Jesus in the Form … Likeness

The Lord be with you

jesusTaking the Bible seriously means not importing ideas from outside the text into the text, pretending the Bible teaches something it doesn’t. One favorite verse to twist is Philippians 2:7. In the quote below Gerhard uses his skills of a true master to expose false ideas.

… “but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”  (Philippians 2:7)

Therefore with the words “likeness” or “fashion” the apostle by no means overturns the reality of the flesh. Rather, he emphatically expresses the weaknesses to which Christ voluntarily subjected Himself and the emotions that He wished to endure in His state of humiliation no less than other people experience them. This is clear: First, from his aim. After all, the apostle’s intent was not to teach what sort of a human nature Christ had with regard to its essence, but what sort Christ had in His external behavior while He was in His state of emptying. Second, from the context. The apostle is encouraging the Philippians to humility with the example of Christ. But if Christ had not been true man and had not been obedient to the Father with true humility, surely the apostle would also be encouraging us to a feigned and pretended humility. Third, from the proper meaning of these words, for skāma (I have transliterated the Greek) [“fashion”] is taken for an agreement of qualities but not directly for the nature itself. (See Rom. 1:23; 6:5.) We pass the same judgment about the word homoiöma [“likeness”]. (See 1 Cor. 15:29.) Fourth, from the added word morfā [“form’], which is nowhere taken immediately for the essence itself or the substantial form but only for the external appearance or accidental form.

Gerhard, Johann Theological Commonplaces: Exegesis IV on Christ, 86