Jesus repeatedly took the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7)

Philippians 2:7- but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of humans.

Instead of exploiting his privileges as Messiah, Christ emptied himself by repeatedly taking the morphe of a servant. The form of God is contrasted with the form of a servant (not the form of man). This disposition was repeatedly exercised by Christ, as the participle λαβών indicated. His life was characterized by not using his privileges of Messiah but rather giving them up to live as a servant. Consider these examples:

1. Jesus being tempted in the wilderness to turn stones to bread, to make a spectacle at the temple, and to acquire the kingdoms of the world without suffering (Matt. 4; Luke 4).

2. “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus refused to be take that title (Mark 10:17-18).

3. So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone. (John 6:15)

4. “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53)

5. Jesus, as the teacher and lord, chose to do the slave’s task of washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:13-15).

One must remember that the entire passage was predicated by the ethical command in 2:5 which stated that the Philippian audience was to think like Christ Jesus did. This interpretation of 2:6-7 best answers the practicality of the ethical imperative. Paul could hardly be asking his audience to consider what it might be like for God to stop being divine and instead become human. This is a proposition which would not only be nonsensical but also difficult to relate to on a practical level.

The rest of 2:7 gives more or less synonyms to taking the form of a servant:

-In the appearance of humans (particularly their corruptible and fallen status because of Adam’s disobedience.

-Being found in the appearance of humanity (susceptible of death)

-The theme of the servant echoes the Suffering Servant psalms in Isaiah, particularly:

a. Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. (Isa. 52:13)

b. Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors (Isa. 53:12).

It would seem that Paul understands the victory of Jesus as fulfilling the role of Adam and of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.



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