The Philippian Hymn

The history of interpretation of this passage shows that scholars draw on multiple ideas or backgrounds to understand how this hymn was formed. Undoubtedly, it predated the composition of the epistle to the Philippians. Scholars have suggested that we are to understand it through a number of paradigms (Isaiah 45;52-53, stories of suffereing righteousness, Greco-Roman rulership, gnostic redeemer, etc.). Regardless of which lens one uses to interpret this passage (and you will use a lens to interpret), it is a beautiful passage that has many implications for how Kingdom agents ought to conduct themselves (in relationships, politics, economics, personal endeavors, etc.).

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(ESV)

2 Responses to The Philippian Hymn

  1. Daniel says:

    Verse 8 is significant for me as I study and contemplate pacifism. An objection commonly heard is “Well he’s Jesus and we’re not.” This is true and valid. But we as Christians ought not sway away from being virtuous, even if we’re not God. It’s like: I can’t not sin, but I can sure as heck try not to. As is with pacifism.

    Much to ponder. And it’s so easy when I’m living in Denver, CO as a young, white male. But what if I were old, a minority and in Sudan? Hmm…

  2. Clinton says:

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, I wonder how my own perspective might change if I lived in Rwanda in the early 90’s versus Littleton, Colorado? What would it look like for me to remain true to living out this passage in an environment so different from my own?

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