Recently, I have engaged a European group called the “Christadelphians,” who I took to task for calling my stance on creation “related” to theirs. I was actually fine with having my article referenced there, and I do admit my article is related to theirs. However, I simply wanted to clarify in what way my post on creation is like their own.
Well, brief back-and-forth ensued, and my stance on the deity of Christ has been challenged. My response demands more document tools than a comment section allows, so I am posting it here, in this article. Below you will find my response to the most recent Christadelphian comment on the article, Christadelphians, Climate Change, Cyanide – Oh My. For everyone’s convenience, I have quoted the entire body of the most recent comments (I haven’t responded to) below. Comments from the Christadelphians will be italicized and block-quoted. My responses will be normative text. Please note that this response is quite informal. I have not submitted anything to my editor, nor have a proofread like I normally do. So basically, be generous with spelling and grammatical errors.
Also, Christadelphians: please feel free to keep the ball rolling.
We do not know which Bible translation you are using, but in the many Bible translations we have at our disposal nowhere is said that God gave the Name Jehovah or Yahweh to Christ.
I am using the ESV (English Standard Version), but any descent English translation will prove my point. The ASV is quite choppy in Philippians 2, so I suggest we use another translation for this discussion. I’m fine with using any of the following translations: ESV, NASB, NKJV, KJV, HCSB, CSB, RSV, NRSV, NET, NIV. If you prefer one of these let me know – otherwise, I will continue with the ESV.
Naturally when you take everything there is written “Lord” this to be God than today we still have man gods walking around.
My argument is not that every occurrence of the word “Lord” in Scripture signifies God. I agree, that would be silly.
“5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. 9 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 things under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Php 2:5-11 ASV)
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)
The main body of my response will consist of a presentation of Philippians 2:5-11. We recognize in verse 5 that Paul introduces Christ as an example. He is calling the Philippians to humility and selflessness (v.4), and Jesus is an example of this. In verse 6, Paul begins to clarify what Christ Jesus did that makes him an example of humility. Christ did three things (as evidenced by the primary verbs): 1. Christ “did not count,” (v.6) 2. Christ “emptied,” (v.7) 3. Christ “humbled” (v.8).
First, Christ “did not count.” “Count” is translated from hegeomai, which Louw-Nida explains, “to hold a view or have an opinion with regard to something.” “Consider” is another good translation (e.g. NIV, HCSB, NKJV). What is it Christ refused to count/consider? This: that “equality with God” was “a thing to be grasped.” “Equality with God” is not complicated in meaning: ho eimi isos theos, explaining that what Christ is contemplating is characteristic sameness and equivalence with God. Christ considered this equality something which was not “a thing to be grasped.” This phrase translates one word, harpagmon, which comes from arpazo. Arpazo can mean “snatch away” or “seize,” depending on the context. Philippians 2:6 is the only occurrence of the form harpagmon in the New Testament and scholars seem in agreement that “seize” is the correct interpretation here, though take note that harpagmon is a noun. Louw-Nida elaborates, “that which is to be held on to forcibly.” Now, without getting too thick in the weeds of this verse, let’s connect the dots. Christ’s first act was not considering being equivalent with God something to be seized. The text does not say Christ “realized” this, or that He “perceived” this – rather, He “considered/counted” this to be so. Christ decided that equivalence with God was not a state to be grasped. Paul highlights how remarkable Christ’s decision was by explaining, “though he was in the form of God” (v.6). “Form” (morphe) refers to the nature or character of something, and “was” is not supplied by translators, but comes from huparxo which clearly denotes a state. So Christ was in God’s state – He existed as divine. In this divine state, Christ decided this divinity (“equality with God”) was not something to be grasped/seized – perhaps the word “asserted” would work well. This decision/consideration Christ made is the first act in His example of humility.
Second, Christ “emptied.” He emptied “himself,” and Paul gives two clarifications: 1. “by taking the form of a servant,” 2. “being born in the likeness of men.” “Emptied” is from ekenosen (kenoo), which in context Louw-Nida explains, “to empty oneself, to divest oneself of position.” The other four times kenoo occurs in the New Testament, it carries a metaphorical sense (Romans 4:14; 1 Corinthians 1:17; 9:15; 2 Corinthians 9:3; also metaphorical in LXX [Jeremiah 14:2; 15:9]). This action is sharply contrasted with the option Christ had to grasp His equality with God (v.6). Instead of grasping His equality with God, He emptied Himself. Paul does not say Jesus emptied Himself of equality with God (i.e. that Jesus laid aside His deity). Paul defines Christ’s act of emptying with two following participles: “taking” and “being born.” Both participles are parallel and describe the manner in which Christ emptied Himself. The participle “taking” (labon) provides the first clarification: Christ emptied Himself in that He took “the form of a servant.” “Servant” (doulos) is equivalent to “slave.” “Form” is the same word as in verse 7 (morphe), which signifies the nature or character of something. Christ emptied Himself, and what that means is that He took on the characteristics of a slave. In context, Paul is presenting Christ Jesus as an example of humility and selflessness (vv.4-5). Therefore, it seems probably that Paul means this: Christ was divine but rather than assert His divinity, He selflessly became a slave. Secondly, the participle “being born” clarifies: Christ emptied Himself in that He was born “in the likeness of men.” “Being born” (gegomenos) coupled with “in” (en) communicates the idea of entering into, or being born into. In verse 6, Paul says Christ Jesus “existed in the form of God,” and the participle “existed” is present, denoting a continuous state. However, in verse 7, Paul says Christ Jesus was “born in the likeness of man,” and the participle “being born” is aorist, denoting punctiliar action (the simplest designation of action possible in koine Greek). The contrast between the participles is telling: Christ had indefinitely existed as divine, but at one point in time He entered into the likeness of man. “Likeness” (homoiomati) should probably be taken in a broad sense, meaning Christ was fully identifiable as human. Let’s string these threads together in verse 7. Christ possessed a mind of humility (“Have this mind among yourselves” [v.5]), evidenced when He decided not to cling to His equality with God – all the rights and glories which come from being divine (v.6). Christ, possessing such a mind of humility (v.6), committed an act of humility: He emptied Himself (v.7). He made Himself low and selfless. He did this by becoming a slave and a man. He took upon Himself the characteristics of a slave and a man (v.7). This was a remarkable demonstration of humility, because surely, being Divine, Christ had every right to remain where and as He was.
Third, Christ “humbled.” Paul provides two descriptions of the humbling: 1. “And being found in human form, 2. “by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (the first description is sometimes associated with verse 7, and if you take this position that is fine – my conclusion is not affected by either choice). “Humbled” comes from etapeinosen (tapeinoo) and designates an act of humbling similar to our use of the word “humbled” today. After He emptied “himself,” Christ then humbled “himself.” First, Paul explains where Christ humbled Himself: “in human form.” “Being found” (euretheis) is a passive participle, where the importance is placed not on who found Him but that He was findable, as evident in Paul’s reaffirmation of verse 7 when he writes Christ was in human “form.” “Form” here is not morphe as before, but schemati, meaning “appearance.” Christ was visibly and recognizably human, and in this state/place He humbled Himself. Verse 7, then, speaks to the humble act of becoming human, while verse 8 speaks to a separate humble act Christ performed while already human. Second, Paul explains what he meant by Christ “humbled himself” with the aorist participle “becoming” (genomenos). In verse 7, Christ became another form (became a slave, was born a man), yet in verse 8, Christ does not take upon Himself any further identity. Paul attributes an adjective to Him: “obedient” (hupekoos). The extent of Christ’s obedience is explained as “to the point of death,” which is further emphasized by “even death on a cross.” Paul seems to want us to marvel at the extent of Christ’s obedience – or rather, to marvel at how obedient Christ was. We will indeed marvel if we take into consideration all that has been said: Christ was divine, yet humbled Himself to become a man, then further humbled Himself to die on a cross. This is an astounding, amazing act.
Among other conclusions we may draw from verses 6-8, one is this: Christ Jesus existed as God before His birth of Mary.There is no way to handle verses 6-7 faithfully and consistently, and walk away denying the pre-incarnate deity of Christ. Second, Christ never abandoned His deity. Paul does not say Christ laid aside His deity, but that Christ metaphorically laid aside Himself. Paul defines the “self-emptying” of Christ for us, so that we would have no confusion: by “emptying,” Paul means that He became a slave, became a man. He does not define the emptying as the laying aside of something, but as the taking-on of something. If it was the laying aside of His deity, then “emptying” would be literal (which it is not) and Paul would not have placed coincidental participles immediately following which clarify the meaning of “emptying” as not meaning the laying aside of His deity. Finally, “in the form of God” (v.6) is separated from “emptied himself” (v.7) by the strong alla (“but”) and we must define “emptied” with Paul’s following description.
Therefore, what Paul teaches in Philippians 2:6-8 is the incarnation of Christ and a hypostatic union of the divine and human. The divine (which Christ clearly possesses [v.6] and never lays aside [v.7]) is united with the human (which Christ clearly possesses [v.7] and recognizably so [v.8]) in such a way that the two are not blended or mixed. We know they are not mixed because Christ Jesus, though divine, can die (v.8). God cannot die, which means Christ’s humanity must have remained distinct from His divinity.
Because of Christ’s obedience, God “highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (v.9). The result of this exaltation and bestowal is that, at Jesus’ name, “every knee” will bow down “and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (vv.10-11). This is, among other things, clearly an image of homage and worship. No created thing should be worshiped, as God has made plain dozens of times in Scripture (e.g. the Ten Commandments). Thus, we are left with the undeniable reality that, if Jesus Christ is being worship in verses 10-11, then He must be divine. This is a natural and necessary conclusion to make because we already demonstrated this reality in verses 6-8, that Christ previously possessed and never abandoned His deity.
However, there is one matter left to address: in what sense did God exalt Christ? If Christ Jesus is and has always been God, then how can He be exalted to a higher position than He already holds? The answer is found in context, following the historical sequence of events begun in verse 6. Immediately preceding the exaltation and bestowal of verse 9, Christ Jesus dies (v.8). As a man, He died. In context, therefore, it is natural and proper to understand that what God is exalting in verse 9 is Christ’s humanity. The difference between the Christ of verse 6 and the Christ of verses 10-11 is that the latter is a man, His name is Christ Jesus (historically, He did not have that name before His incarnation), and now as the God-man, not simply as God, He will be worshiped and served. This is the classic concept of Messiah which I will be happy to elaborate upon, but is not my point of argument in this article.
I have demonstrated, then, that in Philippians 2:5-11, Christ Jesus is divine: He was and is worthy of all worship. The interpretation of the Christadelphians is heresy.
The God of Christ has always been because He is an eternal Spirit. But He was not always with and was never equivalent to Christ, nor at the beginning (John 1:1-3), nor not know, when He has Jesus at His site. That opening passage from the Gospel of John is usually the chief reference on which the pre-existence and deity of Christ are argued. All those Trinitarians forgetting that there is spoken about a Word which is the result of Speaking.
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made.” (Joh 1:1-3 ASV)
Christ was not literally the Word. He was the word “made flesh”. (Jo 1:14). The Greek word “logos” translated “Word” expresses the divine intention, mind, or purpose.1 Young defines “logos” as “a word, speech, matter, reason.”2 In the a.v. “logos” is translated by more than 20 different English words and is used for utterances of men (e.g., Jo 17:20) as well as those of God (Jo 5:38).
Yes logos means “Word,” which is why it is translated “Word” in every English translation. The question is how John is using it. This “Word” was God (i.e. equivalence of substance), was with God (i.e. distinction of person), and became flesh (identified as Christ Jesus).
Christ, like you and us were already written in the Book of life, long before Abraham was born. In the Garden of Eden God spoke and gave His Word (made a promise) that there would come a solution against the curse of death. That promise made over there, or that Word given then became a reality many centuries later, when Jesus got born.
I agree: God promised the Gospel in the Garden. However, that doesn’t mean Jesus is not God, as taught in John 1 and Philippians 2.
“In the beginning was the Word … all things were made by him.” > “logos” does not in itself denote personality. It is personified by the masculine gender in the a.v., The Diaglott avoids confusion by translating the pronouns in the neuter-“through it every thing was done.” + An Old Testament parallel to the personification of logos is the personification of wisdom: “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” (Pr 8:22, 23). In this passage, wisdom is personified as a woman. (Pr 8:1, 2).
Absolutely, I agree that “’logos’ does not in itself denote personality.” But John uses is to refer to a person: Jesus Christ (v.14). “It” is a possible translation choice in John 1, but I don’t see how this refutes my position. Neither do I understand how the personification of wisdom in the Old Testament means that “Word” in John 1 does not refer to the pre-incarnate Christ.
You are right to say Scripture speaks for itself, but when people keep to human doctrines and than twists words and positions they lure people in false teachings and away from the True God. You say have no need to fool people: Scripture speaks for itself, but not accept those sayings of the Elohim where He declares Jesus to be His only begotten beloved son?!?
I have provided a thorough exegetical treatment of Philippians 2:5-11. If you would like to continue our dialogue, please demonstrate how I have misinterpreted this passage. Or, if you would prefer to focus heavily upon John 1, I can also provide you with a detailed exegetical treatment of that passage. Whatever you prefer. At any rate, I believe I have demonstrated my willingness to let Scripture speak for itself.
It looks also you did not want to let your readers see what is written in the Bible, because you did not place our reply with the bible texts to prove what God and Jesus said about each other and what we do believe, but you do not seem to believe. Who the is the honest person in this debate and accusation? In case you have no need to fool people and agrees like we think that “Scripture speaks for itself”, why do you not let the Bible speak for itself by the texts we gave you in our reply to your accusations that we would not follow the Bible’s teachings?.
To be honest, I am a bit confused by this critique. It seems as though you are accusing me of trying to hide what the Bible says, simply because I did not copy-and-paste the complete text of the references you cited. This is a humorous notion, and so I’m telling myself you can’t possibly be suggesting it. If you’d like to clarify, feel free to. Otherwise, I’m willing to drop the point.
In my original article, I made this conclusion regarding the hypostatic union in Philippians 2: “We know they are not mixed because Christ Jesus, though divine, can die (v.8) yet also be worshiped (vv.9-11). The divine nature cannot experience loss, nor can the human nature be worshiped. Let me conclude with brief comments on those last 3 verses.“ This statement is incorrect, because the point of verses 9-11 is that God exalts Christ Jesus as the God-man and, looking upon this visible form, all shall worship Him. My initial comment was incorrect and I issue this correction. An appropriate point has now been inserted in the article.
 Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains(electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 364). New York: United Bible Societies.
 Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains(electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 583). New York: United Bible Societies.
 Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains(electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 739). New York: United Bible Societies.
 O’Brien, 217.
 See O’Brien, 223-224 for discussion.
 O’Brien, 225.
 O’Brien, 228.
 O’Brien, 218.