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Philippians 2:7-9

Context

2:7 but emptied himself

by taking on the form of a slave, 1 

by looking like other men, 2 

and by sharing in human nature. 3 

2:8 He humbled himself,

by becoming obedient to the point of death

– even death on a cross!

2:9 As a result God exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name,

1 tn See the note on the word “slaves” in 1:1.

2 tn Grk “by coming in the likeness of people.”

sn The expression the likeness of men is similar to Paul’s wording in Rom 8:3 (“in the likeness of sinful flesh”). The same word “likeness” is used in both passages. It implies that there is a form that does not necessarily correspond to reality. In Rom 8:3, the meaning is that Christ looked like sinful humanity. Here the meaning is similar: Jesus looked like other men (note anqrwpoi), but was in fact different from them in that he did not have a sin nature.

3 tn Grk “and by being found in form as a man.” The versification of vv. 7 and 8 (so also NRSV) is according to the versification in the NA27 and UBS4 editions of the Greek text. Some translations, however, break the verses in front of this phrase (NKJV, NASB, NIV, NLT). The same material has been translated in each case; the only difference is the versification of that material.

sn By sharing in human nature. This last line of v. 7 (line d) stands in tension with the previous line, line c (“by looking like other men”). Both lines have a word indicating form or likeness. Line c, as noted above, implies that Christ only appeared to be like other people. Line d, however, uses a different term that implies a correspondence between form and reality. Further, line c uses the plural “men” while line d uses the singular “man.” The theological point being made is that Christ looked just like other men, but he was not like other men (in that he was not sinful), though he was fully human.



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