Faith in  Christ   leads to action


Jesus Our Lord and the Model for Us

 page 4 of 14


 prevailing cultural beliefs and elevated existing ways of thinking to support his presentation of the gospel. He illustrated heavenly truths using worldly images.

            A poetic, rhythmic structure stands out in Philippians 2:6-11, as it honors the humility and exaltation of Jesus Christ. “Everyone agrees on the fact that exalted, lyrical, quasi-creedal language is employed in these verses. There is an undeniable rhythm here, combined with typically poetic tension, repetition and a Hebraic-sounding parallelism. . . .”[1] Whether this text reflects an actual hymn, perhaps used in early Christian worship, is less certain. “This lack of agreement about the very form and outline of our passage suggests that, even though poetic style and creedal language are undoubtedly present, it is unwarranted and potentially misleading to call it a ‘hymn’ in the absence of evidence for its liturgical usage.”[2] Regardless of whether this passage is a hymn, it does provide insight into early Christian thought—whether directly by Paul or recited by Paul—into Christology. Paul’s letter reflects a profound understanding of Christ.

            No significant translation disputes are apparent with the passage. “The epistle presents no textual questions of importance.”[3] However, there is a question of whether “Philippians [is] a single letter or a compilation of several letters.”[4] In any case, this question poses no problem for this study because “there is, then, no compelling reason to doubt the integrity of Philippians.”[5]

            Philippians 2:10-11 is an echo from Isaiah: “By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear’” (Isa 45:23 NRSV). The Philippians passage specifically applies this prophecy to Jesus. This idea is discussed more in the “APPLICATION” section. The same Isaiah text is referenced in Romans 14:11 (compare with Philippians 2:10-11).

[1] Markus Bockmuehl, The Epistle to the Philippians (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998), 116.
[2] Bockmuehl, Epistle, 117.
[3] Bockmuehl, Epistle, 40.
[4] Gerald F. Hawthorne, Philippians, vol. 43 of Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983), xxix.
[5] Hawthorne, Philippians, xxxii.

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.