What Jesus "Emptying Himself" doesn't mean
"who though he [Jesus] 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." (Philippians 2:6-7 ESV)
It is Christmas time. I love Christmas time, but I find there can be much confusion around what it is we're celebrating. I spend a lot of time speaking with people from all walks of life regarding what exactly didn't happen at the incarnation of Jesus and I thought it would be profitable to put it into written word as we approach Christmas Day.
The passage above is often preached in the context of being more like Jesus (think Jesus as our example). This is a good takeaway from the text, but often times I find pastors are not willing to spend time on some of what could be considered the more "tedious" parts of this passage. Because of the neglect, I find there to be much confusion in the pews of the church regarding this passage of Scripture and what Paul really means when he stated Jesus "emptied himself".
Because of the neglect in the pulpit, many people I come across are what I like to call "accidental heretics". These are the worst kind of heretics because they not only believe falsely about their Lord, but they accidentally lead others astray and they don't even realize it or care to correct their thinking. An intentional crispness in the pulpit could help remedy this issue, but sadly a theologically sound and intentional pulpit is sorely lacking these days.
So in an effort to be crisp, I want to utilize this post to tell you what the Apostle Paul is not saying in this passage. In the Philippians 2:6-7 passage above, Paul is not saying that Jesus became less God as some heresies teach. Contextually speaking Paul isn’t even addressing whether Jesus suspended his omnipotence (all powerful) or omniscience (all-knowing) when He became a man in the incarnation.
Paul also isn’t saying that Jesus gave up being in the form of God. You see, Paul is emphasizing that Christ (who is royalty and has all the privileges of kingship) came as a poor ordinary Jewish kid and he was born in humble Bethlehem. And not only did Jesus come as a poor Jewish kid, But He also came to die a criminal's death- death on a cross. Christ submitted Himself to a position of weakness without relinquishing His Divinity so that He could reconcile sinful broken men/women to the Father. The “emptying" consisted of Jesus adding His humanity (100% truly human) to His Deity (100% truly Deity) not subtracting His Deity in the incarnation. Anyone who teaches or believes otherwise is teaching/believing a heresy.