In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul used Jesus as the perfect example of humility. Jesus humbled Himself by entering our world and further humbled Himself by dying on the cross so that we may be reconciled to the Father. Before we go further into Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we shall dive deeper into what Paul meant when he said that Jesus “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself” (2:6-7). We will take time to learn more about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is fully divine, human, and unique.
The Divinity of Christ
Jesus is fully divine. Jesus is God. He is the Son of God; the Second Person of the Trinity. From the Old Testament predictions of the coming of a Divine Messiah, Jesus’ self-testimony in words and deeds, and the testimony of the New Testament writers, there is ample evidence in the Bible that Jesus is God. Here are a few key biblical passages:
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
- “Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28)
- “…looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus…” (Titus 2:13)
- “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 1:1)
When Paul wrote that Jesus “existed in the form of God” (Phil 2:6), he is making it clear that Jesus is God. The Bible teaches that God is Triune (consisting of three in one). We speak truthfully and biblically of God when we describe Him as Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. It is vital at this point that we recognize that God is different than us. Human Beings have personality. We are one in being (existence) and one in person (personality). God, however, is one being existing as three persons. The Bible clearly teaches the Trinity in two very important ways: 1) there is only one God (Isaiah 44:8) and 2) the Father is God (Eph 4:6), the Son is God (John 1:1), and the Spirit is God (Rom 8:9).
The Humanity of Christ
As we have noted, Jesus is fully God. Jesus is also fully human. In the little town of Bethlehem, the Son of God entered our world as a newborn baby. The Angel Gabriel instructed that His name is Jesus (Matt 1:25). God the Son became flesh (John 1:14), took the form of a servant (Phil 2:7), and became poor (2 Cor 8:9). The baby in the manger cried out and needed the comfort of His mother. Jesus grew in stature and favor with both God and man (Luke 2:40). According to the Bible, Jesus manifested human traits and characteristics. For example, Jesus wept (John 11:35), slept (Mark 4:38), was tired and thirsty (John 4:6-7). When the soldiers beat Him, blood flowed out of His skin. The nails held Jesus’ body to the cross. He did not just appear to be human, He is fully human.
The Uniqueness of Christ
Jesus is called the only begotten of God (John 1:1-18, Colossians 1:15-19, Hebrews 1:1-14). Jesus is not the first created being, He is God. Jesus did not just seem to be human, He is human. Jesus is the “only begotten Son” (John 3:16) who is unique. There is no other being in the universe like Jesus Christ who is both God and man. Here are some helpful explanations of Jesus’ uniqueness:
- The Baptist Faith and Message (our confession of faith) says of Christ, “taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin.”
- The London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) – “He is the brightness of the Father’s glory, the same in substance and equal with him. He made the world and sustains and governs everything he has made. When the fullness of time came, he took upon himself human nature, with all the essential properties and common weaknesses of it (John 1:14; Galatians 4:4.) but without sin. (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:14, 16, 17; Hebrews 4:15.) Two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without converting one into the other or mixing them together to produce a different or blended nature. This person is truly God and truly man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and humanity. (Romans 9:5; 1 Timothy 2:5)”
- Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology – “Remaining what He was, He became what He was not.”
Jesus remained fully Divine and became fully human. He did not empty Himself of His divinity but emptied Himself of His rights and privileges. He emptied Himself by taking on human flesh. The blessing of Jesus being fully God and fully man is: 1) Being fully God He is able to live a sinless life and provide the perfect and acceptable sacrifice for sin and 2) Being fully man, He is able to die on our behalf. Only the God-Man, Jesus Christ, can save us from our sins and reconcile us back to God.
Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord! While these truths may be difficult to comprehend, they are nonetheless glorious! Let us grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. Let us rejoice in our Redeemer who has purchased us by His blood (1 Peter 1:19) and called us to be holy.