The Carmen Christi

In Apologetics on July 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm


Philippians 2:5-11

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so 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.


2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus


3.    the humiliation of Christ (2:5-8).

Christ is the supreme example of humility and selfless concern for others (vv. 5-8). These verses, along with verses 9-11, constitute a grand statement on Christology.

2:5. Believers are exhorted to have the same attitude—selfless humility— Christ exhibited in His humiliation and condescension. The word here translated attitude is translated “like-minded” in verse 2.

2:6-8. The word translated nature (morphē) in verses 6 and 7 is a crucial term in this passage. This word (trans. “form” in the kjv and nasb) stresses the inner essence or reality of that with which it is associated (cf. Mark 16:12). Christ Jesus, Paul said, is of the very essence (morphē) of God, and in His incarnation He embraced perfect humanity. His complete and absolute deity is here carefully stressed by the apostle. The Savior’s claim to deity infuriated the Jewish leaders (John 5:18) and caused them to accuse Him of blasphemy (John 10:33).

Though possessing full deity (John 1:14; Col. 2:9), Christ did not consider His equality with God (Phil. 2:6) as something to be grasped or held onto. In other words Christ did not hesitate to set aside His self-willed use of deity when He became a man. As God He had all the rights of deity, and yet during His incarnate state He surrendered His right to manifest Himself visibly as the God of all splendor and glory.

Christ’s humiliation included His making Himself nothing, taking the very nature (morphē) of a servant, and being made in human likeness (v. 7). These statements indicate that Christ became a man, a true human being. The words “made Himself nothing” are, literally, “He emptied Himself.” “Emptied,” from the Greek kenoō, points to the divesting of His self-interests, but not of His deity. “The very nature of a servant” certainly points to His lowly and humble position, His willingness to obey the Father, and serve others. He became a man, a true human being. “Likeness” suggests similarity but difference. Though His humanity was genuine, He was different from all other humans in that He was sinless (Heb. 4:15).

Thus it is seen that Christ, while retaining the essence of God, was also human. In His incarnation He was fully God and fully man at the same time. He was God manifest in human flesh (John 1:14).

Some have wrongly taught that the phrase, being found in appearance as a man (Phil. 2:8), means that He only looked human. But this contradicts verse 7. “Appearance” is the Greek schēmati, meaning an outer appearance which may be temporary. This contrasts with morphē (“very nature”) in verses 6 and 7, which speaks of an outer appearance that reveals permanent inner quality.

The condescension of Christ included not only His birth—the Incarnation in which He became the God-Man— but also His death. And it was the most cruel and despicable form of death—even death on a cross! (v. 8) This form of capital punishment was limited to non-Romans and the worst criminals.

No better example of humiliation and a selfless attitude for believers to follow could possibly be given than that of Christ. With this example before them, the saints at Philippi should be “like-minded” (v. 2) and live humbly before their God and each other.

4.    the exaltation of Christ (2:9-11).

God the Father is the subject in these verses, whereas in verses 6-8 God the Son was the subject. Christ’s obedience was followed by the Father’s exaltation of Him to the place of highest honor. God exalted and honored the One men despised and rejected.

2:9. Christ’s exaltation and His receiving a name that is above every name was the answer to His high-priestly prayer (John 17:5). The exaltation refers to His resurrection, ascension, and glorification at the Father’s right hand (Acts 2:33; Heb. 1:3). His “name” is not merely a title; it refers to His person and to His position of dignity and honor.

2:10. In keeping with Christ’s exaltation and high name … every knee will one day bow and acknowledge Him for who He really is. Paul stressed the same truth in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 14:11). Both instances reflect Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa. 45:23) of the singular greatness of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The extent of Christ’s sovereign authority is delineated in the threefold phrase, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. No intelligent being— whether angels and saints in heaven; people living on the earth; or Satan, demons, and the unsaved in hell—in all of God’s universe will escape. All will bow either willingly or they will be made to do so.

2:11. What all will confess is that Jesus Christ is Lord. This, the earliest Christian creed, meant that Jesus Christ is Yahweh-God. One day all will be made to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is all He claimed to be—very God of very God. Unfortunately, for many it will be too late for the salvation of their souls. The exalted place the Savior now occupies and the universal bowing in the future in acknowledgement of His lordship is all to the glory of God the Father.[1]



The Hymn of Christ has the most scared of doctrines expressed in both the early and modern church, the tri unity of the persons of God. The Being of God eternally generating the persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit! The Father decrees, the Son accomplishes and he Spirit applies. There has never been a time when the Father wasn’t the Father, the Son wasn’t the Son and the Spirit wasn’t the Spirit making sense of the term the Godhead. Only an eternal Being could exist in such a glorious fashion. 


An early hymn (2:4–11). The poetic form of these verses have led some to argue it is an early church hymn. Whatever its origin, this account of Christ’s incarnation serves as a supreme illustration of humility, as God the Son willingly surrendered the prerogatives of deity to die as a human being for our sins.

The hymn also makes another important point. The way up for us too is down. We must follow Jesus along the way of humility.[2]


Incarnation (2:6–8). This is the Christian doctrine that in Christ God became a true human being, while at the same time remaining deity. This hymn is one of several powerful affirmations of this basic doctrine.[3]


“Appearance” (2:8). The Gk. word is skemati. The word speaks of outward appearance, so the phrase may be paraphrased, “and looking as though He were merely human.” Jesus was a true human being. Paul’s point is that He was much more: one who “in very nature” was God and equal with Him.[4]


The starting point is having this mind of Christ among ourselves given to us by the Spirit. This mind is taught to us by Scripture, and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. It is expressed by the glory and worship we give Jesus the Christ and God the Father. We do all for the Glory of God. When we remove ourselves as our own God and submit to the only true God we find our rest or peace which gives us the mind of Christ.


Romans 15:3-7

For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.


Matthew 11:29

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.


The scripture tells us we can have the mind of Christ or which was also in Christ Jesus. This begins to reveal that Christ has a mind of his own separate from the Father but totally surrendered to the Father and obedient. This is our example taught and illustrated by the life of Christ.  His equality with God is illustrated and shadowed in the older testament, but completely revealed in the incarnation or birth at Bethlehem, when Christ humbled himself or took on flesh. The Son didn’t begin to exist at the incarnation but rather took on flesh like if you will we put on an over coat. We are also told in scripture he did this for our benefit. We see the Word (Logos) or Christ becoming flesh not coming into existence. 


John 1:1-2

Chapter 1The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.


This text clearly confirms he (Jesus) was with God in the beginning, he is God from eternity past. That is why the statement he is a form of God. Now the terminology Being and person have clarity.  Then we are given the truth that Jesus is the image of God! Unfortunately the modernest thinks this is like a Xerox copy something the ancients never had a grasp of! So a Being in the image of God would have a different meaning altogether. There are those who see Jesus somewhat like an avatar that God somehow borrows this flesh to manifest His physical presence and limiting how God reveals himself. Worse somehow God borrows a body to  fulfill fleshly duties then discards it. This is the Gnostic view of Jesus. The scriptures clearly show us that Jesus the Glory of God in the flesh. 


2 Corinthians 4:4-6

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. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus ‘sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


Jesus made himself nothing yet he is almost stoned (a death sentence) for claiming equality with God. How does this square with scripture. The humility of Christ is expressed in his humanity. The person of Christ became flesh and when compared to Godhood this is fallen human existence is nothing the creator becoming the creature. There was never a time when the Son wasn’t the Son, Jesus didn’t come into existence at birth, he took on the form of the role of a bond servant, the lowest form of existence in Hebrew culture. Even the people of that time had a violent reaction to the claims of Christ. He Jesus was so obedient that he would do nothing of himself, but only as the Father does. The expression of love in the Godhead makes no sense unless there is someone to give love (the Father) and receive love (the Son). The beauty of the Godhead is we are invited to join the community though obedience even unto death, so that eternal life and son ship awaits us. There is love between Father and Son expressed through scripture and only makes sense with personhood of Father, Son, and Spirit. The language would be nonsense with the references of plurality and prayers of The Son to the Father. How could God say to himself “this is my Son in whom I am well pleased?” and why would the Spirit need to de-send on the Son if God is Spirit? God would have no need to exalt Jesus in eternity or establish the name of Jesus as a name or title above all else. 


John 5:18-21

Jesus Is Equal with God

18 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 Authority of the Son

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.


Jesus is the source of eternal salvation, the hope of mankind. If God were Unitarian there would be no need for Jesus as the eternal source of salvation. God designates his son in the order of a priest, why if God is a solitary one.


Hebrews 5:8-10

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.


Jesus has a soul, a will separate from the Father, and suffers his own agony. Then in  total surrender he was willing to be crucified. We see the unity, community, and harmony of the Trinity.


Matthew 26:38-39

Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”


Jesus has a life distinct from the Father, that is offered voluntarily and he uses it at the charge of the Father. The Father has love that identified is unique to Him bestowed on the Son. 


John 10:17-18

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”


Jesus being obedient brought salvation to the many. This was foretold in scripture and he is the fulfillment of the promise given by the profits. 


Romans 5:19

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.


Jesus now sits eternally at the throne of the Father, being the mediator for a sinful fallen creature. He is eternally exalted and able to receive praise, worship, and glory. Only God can have such honor and exaltation from man. Jesus is the founder of our faith, perfecter of those who are obedient to him.


Hebrews 12:2

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.


Jesus we are told is seated at the right hand of the Father the living proof of the promise of the Holy Spirit. He (Jesus is exalted) and because of the tri unity of God we see the Psalmist proclaiming the Messiah siting at the right hand of God while God makes the enemies  of Christ bow to the Son. This shows us the plan of salvation through both the older and newer testaments was and still Christ the Messiah the risen Son of God.


Acts 2:33-35

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

 “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord,

Sit at my right hand,

35 until I make your enemies your footstool. ’


The eternal Kingdom is revealed with Christ at its head the Spirit moving through the hearts and minds, while the Fathers decrees are being fulfilled. Jesus the promised Messiah is fulfilling prophecy that started in Genesis 3 and is still being fulfilled today. We are told over and over again that Jesus will rule, He will return and the Father is glorified how anyone can make sense of this outside the Trinity is not letting scripture speak for itself.


Ephesians 1:20-21

that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.


Hebrews 1:4-5

having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

 “You are my Son,

today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

 “I will be to him a father,

and he shall be to me a son”?


Hebrews 1:4-5

having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

 “You are my Son,

today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

 “I will be to him a father,

and he shall be to me a son”?


The Father revealing the Son and the Son being obedient to the Father causes major confusion outside of the Trinity. “When I am drawn to the one I see the three as I focus on the three I am drawn to the one!” The Son is forever united to humanity unlike the Father and the Spirit. The three are irreducibly different from one another. As illustrated in the cannon of scripture, Our hope is in Christ, our calling is from the Father and we are sealed in the Spirit.


Revelation 5:3-5

And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”


Ephesians 1:10-12

as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.


Repentance, confession, and faith (belief expressed) through submitting to the one true God through his Son Jesus the Messiah.


(Romans 10:9&10 ESV)  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.


(1 Corinthians 12:3-6 ESV)  Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.


(Romans 14:9 ESV)  For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.


(John 13:13 ESV)  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.


And yet he still is, we are thought by the Spirit who the Son is, at the will of the Father. The Carmen Christi shows us yet again that God is unsearchable, unfathomable, unless He decrees us to join Him through the Son by the Spirit.








vv. verses

cf. confer, compare

[1] John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-), Php 2:3–11.

[2] Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Readers Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 807.

[3] Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Readers Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 807.

[4] Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Readers Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 807.


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