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Philippians 2:5-7 and The Holy Trinity: Is Jesus God?
More and more these days, I find myself defending the divinity of Jesus. There are a number of groups out there that claim Christianity as their religion yet reject Jesus as God.
I understand the notion behind this rejection. It comes from a misunderstanding of scripture and a propensity to understand God through our limited understanding of the natural laws of physics and humanistic reasoning.
Colossians 2:8-10 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
Forgetting that those things which are impossible for man are possible with God.
Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
We have to be careful when we describe God. He is unique in every way. He is the creator. Everything else is a creation. We must remember that there is none and nothing, that is like him. This is why he asks:
Isaiah 40:25 To whom then will you liken Me,(or compare me) Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One.
Humanity will fall short anytime we try to describe his being in anyway. God is more then our ability to define.
Isaiah 55:8-9“ For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Nor are your ways My ways, ” says the LORD.“ For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways,And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Having said that, understand that God has revealed only glimpses of himself to us through revelation.
Deut 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
I recognize that humanity has, at best, little windows into who and what God is. He has not revealed everything to us. Only those things we need to know.
It is in this light, that I approach the Trinity Doctrine with an acute awareness that it falls short of describing God. It is simply an attempt by men to understand who, and what God is, from the information we have available. Past down from the prophets, the life of Jesus, and the Apostles. Found in the Holy Scriptures assembled and preserved in the Holy Bible. I am currently persuaded that it is the best explanation available. I believe it sufficiently explains how there can only be one God in the Old Testament, while at the same time we see God declared in three separate persons in the new. I believe that this doctrine is foundational and is vital to a sound understanding of Salvation.
The following writing is a defense of the Deity of Christ Jesus from a Trinitarian perspective. I acknowledge that the word trinity is not in the bible. It is simply a word that we use to describe this doctrine. For example the word bible is not found in holy scripture, yet we refer to God's Word as the Bible.
The Trinity Doctrine
The following statement of faith is taken from the West Minster Confession. It is an excellent statement of the trinity Doctrine.
The Trinity Doctrine
In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; The Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
For the purposes of this writing I am dealing specifically with the Deity of Jesus. For his Devin nature seems to come under fire most often. This is simply one argument and is not to be considered by any means and exhaustive study. It is simply a sampling of the many windows God has given and an explanation as to why I believe it points to the Trinity, and most importantly, the divinity of Jesus.
In this study I will be using as my preferred bible translation the New King James Version of the Bible. It is important to use reliable translations. Bibles such as the New International Version (NIV) or the New Living Translation (NLT) are translations of translations. Paraphrases do not lend themselves well to understanding original texts.
OK, lets get started.
Philippians 2:5-7 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
On the surface Paul is communicating that we are to have the same attitude or mindset as Jesus. (verse 5) It is a picture of single mindedness and humility. Jesus's mindset was one of humility. He gave up his equality with God and became a man. A bondservant for our sake. We are to have the same mindset that Jesus had, in that we are to walk in humility toward those around us preferring one another See verse 1-4 for context.
Verse 6 is explaining that before Jesus became flesh he was "in form" God. Meaning his form, his essence, his body, was God. He was the same as God. Notice they capitalized the word God, showing us that Jesus in form, is the same as The God, not a god. We know we are talking about his pre-flesh form because in verse 7 we are told he changes by taking on the form of a bondservant by coming in the likeness of man, emphasizing His humility. His form changed, he was no longer in the form of God. This act showed great humility on Jesus's part.
Most agree that this verse is communicating that before Jesus became flesh he was found in some other, non physical form but those who reject the Deity of Jesus explain that God is Spirit (Jn 4:24) so this verse is saying that Christ was some kind of spirit creature like an Angel perhaps.
Indeed, God is Spirit and so it follows that Jesus's pre-flesh form was Spirit as well. However, this view ignores the premise of the passage. Jesus was equal to God but made himself a bondservant for our sakes. This passage is clearly declaring Jesus as God. Even so, We have many other verses that declares Jesus to have been something more. John 1:1 specifically refers to him as being the Creator, the Word of God, and God.
The Word Was God.
John 1: 1-5 & 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
In Philippians 2:1-7, Paul is wanting us to esteem others as better then our selves. He is using Christ as an example; For He deliberately humbled himself and took on flesh and became a bondservant. It is a lesson to humble ourselves before men. But it also shows us that he believed and was teaching that Jesus is God.
Verse 6 is interesting because it is a glimpse into the trinity, it shows Jesus and God as one God, yet separate. The verse plainly says of Jesus's pre-flesh form was equal with God. By declaring equality, it is suggesting a distinction, If one is equal to someone, we must acknowledge at least two separate beings in which we are comparing. In addition, It is telling us that He is God for only God can be equal to God. Any other explanation puts this verse at odds with Isaiah 40:25 and Isaiah 46:9 and would no longer qualify as holy script. Jesus gave up that form and equality to become a man. Leaving us with a picture of Jesus and God separated by flesh.
Further, verse 6 & 7 is stating that Jesus did not see relinquishing his equality with God as robbery when he became flesh. From that truth, we can deduce that God did not see Jesus's equality as robbery before he was flesh. This distinction is very important for you see, God does not share his Glory
Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.
If you and I, or any other created creature, Angel, spirit or otherwise, believes himself to be equal with God, he is a fool and is speaking blasphemy. By elevating Jesus to an equal status with God we are making him an Idol or false god. Unless, of course, he really is God. Interestingly enough, Jesus suggests as much when he prays to have his former glory restored to Him. That same glory that he shared with God in his pre-flesh form in John 17:5.
John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
Sharing God's glory suggests equality with God. Lending further support to Philippians 2: 5-7. So we have to agree that Jesus is God or we are forced to declare the book of Philippians a fraud and remove it from the Cannon. In fact, all the writings of Paul would have to be removed for they are all declaring this same doctrine in one way or another. I believe Jesus was and is God.
There are some major problems to deal with if He is, as some have declared Him to be, an Angel or Spirit Creature. Lets look at a few more.
We understand that the purpose for Christ becoming flesh was to save by redemption humanity. This becomes a problem because there can be no savior but God. For God declared to Israel through the prophet Isaiah
Isaiah 43:11. " I, even I, am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior".
Isaiah 44:6 “ Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘ I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
Yet it is declared over and over again, in the new testament that Jesus is our savior our redeemer. That we must put our faith in Him. To make matters worse not only in Him but in His name. Implying Jesus is God
John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Acts 16:30 and 31 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.
Acts 4:10-12 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
If Jesus was something other than God then all these verse are wrong or Isaiah 43:11 is wrong if the latter, then the prophet Isaiah becomes a false prophet. Which means, We can no longer trust his other prophecies either. They too will have to be removed from the Bible.
After Jesus was resurrected from the grave, Thomas worshiped Him. This is a problem because no one but God can be worshiped. Exodus 20:3-5 This is especially important since Jesus allowed Thomas to worship him and call him Lord and God in John 20:28 which would have been a violation of Exodus 20. No Angel of God would ever allow a man to call him Lord and God. It just doesn't happen. Jesus is either God or he just allowed Thomas to commit Idolatry. If the latter, then he is no longer sinless and is disqualified as my redeemer and savior.
Look again at this verse:
Philippians 2: 6 Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.
It's a pesky little verse isn't it. Not if you correctly understand that Jesus is God. Be blessed my friends and be encouraged, for your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not in vain. There can be no doubt that he is God.
I leave you with one more for the road
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Immanuel Literally means: God-With-Us
Your Brother in Christ
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