English Standard Version
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
King James Bible
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Darby Bible Translation
who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God;
World English Bible
who, existing in the form of God, didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Young's Literal Translation
who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God,
Philippians 2:6 Parallel
CommentaryVincent's Word Studies
Being in the form of God (ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων)
Being. Not the simple είναι to be, but stronger, denoting being which is from the beginning. See on James 2:15. It has a backward look into an antecedent condition, which has been protracted into the present. Here appropriate to the preincarnate being of Christ, to which the sentence refers. In itself it does not imply eternal, but only prior existence. Form (μορφή). We must here dismiss from our minds the idea of shape. The word is used in its philosophic sense, to denote that expression of being which carries in itself the distinctive nature and character of the being to whom it pertains, and is thus permanently identified with that nature and character. Thus it is distinguished from σχῆμα fashion, comprising that which appeals to the senses and which is changeable. Μορφή form is identified with the essence of a person or thing: σχῆμα fashion is an accident which may change without affecting the form. For the manner in which this difference is developed in the kindred verbs, see on Matthew 17:2.
As applied here to God, the word is intended to describe that mode in which the essential being of God expresses itself. We have no word which can convey this meaning, nor is it possible for us to formulate the reality. Form inevitably carries with it to us the idea of shape. It is conceivable that the essential personality of God may express itself in a mode apprehensible by the perception of pure spiritual intelligences; but the mode itself is neither apprehensible nor conceivable by human minds.
This mode of expression, this setting of the divine essence, is not identical with the essence itself, but is identified with it, as its natural and appropriate expression, answering to it in every particular. It is the perfect expression of a perfect essence. It is not something imposed from without, but something which proceeds from the very depth of the perfect being, and into which that being perfectly unfolds, as light from fire. To say, then, that Christ was in the form of God, is to say that He existed as essentially one with God. The expression of deity through human nature (Philippians 2:7) thus has its background in the expression of deity as deity in the eternal ages of God's being. Whatever the mode of this expression, it marked the being of Christ in the eternity before creation. As the form of God was identified with the being of God, so Christ, being in the form of God, was identified with the being, nature, and personality of God.
This form, not being identical with the divine essence, but dependent upon it, and necessarily implying it, can be parted with or laid aside. Since Christ is one with God, and therefore pure being, absolute existence, He can exist without the form. This form of God Christ laid aside in His incarnation.
Thought it not robbery to be equal with God (οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα Θεῷ)
Robbery is explained in three ways. 1. A robbing, the Acts 2. The thing robbed, a piece of plunder. 3. A prize, a thing to be grasped. Here in the last sense.
Paul does not then say, as A.V., that Christ did not think it robbery to be equal with God: for, 1, that fact goes without. saying in the previous expression, being in the form of God. 2. On this explanation the statement is very awkward. Christ, being in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal with God; but, after which we should naturally expect, on the other hand, claimed and asserted equality: whereas the statement is: Christ was in the form of God and did not think it robbery to be equal with God, but (instead) emptied Himself. Christ held fast His assertion of divine dignity, but relinquished it. The antithesis is thus entirely destroyed.
Taking the word ἁρπαγμὸν (A.V., robbery) to mean a highly prized possession, we understand Paul to say that Christ, being, before His incarnation, in the form of God, did not regard His divine equality as a prize which was to be grasped at and retained at all hazards, but, on the contrary, laid aside the form of God, and took upon Himself the nature of man. The emphasis in the passage is upon Christ's humiliation. The fact of His equality with God is stated as a background, in order to throw the circumstances of His incarnation into stronger relief. Hence the peculiar form of Paul's statement Christ's great object was to identify Himself with humanity; not to appear to men as divine but as human. Had He come into the world emphasizing His equality with God, the world would have been amazed, but not saved He did not grasp at this. The rather He counted humanity His prize, and so laid aside the conditions of His preexistent state, and became man.
LibraryJanuary 17. "It is God which Worketh in You" (Phil. Ii. 13).
"It is God which worketh in you" (Phil. ii. 13). God has not two ways for any of us; but one; not two things for us to do which we may choose between; but one best and highest choice. It is a blessed thing to find and fill the perfect will of God. It is a blessed thing to have our life laid out and our Christian work adjusted to God's plan. Much strength is lost by working at a venture. Much spiritual force is expended in wasted effort, and scattered, indefinite and inconstant attempts at doing good. …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
November 30. "In Lowliness of Mind Let Each Esteem Other Better than Themselves" (Phil. Ii. 3).
Paul and Epaphroditus
The Descent of the Word
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God."
You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
2 Corinthians 4:4
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
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