The Exaltation Of Christ: An Exposition Of Philippians 2:9-11 -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 158:632 (Oct 2001)
Article: The Exaltation Of Christ: An Exposition Of Philippians 2:9-11
Author: David J. MacLeod


The Exaltation Of Christ:
An Exposition Of Philippians 2:9-11*

David J. MacLeod

[David J. MacLeod is a member of the faculty of Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque, Iowa, and is associate editor of The Emmaus Journal.

* This is part two in a two-part series, “The Christological Hymn of Philippians 2:5–11.”]

The Lord Jesus Christ had “extraordinary skill in the use of mind-stretching paradox.”1 A case in point is His comment in Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” The paradox of these words (“the way up is down”)2 is illustrated in Philippians 2:5–11. As Bretscher points out, the Christian message inverts the whole scale of secular ambitions and virtues.3 In a sinful world true righteousness is customarily viewed as weakness, cowardice, and stupidity. But in God’s kingdom worldly standards are turned topsy turvy.4 Jesus and His apostles taught that the world’s perspective on such things as dignity, joy, self, security, ambition, justice, wisdom, and peace was all upside down. It is Christ’s perspective that helps the believer see these things properly.

In Philippians 2 the apostle Paul pointed his readers to the example of Christ. The way to success in God’s eyes is not by following the world’s standards—grasping and clawing one’s way to the top and looking out for one’s own personal interests. Paradoxically in the Christian life “the way up is down.” As the Lord Jesus

taught in Luke 14, it is those who humble themselves—who, as it were, take the inferior seats at the banquet, who regard others as more important than themselves—it is these who will be exalted in the kingdom of heaven. In Philippians 2:6–8 the preexistent Christ, who possesses all the attributes and prerogatives of deity, humbled Himself and came to earth as a man and was abased on the cross. In verses 9–11 Paul showed that, in keeping with the divine order of things, this self-humbling led inevitably to exaltation.

Stanza 4: Jesus Is Exalted by the Father (v. 9)

“Therefore also God highly ...

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