Philippians 2 (Pastor Brian)
Imitating Christ’s Humility
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Shining as Stars
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. 25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.
Paul is writing to the believers in Philippi from house-arrest in Rome (chained to the guards). He still teaches and preaches to those that come. He continually looks on the bright side of things regardless of his situation. He realized that the guards and the others around him were hearing and understanding his situation and story.
Philippi – named after Philip (the father of Alexander the Great). He founded the city of Philippi 356 BC. Also the site of (after Julius Caesar’s assassination) where Cassius and Brutus and Octavius and Marc Anthony met and fought. Octavius and Marc Anthony won, then they fought, and Marc Anthony won, and he became Caesar Augustus. The Lord moved on Augustus to make the decree to send all men back to their hometowns – and this allowed Jesus to be born in Bethlehem according to prophecy.
Philippi was a Roman colony (they were Roman citizens) – so they didn’t need to pay taxes. They likely had pride in their status as citizens. Paul likely felt the need to remind them of their place through the example of Jesus.
Paul also exhorts for speediness of forgiveness. We should be quick to be reconciled. There is need for that in the church here as well.
There is a very friendly relationship between Paul and the Philippian believers. Even when Paul was in Rome, they sent money AND a helper to care for him.
So, Paul continues his letter to them by reminding them of the blessings of Christ.
“Be like-minded” = to be like Christ, not to try to be more and more like each other. This is the sure way to be united with one another. The more united with Christ they are, the more united with one another they will be.
The bottom line: “Do nothing out of self ambition, or vain conceit, or pride – they destroy unity and are the essence of sin.” (Remember Satan in the beginning was PROUD – the first sin – and that led him to fight against God and be thrown from heaven).
Christian unity should be about considering others as better and more important than ourselves. This is the way of Christ. “He, the best of humans, didn’t put himself first, but considered others better.” Even Christ said, “I didn’t come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for the many.” (Remember he washed their feet: “I’ve done this as an example, so that you will do likewise.”)
Your attitude/disposition should be the same as that of Christ. “He didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped.”
“Being God” = not the normal “being” but expresses the “essence” – the “very nature” or “exact representation/form”
- Morphe = essence – we are all humans – this is morphe
- Schema = we are all babies, then adolescents, then old, – the outward appearance
Jesus’ Schema changed as he grew, but his Morphe/essence/nature WAS God.
He still didn’t consider this “something to be grasped.”
Careful Jehovah’s Witnesses… this doesn’t mean “Jesus didn’t want to be God.” It means rather, that “Jesus in his humility, didn’t exercise his power and privilege AS God.”
Knowing who he was and where he came from, he took a towel and bathed and dried the feet of his disciples.
This is the self-forgetting, self-forsaking, humble essence of God. We, humans, were created in God’s image, but that image has been marred and broken through sin, so he came to redeem and save us.
Actually, this humility of God is not reducing his awesomeness, but rather increasing and emphasizing his power and awesomeness.
All the hymns we’ve sung this morning are praise for Christ – similar to what Paul is using here to call the Philippian church to follow and obey and be humble as Jesus was.
Jesus willingly set his rights aside to serve our needs and humbled himself to death for us.
The 7-fold humbling of Jesus
- Human likeness
- As a man
- Humbled himself
- Obedient to death
- Death of the cross
The 7-fold exhalation of Jesus
- Exalted him
- Gave him a name
- On earth will bow
- In heaven will bow
- Under the earth will bow
- Every tongue confess
- To the glory of God
7-downward steps from God to death.
7-upward steps from death to glory.
“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” APPLY the humility of Christ to your relationships with one another.
We all need forgiveness (quickly) – especially in marriages and friendships.
You don’t need to work to GET IN to salvation.
But rather work OUT the implications of salvation in your own lives so that you may become blameless and pure in this wicked and crooked generation.
Conduct (cultivating character) needs to go together with your assurance of salvation.
Timothy (for example) looks to the interests of others. “You know he’s proved himself – as a son and father – he’s served the gospel with me. I look forward to sending him as soon as I find out what happens with me.”
Paul sent this letter on with Epaphroditus – a leader in Philippi who’d come to visit Paul in prison. “He longs for all of you, and is distressed because you’d heard he was ill.” He doesn’t want you to worry – he was ill and almost died – but God had mercy on us all to spare us all greater sorrow.
“Honor men like them.” If you honor people like this, more people will follow their example and serve.
The believers in Philippi couldn’t be there with Paul, so they sent a representative who Paul is now sending back.
3 examples of humility and service
Let’s all follow these examples so that we can grow in humility and service to one another, and grow in greater unity with Christ and each other.