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 emptied Himself, by 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. 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 2:5-11
I draw this out not because it is the most memorable section of this letter, nor because it is of greater importance, but because it is the nucleus around which the letter’s themes of humility and suffering are wound. After a typical introduction and reaffirmation of the Gospel, Paul begins talking about “what has happened” to him – his imprisonment. He wants it to be known that “what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel… that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance…,” and that he has learned, “in whatever situation I am to be content.”
Paul’s visit to Philippi was precipitated by a vision he received while in Troas, in northwest Asia Minor. Acts 16 records that one night: “a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” Paul and Silas did come to this leading city of Macedonia, baptized believers, and drove a demon out of a fortune-telling slave girl. Their brief imprisonment – ostensibly for disturbing the city, but in reality for causing financial harm to the slave girl’s owners – was a foretaste of what was to come.
This is not just a letter about Paul, though. Its mix of personal notes, commendations, and encouragements is designed to encourage a certain bearing in the Philippians. The word “mind,” as in “complete my joy by being of the same mind,” occurs six times. The word “rejoice,” nine times. Except in chapter 3, where Paul deals with “dogs” who are threatening the church – you can deduce what he’s talking about from the text – there is no presenting issue that troubles him. From beginning to end, Paul urges them to be confident that “God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 6:5: You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
The Epistle to the Philippians. Now let’s read it!
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.