Honest Theology Episode 3 – The Semantic Field in Word Studies

The new episode of the weekly podcast Honest Theology is now available for viewing. This week’s episode contains:

-a devotion in Isa 2:22 regarding the pitfalls of regarding too highly celebrity preachers/theologians

-a demonstration of how to do a word study by examining the semantic field of a given word (in this case, ‘morphe’ from Phil 2:6-7)

-suggestions of honest commentaries for the Gospel of Luke

-exegesis of Rev 1:7-10a


Hope you enjoy the show!

Jesus vs. Caesar (Phil. 2:11)

Philippians 2:11- “and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός)


Every tongue will profess that Jesus Christ is the kurios. This draws together two important images. First of all, any talk concerning “being exalted by God” paired with the title of “lord” strongly suggests an allusion to Psa. 110:1, where God exalts the human lord to his right hand. Secondly, in the Roman colony of Philippi the current reigning kurios was the emperor Nero. This fact suggests that Paul is deliberately and subversively giving titles and claims to Jesus which most of his audience would have assumed belonged to Caesar. Consider the following data:

1.  Phil. 2:6-11 offers Christ the universal authority given by God. This was a direct challenge to the emperor. A local inscription in Greece states, “Nero, the Lord of all the world.” Therefore, the suggestion that every knee will bow to Jesus would certainly include the knee of Nero, a quite dangerous thing to say in the imperial world.

2.  The authority of Jesus was granted to him by God. The emperors of Rome did not possess authority in themselves. They claimed that the previous emperor, now deceased, had bestowed the authority and power unto the current ruler (i.e. Nero).

3.  The claim that glory is given to God the Father was also controversial for Paul’s audience. Augustus was named Pater Patriae (“father of the fatherland”). The Apostle Paul argues otherwise.

4.  If Jesus is kurios, then Caesar is not. This title was commonly ascribed to various emperors in the first century CE, especially Nero. There is a deliberately subversive effort on the part of Paul.

As a footnote to our study, I should indicate that the worship and attention given to the exalted Jesus ultimately brings glory to the person of God the Father. This implies that the Father continually ranks as superior to Christ (cf. also 1 Cor. 3:23; 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:5).        


Rethinking Phil. 2:8-10

Philippians 2:8-10 NASB “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth”

Jesus demonstrated humility (same word in Greek as was used in 2:3) by becoming obedient to his vocation. This obedience was exercised unto the point of a martyr’s death, the death of the cross.

His obedient refusal to exploit his privileges and to live for God unto death will be a theme repeated in the epistle:

                        a. Epaphroditus (2:29-30)

                        b. of Paul himself (2:17; 3:7-12)

                        c. the Philippian believers (3:15-17, 20-21)

In response to Jesus’ obedience and taking the form of the servant, God has highly exalted him. This was initially demonstrated through resurrection. The reward of resurrection for faithfully giving up one’s privileges is also repeated:

                        a. Paul (3:11)

                        b. the Philippian believers (3:21)

Jesus was given, in his exaltation, the name above all other names. This name brings into submission every knee. The description resembles the totality of the dominion originally given to Adam: “rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). The rulership originally promised to Adam (but lost due to disobedience) has been reclaimed by Christ (due to obedience).