Philippians 2

Have This Mind Among Yourselves

Paul begins this section with a series of questions that are rhetorical in nature as he points them to the grace that abounds and lists some of the benefits they enjoy because of Christ. Believers experience encouragement, comfort, love, affection, and sympathy. Paul tells them to complete his joy through the same mind and love walking together in unity. He then alternates between the negative and positive ways that believers should relate to one another. Pride and ambition are enemies to Christian love and humble submission to one another. To be of one mind, the believers in Philippi must stop setting their minds on their ambitions because they cannot seek their glory and God's at the same time. As long as Christians have the attitude that what matters most is self-fulfillment and self-advancement, they will not experience unity. Paul confronts the cause of disunity by exposing these divisive attitudes. Paul does not say to ignore or completely abandon personal interests, and he says to be mindful of the interests of others. The love and unity of the local church can be a convincing apologetic. 

He Humbled Himself

Jesus' incarnation is often sentimentalized to the point that his humiliation is ignored. Jesus did not insist upon what was rightfully his. God became like his creatures. These words should render us speechless and overwhelmed. Christ left the glory he had before the foundation of the world (John 17:5). The King of all creation became a servant (Philippians 2:7). Jesus was born into a poor family (Luke 2:7). The lawgiver submitted himself to the law (Galatians 4:4). The one with authority was obedient (Philippians 2:8). Jesus' people rejected him (John 1:11). The Holy One became sin for our sake (2 Corinthians 5:21). Instead of grasping what was rightfully his, Jesus laid aside his glory and took our humanity. Humility, as exhibited by Christ, is not passive or pathetic. Christ chose to humble himself and to obey the will of the Father. Jesus never ceased to be God, but he took on our humanity becoming fully God and fully man at the same time. Jesus humiliated himself willingly to serve his creation and redeem them. God humbled himself to the point of death, even enduring the curse of the cross. Jesus was not the only person to die on a cross, but his death was different because he is the sin-bearer for his people as he bore the wrath of God for our sake so that we might be reconciled to God. 

Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility, and so prepares the mind for true divine light without darkness and so clears the eye to look on things as they truly are.
— Jonathan Edwards

This mind is the result of Gospel transformation and not a set of behaviors that we must achieve on our own. It is our union with Christ that is the basis for this mind. We are commanded to love God with all our heart, MIND, soul, and strength so we must learn and think. Jesus is God, but he did not seize all of his privileges. We do not merely look to Christ as a great moral example to follow, but he is the exalted Lord who we worship and obey. We forfeit privileges following the example of Christ and for the sake of others. Christ’s humiliation was even more extreme because he not only became flesh, he became a slave. This concept is absolutely absurd! The God of glory, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent came to a poor family from a small village. The word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We are called to be servants just like our Servant King. Jesus Christ is exalted, and the Servant King will return in power. King Jesus will be worshiped by all. All creation will bow before him, and he will restore all things. Worship is a communal response to the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication, or repentance.

Work Out Your Own Salvation

Salvation is God’s work. We cannot save ourselves. It is God’s gift to us, but Paul calls the Philippians to work out what God had worked in. The evidence of grace should be seen in the life of believers showing outwardly what God had done inwardly. Salvation is not by works, but salvation works. Paul calls for Christians to live with a sense of awe and wonder. God is still at work, giving both the desire and the power for working out salvation. Paul is not saying that they would become children of God by avoiding complaining and disputing. They were already children of God. His point is that they would be known as children of God by avoiding grumbling or disputing. Paul found tremendous joy in suffering for they faith. 

Honor Such Men

Paul announces his plans to send Timothy to Philippi. Timothy’s visit would facilitate communication and understanding between Paul and the church. Epaphroditus appears only in Philippians. He is a brother, a fellow worker, a fellow soldier, and the messenger who came to minister to Paul. While he was there, he fell ill and almost dies. Epaphroditus eventually recovered, and Paul sent him back to the church with the letter to the Philippians in his hand. Paul wants the Philippians to honor him because he laid aside his comfort and convenience for the cause of Christ. 

Things To Consider:

  • How are you encouraged in Christ?
  • Why is it difficult to have the same mind?
  • Is ambition always a bad thing? Why or why not?
  • Why is it difficult to think of others as more significant?
  • How can we look to the interests of others?
  • Why did Jesus humiliate himself?
  • Where do you see Jesus move from humiliation to exaltation besides the resurrection?
  • Is Jesus your Lord?
  • Are you currently in rebellion or submission to his rule in your life?
  • Why is Jesus worthy of worship?
  • Why is confession necessary?
  • How does our confession glorify the Father?
  • How are you working out your salvation?
  • Why should we live our lives before others? Why?
  • How are you giving yourself away for the sake of the gospel and others?
  • How are you honoring those who serve the Lord?