Shalom! My name is Adam Pastor

Welcome to ADONI MESSIAH which means
"My Lord Messiah" -
a fitting epithet to who Jesus (or Yeshua) is!

Here, I attempt to present the Apostolic Truths according to the Scriptures, that there is
One GOD, the Father, namely, YAHWEH,
and One Lord, GOD's only begotten Son,
Yeshua the Messiah.

And that one day YAHWEH will send His Son back to Earth to inaugurate the Everlasting Kingdom of GOD


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pre-existence in the Gospel of John by Sean Finnegan

Pre-existence in the Gospel of John
by Sean Finnegan

Recently someone dropped by the blog and left this comment:

"Having found restoration theology in the past year and having the Trinity drummed into me all my life, it is a joy to find the ‘truth’ being taught and verified by this website. Yet, how do I come to believe the teaching that Jesus wasn’t with God before he came to earth born of the Virgin Mary? John 17:21-24 reads, ‘That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me…the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.’ If someone can comment on those verses and how they seem to run contrary to the teaching that Jesus’ beginning was only at his birth, I would really love to hear those thoughts."


Did Jesus exist before he was born? Can one in fact exist before one exists? Is Jesus a spirit made flesh or even God Himself? This question about pre-existence is repeatedly asked, especially by those who have come out of a Trinitarian background. Usually the question is raised by pointing to specific verses in the gospel of John. However, we need to build our understanding of Jesus by asking the following questions in order: (1) What does the Old Testament say with regard to prophecies about who/what the Messiah would be? (2) What do Matthew, Mark, and Luke say with regard to when the Messiah began? (3) Now that we have those underpinnings of some 42 books of the Bible, we can approach the gospel of John and ask how to work this all together. We will look at each of these three questions in turn in an effort to answer this question about Jesus’ pre-existence.

The Old Testament clearly states that the son, the Messiah, was not already in existence. Below are some prophecies that speak of him.

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel" (Gen. 3:15).

The Messiah is to be a descendant of the woman. A descendant is by definition one who comes into existence after the ancestor. Apparently, from the very beginning of this mess (the fall), God had plans to fix the problem through the seed of the woman (i.e., a solution from within the human biological chain).

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called wonderful counselor, mighty god, eternal father, prince of peace" (Isa. 9:6).

The child will be born/given. At the time of Isaiah 9, the language used to describe the Davidic Messiah is future tense. This is a prophecy of a child who would be born in the future (just as chapters 7 and 8 had prophesied about other children who would be born). If Jesus already existed, we would expect different language here.

"Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The spirit of the LORD will rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And he will delight in the fear of the LORD, and he will not judge by what his eyes see, nor make a decision by what his ears hear" (Isa. 11:1-3).

"A shoot will spring" means that a descendant of David (Jesse’s son) would be born some day. The whole idea of lineal descent is emphasized by the terms "shoot" and "branch" which are tree metaphors. In other words, this person would come from the line of Jesse. If he already existed independent of the line of Jesse, then he would come through but not from the stump of Jesse.

"I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as your possession’" (Psalm 2:7-8).

This oracle does not include when this was to happen. The only information given is that on a certain day (i.e. "today") God begets a son who is to rule the world (not just Israel). This means that the day before this "day" the Son did not exist. "Begotten" means a father brings someone into existence. (Typically this occurs via the sexual union of a man and a woman, but obviously with Jesus a miracle occurred in which Mary remained a virgin, though she had conceived.)

"When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons [i.e. a human being]; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever" (1 Chron. 17:11-14).

Again, notice the future tense here. One day a descendant of David will be born, and he will be chosen by God to rule on the throne of David forever. Was David thinking that an angel, a spirit, or God Himself would metamorphose into a human, pose as a descendant, and fulfill this prophecy? Of course not! David was most likely thinking of Solomon (who we know didn’t end up being "the one") or perhaps a distant descendant. What is clear is that one of David’s progeny will rule forever.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke need to be investigated with respect to the question of Jesus’ origin before we look at the gospel of John. Mark does not have any information about the birth of Jesus, so we will focus on the first couple of chapters of Matthew and Luke.

"Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah" (Matt. 1:15- 16).

It is essential that we take into consideration the context that immediately precedes this verse. Matthew has just enumerated dozens of generations in genealogical fashion (just as in Genesis chapters 5 and 11). Then at the end of this impressive list of descendants, he gets to Jesus (Matt. 1:16). The point is that Jesus is a bona fide, lineal descendant of Abraham and David (cf. Matt. 1:1) — a real human being.

"Now the birth [lit. origin] of Jesus Christ was as follows: when his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1:18).

The NASB says "birth," but the word used here is a bit stronger than that. It is the word "genesis" which means beginning or origin (like the first book of the Bible). So the origin of this Messiah (Christ = Messiah) is in the womb of the virgin, Mary. The inescapable consequence of his origin being in Mary is that he did not literally exist prior to this (though, of course, Jesus existed "notionally" from the beginning — in the mind of God).

"But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the child who has been conceived [lit. begotten] in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son; and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,’ which translated means, ‘GOD [IS] WITH US’" (Matt. 1:20-23).

The first thing to note is that the word translated "conceived" in verse 20 is really the word "begotten," which is important because it is the part the father has in making the child. In other words, we find here in Matthew 1:20 the fulfillment of the oracle in Psalm 2:7 (one day the Father will beget a child who will rule the world). Remember that "to beget" is what the father does to bring someone into existence.

The next thing to note is that the angel of the Lord tells Joseph that the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy that one day a virgin shall bear a son. In other words, we are being told that the future tense language used in the Old Testament is in fact fulfilled in Joseph’s time through the miraculous begetting and subsequent birth of this son. All of this causes one to think of a monarchical story of a promised heir of royal blood who will rule the world. Jesus is that heir. The twist that the New Testament adds is not that he always existed and "transmuted" into a human, but that this child was actually miraculously begotten without a human father, making God his literal (i.e. biological?) father.

"‘And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God’" (Luke 1:31-35).

Two points here:

(1) Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive, she will bear a son, and he will be great. The clear implication of this language is that Jesus did not already exist, but that he was about to be born. Furthermore, if he were to have existed prior to his birth, then he was not great. Gabriel says that "he will be great," which means if he already existed he was not great, or else the angel should have said, "he is great" or "he will remain great" or something to that effect.

(2) The precise reason given for why the child is the "son of God" is not because he always existed, not because he is the second member of the Trinity, and not because he shares the same divine substance or being with the Father. No! He is the "son of God" because of the miracle in the womb of Mary. This is the precise reason why he is God’s Son. This is so simple, yet so overlooked — Jesus is the Son of God because God begot him! How did God do it? The holy spirit, God’s creative power and presence (cf. Gen. 1:2 where spirit hovers over the chaotic waters) overshadowed Mary, and the result was an impregnated womb, the beginning of a human being. Jesus did not pass through the womb, but rather he began at his birth. The womb is not an incubator for an alien being! So from all of this evidence (and there’s more at, it is absolutely clear that Jesus began at birth (after all that is what it means to be a human).

The gospel of John is so often misunderstood because we forget to look at the dozens of books that precede it, and we then isolate verses and interpret them in light of our culture rather than harmonizing them with the Hebrew thought-world of first-century Judaism. In the gospel of John, we are suddenly confronted with a lot of language which seems to say the opposite of what has preceded in the Bible. How do we make sense of this? There are two options: (1) harmonize John with the rest of the Bible, or (2) overturn the previous books in favor of a hypothesis that to John was revealed "secret" information about the "true" origin of Jesus. It is our belief that the former is preferable. So what does it mean when we find sayings about Jesus coming from heaven, being sent by the Father, or having things (glory, love, etc.) with God before the foundation of the world? I will take each of these in turn.

Jesus came down from heaven. All good things come down from heaven (James 1:17). Saying something came down from heaven could mean it fell from the sky, or it could mean that this person, idea, or event was in God’s plan (in heaven), and then it came to pass on earth. Johannes Weiss explains this well:

"We have to bear in mind that for the Israelites, and likewise for Jesus, there existed a twofold world, and thus also a twofold occurrence of events. The world of men and history is only the lower floor of the world’s structure. The world of the angels and spirits is erected above that. Both parts make up the world (1 Cor. 4:9). Moreover, what happens on earth has its exact parallel in heaven. All history is only the consequence, effect, or parallel copy of heavenly events. Thus an event which on earth is only just beginning to take place may not merely be already determined, but even already enacted in heaven." [1] 

Although I certainly don’t believe that every single event on earth occurs because it has been determined in heaven first, I do most certainly believe that certain events (the coming of the Messiah, etc.) are already determined by God in heaven, and they will come down to earth in the fullness of time.

The second category is when John’s gospel says Jesus was sent (around 40 times). But does "sent" mean that Jesus was in heaven with God, and then one day God sent him to earth to save us? I would suggest that there is another sense for the word "sent" that is more harmonious with what we have already seen. Isaiah was sent (Isa. 6). What does this mean? He was commissioned by God; he was given a mission by God to do something. Furthermore, John the Baptist was sent: "There came a man sent from God, whose name was John" (John 1:6). This is the same sort of language used of Jesus. "The Father sent me," etc. Was John in heaven? He was sent from God! We conclude that being sent from God need not imply pre-existence. It may just mean that someone was commissioned by God.

The third idea found in John is that Jesus "has" things with God before he was born (or even before the foundation of the world). There is one question we need to answer before we come to understand this: did Jesus literally exist before the foundation of the world? If the answer is "yes," then it would be quite natural to say that Jesus literally had glory with (John 17:5) or experienced love from (John 17:24) the Father before his birth. However, if it is our understanding from the 42 books that precede John that Jesus is in fact a genuine human who had a literal origin in his mother, though his father was miraculously God, then we will see these expressions in terms of predestination, not preexistence.

In other words, when Jesus says, "Now, Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" (John 17:5), he means that he had glory stored up with the Father (i.e. in God’s plan), and he is now asking for it. And when Jesus says, "You loved me before the foundation of the world" (17:24) he means that God has always loved His son, even before he existed. This does not mean that Jesus experienced the love before he existed, but that God still expressed His love, perhaps by ordering history in such a way that all things would culminate in His Son, in much the same way as expectant parents make preparations before their child is born.

Another example of this type of thinking may be helpful. "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). Was the Lamb literally killed before the beginning of the world? No! But in the counsels of God he was, so this event is projected into the past, as having already been done — from the beginning — though everyone understands that the slaying of the Lamb did not actually take place until AD 30 or so.

In conclusion, Jesus is a human being. Though he was always planned for in the counsels of God, he did not literally pre-exist his own beginning (birth). The Bible tells a beautiful, Jewish story about a godly woman who had a baby destined to rule the world. God’s triumph over Satan was to be a victory from within creation rather than from without. Because Jesus is one of us, he can completely relate to the human plight. Yet, because God begat him, Jesus finds himself in full solidarity with God as well. He is the perfect mediator, the second Adam. What a glorious story — a story that is cheapened when we move his origin prior to his birth and make Jesus into some sort of superhuman spirit turned man!

[1] Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom, p. 74.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Adam Christology, Pre-existence & The Philippian Hymn

More on more scholars are beginning to understand that the hymn in Philippians Chapter 2.6-11 ought to be read in light of Adam Christology. That is, a Christology based upon the contrast between the first Adam and the Last Adam, the first man Adam and the man Jesus of Nazareth. And in that context therefore, this hymn has absolutely nothing to do with pre-existence much less, incarnation!

For a summary of what Adam Christology in light of Paul's theology, is all about I will quote:

James D.G. Dunn's book:
Christology in the Making
(Second Edition, SCM PRESS LTD, 1996)

Page 106:

Paul understands salvation as the restoration of the believer to the glory which man now lacks as a result of his/Adam's sin (Rom. 3.23). ...
For bound up with this understanding of salvation and integral to it is Paul's conviction that Jesus is the indispensable model or pattern for this process. Salvation for Paul is essentially a matter of being conformed to the pattern which is Christ. We see this most clearly in Paul's use of the same two terms which constitute his Adam soteriology [i.e. the study of salvation] - 'image' and 'glory'. ... 
The idea of all men somehow caught up in Adam's fall, of man as fallen Adam, and the idea of salvation as a renewal of God's image in Adam and a restoration of God's glory forfeited by Adam. But in Paul's theology Adam is pushed aside at this point, and Christ alone fills this stage. Adam becomes merely the type of fallen man, and another Adam appears as alone the final man to whom believers must be conformed.

Page 107

The Adam motif is a substantial strand in the warp and woof of Paul's theology, and even when not explicit its influence spreads out widely and throws a considerable light on his understanding of the Christian gospel. Paul's Adam christology is an extension of this motif and wholly consistent with it ...


So Adam Christology is about studying Jesus Christ in the light of the fact that he came to save us from our sins and restore us to the glory and image of GOD, that GOD had intended in the first place, for all mankind to possess.
That is why, Paul repeatedly contrasts Adam with Jesus Christ; showing that where Adam failed, Christ succeeded; and thus salvation ultimately, will be when we are all conformed/transformed totally to the image of Christ, who is the image of the invisible GOD. [Col 1.15]

In light of these facts I contend that Phil. 2:5ff has absolutely nothing to do with a pre-existence (and an incarnation) of some heavenly being!

I will now quote Karl-Josef Kuschel's book:
BORN BEFORE ALL TIME?: The Dispute over Christ's Origin 

I will firstly show a series of quotes leading up to what he has to say concerning Philippians Chapter 2.

Page 184

The Old Testament also knows the idea of a kind of human 'soul'. However, it is not pre-existent, but the result of the creative activity of God: 'Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being' (Gen. 2.7). ...
All this means that it seems characteristic of the Old Testament notion of pre-existence that God alone is 'pre-existent'; specifically, that means: uncreated and prior to all created things. For the Old Testament takes it utterly for granted that God alone is the creator of all that is; he alone lives 'for ever and ever', or 'from primal times', ... God alone is uncreated, without a beginning, eternal and incorruptible.

Page 194 Concerning 'wisdom' e.g. Proverbs 8

Nor is there any tradition that Lady Wisdom was ever misunderstood in Israel as a "real" goddess appearing alongside Yahweh. Lady Wisdom is not in any way to be called a "goddess".

Pages 206-207

Nowhere is wisdom addressed personally or approached for help as Yahweh is. ... There can be no question of a 'second principle' in God. So in Judaism - borderline cases apart - the pre-existence of a personified form is not associated either with uncreatedness or with divinity. What we always have - in a poetical and didactic form - is the wisdom of God himself and not the rivalry of a divinized figure of wisdom alongside the one God. Personification and pre-existence are poetic, stylistic means for giving form to that which has no form, for making the intangible tangible, for portraying that which has no image: God himself in his revelation for human beings.

Page 218: ideal pre-existence i.e. exist in the ideas/thought of GOD

Since the fundamental rabbinic studies by the Protestant exegete Paul Billerbeck, it has still been the case that
'no matter how many messianic figures the synagogue may have created, it nowhere allows its Messiah to go beyond the universal human measure; he remains a man among men (Justin, Dialogue 49). So it was not possible to attribute pre-existence to him. That would have distinguished him from other men.'
In other words, in the synagogue a particular kind of pre-existence was always associated with the Messiah, but it did not set him apart from other men. This is pre-existence in God's thought, the ideal pre-existence of the Messiah. To quote Billerbeck once again:
'The doctrine of the ideal pre-existence of the Messiah in the world of God's thought makes the Messiah an essential ingredient of the eternal and therefore unchangeable plans of God for the world; it is intended to strengthen Israel's confidence in its messianic hopes.'

Page 219

No text can be identified in rabbinic Judaism for the first century CE which asserts a real pre-existence of the Messiah, ...

Pages 223-224

And the earliest witnesses do not make the story of Jesus begin 'in heaven', in a mythical prior time, but in a concrete place here on earth. ... Indeed interest from the sources in any prior existence of Jesus seems so slight that the earliest Gospel, Mark, does not even have a narrative about his childhood or a genealogy, and even those Gospels which report his childhood and genealogy have absolutely no interest in grounding Jesus' origin in a heavenly prior time; this prior time is historical and earthly - the history of the Jewish people (Matt. 1.1-17; Luke 3.23-28).

Page 242

Did Jesus see himself as a pre-existent heavenly figure and require corresponding faith here? Did the earliest witnesses of faith believe in Jesus as a pre-existent heavenly figure? That is what we asked at the beginning of this chapter. The answer is that neither Jesus himself nor the earliest community shows any interest in pre-existence in any form.

Then Kuschel deals with
the hymn of Philippians Chapter 2.
Here are some quotations concerning his findings:


Page 249: concerning Phil. 2.6-11

... in the hymn Jesus is human ... the hymn, however, speaks of God's action on the man Jesus in the act of exaltation. ... the hymn is about appointment to a new, higher dignity and the beginning of his position as ruler of the world, in other words a real enthronement. Finally, in 2.10f. an allusion to Isa. 45.23 ('Before me every knee will bow') is an integral part of the hymn. The conclusion is that the hymn does not say anything about the motivation for the descent ('to make good the fault') nor is there any echo of 'docetism'. On the contrary, in this hymn
Jesus Christ is really human.

Page 250

From this fact that the Jewish heritage rather than Hellenistic syncretism may be the key to understanding the Philippians hymn, present-day exegetes have drawn the radically opposite conclusion that the Philippians hymn does not speak of the pre-existence of Christ at all. Indeed an increasing number of present-day New Testament scholars with good reason question the premises of exegesis hitherto and cannot see pre-existence, let alone incarnation, in the Philippians hymn.

Pages 251-252

... in this text Christ is not celebrated as a pre-existent heavenly being, but in good Jewish fashion as a human counterpart to Adam. That view cannot be completely false, simply because in other passages in his correspondence Paul also compares Christ with Adam (Rom. 5. 12-21; I Cor. 15.21f., 45-47). In fact we can ask: is not Adam, the first, original man, here replaced and surpassed by Jesus as the definitive, ultimately valid man? In that case we should regard Gen. 1-3, the creation and fall of the first man, as the traditio-historical background. ...
So the first line of the hymn would speak of Christ, who like Adam was created 'in the image' of God and like Adam participated in the 'glory' of God before his fall. The contrasting term to 'form of God' would further confirm this derivation: 'form of a slave' is evidently an allusion to Adam's fate after the fall. The second contrasting pair at the beginning of the text would point in the same direction: 'likeness of God' probably alludes to Adam's temptation (he wanted to be like God, Gen. 3.5) and 'likeness of men' in turn to Adam's state after succumbing to sin.
The phrase 'being like God' (Greek isa theou), too, may not simply be translated with terms like 'equality to God', 'being like God', as often happens. That would require the form isos theos. What we have in the text is the adverb isa, and that merely means 'as God', 'like God'. So there is no statement about Christ being equal to God, and this in turn tells against an interpretation in terms of pre-existence. ...
So this text would be a piece of Adam Christology, of the kind that also emerges in other contexts in the New Testament. ...
So there is no question here of a pre-existent heavenly figure. Rather, Christ is the great contrasting figure to Adam. To be specific, was it not Adam who wanted to become even more like God and thus succumbed to hybris and the primal sin? Was it not Adam who then as punishment had to live a kind of slave's existence? And is not the Christ of this hymn precisely the opposite? Did he not give up his being in the image of God voluntarily? Did he not take on the form of a slave, not as a punishment, but voluntarily and obediently, so that he was then appointed by God to his heavenly dignity? That, then, would be the contrast,
the great antithesis in this hymn:
Adam the audacious man -
Christ the man who humbled himself;
Adam the one who was humbled forcibly by God -
Christ the man who voluntarily humbled himself before God;
Adam the rebellious man -
Christ the man who was utterly obedient;
Adam the one who was ultimately cursed -
Christ the one who was ultimately exalted;
Adam who wanted to be like God - and in the end became dust;
Christ, who was in the dust and indeed went to the cross - and is in the end the Lord over the cosmos?

Page 252

Thus in this hymn Christ seems to be the new Adam who has finally overcome the old Adam. There is no question of a pre-existence of Christ with the scheme of a three-stage Christology:
pre-existence, humiliation, post-existence.
Jerome Murphy-O'Connor can therefore draw the basic conclusion:

'Strophe 1: As the Righteous Man par excellence Christ was the perfect image (eikon) of God. He was totally what God intended man to be. His sinless condition gave him the right to be treated as if he were God, that is, to enjoy the incorruptibility in which Adam was created. This right, however, he did not use to his own advantage, but he gave himself over to the consequences of a mode of existence that was not his by accepting the condition of a slave which involved suffering and death.
Strophe 2: Though in his human nature Christ was identical with other men, he in fact differed from them because, unlike them, he had no need to be reconciled with God. Nonetheless, he humbled himself in obedience and accepted death.
Strophe 3: Therefore, God exalted him above all the just who were promised a kingdom, and transferred to him the title and the authority that had hitherto been God's alone. He is the Kyrios whom every voice must confess and to whom every knee must bow.
Thus understood, the original hymn represents an attempt to define the uniqueness of Christ considered precisely as man. This is what one would expect at the beginning of Christian theology.'
[Jerome Murphy-O'Connor OP, 'Christological Anthropology in Phil 2.6-11', Revue Biblique 93, 1976, p.49f]

Pages 253-254

So does not the very formula 'humbling himself' presuppose the pre-existence of Christ? Where does the statement about humbling himself and emptying himself come from? ...
But here basically one unproven hypothesis has been used to support another: because Christ is pre-existent, emptying himself can only mean incarnation; or vice versa: because emptying himself can only mean incarnation, here Christ must be pre-existent. But for Rissi himself, the assumption of pre-existence in this text is 'very questionable'. What is the alternative?
The alternative is that in this hymn a messianically orientated servant Christology from Isa. 53 has quite decisively appeared alongside the Adam Christology of the first lines (2.6). This is also confirmed by the parallel statements about exaltation in Philippians and Isaiah. The servant of God in Isaiah will also one day be 'exalted and lifted up' (Isa. 52.13), just as it is said of the Christ in this hymn that God has exalted him above all. Moreover Phil.2.10 contains a clear allusion to Isa. 45.23: 'To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.' So it is only the post-existent, exalted Christ to whom here a dignity is attributed which otherwise is reserved only for God. And in fact allusions to other Old Testament texts seem to point in the same direction.

Page 254

So vv. 6 and 7 would not be speaking of a pre-existent heavenly being or of incarnation, but solely of the life of Christ on earth. Rissi's conclusion is that 'the Christ as the true man in God's purpose did not let himself be led astray like the first man but remained sinless; however, he did not do so as an ideal figure but as a real human being. He fulfils the role of the servant of God in Isa.53. He is the man Jesus who was exalted because he humbled himself, and at the end will receive eschatological homage from all. This is clearly a Jewish-Christian interpretation of the career of Christ on the basis of a christological interpretation of the Old Testament.'

... that Phil. 2.6 is primarily concerned with making statements about high status and by no means necessarily concerned with pre-existence. I do not think that it can be proved that this is a statement about incarnation. ... The conclusion to be drawn from this is that one need not borrow extra-biblical notions and texts to understand Philippians 2. The Jewish background is enough for understanding this hymn and indeed for providing continuity with Aramaic Jewish Christianity in the proclamation of Christ. So 'humbling himself', 'emptying himself', is not to be understood as the act of a mythical pre-existent heavenly being, but as a qualification of the man Jesus.

Page 260

The focal point, then, is not a Jesus who is divinely 'before time' and his allegedly divine being which goes with this, but his humbling which leads to the cross and his exaltation to be Kyrios and Lord of the worlds. So according to this hymn, Jesus Christ is not primarily a divine figure of the heavenly world of light, a pre-existing divine being who left the world, took the form of a servant, and then ascended into heaven again ...
but is primarily the crucified and exalted man who came from God.


I will now quote from James Dunn's book,
Christology In The Making (2nd edition)
in regards to the hymn of Philippians Chapter 2.

Page 114

Phil. 2.6-11 certainly seems on the face of it to be a straightforward statement contrasting Christ's pre-existent glory and post-crucifixion exaltation with his earthly humiliation. ...
However, this straightforward interpretation has to assume that Christ's pre-existence was already taken for granted - an assumption we cannot yet make on the basis of our findings thus far. ...
In fact, as J. Murphy-O'Connor has recently maintained, not without cause, the common belief that Phil. 2.6-11 starts by speaking of Christ's pre-existent state and status and then of his incarnation is, in almost every case, a presupposition rather than a conclusion, a presupposition which again and again proves decisive in determining how disputed terms within the Philippian hymn should be understood. ...
How then should the hymn be understood - in what appears (to us) the most obvious way, or in some other way? ...
In brief, the most informative and probable background in my judgment is the one we have been sketching in throughout this chapter - that of the Adam christology which was widely current in the Christianity of the 40s and 50s. It seems to me that Phil. 2.6-11 is best understood as an expression of Adam christology, one of the fullest expressions that we still possess.

Page 115

Moreover it can readily be seen that the outline of thought in the Philippian hymn fully matches the two-stage christology evident elsewhere in first generation Christianity - free acceptance of man's lot followed out to death, and exaltation to the status of Lord over all, echoing the regular primitive association of Ps. 110.1 with Ps. 8.6.

Pages 115-6

If we concentrate on vv. 6a-7c initially, it quickly becomes evident that its development is determined by a double contrast: first between 'form of God' and 'form of a slave', the former in which he was, the latter which he accepted; and second between 'equality with God' and 'in likeness of men', the former which he did not consider a prize to be grasped, the latter which he became. The best way to understand this double contrast is as an allusion to Gen. 1-3, an allusion once again, to the creation and fall of man. In the first contrast, morphe theou [form of God] probably refers to Adam having been made in the image (eikon) of God and with a share of the glory (doxa) of God: for it has long been recognized that morphe (form) and eikon (image) are near synonyms and that in Hebrew thought the visible 'form of God' is his glory. Morphe doulou [form of a servant/slave] probably refers therefore to what Adam became as a result of his fall: he lost his share in God's glory and became, a slave ...
In the second contrast 'equality with God' probably alludes to Adam's temptation
(Gen. 3.5 - '... you will be like God/the gods ...'),
and therefore 'likeness of men' probably by way of contrast denotes the kind of man that Adam became and so the kind of man that all men now are.

Page 116

What did Adam seek to grasp and what did he lose? Adam was already in the image of God (Gen. 1.26f.) and was created 'for immortality' ...
But he chose to grasp at the opportunity to be (completely) like God (knowing good and evil for himself - Gen. 3.5, 22). Snatching at the opportunity to enhance the status he already had, he both lost the degree of equality with God which he already enjoyed and was corrupted by that which he coveted (cf. Rom. 1.21-3; 7.9-11). Not content with being like God, what God had intended, he became like men, what men now are. The contrast in other words is between what Adam was and what he became, and it is this Adam language which is used of Christ.

Page 117

Christ faced the same archetypal choice that confronted Adam, but chose not as Adam had chosen (to grasp equality with God). Instead he chose to empty himself of Adam's glory and to embrace Adam's lot, the fate which Adam had suffered by way of punishment. That is, in the words of the hymn, 'he made himself powerless' , freely accepting the lot and portion of man's slavery (to corruption and the powers) - morphe doulou, the antithesis of morphe theou; he freely chose to share the very lot and fate of all men - mankind's mortality and corruptibility, the antithesis of God's immortality and incorruption. What is expressed in one phrase in Rom. 8.3, 'sent in the very likeness of sinful flesh', is expressed in two phrases in Phil, 2.7, 'taking the form of a slave, becoming in the very likeness of men'.

In the last two sections of the hymn (w. 7d-8 and 9-11) the Adam christology covers the ground with which we have now become familiar - Christ as Adam, subject to death, and as Last Adam, exalted as Lord over all. As in Heb. 2.6-8, the programme is run through again and the divine intention for man expressed in Ps. 8.6 becomes at last fulfilled in the one who became Lord.

Page 118

Finally with Phil. 2.9-11 we enter the last section of the hymn, and the 'last Adam' stage of the christology, when the last Adam by his 'superexaltation' attains a far higher glory than the first Adam lost. It is rather striking that these verses contain in more elaborate form precisely the two affirmations about Christ that the earliest form of Adam christology made: the use of Ps. 110.1 to assert the claim that the Lord God has installed Christ at his right hand and given him also the title Lord (no higher status and title was possible); and the conjoined use of Ps. 8.6 to claim that God has put all things under his feet.

Page 119

In short, I may hope that my initial claim has been well enough established: that Phil. 2.6-11 is an expression of Adam christology. ...
The Christ of Phil 2.6-11 therefore is the man who undid Adam's wrong: confronted with the same choice, he rejected Adam's sin, but nevertheless freely followed Adam's course as fallen man to the bitter end of death; wherefore God bestowed on him the status not simply that Adam lost, but the status which Adam was intended to come to, God's final prototype, the last Adam.

If our conclusion is sound, that Phil. 2.6-11 is through and through an expression of Adam christology, then the question of whether it also speaks of Christ's pre-existence becomes clearer. The point to be grasped is that the question cannot be answered without reference to the Adam christology which forms the backbone of the hymn. Since the thought is dominated by the Adam/Christ parallel and contrast, the individual expressions must be understood within that context. The terms used in the hymn do not have an independent value; their sense is determined by their role within the Adam christology, by their function in describing Adam or more generally God's purpose for man.
This means that the initial stage of Christ's odyssey is depicted as equivalent to Adam's status and choice in the garden. Now Adam was certainly not thought of as pre-existent ... So no implication that Christ was pre-existent may be intended. If Christ walks in Adam's footsteps then Christ need be no more pre-existent than Adam. Nor indeed is there any implication that Christ was contemporaneous with Adam, acting in a similarly transhistorical situation. In point of fact, in earliest Christian Adam theology Christ always presupposes Adam, Christ's odyssey presupposes the plight of Adam, of Adam's offspring. As I Cor. 15.45ff. insists, the temporal order is clear:
Adam first, Christ second -
Christ is last Adam, Adam precedes Christ.
Adam was not a copy of a pre-existent Christ,
but 'a type of him who was to come'
(Rom. 5.14).

Page 120

The Philippian hymn does not intend to affirm that Jesus was as historical or as prehistorical as Adam, but that the choice confronting Christ was as archetypal and determinative for mankind as was Adam's; whether the choice was made by the pre-existent Christ or the historical Jesus is immaterial to the Philippian hymn.
Here then we can see the point of Murphy-O'Connor's initial criticism and the danger for good exegesis of assuming too quickly that the phrases 'being in the form of God' and 'becoming in the likeness of men', necessarily imply a thought of pre-existence. For the language throughout, and not least at these points, is wholly determined by the creation narratives and by the contrast between what Adam grasped at and what he in consequence became. It was Adam who was 'in the form of God', Adam who 'became what men now are' (in contrast to what God had intended for them).
The language was used ... of Christ therefore to bring out the Adamic character of Christ's life, death and resurrection. So archetypal was Jesus' work in its effect that it can be described in language appropriate to archetypal man and as a reversal of the archetypal sin. ...
So when reading Phil. 2.6-11 we should not try to identify a specific time in Christ's existence when he was in the form of God and before he became like men.

Pages 120-1

Quite possibly the author assumed Christ's sinlessness and was in effect trading on its corollary - viz. that he who did not sin need not have died (cf. Rom. 5.12c) (that is, he need not have become a slave to corruption like the rest of men). The fact that he did die, however, implies that he did make the archetypal choice, or that his whole life constituted his willing acceptance of the sinner's lot (cf. II Cor. 5.21). In other words, Phil. 2.6-8 is probably intended to affirm that Christ's earthly life was an embodiment of grace from beginning to end, of giving away in contrast to the selfish grasping of Adam's sin, that every choice of any consequence made by Christ was the antithesis of Adam's, that every stage of Christ's life and ministry had the character of a fallen lot freely embraced.



The hymn of Phil. 2.6-11, therefore, is about the contrast of the two Adams: the first man and the last Adam.
As oppose to being a hymn of a pre-existent personage, being incarnated!?

Let's think about that for a moment, about the so-called orthodox view of this hymn. How were the Philippian saints, human beings like you and I,  suppose to get their heads around a concept of a so-called pre-existing 2nd person of a godhead (or even the Oneness view that it was God Himself) coming down from heaven incarnating himself in flesh as a baby, and thus, they must have the same kind of mind?!?!

Is this what Paul was asking them to do?? No! Rather, they were to have the mindset of the man Christ Jesus who humbled himself in regards to his inherent dignity and became a servant; for the redemption of fellow mankind, his brothers and sisters. [Heb. 2.10-18] He humbled himself and took the form of a servant being totally obedient to GOD, his Father, even if it meant death. And because of his sacrifice, GOD has highly exalted him above all!

We then, along with the Philippian brethren, ought to have the same mindset and to follow Christ's example of humility and self-sacrifice: that is, we must humble ourselves and obey our GOD in all things. Even if it means death!! Having full assurance that at the resurrection, GOD will exalt, transform and reward us, and we will reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in his glorious kingdom upon the renewed earth.


Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.