Let This Mind Be In You -- By: Charles M. Horne

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 03:2 (Spring 1960)
Article: Let This Mind Be In You
Author: Charles M. Horne

Let This Mind Be In You

(Exposition of Philippians 2:5-11)

Charles M. Horne

Southeastern Bible College

This profound Christological passage is found in the midst of a practical portion of the Philippian Epistle. The Apostle Paul first exhorts believers to humbleness, to a way of life which does not seek its own interests (verses 1-5). Following this exhortation he then sets forth Christ as the supreme example of such a life (verses 6-11). This latter section is not without interpretive difficulties, however, for it treats of the mystery of the Incarnation, self-emptying, humiliation and eventual exaltation of Christ. If we are to understand Paul’s argument, we shall heed to examine each word and phrase very carefully.

The Example of Christ

His Pre-existent Godhood. “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God” (2:6). If we are to truly appreciate the depths of humiliation to which the Son of God stooped in His Incarnation, we must contrast his earthly existence with that of His heavenly. This the apostle does for us in a few masterly strokes of his Spirit-inspired pen. It should be noted that this swiftly moving panoramic view of the life of Christ commences where it alone must —7 eternity past.

(1) From an essential standpoint, Christ is declared to be “in the form of God.” The “who” (hos) refers back to “Christ Jesus” (2:5) and the order of the. divine names here is in perfect harmony with the exposition following. Christ (the eternally ‘Anointed One’) is seen entering into the temporal realm of history as Jesus (‘the Saviour’).

Grammatically, the phrase “in the form of God” (en morphe theou) may be legitimately construed either as a single or double predication. The former view would understand the phrase to be discriptive exclusively of Christ. Under this position the primary reference would be (and rightly so) to those divine attributes in the exercise of which intelligent beings may know that Christ is God. It might also include, as some suggest, the idea that Christ was Very God manifesting himself in some external and visible form both to the inhabitants of heaven and earth. The latter view, however, understands the word “form” (morphe) to be as much a predication of the other members of the Trinity as the whole phrase is of Christ. The anarthrous use of morphe would seem to support such a conclusion. In this case morphe could not be taken in a physical sense, for God is spirit (Jno. 4:24). But...

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