When Jesus Emptied Himself -- By: Kenneth S. Wuest

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 115:458 (Apr 1958)
Article: When Jesus Emptied Himself
Author: Kenneth S. Wuest


When Jesus Emptied Himself

Kenneth S. Wuest

[Kenneth S. Wuest is a faculty member of Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois, and author of numerous books for English readers on the Greek New Testament.]

The Kenosis passage (Phil 2:1–8) was written by Paul, not as a theological dissertation on the incarnation, but to present a portrait of the Lord Jesus for the benefit of two sinning saints, Euodia and Syntyche, in an effort to shame them into becoming reconciled. This historical background is helpful in its interpretation. However, the truth contained in it plumbs the depths of the incarnation of the Son of God.

The demonstrative pronoun in verse 5 by its very nature and because of its emphatic position in the Greek text determines the analysis of the passage. Paul writes, “This be constantly setting your mind upon in your inner being, that which is also in Christ Jesus.” The Greek article when pointing to anything always refers to something previously mentioned, not to any subsequent statements. The article was originally derived from the demonstrative pronoun and retains much of its force. The pronoun here points back to the contents of verses 1–4. The analysis thus falls apart into The mind of Christ described (vv. 1–4) and The mind of Christ in action (vv. 5–8 ).

Paul selects those ingredients in the mind of Christ which applied to the case of Euodia and Syntyche, who were not on speaking terms, like-mindedness, lowly mindedness, and altruistic mindedness. Our Lord was like-minded with God the Father (“Lo, I come…to do thy will, O God,” Heb 10:7), lowly minded (“I am meek and lowly in heart,” Matt 11:29), and altruistic minded (“The Son of man came not to be ministered

unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many,” Mark 10:45). His like-mindedness with God was expressed in His act of obeying the Father’s will in making Himself of no reputation, His lowly mindedness, in assuming human form (“was made in the likeness of men”), His altruistic mindedness in dying the death of the cross (“became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”).

With the analytical structure of the passage as our guide in its exegesis, we proceed to the interpretation of verses 6–8...

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