See Philippians 2:5-7 especially. My problem is that Paul seems to say that Jesus “emptied Himself” of His deity or “equality with God” (Phil 2:6-7), becoming “a man” (Phil. 2:8). But elsewhere Jesus claimed to be God on earth (John 8:58; 20:28). But how could Jesus be God while on earth if He left His deity aside to become man? GOD'S WORD® Translation Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, by having a human appearance.
Philippians 2:1 - 11
ESV - 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy. 2 Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
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I would say that the idea of Christ "emptying Himself" does not preclude the retaining of His deity or divine nature, but is speaking of the contrast between that deity and the true manhood that He also possessed. As the Athanasian Creed expresses it, He did this "not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood into God." Instead of asserting His rights to the expression of the essence of Deity, He waived His rights and relinquished them. Compared to the fullness of God, He must indeed have felt empty once He gave up "the form of God". He surrendered His privileges and His prerogatives as God, but not His identity.
Philippians 2:5-8 speaks of Christ ‘emptying Himself.’ Some, believe this means Jesus emptied Himself of His deity or was less God, but Jesus was God – always in the ‘form of God’ and this never changed, John 1:1-3. Somehow it was decided by the Godhead that Jesus was to become a man and to go to the cross and die for the sins of the world John 3:16. In order for this to happen, Jesus had to surrender or relinquish His status of being equal with God. He would have to take on a new role of submission and obedience to God the Father. The sense here is that Jesus did not grasp at keeping His status as equal with God. He did not consider it absolutely imperative or to His advantage to be equal with God. “He made Himself of no reputation” or “emptied Himself.” He took on the role of a servant as He did in John 13:4. As He said, He came to serve, Mark 10:45, and to do the will of the Father, John 5:30, Hebrews 10:7. But He also came in the likeness of men by His incarnation, “God was manifest in the flesh,” and “God with us.” And then He humbled Himself and was obedient to the point of death. Naturally, this meant limiting some of the attributes of deity. J. B. Lightfoot said, the Lord “stripped Himself of insignia of majesty.” Someone said, “He hid His Godhead in a veil of clay.” Because of His lowly position, He was not esteemed or admired, Isaiah 53:3. The words of Philippians 2:1-5, show believers are to have the same frame of mind as Christ. If Christ was their encouragement, and esteemed the world better than Himself, enough to die for it and surrendered the right to be equal with God, then believers are to have the lowliness of mind and were to esteem others better than themselves, looking out for the interest of others. Selfish ambition was not the characteristic of Jesus, and it should not be the characteristic of believers. There has to be a change in plans and perspective. For Christ it was humbling Himself to die on the cross to gain a people for heaven. For believers it is dying to self-interests to gain unity and love in the fellowship. The wonderful thing is because of the Lord obeying the Father and doing His will and successfully finishing the task, Hebrews 10:7, John 5:30, God highly exalted Him, Philippians 2:9-11. All praise and honor belong to Him, and every knee shall bow to Him. We who are believers will have all eternity to thank and praise God for our Lord setting aside His position as being equal with God and taking the servant role, submissive and obedient to God the Father, going all the way to the cross to take away all our sins. May we be encouraged to be like Christ – to have this mind in us which was in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:7: “emptied himself”: The Greek verb used here, kenoō, refers to Jesus pouring Himself out. In light of Phil. 2:6, 8, this seems to imply that Jesus laid aside His rights as God in order to become the world’s servant. I was taught at Dallas Seminary that the doctrine that Jesus temporarily laid aside the independent exercise of His Divine Attributes for the sake of our salvation is called the kenosis. Faithlife Study Bible: In Phil 2:7, the only "emptying" in point is that of the (external) change from the "form of God" to the "form of a servant." Burton Scott Easton cites ISBE here: https://classic.net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Kenosis Philippians 2:7 does not say Christ gave up or emptied Himself of His deity, but merely of His rights as deity, assuming the “form of a servant” (Phil 2:7) so as to be an example for us (Phil 2:5). ---Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe.
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