As in his other letters Paul’s focus on Christ Jesus in his letter to Philippians, forms the foundation of his appeal to believers to live a transformed life. In addition to informing them of his situation in prison, he, warns them not to adopt or return to Judaism but to stand firm in their faith in the gospel.
From exalted heights to unspeakable depths the Lord of the universe came to be the saviour of humanity. Christ came to be a servant. He came to give His life for us. In the gospels, we never find Him pursuing His own interests. His whole life and ministry was for others, was for us. This is the Jesus we are being introduced to. The humble Jesus, the man for others, the man for us.
Paul describes Jesus as being ‘in the form of God’ who ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.’ It is because Jesus is God that He does not need to hold His divinity tightly to Himself.
He knows who He is, He knows where He came from, He knows the authority that He carries, He knows His position in creation as the creator, He knows He is the image of the invisible God, He knows He created all that exists, He knows that He is eternal and in Him all things hold together, He knows He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, He knows that He will have first place in all things, He knows that through Him the whole of creation will be reconciled to God…He knows.
And because Paul knew, he was able to say of Jesus ‘in the form of God’ who ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.’ 6
The words ‘He did not count equality a thing to be grasped’, also tell us that this status rightly belonged to Jesus. He had no reason to hold on to it as if it did not belong to Him or for fear that it might be taken from Him. Although many take advantage of their positions to achieve selfish ambitions, Jesus who owned the highest status chose not to do so. Instead He gave to others in order to save them, despite the cost to Himself. The love of God meant that Jesus would disassociate Himself of His infinite splendour and take on Himself our limitations, our poverty, our suffering to be a servant.
As a result of His willing humiliation, service and death God the Father ‘highly exalted Him’ This exaltation (praise/promotion) of Jesus is not a reward. Neither is it some divine law that says all who are humbled will be exalted, instead it is reassigning to Jesus that which already belonged to Him.
The phrase ‘highly exalted’ is not saying that God assigned Jesus a status superior to that which he had previously enjoyed. Instead since He was in the form of God and therefore, enjoyed the most prestigious position in the form of God.
This expresses the fact that not only has Jesus been (re) exalted but to the highest position imaginable. A position belonging to God alone Psalm 97:9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
In His exaltation Jesus received a special name, one that is above every name. This is the name that identifies Him with the highest status possible, that which is enjoyed by God.
The name that is above every other name, is God’s name.
Exodus 3:13-15 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.