being in heaven, on earth and under the earth might ultimately be reconciled to himself [God] by voluntarily and joyfully pledging allegiance to the one who chose the lowly path of self-effacement and of humble service to others (cf. Eph 1:10).”[3] Thus, Philippians 2:9-11 may support an expansive view of the scope of salvation.           

             Regardless of how verses 9-11 are interpreted and applied, it is wise to remember Paul’s further guidance: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12b-13 NRSV). The true follower of Jesus does what pleases God, knowing it is God enabling it to happen. By so doing, the person is truly confessing Jesus as Lord and is assured of salvation even now.

[1] Martin, Hymn, 256.
[2] Bockmuehl, Epistle, 146-147.
[3] Hawthorne, Philippians, 94.

Act_17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.