Philippians 2:6
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

New Living Translation
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.

English Standard Version
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Berean Study Bible
Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

Berean Literal Bible
Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider to be equal with God something to be grasped,

New American Standard Bible
who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard 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:

Christian Standard Bible
who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited.

Contemporary English Version
Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God.

Good News Translation
He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.

International Standard Version
In God's own form existed he, and shared with God equality, deemed nothing needed grasping.

NET Bible
who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,

New Heart English Bible
who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
He who, while he was in the form of God, did not esteem this as a prize, that he was the equal of God,

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality.

New American Standard 1977
who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Jubilee Bible 2000
who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,

King James 2000 Bible
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God:

American King James Version
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

American Standard Version
who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Douay-Rheims 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;

English Revised Version
who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God,

Webster's Bible Translation
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Weymouth New Testament
Although from the beginning He had the nature of God He did not reckon His equality with God a treasure to be tightly grasped.

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,
Study Bible
The Attitude of Christ
5Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to cling to, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.…
Cross References
John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 5:18
Because of this, the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him. Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

John 10:33
"We are not stoning You for any good work," said the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because You, who are a man, declare Yourself to be God."

John 14:28
You heard Me say, 'I am going away, and I am coming back to you.' If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

John 17:5
And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed.

2 Corinthians 4:4
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see 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 sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

Treasury of Scripture

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:


Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin …

Isaiah 8:8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he …

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government …

Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: …

Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands …

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, …

John 1:1,2,18 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the …

John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory …

Romans 9:5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ …

2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which …

Colossians 1:15,16 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature…

1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, …

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was …

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the …

Hebrews 1:3,6,8 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his …

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.


Genesis 32:24-30 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until …

Genesis 48:15,16 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham …

Ezekiel 8:2-6 Then I beheld, and see a likeness as the appearance of fire: from …

Joshua 5:13-15 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up …

Hosea 12:3-5 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength …

Zechariah 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is …

John 5:18,23 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only …

John 8:58,59 Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am…

John 10:30,33,38 I and my Father are one…

John 14:9 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have …

John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said to him, My LORD and my God.

Revelation 1:17,18 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right …

Revelation 21:6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning …

(6) Being in the form of God.--(1) The word "being" is here the more emphatic of the two words so translated, which lays stress on the reality of existence (as in Acts 16:20; Acts 17:28; 1Corinthians 11:7; Galatians 2:14). Hence it calls attention to the essential being of Christ, corresponding to the idea embodied in the name Jehovah, and thus implying what is more fully expressed in John 1:1. (2) The word "form" (which, except for a casual use in Mark 16:12, is found only in this passage of the New Testament) is to be carefully distinguished from "fashion." There can be no doubt that in classical Greek it describes the actual specific character, which (like the structure of a material substance) makes each being what it is; and this same idea is always conveyed in the New Testament by the compound words in which the root "form" is found (Romans 8:29; Romans 12:2; 2Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 4:19). (3) On the other hand, the word "fashion," as in 1Corinthians 7:31 ("the fashion of this world passeth away"), denotes the mere outward appearance (which we frequently designate as "form"), as will be seen also in its compounds (2Corinthians 11:13-14; 1Peter 1:14). The two words are seen in juxtaposition in Romans 12:2; Philippians 3:21 (where see Notes). Hence, in this passage the "being in the form of God," describes our Lord's essential, and therefore eternal, being in the true nature of God; while the "taking on Him the form of a servant" similarly refers to His voluntary assumption of the true nature of man.

It should be noticed that, whereas in St. Paul's earlier Epistles, in which he cared not "to know anything save Jesus Christ," and "Him as crucified," the main idea is always of our Lord as the mediator between man and God, yet in the later Epistles (as here, and in Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 1:20-23; Colossians 1:15-19; Colossians 2:9-11; to which we may add Hebrews 1:2-4) stress is laid, sometimes (as in Ephesians 1:10), on His gathering all things in heaven and earth unto Himself; sometimes, even more explicitly, on His partaking of the divine nature, and (as in Colossians 1:17) of His possessing the divine attribute of creation. All this naturally leads up to the great declaration of His true and perfect Godhead in John 1:1-13.

Thought it not robbery to be equal with God.--There are two main interpretations of this passage; first, the interpretation given in our version, which makes it simply an explanation and enforcement of the words "being in the form of God"; secondly, the translation thought it not a prize to be grasped at to be equal with God, which begins in it the statement of our Lord's voluntary self-humiliation, to be completed in the words, "but emptied Himself of glory." The former preserves the literal translation of the original word "robbery;" the latter, in accordance with a not uncommon usage, makes it equivalent to "the thing snatched at," and if this be allowed, has abundant examples in other writings to support the meaning thus given to the whole phrase. Either interpretation yields good sense and sound doctrine; neither does violence to the general context. But the latter is to be preferred; first (1) because it suits better the idea of the passage, which is to emphasise the reality of our Lord's humility, and preserves the opposition implied in the "but" following; (2) because it has the great preponderance of the ancient Greek interpreters in its favour; (3) because it can, on the whole, appeal more confidently to ordinary usage of the phrase. The sense is that, being in the form of God, and therefore having equality with God, He set no store on that equality, as a glory to Himself, compared with the power of giving salvation to all men, which He is pleased to consider a new joy and glory.

Verse 6. - Who, being in the form of God. The word rendered "being" (ὑπάρχων) means, as R.V. in margin, being originally. It looks back to the time before the Incarnation, when the Word, the Λόγος ἄσαρκος, was with God (comp. John 8:58; John 17:5, 24). What does the word μορφή form, mean here? It occurs twice in this passage - Ver. 6, "form of God;" and Ver. 7, "form of a servant;" it is contrasted with σχῆμα fashion, in Ver. 8. In the Aristotelian philosophy (vide ' De Anima,' 2:1, 2) μορφή. is used almost in the sense of εϊδος, or τὸ τί η΅ν εϊναι as that which makes a thing to be what it is, the sum of its essential attributes: it is the form, as the expression of those essential attributes, the permanent, constant form; not the fleeting, outward σχῆμα, or fashion. St. Paul seems to make a somewhat similar distinction between the two words. Thus in Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:10, μορφή (or its derivatives) is used of the deep inner change of heart, the change which is described in Holy Scripture as a new creation; while σχῆμα is used of the changeful fashion of the world and agreement with it (1 Corinthians 7:31; Romans 12:2). Then, when St. Paul tells us that Christ Jesus, being first in the form of God, took the form of a servant, the meaning must be that he possessed originally the essential attributes of Deity, and assumed in addition the essential attributes of humanity. He was perfect God; he became perfect (comp. Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; 2 Corinthians 4:4). For a fuller discussion of the meanings of μορφή and σχῆμα, see Bishop Lightfoot's detached note ('Philippians,' p. 127), and Archbishop Trench, 'Synonyms of the New Testament,' sect. 70. Thought it not robbery to be equal with God; R.V. "counted it not a prize [margin, 'a thing to be grasped'] to be on an equality with God." These two renderings represent two conflicting interpretations of this difficult passage. Do the words mean that Christ asserted his essential Godhead ("thought it not robbery to be equal with God," as A.V.), or that he did not cling to the glory of the Divine majesty ("counted it not a prize," as R.V.)? Both statements are true in fact. The grammatical form of the word ἁρπαγμός, which properly implies an action or process, favors the first view, which seems to be adopted by most of the ancient versions and by most of the Latin Fathers. On the other hand, the form of the word does not exclude the passive interpretation; many words of the same termination have a passive meaning, and ἁρπαγμός itself is used in the sense of ἅρπαγμα by Eusebius, Cyril of Alexandria, and a writer in the 'Catena Possini' on Mark 10:42 (the three passages are quoted by Bishop Lightfoot, in loco). The Greek Fathers (as Chrysostom Ὁ τοῦ Θεοῦ υἱὸς οὐκ ἐφοβήθη καταβῆναι ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀξιώματος, etc.) generally adopt this interpretation. And the context seems to require it. The aorist ἡγήσατο points to an act, the act of abnegation; not to a state, the continued assertion. The conjunction "but" (ἀλλὰ) implies that the two sentences are opposed to one another. He did not grasp, but, on the contrary, he emptied himself. The first interpretation involves the tacit insertion of "nevertheless;" he asserted his equality, but nevertheless, etc. And the whole stress is laid on the Lord's humility and unselfishness. It is true that this second interpretation does not so distinctly assert the divinity of our Lord, already sufficiently asserted in the first clause, "being in the form of God." But it implies it. Not to grasp at equality with God would not be an instance of humility, but merely the absence of mad impiety, in one who was not himself Divine. On the whole, then, we prefer the second interpretation. Though he was born the beginning in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped, a prize to be tenaciously retained. Not so good is the view of Meyer and others: "Jesus Christ, when he found himself in the heavenly mode of existence of Divine glory, did not permit himself the thought of using his equality with God for the purpose of seizing possessions and honor for himself on earth." The R.V. rendering of the last words of the clause," to be on an equality," is nearer to the Greek and better than the A.V., "to be equal with God." Christ was equal with God (John 5:18; John 10:30). He did not cling to the outward manifestation of that equality. The adverbial form ἴσα implies the state or mode of equality rather than the equality itself. Who being in the form of God,.... The Father; being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. This form is to be understood, not of any shape or figure of him; for as such is not to be seen, it is not to be supposed of him; or any accidental form, for there are no accidents in God, whatever is in God, is God; he is nothing but nature and essence, he is the , the Jehovah, I am what I am; and so is his Son, which is, and was, and is to come, the fountain of all created beings nor does it intend any outward representation and resemblance of him, such as in kings; who, because of the honour and dignity they are raised unto, the authority and power they have, and because of the glory and majesty they are arrayed with, are called gods: nor does it design the state and condition Christ appeared in here on earth, having a power to work miracles, heal diseases, and dispossess devils, for the manifestation of his glory; and so might be said to be in the form of God, as Moses for doing less miracles is said to be a God unto Pharaoh; since this account does not regard Christ; as he was on earth in human nature, but what he was antecedent to the assumption of it; or otherwise his humility and condescension in becoming man, and so mean, will not appear: but this phrase, "the form of God", is to be understood of the nature and essence of God, and describes Christ as he was from all eternity; just as the form of a servant signifies that he was really a servant, and the fashion of a man in which he was found means that he was truly and really man; so his being in the form of God intends that he was really and truly God; that he partook of the same nature with the Father, and was possessed of the same glory: from whence it appears, that he was in being before his incarnation; that he existed as a distinct person from God his Father, in whose form he was, and that as a divine person, or as truly God, being in the glorious form, nature, and essence of God; and that there is but one form of God, or divine nature and essence, common to the Father and the Son, and also to the Spirit; so that they are not three Gods, but one God: what the form of God is, the Heathens themselves (g) say cannot be comprehended nor seen, and so not to be inquired after; and they use the same word the apostle does here (h): and now Christ being in this glorious form, or having the same divine nature with the Father, with all the infinite and unspeakable glories of it,

thought it no robbery to be equal with God; the Father; for if he was in the same form, nature, and essence, he must be equal to him, as he is; for he has the same perfections, as eternity, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability, and self-existence: hence he has the same glorious names, as God, the mighty God, the true God, the living God, God over all, Jehovah, the Lord of glory, &c. the same works of creation and providence are ascribed to him, and the same worship, homage, and honour given him: to be "in the form of God", and to be "equal with God", signify the same thing, the one is explanative of the other: and this divine form and equality, or true and proper deity, he did not obtain by force and rapine, by robbery and usurpation, as Satan attempted to do, and as Adam by his instigation also affected; and so the mind of a wicked man, as Philo the Jew says (i), being a lover of itself and impious, , "thinks itself to be equal with God", a like phrase with this here used; but Christ enjoyed this equality by nature; he thought, he accounted, he knew he had it this way; and he held it hereby, and of right, and not by any unlawful means; and he reckoned that by declaring and showing forth his proper deity, and perfect equality with the Father, he robbed him of no perfection; the same being in him as in the Father, and the same in the Father as in him; that he did him no injury, nor deprived him of any glory, or assumed that to himself which did not belong to him: as for the sense which some put upon the words, that he did not "affect", or "greedily catch" at deity; as the phrase will not admit of it, so it is not true in fact; he did affect deity, and asserted it strongly, and took every proper opportunity of declaring it, and in express terms affirmed he was the Son of God; and in terms easy to be understood declared his proper deity, and his unity and equality with the Father; required the same faith in himself as in the Father, and signified that he that saw the one, saw the other, Mark 14:61 John 5:17. Others give this as the sense of them, that he did not in an ostentatious way show forth the glory of his divine nature, but rather hid it; it is true, indeed, that Christ did not seek, but carefully shunned vain glory and popular applause; and therefore often after having wrought a miracle, would charge the persons on whom it was wrought, or the company, or his disciples, not to speak of it; this he did at certain times, and for certain reasons; yet at other times we find, that he wrought miracles to manifest forth his glory, and frequently appeals to them as proofs of his deity and Messiahship: and besides, the apostle is speaking not of what he was, or did in his incarnate state, but of what he was and thought himself to be, before he became man; wherefore the above sense is to be preferred as the genuine one,

(g) Socraticus, Xenophon, & Aristo Chius, apud Minuc. Felic. Octav. p. 20. & Hostanes apud Caecil. Cyprian. de Idol. van. p. 46. (h) Laertii proem. ad Vit. Philosoph. p. 7. (i) Leg. Alleg. l. 1. p. 48, 49. 6. Translate, "Who subsisting (or existing, namely, originally: the Greek is not the simple substantive verb, 'to be') in the form of God (the divine essence is not meant: but the external self-manifesting characteristics of God, the form shining forth from His glorious essence). The divine nature had infinite BEAUTY in itself, even without any creature contemplating that beauty: that beauty was 'the form of God'; as 'the form of a servant' (Php 2:7), which is in contrasted opposition to it, takes for granted the existence of His human nature, so 'the form of God' takes for granted His divine nature [Bengel], Compare Joh 5:37; 17:5; Col 1:15, 'Who is the IMAGE of the invisible God' at a time before 'every creature,' 2Co 4:4, esteemed (the same Greek verb as in Php 2:3) His being on an equality with God no (act of) robbery" or self-arrogation; claiming to one's self what does not belong to him. Ellicott, Wahl, and others have translated, "A thing to be grasped at," which would require the Greek to be harpagma, whereas harpagmos means the act of seizing. So harpagmos means in the only other passage where it occurs, Plutarch [On the Education of Children, 120]. The same insuperable objection lies against Alford's translation, "He regarded not as self-enrichment (that is, an opportunity for self-exaltation) His equality with God." His argument is that the antithesis (Php 2:7) requires it, "He used His equality with God as an opportunity, not for self-exaltation, but for self-abasement, or emptying Himself." But the antithesis is not between His being on an equality with God, and His emptying Himself; for He never emptied Himself of the fulness of His Godhead, or His "BEING on an equality with God"; but between His being "in the FORM (that is, the outward glorious self-manifestation) of God," and His "taking on Him the form of a servant," whereby He in a great measure emptied Himself of His precedent "form," or outward self-manifesting glory as God. Not "looking on His own things" (Php 2:4), He, though existing in the form of God, He esteemed it no robbery to be on an equality with God, yet made Himself of no reputation. "Being on an equality with God, is not identical with subsisting in the form of God"; the latter expresses the external characteristics, majesty, and beauty of the Deity, which "He emptied Himself of," to assume "the form of a servant"; the former, "His being," or NATURE, His already existing STATE OF EQUALITY with God, both the Father and the Son having the same ESSENCE. A glimpse of Him "in the form of God," previous to His incarnation, was given to Moses (Ex 24:10, 11), Aaron, etc.2:5-11 The example of our Lord Jesus Christ is set before us. We must resemble him in his life, if we would have the benefit of his death. Notice the two natures of Christ; his Divine nature, and human nature. Who being in the form of God, partaking the Divine nature, as the eternal and only-begotten Son of God, Joh 1:1, had not thought it a robbery to be equal with God, and to receive Divine worship from men. His human nature; herein he became like us in all things except sin. Thus low, of his own will, he stooped from the glory he had with the Father before the world was. Christ's two states, of humiliation and exaltation, are noticed. Christ not only took upon him the likeness and fashion, or form of a man, but of one in a low state; not appearing in splendour. His whole life was a life of poverty and suffering. But the lowest step was his dying the death of the cross, the death of a malefactor and a slave; exposed to public hatred and scorn. The exaltation was of Christ's human nature, in union with the Divine. At the name of Jesus, not the mere sound of the word, but the authority of Jesus, all should pay solemn homage. It is to the glory of God the Father, to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; for it is his will, that all men should honour the Son as they honour the Father, Joh 5:23. Here we see such motives to self-denying love as nothing else can supply. Do we thus love and obey the Son of God?
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