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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome to HBS and our study of Paul’s epistle to the Philippians.
The saints at Philippi were suffering disunity due to strife from inside and outside the church, so our Apostle Paul introduced the Incarnation of Jesus Christ as an object lesson to teach them about humility (Philippians 2:7-8).
Paul strongly urged the bickering Believers to “put on” Christ’s attitude of humility saying: “…look not every man on his own things (interests), but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:4-5; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18).
The world-at-large does not recognize vainglory (excessive pride) as a real problem, but it should. This book reveals pride brought about the downfall of Lucifer (the devil) and played a part in the man’s disobedience in Eden. It’s all downhill from there, no pun intended. Pride will eventually cause the ruination of many people because it keeps an individual from recognizing their sinfulness and their need for a Savior:
But if our (what) gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Please open your Bible at Philippians 2:9-11.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In this passage of scripture we have God the Father’s response to Jesus’ substitionary sacrifice for all mankind on Calvary; a term denoting excessive anguish and suffering (Philippians 2:8). In plain language our Apostle Paul explains God the Father highly exalted His obedient Son. So, Paul takes us from Jesus Christ’s public humiliation and suffering in verses 2:6-8 to His highly exalted state in 2:9-11.
This isn’t news. The Apostle Peter said the great theme of the O.T. prophets was the sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow:
“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them (the O.T. prophets) did signify, when it (The Spirit of Christ) testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11).
Paul conveys a similar message in Acts 26:22-23:
“Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ (the Messiah) should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people (the nation of Israel), and to the Gentiles.”
Then we have the Lord Jesus Christ Himself confirming the message of the prophets:
“…all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again” (Luke 18:31-33).
Note the Lord didn’t reveal this truth in a parable or confused language. He spoke clearly. But did they understand what He was saying? We learn the answer is “No” in verse 18:34. The Apostle Luke includes himself when he wrote:
“And they (the twelve) understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”
Then later in Luke 24:13-48, on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, we have the account of Him meeting up with and walking along side two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus, but they did not recognize Him (Luke 24:13-16). These two disciples of the Lord had been walking along discussing what had happened to the Lord. They did not understand why He was taken away and put to death; they envisioned Him as the Redeemer of Israel. Adding to their confusion, just this morning, they were astonished to hear two women report His tomb was empty and angels outside the tomb spoke to them saying, “Jesus is not here. He’s alive!”
It was at this point Jesus spoke to them saying “Oh fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the (now watch this) prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ (the Messiah) to have suffered these things, and to enter into (what) his glory?” (Luke 18:25-26)
In verses 18:27-32, we find the risen Lord expounding on the O.T. scriptures with these two men beginning with Moses, and all the prophets, reminding them about the things that had been written concerning Himself. After this, “their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.”
The major and minor prophets had communicated the LORD God’s message to the nation of Israel concerning the promised Redeemer, so they possessed the knowledge but did not comprehend it, demonstrating it’s possible to possess knowledge and yet not understand it to the point of belief. This speaks to the condition of one’s heart:
But the LORD said unto Samuel (Israel’s last judge and first prophet), Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me (Matthew 15:8; Isaiah 29:13).
Our Apostle Paul speaks of his kinsmen’s unbelief when He said the sufferings of Christ were a stumblingblock to them: For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (1 Corinthians 1:22-23).
Not much has changed. Have you tried to explain the significance of Jesus Christ crucified to a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor? What was the response? More often than not people do not view the death of a person, some 2,000 years ago, as inspirational or meaningful. Some may even scorn the very idea that someone “had” to die in their place because they are “lost” sinners. I’ve encountered people who not only disliked the message they took a dislike to me the messenger. Reasons for this mindset vary, but to be sure pride is part of their makeup.
Over the years I’ve learned religious people, and not lost sinners, are the hardest to reach with God’s truths concerning Paul’s apostolic authority and the revelation of the mystery of grace:
Now to him that is of power to stablish (confirm) you according to (what) my gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and the preaching (heralding) of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the (who) prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, make known to all nations for the obedience of faith: (Romans 16:25-26).
This information isn’t found anywhere in the O.T. You only find it in Paul’s writings. The mystery (secret) Paul speaks of has been kept secret in the mind of God, since the foundation of the earth. He saved Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus RD and later revealed the mystery of grace to him (Acts 9; Ephesians 3:1-7; Deuteronomy 29:29). Thus, Jesus Christ crucified, or the finished work of the cross is the foundation of all our hope, joy, and peace.
However, there’s a flip-side to just about anything. The preaching of the cross was foolishness to the nation of Israel, as it is to all those who have partnered with the world. I’m referring to the covetous, the proud, and the self-seeking; those who presently stand in the way of God’s righteous wrath. These lost people consider the message of Paul’s gospel a “No go” because it makes no sense to them. But all those who see the power and wisdom of God in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in faith, are enlightened by the Spirit of God. And when they consider the enormity of Christ’s sufferings and sacrifice that provides the opportunity of salvation it helps them appreciate Paul’s statement in Philippians 2:9a:
“Wherefore God (the Father) also hath highly exalted him…”
Paul wants these Believers to know the risen Lord has not only been highly exalted He has been given absolute authority and power over all creation and one day future all things will be “summed up” in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:10-11). Why? He obediently humbled Himself “unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Paul gave these saints in Christ Jesus three purposes for highly exalting the Son of God:
1) That every human being in the world might one day submit to Him.
2) That, in addition to the future universal submission (2:10), there will be a universal confession Jesus Christ is Lord (of all). Right now many people only see Jesus Christ as a man whose luck ran out (2:8), but in the future all will acknowledge Him as Lord, i.e. God.
3) The ultimate purpose for Jesus Christ’s exaltation is to the glory of God the Father (2:11).
The term "highly exalted" in Koine Greek is Huperupsoo which means: "to elevate to a surpassing position, to exalt beyond all others." This particular exaltation is so grand this particular Greek word is only used here and nowhere else in the Bible. No one has ever or will ever humble themselves as Christ has, so the Lord has no equal on earth, which means no one else will receive such a great “gift” from the Father.
This brings us to the next section or the response to the Lord’s exaltation – Worship:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (2:10-11).
Again, one day future the entire universe will acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and worship Him. This is the N.T. equivalent of an O.T. prophecy.
Let’s compare scripture with scripture:
A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until (this is a word that denotes a future time) I make thine enemies thy footstool (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20).
For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment (Bema) seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Romans 14:9-12).
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever (Revelation 5:13).
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest (Revelation 15:4).
Finally, we come to the purpose of Jesus Christ’s exaltation: The Glorification of God
I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images (Isaiah 42:8).
The obvious question here is “What does glorify God mean?” To answer this question we need look no further than the first commandment. It is prefaced with this “And God spake all these words, saying I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:1-3).
The first commandment serves to remind us that everything written in the Pentateuch flows from the love God has for His people. In the Exodus passage, the LORD God demonstrated His love for Israel by delivering them “out of the house of slavery in Egypt.” His (agape) love for all, both Jew and Gentile, in the Age of Grace was demonstrated by the Son of God’s sacrificial death on the cross.
There is no greater love than this: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
But for us also, to whom it shall (righteousness) be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25).
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7-8).
So the principle our Apostle Paul is teaching the Believers in Philippians 2:6-11 is “He that humbles himself will be exalted." As Believers, we'll all ascend to heaven at our physical death but our heavenly rewards will be in proportion to the Christ-like characteristic of humility.
The Lord’s reward was great, but so was His suffering, and yet He suffered quietly (Isaiah 53:7). From this we learn we’re not to complain about our present circumstances. Instead we’re to humble ourselves and accept the momentary affliction for what it is a teaching moment to help us to mature spiritually:
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of (what) glory; (2 Corinthians 4:17).
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind (humility) let each esteem others better than himself,” and God will richly reward you as He did Jesus Christ:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience await for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:18-31).
(See Romans 2:6; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9-10; and Colossians 3:23-24).
(To be continued)
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