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Does Philippians 2:5-11 show that Jesus is not the same as the Father?

Submitted: 12/6/2007
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Question: These verses show that in verse 6 Jesus was in the form of God but did not consider himself equal with God. (Jesus was in the form of God and was compared to God). In verse 7 he takes the form of men(flesh) and became obedient. Does this verse show that Jesus is not the same as the Father because of the comparison made? And because that is what the thinking of Jesus in verse 5?

Answer: You have seriously misquoted this verse. It does not say that Jesus did not consider Himself equal with God. Philippians 2:6-7 says, 'Being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.' The words 'did not consider it robbery to be equal with God' are an awkward translation. The key word is 'robbery.' The Greek word means to seize or grasp. What Paul was saying was that Jesus, as a man, did not consider equality with God to be something He needed to grasp. This does not mean that He was not God in the flesh; it only means that during the days of His flesh, He did not feel compelled to walk around as God. Instead, He made Himself of no reputation (literally He emptied Himself) and took on the form of a servant. Appearing to be a mere servant is contrasted with grasping equality with God.

To understand this passage, you must keep in mind that Paul is describing how Jesus fulfilled in the flesh exactly what he admonished us to do a few verses earlier in Philippians 2:3-4, where he wrote, 'Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.' Jesus walked in lowliness of mind, not considering Godhood something to be grasped. He esteemed others better than Himself by taking on the form of a servant. He looked out for the interests of others by humbling Himself and becoming obedient even to the death of the cross.