Philippians TWO: 5-11

Heavenly Father, thank you for each and every blessing You provide. Thank You, most especially, for the gift of Your Love for us.”

Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a [a]servant, [b]being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and [c]things under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Link to ASV

Every Knee Should Bow

Looking back to the previous lesson, we note that verse 5 in the WEB translation seems to be much different than the ASV. It’s a transitional verse, linking the thoughts of 1-4 with 6-11. So it is a very important verse. I don’t know Greek, so I can only guess at this, but I think it probable that the NIV may have it best: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” 

(You can easily do what I did to determine this. Bible Gateway makes it easy to switch, and thus compare, translations. If you are not familiar with this process, give it a try. Look up the KJV, the 1599 Geneva, The Message, and others. You’ll see that I’m not some fancy theologian. When you see what Eugene Peterson wrote in The Message and compare it to the other translations, you’ll get some insight into this verse.) 

Verses 6-11 are self-explanatory. We can get into a discussion about when every knee will bend, but does it really matter? The Asbury Bible Commentary goes so far as to make sure we understand what “every knee” and “every tongue” actually mean. This is not, they say, “universal salvation” but it is instead, “universal recognition”. I think they are close, if not correct. For I truly think that everyone really does know. As Bill Cosby once joked about earthquakes in California: when the ground shakes everyone looks up.

But all this misses what I think is St. Paul’s point. His subject is humility and obedience to God. Because of Christ’s humility and obedience every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He, Jesus, is Lord. Now, how does that apply to the Philippians? And, by extension, to you and me?  

St. Paul answers this question in the next segment.

For those new to Bible Study, this is a great example of the concept of “context”. To examine verses 6-11 without the context of the whole letter, we can make some errors in our understanding. To quote “Every knee will bow” without understanding the reasons for St. Paul to be discussing humility and obedience gives way to a lesser understanding of his words. 




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