by Mike Ratliff
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Psalms 110:1 ESV)
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:15-21 ESV)
When I witness the bizarre conflicts in the visible Church in our time, especially the ones in which I take part, I never come through them without wondering how those whose faith is in their religion or idol can call Jesus Lord since they most definitely are not obeying Him nor submitting to His will as their Lord. If they did then two things would be true about them. They would teach sound (αντικειται) doctrine (διδασκαλια) from God’s Word and they would minister to His Church with love (αγαπην). Any other form of “ministry” will negatively impact the Body of Christ for it will come from motivations other than ministering unto the glory of God alone as a slave (δουλος) of his or her Lord (κυριος). These other motivations are actually service to another lord, either self or the enemy of our souls and are therefore the source of bad fruit.
If someone attempts to “minister” to the Body of Christ with sound doctrine, but is without love then all they are is a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1). This produces legalism and does not benefit the Body of Christ. On the other hand, the elimination of ministering according to sound doctrine while focusing exclusively on love like the seeker-sensitive paradigm demands as well as the many forms of the New Evangelism, makes the sheep within unhealthy and immature and many are not genuine because they are not being properly nurtured and taught and given the real gospel. Eliminating sound doctrine to focus on love is done so as not to offend people, but without the hammer of sound doctrine that the Holy Spirit uses to break through hard hearts, there is only feel good religion with no substance.
Christ did not go to the cross for only a possibility of building a Church. No, He had purpose and it was according to His humble obedience to the Father.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2 ESV)
1ει τις ουν παρακλησις εν χριστω ει τι παραμυθιον αγαπης ει τις κοινωνια πνευματος ει τις σπλαγχνα και οικτιρμοι 2πληρωσατε μου την χαραν ινα το αυτο φρονητε την αυτην αγαπην εχοντες συμψυχοι το εν φρονουντες (Philippians 2:1-2 WHNU)
If some then encouragement in Christ, if some comfort of love, if some partnership of spirit, if some affections and compassions, fill of me the joy that the same you might think, the same love having together in soul the one thinking (Philippians 2:1-2 word for word from Koine Greek to English)
This is a call for believers to not be divisive or in conflict over non-essential things, but to be of one mind or of the same “thinking.” The love with which we are to have for the brethren is αγαπην, which the KJV translates as “charity.” This is that love that is only possible between Christians for it is fully sacrificial and motivated for what is best for the one loved rather than being based on temporal things. Paul describes it here as being in full accord and of the same mind. Differences of opinion are bound to occur among people, but those committed to living and walking before their κυριος as His δουλος must also conform to His example of humility.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)
3μηδεν κατ εριθειαν μηδε κατα κενοδοξιαν αλλα τη ταπεινοφροσυνη αλληλους ηγουμενοι υπερεχοντας εαυτων 4μη τα εαυτων εκαστοι σκοπουντες αλλα και τα ετερων εκαστοι (Philippians 2:3-4 WHNU)
Nothing by selfish ambition but not by empty splendor, but in the humblemindedness one another considering excelling yourselves, not the of yourselves each looking carefully but also the of others each. (Philippians 2:3-4 word for word from Koine Greek to English)
Paul speaks here of what motivates us in how we live and serve amongst the brethren. The concept of being a Christian from a motivation of selfish ambition or conceit is not humility and, in fact, is how the world operates. Instead, we are to follow Christ’s example of humility, which is to count others more significant than ourselves in how we interact and relate to them. The word translated as “in humility” here, ταπεινοφροσυνη, literally means “lowliness of mind.” It is the esteeming of ourselves small inasmuch as we are so. In God’s economy, it is the real estimate of ourselves (Acts 20:19; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 2:18, 23; 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5). For the sinner, the unregenerate, or unsaved, ταπεινοφροσυνη involves the confession of sin as his or her true condition. However, for the Christian it is our acknowledgment, not of sinfulness, but of creatureliness, of absolute dependence, having nothing, but receiving all things of God.
Now, I ask you, will a believer who is doing nothing from rivalry or conceit, while ταπεινοφροσυνη launch ugly attacks against solid men of God and their ministries without absolute proof according to what Sacred Scripture says that the target is apostate and is deceiving the Church? No! These things are contrary to one another. Using innuendo and deceitful tactics in order to incite believers to turn away from a brother or sister in Christ is outside of this and are the marks of one who is being controlled by our enemy. In fact, we are called here to work for the best of our brethren, to encourage them, to build them up by pointing everyone to Christ and His example of how we are to live this life and serve Him.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
5τουτο φρονειτε εν υμιν ο και εν χριστω ιησου 6ος εν μορφη θεου υπαρχων ουχ αρπαγμον ηγησατο το ειναι ισα θεω 7αλλα εαυτον εκενωσεν μορφην δουλου λαβων εν ομοιωματι ανθρωπων γενομενος και σχηματι ευρεθεις ως ανθρωπος 8εταπεινωσεν εαυτον γενομενος υπηκοος μεχρι θανατου θανατου δε σταυρου (Philippians 2:5-8 WHNU)
This think in you which also in Christ Jesus, who in form of God existing not seizure considered to be equal to God, but himself he emptied form of slave having taken, in likeness of men becoming; and in shape being found as man he humbled himself becoming obedient until death, of death but of cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 word for word from Koine Greek to English)
Our Lord’s example was one that was intended to show us the way to walk a life that is well pleasing to God. We are to take the form of a slave, His slave, as we serve the Body of Christ in our service to Him. Our obedience is not optional. This is to stand firm in Him even if it costs us our lives, our reputations, our ministries, everything we have, et cetera. Death by crucifixion was a shameful way to die in the 1st Century Roman Empire. We must ask ourselves, “Am I willing to take unjust heat for being Christ’s δουλος?” This is why the attrition rate amongst some of us can be quite high as the heat comes to bear and we must choose to stand firm in Him and not compromise or give in taking the easy way out to our shame. This is why not all Christians are called to be leaders.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)
9διο και ο θεος αυτον υπερυψωσεν και εχαρισατο αυτω το ονομα το υπερ παν ονομα 10ινα εν τω ονοματι ιησου παν γονυ καμψη επουρανιων και επιγειων και καταχθονιων 11και πασα γλωσσα εξομολογησηται οτι κυριος ιησους χριστος εις δοξαν θεου πατρος (Philippians 2:9-11 WHNU)
Wherefore also the God him elevated beyond and he favored to him the name the above all name, that in the name of Jesus all knee might bow on heavens and on earths and subterraneans and all tongue might confess out, “Master Jesus Christ into splendor of God Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 word for word from Koine Greek to English)
Our Lord’s humiliation in vv5-8 and exaltation by God in vv9-11 are forever linked as the cause and result. The Lord Jesus Christ is highly exalted by God and it should make us shudder when we see professing Christians making light of His person. He is not our buddy or bro or pal or homey.
The following is from page 1717 in The MacArthur Bible Commentary for this part of Philippians:
Christ’s exaltation was four-fold. The early sermons of the apostles affirm His Resurrection and coronation (His position at the right hand of God), and allude to His intercession for believers (Acts 2:32, 33, 5:30, 32; cf. Eph. 1:20, 21; Heb. 4:15; 7:25, 26). Hebrews 4:14 refers to the final element, His Ascension. The exaltation did not concern Christ’s nature or eternal place within the Trinity, but His new identity as the God-Man (cf. John 5:22; Rom. 1:4; 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:24, 25). In addition to receiving back His glory (John 17:5), Christ’s new status as the God-Man meant God gave Him privileges He did not have prior to the Incarnation. If He had not lived among men, He could not have identified with them as the interceding high priest. Had He not died on the Cross, He could not have been elevated from the lowest degree back to heaven as the substitute for sin. Name…above every name. Christ’s new name, which further describes His essential nature and places Him above and beyond all comparison, is “Lord.” This name is the NT synonym for OT descriptions of God as sovereign ruler. Both before (Is. 45:21-23; Mark 15:2; Luke 2:11; John 13;13; 18:37; 20:28) and after (Acts 2:36; 10:36; Rom. 14:9-11; 1 Cor. 8:6; 15:57; Rev. 17:14; 19:16) the exaltation, Scripture affirms that this was Jesus’ rightful title as the God-Man.
In v10 we read, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” The name Jesus was the name given to Him by His earthly parents and is not the new name that is above every name. What is His new name? Look at v11, “and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…” We have been using this new name for Jesus all through this article. He is κυριος, or Lord! This word refers primarily to the right to rule. When used to refer to people it is about ownership of people or property. However, when applied to Jesus Christ, it implies His deity, with emphasis on His Sovereignty.
What is the name that is above every name? It is κυριος. Jesus Christ is Lord! Think long and carefully about saying that my brethren. Do you say it, but then live as you please? If He is Lord of your life that means, you live in obedience to your Sovereign Lord. He calls the shots. He sets the limits. He moves us to where we need to be. He gives us what we need to walk before Him for the glory of God. This is what it means to have Christ as your Lord. It also means we walk in repentance before Him, confessing our sins as we turn to Him in obedience. Does this describe your walk before your κυριος as His δουλος?
Soli Deo Gloria!