The Impeccable Christ

It is not uncommon for erroneous doctrine to confine itself to one verse, or a few isolated references. This is nowhere more true than in the Kenosis theory. For this very reason we review the setting in which its key text is found.
It has been well said, “For any one to pick out certain statements in that tradition which emphasizes the humanity of Jesus and on the basis of those, to represent Him as merely human, is as erroneous as to pick out certain other statements which emphasize His Divinity and to represent Him as purely Divine.”


Philippians presents Christ as the believer’s joy of living. The following is one possible outline of the epistle.


Chapter One –The Christian’s Aim (v.21)
Chapter Two –The Christian’s Attitude (v.5)
Chapter Three –The Christian’s Appetite (v.10)
Chapter Four –The Christian’s Ability (v.11)


In Philippians, the mind, or attitude is mentioned a significant number of times (12). The central theme of the second chapter is, what should the mind, or attitude of the Christian be? The primary attitude is to be one of unselfishness as stated in vereses 2 to 4.


Paul goes on to present the attitude of Christ Jesus. He was in His very essence God, and as such it was His right to be glorified. However, He divested Himself of this right, and took upon Himself a form in which His glory was hidden. Paul was thus saying, “Do not seek vain glory at the expense of other’s welfare, but have the same attitude as Christ, who was even willing to cover His rightful glory for the sake of others.” He then presented three additional examples. Paul himself was “poured out” for them (v.17). Timothy is then seen as one who seeks, not his own interest, but the interest of others (vs. 19-21). Lastly, Epaphroditus was also concerned about others, (v.26).


Likeness of men


Verse 7 also states that He was made in the likeness of men. Here the Holy Spirit leads Paul to use the word homoioma, meaning “resemblance.” Christ was like men in that He was true humanity, but he was more, in that He also possessed the Divine nature. The same original word is used in Romans 8:3. Notice that He is not referred to as the “express image” of man, as He is in Hebrew 1:3, “Who [Christ] being the brightness of his [God’s] glory, and the express image of his person….”


Glory-Humiliation-Glory


The sequence of glory, humiliation, and glory, is beautifully illustrated at the last supper as recorded in John 13:1-17. Here the Master lays aside His outer garments, and proceeds to take the place of humiliation, that of washing the disciples’ feet. After the work is complete, He again takes up His outer garments. The sequence parallels that of Philippians 2:6-11. Note that in verse 14 of John 13 He never ceased to be the Master during the period of humiliation. It was a question of position, not possession.


Hidden Glory


The Scripture often presents God as “light” (1 Jn. 1:5, 1 Tim. 6:16, Hab. 3:4, Acts 9:3, John 1:7,8; 3:19; 8:12, Rev. 1:14, Ex. 34:29, Heb 1:3, Lk. 2:9). Since sinful man could not exist in the presence of the Divine Light it was necessary that God’s glory not shine forth in all its radiance when He was manifested in the flesh (Heb. 1:2). This was marvelously accomplished, not by extinguishing it, but by containing it within the veil of Christ’s holy humanity (Heb.10:20). However, the Light was sufficiently manifested to expose the deeds of man (Jn. 3:21). Nowhere was this inner glory more evident that on the mount of transfiguration (Mt. 7:12, 2 Pet. 1:16,17).


Summary


In summary, it is evident that Philippians 2 does not present a diminished God, but rather the remarkable example of the proper Christian attitude, that of Christ’s willingness to leave His rightful position of glory in order to redeem lost men at the awful cost of the cross. Certainly no one less than God could reveal God, or be a perfect expression of Him. Christ as the “Word” was God in the flesh, and the perfect “expression” of Him. However, we rejoice today that He has returned to that position of glory. The phrase "yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15) has been implied to mean that "He did not sin." He had forbidden desires like we, but "didn’t give in" is their interpretation. The word "yet" has been added to the original text. The remaining portion, "without sin" would be better rendered "sin apart." The same original Greek words are used in Hebrews 9:28, where it speaks of Christ returning the second time, "sin apart," or "without reference to sin." He came the first time to be a propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10), His second coming will not be in reference to that work again. The writer of 4:15 is trying to eliminate the very thing that many have implied it to mean. He is telling us that Christ was "tried" in every way as we, but lest we think this includes our sin, he adds, "sin apart." We do not come to the throne of grace to receive sympathy for our lust, we go to the Word and judge it. We go to the throne of grace when we suffer for righteousness’ sake and need enabling grace to endure.