Philippians 2:5-11 - Paul's song of self-sacrifice

Updated: Mar 26

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Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death--

even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.


This is the Epistle selection for reading aloud on Palm Sunday, Year B, according to the lectionary of the Episcopal Church. With an outdoor service held first, when palm leaves are passed out to all in attendance and readings spoken, called the Liturgy of the Palm, the congregation is then solemnly led inside, where the regular service is called Liturgy of the Word. This particular selection from Philippians will be read in all three years of the lectionary cycle (A,B, and C), but due to the length of the Palm Sunday service [aka Passion Sunday] nothing will be said about these words at those times. However, these verses will also be read on two other occasions in the church calendar [neither during a set Sunday service], with it being possible little will ever be said about these verses and less heard.

It becomes important to point out that the letter to the Christians of Philippi is only four chapters in length. In that whole, it is only here in these verses found in chapter 2 that the text changes from prose to song. Just as David wrote psalms and many of the prophets would write lyrics of psalms, all inspired by Yahweh, it is worthwhile to see God’s voice singing from the pen of Paul. This makes this selection a good match for the song presented in Isaiah 50, as well as Psalm 31.

These seven verses begin by singing, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” The NRSV and the NIV list a heading for these verses [plus the prior four] that says, “Imitating Christ’s Humility.” The NASB has a heading that says, “Be like Christ.” The BibleHub Interlinear heads these specific verses as “The Attitude of Christ,” which they list similar verbiage can be found in Isaiah 52:13-15. All of this “imitating,” being “like” and an “attitude of” says one person – one soul – one spirit – known as “Jesus Christ” – is worthy of mimicry. That is a false message to receive.

All of these 'titles' are missing the truth of what Paul was, himself, as a writer of divine Scripture. He was reborn “in the name of Christ Jesus,” such that Paul was a soul married to Yahweh who had become the resurrection of Jesus, because Paul had received the Christ Mind. Paul was not imitation. Paul was not being like Christ; and, Paul had not developed an “attitude” of mimicry. Paul sang as Saul, who had been transformed from a selfish Christian hater into a Son of man, doing exactly as Yahweh guided him to do. Paul then exemplified a continuation of what Jesus had done, as another Jesus reborn.

In this regard, I find it worthwhile to know what the first four verses of this chapter in Paul’s letter to the Christians of Philippi say, keeping in mind that Paul wrote letters of support to others he had come in contact with, those who had been transformed just as he had been. Paul was not promoting Christians pretend being like Jesus, while secretly sinning as they always had done before. Paul wrote his letters so those who had been reborn as Christ, in the name of Jesus, encouraging them to stay in that state of being, never to fall prey to the world’s attacks. Thus, here are the first four verses that lead to this song:

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

In that, Paul began by listing the conditions for being “in Christ” [“en Christō”], where the preposition “en” means one’s soul has entered into Yahweh’s Holy Spirit, so one is “with” the presence of God Almighty. That state of being is called “Christ,” which means being an “Anointed one.” When Paul wrote the word “Christ” alone, that was not him naming the human flesh known as “Jesus.” Paul was writing to true Christians, telling them the conditions (the “if”) for that most divine presence “within,” was realized by becoming God's "Christ."

That is then repeated in verse 5, by Paul writing, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” [“en Christō Iēsou”]. By adding “Jesus” [“Iēsou”], after "Christ," that separate word then identifies all who have been reborn as a “Son of man” [regardless of human gender]. Just as Saul changed his name to Paul [a name that means "Small"], all who become "Anointed ones" bring on the name "Jesus."

The conditions for being “in Christ” are: love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection and compassion … intent on one purpose. The “fellowship of the Spirit,” where “Spirit” [“Pneumatos”] is capitalized, thus bearing the importance of the “Holy Spirit,” says the “if” is all souls in Philippi have married Yahweh, thereby made “in Christ.” As a collection of true Christians, they would all share a fellowship is translated from "koinōnia," meaning "sharing in that commonly held." That held in common was the Holy "Spirit." The “affection and compassion” is then towards one another, so all stay together “intent on one purpose.” That purpose is to bring other seekers to also be “in Christ.”

The state of being that is “in Christ” is then said to be “selfless,” meaning a soul surrendered in submission to God’s Will [marriage to Yahweh]. By not making this sacrifice, one remains a flawed human being, one which is filled with “empty conceit [“kenodoxian” – "vanity or empty pride"], not filled with God’s Holy Spirit. The unity of Christians ["fellowship"] means never attempting to rise above the others, which was the flaw of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Temple elite, all of whom had no humility and saw other Jews as beings of lesser material value. They cared nothing for others, meaning the sole intent of Christianity was as a unified presence of God, as His Sons of man [all reproductions of Jesus, not pretenders] for the purpose of saving souls and bringing those souls to join with them, as all “in Christ.”

If one does not know this is why Paul wrote so many letters, then one will not be able to understand much of what Paul wrote. Being “in Christ” becomes like his verse 5 says, “Let the same mind be in you.” That “mind” [“phroneite”] means one must not try to think like Jesus thought, from imaginations of what Jesus must have thought, because thinking is a function of a human brain, which all humans have.

The word translated as “the same mind” means, “to have understanding” and to “judge” (Strong’s), from an “inner perspective (insight) that shows itself in corresponding, outward behavior.” (HELPS Word-studies) This is the Christ Mind and being in possession of that [only possible as a gift of Yahweh to a wife – a soul merged with His Holy Spirit] means one will become “in the name of Jesus,” just as Jesus lived for Yahweh through the Christ [“Anointed”] “mind.”

It is also worthwhile to note the footnote that appears in the NRSV translation online [BibleGateway]. Next to the translation “was” [“that was in Christ”] is a footnote that states, “that you have in Christ.” This, in reality, is focusing on the translation of the Greek word “kai.”

The Greek of verse 5 states, “Touto phroneite en hymin ho kai en ChristōIēsou.” The use of “kai,” as I have pointed out many times before [in other writings] is as a marker word that shows importance to follow. Rather than be translated as a simple conjunction, kai acts to separate a segment of words for emphasis. As such, the literal translation here says, “This [that stated in verses 1-4, the conditions “if”] let mind be in you this kai in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, Paul said let the same mind that makes one Christ Jesus be in you, making you [importantly marked] be “in Christ Jesus” also.

When Paul then sang the words of verse 6, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God,” this then becomes a statement that oneself, also “in Christ” as “Jesus” reborn,” not think being Anointed makes one a god on earth. Paul [who never knew Jesus personally] said Jesus not once claimed to be God incarnate. That is a powerful verse to understand.

It is a common misconception for Christian churches today, all denominations, to believe that Jesus was God incarnate. Seeing Jesus as a deity makes Jesus unobtainable by mere human beings. Thinking Jesus of Nazareth bore the name "Jesus Christ," such that the name "Christ" can only refer to the god Jesus, makes Jesus as lofty as was Julius Caesar, a so-called divine ruler in the flesh. However, Jesus never claimed to be God, as he always said he was a “Son of man.” That recognition is what Paul is pointing out here; so, one reborn as Jesus does not equate to being God incarnate, but only another Son of man, led by the Father.

To expand on that, Paul then sang in verse 7: “but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.” The exception [“alla” = “but, however”] is then “himself emptied” [as written “heauton ekenōsen”]. When "self" is understood to mean one's "soul" [lower-p pneuma], then an "emptied soul" means the sacrifice of the soul unto Yahweh. A “self” is then the breath of life that animates human flesh. The aspect of “emptied” means Jesus “deprived himself” or “rendered void himself,” which does not mean Jesus killed his life in the flesh. It means his soul submitted, willingly and lovingly, to Yahweh, as His wife, making his flesh no longer serve the will of the soul [which can become inverted to the flesh controlling the soul - Big Brain Syndrome].

The flesh of Jesus, void of self-ego and self-will, was alive still, but under the control of Yahweh. It was through this self-sacrifice that Yahweh was able to be “born into a human,” making that human become the likeness of God [not God in flesh]. This condition of Jesus is then the condition Yahweh sets for all who will “follow Jesus,” in his name. None will ever be gods on earth; all will serve God totally: with all their hearts, all their souls, and all their minds.

It was this self-sacrifice and servitude that then led Paul to sing in verse 8, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death -- even death on a cross.”

This begins with the word “kai,” so it is important that one understands how Yahweh was “found in human form.” It was then that presence within the flesh of Jesus [his soul merged with the Holy Spirit] that forced Jesus to humble himself, meaning Jesus the man was nothing, because Yahweh was everything about his being. That sacrifice of self-will says that Jesus’ submission to the Will of Yahweh led him to be so obedient that he completely died of self – “death” [“thanatou”]. Still, that spiritual death of self-ego would lead to his physical death upon a Roman cross.

In that last statement, about the “cross,” the Greek needs further examination to grasp the full meaning that is intended to come from those words. Paul wrote, “thanatou de staurou,” which can literally translate as “death now a raised stake.” The repeating of the word “death,” with a comma mark in between [“thanatou , thanatou”] means the spiritual death of self [self-will, self-ego, self-importance] was then being explained as not being physical “death,” because the meaning of “death” then took on the meaning of [from “de” meaning, “moreover, indeed now . . . , on top of this . . . , next . .] becoming spiritually “a raised stake” [the common meaning of “staurou”].

A raised stake is what vineyard owners place in the ground for their grapevines, as a strong upright pole that will support vine grown and heavy clusters of grapes hanging from them. The growers make the stakes they post be strong, so the vine will not fall to the ground and produce bad fruit. Jesus’ sacrifice [spiritual death as a Son of man] made him become spiritually a raised stake in the ground [a Son of man]. As such, the good fruit of the vine can come from his 'blood' and kept in a state of worthiness, until ripe to be picked.

In verse 9, Paul then sang these words: “Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name”. This begins with the capitalized word “Dio,” meaning “wherefore, on which account, therefore” (Strong’s Usage), so the importance is as a connection of this “death now a raised stake.” That state of being is then pointed towards this verse, with “Dio” followed by a comma mark of separation and the word “kai,” denoting that death now a raised stake is importantly “this God him highly exalted.”

The importance that must be gained is “death now a raised stake” means “Yahweh” having been raised, where the spiritual elevation of a soul is due to the presence of God (“Theos”). It is that elevated state of being, brought about by the death of self, that a body of flesh becomes “highly exalted” (“hyperypsōsen”). This means Jesus was a Son of man, because of self-sacrifice unto God.

The second half of this verse is begun with the word “kai,” which says it is important to realize that “Jesus” was “given” to this model of self-sacrifice. Because God had Gabriel tell Mary his Son's name was to be Jesus, that says it is a God-given name. The meaning of the name “Jesus” says, “Yah[weh] Will Save” or “Yah[weh] Saves.” That becomes “the name that is above every name,” such that whether one’s parents gave one a name like “Tom,” “Dick,” or “Harriett,” those names apply to a soul alone in the flesh, one that has yet to be Saved By Yahweh. As such, once one has become just like was Jesus, so one’s soul has married Yahweh and one has become His Anointed, then one will also assume the name that is above all other names – "Yahweh Saves."

With this truth stated, Paul then sang in verse 10: “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth”. Here, another common mistake is made by churches, who then teach their congregations to worship Jesus Christ, as if “Christ” was the last name of “Jesus.” Preachers teach members of their churches to expect Jesus to come and save them in the “Rapture.” They worship Jesus as a god, which is not what his name states.

The name “Jesus” states that “Yahweh Will Save,” which means the man named Jesus was Saved By Yahweh, not some demigod. Jesus certainly did not save himself, as he was not an equal to God. Therefore, every knee shall bend in worship to Yahweh [not Jesus].

When Paul wrote, “in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” this is the realm of the Universe, which is the Creation of Yahweh. Jesus was not the one who created the Universe. Jesus was the model for all whose knees shall bend to Yahweh – the Creator. Jesus was, from day one, totally committed to serving Yahweh, as his soul was married to God's Holy Spirit at birth in the flesh.

Finally, in this song of Paul to the Christians in Philippi, his verse 11 sings, “and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This too begins with the word “kai,” indicating importance in realizing that “every tongue should confess that,” where “that” refers to the previous statement: “every knee should bend” to God the Creator.

In the use of the Greek word “ glossa,” which translates a “tongue,” this becomes a multi-leveled intention, which goes beyond the physical, meaning more than advice to believers that they should profess faith in God. The word expands to mean “language,” such that everyone on earth “should confess” to Yahweh - those of all tongues. That speaks of the spread of Christianity around the globe. Still, on a most divine level, “tongue” means everyone should sacrifice his or her self-will, so each holy wife’s “tongue” will then speak the Word of God.

At this point, it is important to notice the multiple uses of the conditional, which has been translated as what one “should” do. Verses 10 and 11 each tell what one “should” do: “should bow” [“kampsē”] and “should confess” [“exomologēsētai”]. This condition relates back to the beginning, when Paul set up the “ifs” of being “in Christ.” All of this means it is based on the condition of self-surrender to the Will of God.

Yahweh is not going to come demanding someone become His wife. Jesus is not going to fly down from heaven on a white horse, lopping the heads off of people who do not bow down and take his name. Everything becomes the responsibility of the seeker. When one is not seeking salvation from Yahweh, one will not bend a knee to God, nor will one confess surrender of one’s soul to Yahweh.

When verse 11 ends with the presentation as shown above: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” the reality of what appears in the written text is absolutely missed. The Greek, according to the BibleHub Interlinear presentation, shows all-capital letters spelling out “LORD JESUS CHRIST” [“KYRIOS IĒSOUS CHRISTOS”], followed by a comma mark and the words “eis doxan Theou Patros.” Clearly, for all who have ever been in some Internet chat room, all-caps should be read as yelling or speaking loudly. Capitalization in Scripture means importance. Therefore, all-caps must be understood as most definitely read this as having divine meaning.

Those last words say, “to glory God Father.” In that word “doxan” [“glory”] is intended to read as “the unspoken manifestation of God.” (HELPS Word-studies) By reading that into that word, the repetition of "god" (via implication of meaning) makes “God” (written) be then stated to be the “Father.” By the capitalization of “Patros,” this conclusion to verse 11 says [MOST IMPORTANTLY], all confession of truth can only come when one’s soul has allowed Yahweh to be one’s “LORD.” Upon that transformation does one become reborn as “JESUS.” This is then the model offspring that is allowed one, having become the “ANOINTED ONE.”

It is then from that conditional transformation that one has become “the unspoken manifestation of God,” the Son of man, and the child of Yahweh. From that lineage, one assumes a name that is above whatever one the flesh is known by [for Paul it was Saul]. In that transition to being “in the name of Jesus Christ,” one becomes related by spiritual “blood” to Jesus, another “Son” of the “Father” [regardless of human gender].

This reading from Paul will never be interpreted in a church for seekers to realize. No priest or pastor will stand before a flock of paying customers and tell them about a condition that makes it up to them to choose: sit in a pew and be judged for doing nothing about becoming Jesus reborn [wasting spirit]; or, get up and go some place where Scripture can unfold as deeply meaningful. The former means reject Yahweh, with the later meaning says one is willing to do the necessary work … alone … in order to find a deep spiritual uplifting that will convince one's soul that one self-sacrifice is the only way to salvation.

I am writing this interpretation as one who has left the pew. I write as one led by the Holy Spirit to assist any readers seeking the truth. I put it out as the tongue of Yahweh having been placed in the world for your benefit.

This reading will be read aloud in Episcopal Churches along with so much else that the vast majority of Episcopalians – priests and lay people alike – will not have any time to ponder the meaning of any of the words heard read aloud. They only have a pittance of time set aside for such things as going to church and pretending to be Christians. Bible study has become something only the elderly attend, if at all. That becomes a reflection of truth, being a statement of selfishness, which Paul warned about in a verse not read aloud today.

Paul wrote in his third verse, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” The “selfish ambition” of today’s false Christians have is the pretense of being saved by Jesus. This “conceit” is thinking the quickie way to religion is the best way, making them ridicule other religions that put more time into explaining the meaning of the Word [even if they do so wrongly], because they believe the less said the better [fewer mistakes].

It is this lack of teaching that leads a spiritual movement, begun by Jesus and expanded by Saints reborn in the name of Jesus Christ, to become degraded to the point of being a perfect reflection of what not to be – the system of the Temples of Jerusalem. What Paul wrote is so poorly misunderstood that it appears the only message that got through is “Do nothing.”