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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : godhead

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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: a chosen disposition

Once we have established the unique identity and personhood of the triune godhead we can move on to the biblical record of their relationship in the matter of our redemption. In particular I wanted to give some thought to the subordination of the Word to the Father. I think the obvious starting point is Paul's letter to the Philippians which in the course of encouraging the saints to be of one mind Paul declares what can only have been direct revelation:“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8, KJVS)

“For, let this mind be in you that [is] also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought [it] not robbery to be equal to God, but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made, and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death — death even of a cross,” (Phil. 2:5-8, YNG)There are several amazing declarations in this section.
The KJV phrase 'being in the form of God' is translated in the ASV as 'existing in the form of God'. This is a justifiable improvement, the verb is a present participle. We are touching here on the eternally existing Word of God and have stepped into the atmosphere of John 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2, KJVS) We need to distinguish very clearly between 'being' and 'becoming'. The former is a simple description of eternal states, the latter is a calendar event; even though it may not be a human calendar. In John's record the 'being' of God is captured beautifully in the first two verses. John's narrative then moves on to his 'doings', the creation, and finally to his 'becomings'. We ought to pause here, even as we read, to consider the extraordinary statement that we find in John; [i]the word 'became flesh' and dwelt among us[/i] (ASV. The KJV has 'was made' but the verb is really 'became' as is confirmed in most modern translations. The eternal, unchanging God... became... Selah, pause and ponder!

But before 'he became' he already 'was'. He 'was'/existed in 'the form of God'. What does this mean? The word 'form' in Greek is 'morphE' but morphE does not just mean the outward shape, it means the outward shape by which something might be recognised. It reflects both 'inward essence and outward likeness'. Vines Expository Dictionary has morphe denotes "the special or characteristic form or feature" of a person or thing; it is used with particular significance in the NT, only of Christ, in Php_2:6,7, in the phrases "being in the form of God," and "taking the form of a servant." An excellent definition of the word is that of Gifford: "morphe is therefore properly the nature or essence, not in the abstract, but as actually subsisting in the individual, and retained as long as the individual itself exists. ... Thus in the passage before us morphe Theou is the Divine nature actually and inseparably subsisting in the Person of Christ. ... For the interpretation of 'the form of God' it is sufficient to say that
2. it includes the whole nature and essence of Deity, and is inseparable from them, since they could have no actual existence without it; and
3. that it does not include in itself anything 'accidental' or separable, such as particular modes of manifestation, or conditions of glory and majesty, which may at one time be attached to the 'form,' at another separated from it. ...
The true meaning of morphe in the expression 'form of God' is confirmed by its recurrence in the corresponding phrase, 'form of a servant.' It is universally admitted that the two phrases are directly antithetical, and that 'form' must therefore have the same sense in both." [ From Gillford, "The Incarnation," pp. 16,19,39.] The point made by Vine about the phrase being used later is important. The phrase 'in the form of a bondservant' cannot mean outward similarity. What 'shape' is a bondservant? It speaks of inward and outward likeness. We see other references to this unfathomable statement in the scripture. [i]“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power...” (Heb. 1:3a, KJVS)[/i] and [i]“...Christ, who is the image of God...” (2Cor. 4:4, KJVS)[/i] And perhaps best of all [i]“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14:9, KJVS)[/i] He is seen in this opening statement as 'fully God', co-equal, co-substantial, co-eternal.'

In Paul's nativity narrative of Philippians 2 he follows the 'present participle' of 'existing' of 'being' with a series of Aorist tenses. The older language scholars all regarded the Greek Aorist as a punctiliar tense. This was a way of distinguishing from 'process' tenses such as 'he is sitting', 'he was sitting', 'he has sat and is still sitting' 'he will sit' (these are all 'process tenses) and the 'point of time' Aorist tense which would be 'he sat down'. The simple point I want to make is that the impression given in Phil 2 is now a series of single events;
1. he thought (or chose not to 'think/esteem')
2. he emptied himself
3. he took upon himself
4. he 'became' in the likeness of men
5. having been found in fashion... he humbled himself
6. he became obedient...

I want to concentrate for the remainder of this post on the first of these. I don't usually recommend the Weymouth translation but in this instance I think it has caught the sense of this first 'event' beautifully “Although from the beginning He had the nature of God He did not reckon His equality with God a treasure to be tightly grasped.” (Phil. 2:6, WEYMTH) To my understanding the use of the tenses here indicates an 'event', at a 'point of time' Christ Jesus made a choice and the choice was not to regard his equality with God as something to be 'held onto'. We may get a better sense of what is being said here if we remind ourselves as to why Paul wrote it. He wrote it to encourage the saints to 'esteem others better than themselves'. It is easy to forget that this whole wonderful section is serving as an illustration for the points Paul is making to the saints at Philippi. The word 'equal' is 'isos' which are are familiar with as a prefix in words like 'isosceles' which literally means having 'equal legs'. (pick up any English dictionary and you will find lots of illustrations as to how the prefix 'iso' is used.) Quite simply 'isos' means equal and the verse says that Christ Jesus did not regard his equal-ness with God to be something to be held onto.

This is one of the plainest statement in the scripture of Christ's co-equality with the Father. The KJV has the phrase 'thought it not robbery to be equal with God', the word 'robbery' is 'harpagma'which is a linked to a similar word which was used for a 'grappling iron'. He decided not to 'cling onto' his equality with God. I am sure there was never any competitiveness within the godhead but this seems to tell of a specific 'time' when Christ chose to 'think' in a particular way. It was a decision and an event. Its outworking would have to take place in 'human time' but here we are beyond 'human time' and being given a glimpse into the 'eternal counsels' of God. The KJV 'Let this mind...' is beautifully expressed in Weymouth's paraphrase “Let the same disposition be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5, WEYMTH) This is a chosen disposition; amazing concept.

We sometimes hear preachers say Christ 'had to do this' and 'had to come'. There is truth in these sayings but it all began in a time where he 'had to do nothing' but freely chose not to 'cling onto' equality with God. This has far-reaching implications but this is long enough for a single post. :-(

Ron Bailey

 2006/1/19 8:44Profile

Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri


This has far-reaching implications but this is long enough for a single post

I am immediately challenged by this post as I consider how essential this "chosen disposition" is to our Christian lives. It is unfathomable to me that Christ our Lord would have a mindset in which He was did not see it necessary to assert His Deity or as the passages say, did not 'grasp' His equality within the Godhead. It is hard to comprehend that level of humility!

As human beings we don't like to part with things do we? We don't like to give things up. We like to grasp everything that is 'ours'. We grasp our goods, our authority, our reputation, etc. etc. Until we "let this mind be in us", that we should not 'grasp' things we are not fit to be able to rightly function as a Christian. How can a man turn the other cheek if he 'grasps' his reputation or sense of self-respect?

Is that really at the root of why we would have trouble letting folks sins/transgressions against us 'drop'? We can't drop their sin, because we have [i]grasped[/i] our own reputation and sense of pride. If we refuse to be wronged is it not a symptom that we are grasping something of our own self-love that we need to turn loose of? And beyond that, is not this "chosen disposition" at the very root of the fruit of the Spirit?

Robert Wurtz II

 2006/1/19 12:24Profile

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK



It is hard to comprehend that level of humility!

And we haven't even got to the 'he humbled himself' section yet! :-o

Ron Bailey

 2006/1/20 10:33Profile

Joined: 2005/11/2
Posts: 3710


The true garment of humility Christ Himself. Putting Him on is the only true humility we can acquire.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Rom 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].

In Christ's Humility: Phillip


 2006/1/22 0:18Profile


RonB and Robert,

I don't know if you saw my comment about this thread on the last days thread ... but it is excellent, and before much more time goes by or I fall off of the planet, I wanted to be sure to get that in to ya's.

Thank you for glorifying The King of Glory.

Thank you Hulsey for stickying it.

God Bless in this indeed.


 2006/1/22 0:36

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK


The true garment of humility Christ Himself. Putting Him on is the only true humility we can acquire.

There is a truth here in which I delight however we must not miss other truths.“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1Cor. 13:11, KJVS) There are states and actions and we must not confuse the two. Paul came to the state of manhood as a result of natural processes in which he was mostly passive; we do not grow by effort (Matt 6:27ff) We might even take Paul's words as a parallel to those of Philippians 2; "being found as a man, he did something". he "put away the things of his childhood". In this is almost a characteristic of manhood. The "man" takes responsibility for his actions and consequently is praised or blamed. Paul 'put away' things of the childhood state. They were not taken from him "passively" nor did this happen automatically, he actively "put away childish things". Virtue does not happen "passively"; it is the consequence of personal choice and personal activity.

This truth is seen in Paul's famous Galatians quotation: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20, KJVS) In the light of this verse is it important to ask 'who lives this life'? It is a paradox. He says "I but not I" but then goes on to "Christ liveth in me, and the life which [u]I[/u] now live in the flesh [u]I[/u] live by the faith of the Son of God... This 'life' is not 'happening' to Paul, he is 'living' it.

If we get to the later part of Philippians 2 we will find the purpose for which Paul used the illustration. It it because we are required to 'work out our own salvation' because "it is God who worketh in you". This is a New Covenant imperative, we must 'work out' what God has 'worked in'. The power to choose is part of essential personhood; Christ had it, angels have it, I have it. As a Christian I will not be held responsible for the life that is in me; that is a free gift. But I will be held responsible for what I did with what I was given.

My point in reference to Christ was not to his 'state' of humility but to the 'act' of self-humbling in which He freely chose to 'humble himself'. It did not occur passively or simply because of the 'life that was in him', but was the active execution of a specific choice: so must ours be.

Ron Bailey

 2006/1/23 7:10Profile

Joined: 2005/11/2
Posts: 3710


Yes, if we read what God has done in Christ Jesus for us, what we do is very small in comparison. All that He is we are and what we do is make sure He is the one we are bringing forth, that others will see Him. If we read just a small bit of Col: we see what God has done and what He expects us to do.

Colossians 1:3-29 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.

We do the preaching, we do the warning, we do the teaching, we labor to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, we strive according to His working in us.

Yes, we have a great responsibility to do the work of Christ on this earth. In all humility knowing that it is Christ in us that will accomplish the will of the Father, we are the workman in His harvest field. What a great responsibility it is to do the work that a loving God gives His children.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Who lives the life we have been given? We do. Who lives by the faith of the Son of God which has been given us? We do.

Without Christ we can do nothing, with Christ we can do all things. It is just our spiritual service that we present our bodies the living sacrifice to accomplish the Works of Christ in us. Amen.

In Christ: Phillip


 2006/1/24 0:43Profile


I'd only like to post one post to this thread ... one that every time I see it, my heart races. So if no one minds, this was compiled by R.A. Torrey.
[u]Thanks guys.[/u]

[b]Christ Is God As Jehovah
Isa_40:3; Mat_3:3;

As Jehovah of glory
Psa_24:7; Psa_24:10; 1Co_2:8; Jam_2:1;

Jer_23:5; Jer_23:6; 1Co_1:30;

As Jehovah, above all
Psa_97:9; Joh_3:31;

As Jehovah, the First and the Last
Isa_44:6; Rev_1:17; Isa_48:12-16; Rev_22:13;

As Jehovah's Fellow and Equal
Zec_13:7; Phi_2:6;

As Jehovah of Hosts
Isa_6:1-3; Joh_12:41; Isa_8:13; Isa_8:14; 1Pe_2:8;

As Jehovah, the Shepherd
Isa_40:11; Heb_13:20;

As Jehovah, for whose glory all things were created
Pro_16:4; Col_1:16;

As Jehovah, the Messenger of the covenant
Mal_3:1; Mar_1:2; Luk_2:27;

Invoked as Jehovah
Joe_2:32; Act_2:21; 1Co_1:2;

As the Eternal God and Creator
Psa_102:24-27; Heb_1:8; Heb_1:10-12;

As the mighty God

As the Great God and Saviour
Hos_1:7; Tit_2:13;

As God over all
Psa_45:6; Psa_45:7; Rom_9:5;

As the true God
Jer_10:10; 1Jo_5:20;

As God the Word

As God, the judge
Ecc_12:14; 1Co_4:5; 2Co_5:10; 2Ti_4:1;

As Emmanuel
Isa_7:14; Mat_1:23;

As King of kings and Lord of lords
Deu_10:17; Rev_1:5; Rev_17:14;

As the Holy One
1Sa_2:2; Act_3:14;

As the Lord from heaven

As Lord of the Sabbath
Gen_2:3; Mat_12:8;

As Lord of all
Act_10:36; Rom_10:11-13;

As Son of God

As the Only-begotten Son of the Father
Joh_1:14; Joh_1:18; Joh_3:16; Joh_3:18; 1Jo_4:9;

His blood is called the blood of God

As one with the Father
Joh_10:30; Joh_10:38; Joh_12:45; Joh_14:7-10; Joh_17:10;

As sending the Spirit, equally with the Father
Joh_14:16; Joh_15:26;

As entitled to equal honour with the Father

As Owner of all things, equally with the Father

As unrestricted by the law of the sabbath, equally with the Father

As the Source of grace, equally with the Father
1Th_3:11; 2Th_2:16; 2Th_2:17;

As unsearchable, equally with the Father
Pro_30:4; Mat_11:27;

As Creator of all things
Isa_40:28; Joh_1:3; Col_1:16; Heb_1:2;

As Supporter and Preserver of all things
Neh_9:6; Col_1:17; Heb_1:3;

As possessed of the fulness of the God head
Col_2:9; Heb_1:3;

As raising the dead
Joh_5:21; Joh_6:40; Joh_6:54;

As raising Himself from the dead
Joh_2:19; Joh_2:21; Joh_10:18;

As Eternal
Isa_9:6; Mic_5:2; Joh_1:1; Col_1:17; Heb_1:8-10; Rev_1:8;

As Omnipresent
Mat_18:20; Mat_28:20; Joh_3:13;

As Omnipotent
Psa_45:3; Phi_3:21; Rev_1:8;

As Omniscient
Joh_16:30; Joh_21:17;

As discerning the thoughts of the heart
1Ki_8:39; Luk_5:22; Eze_11:5; Joh_2:24; Joh_2:25; Rev_2:23;

As unchangeable
Mal_3:6; Heb_1:12; Heb_13:8;

As having power to forgive sins
Col_3:13; Mar_2:7; Mar_2:10;

As Husband of the Church
Isa_54:5; Eph_5:25-32; Isa_62:5; Rev_21:2; Rev_21:9;

As the object of divine worship
Act_7:59; 2Co_12:8; 2Co_12:9; Heb_1:6; Rev_5:12;

As the object of faith
Psa_2:12; 1Pe_2:6; Jer_17:5; Jer_17:7; Joh_14:1;

As God, He redeems and purifies the Church to Himself
Rev_5:9; Tit_2:14;

As God, He presents the Church to Himself
Eph_5:27; Jud_1:24; Jud_1:25;

Saints live to Him as God
Rom_6:11; Gal_2:19; 2Co_5:15;

Acknowledged by His Apostles

Acknowledged by the Old Testament saints
Gen_17:1; Gen_48:15; Gen_48:16; Gen_32:24-30; Hos_12:3-5; Jdg_6:22-24; Jdg_13:21; Jdg_13:22; Job_19:25-27 [/b]

 2006/1/27 23:47

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK


This is a great compilation! Thank you.

Ron Bailey

 2006/2/20 4:14Profile

Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791


Statment about Jesus, Son of God, the Word before His incarnation, and looking for clarification:

If God is never changing, He must have had Glorified flesh before His incarnation eternaly, the kind He has now. Otherwise God would have changed.

 2006/3/14 14:53Profile

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