Philippians 2

Chapter 2

Unity and Humility.[a] 1 Therefore, if there is any consolation in Christ, any comfort in love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love for one another, and united in thought. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vanity, but humbly regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Be concerned not only with your own interests but also with those of others.

5 Let your attitude be identical to that of Christ Jesus.

The Humbled and Exalted Christ[b]

6 Though he was in the form of God,
he did not regard equality with God
as something to be grasped.
7 Rather, he emptied himself,[c]
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
Being found in appearance as a man,
8 he humbled himself,
and became obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
9 Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above all other names,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should proclaim
to the glory of God the Father:
Jesus Christ is Lord.[d]

12 Innocence of the Children of God.[e] Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always been obedient when I am present, you must be so all the more now when I am absent, as you work out your salvation in fear and trembling.[f] 13 For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to desire and to act for his chosen purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may show yourselves blameless and beyond reproach, children of God without spot in the midst of an evil and depraved generation, among which you shine like lights in the world 16 as you hold fast tenaciously to the word of life. Then I will have cause to boast of you on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor to no purpose.

17 But even if my blood is to be poured out as a libation upon the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I rejoice, and I share my joy with all of you. 18 In the same way, you too must rejoice and share your joy with me.

19 Timothy Commended.[g]I hope, in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by hearing news of you. 20 I have no one else like him in his genuine concern for your welfare. 21 All the others serve their own interests more than those of Jesus Christ.

22 His reputation is well known to you. Like a son helping his father, he has worked with me in the service of the gospel. 23 I hope to send him to you as soon as I see how things will go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself shall also come before long.

25 Epaphroditus Praised. I have also decided that it is necessary to send you Epaphroditus, my brother and coworker and fellow soldier, who was your messenger and ministered to my needs. 26 He has missed all of you and been greatly distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 And indeed he was dangerously ill and close to death. However, God had mercy on him—and not merely on him but on me as well, so that I would not have to endure one sorrow on top of another.

28 Therefore, I am all the more eager to send him in order that you may rejoice on seeing him again and I may thereby feel less anxious. 29 Receive him joyfully in the Lord, and value people like him very highly. 30 For he came perilously close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to render me those services that you were unable to provide.

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 2:1 For those who live by faith, united to Christ and the Holy Spirit, communion is the most precious of goods. It demands a complete turnaround extending to true humility. This means a generous abnegation that makes one prefer the interests of others rather than one’s own. Paul presses ahead on this subject and suddenly, gripped by the shining example of Christ, he then chants the hymn of the incredible abasements of God.
  2. Philippians 2:6 The full breadth of the mystery of Christ is expressed in this hymn, which was either written by Paul himself or perhaps taken from the Liturgy of another community. The mystery is celebrated in two of its major aspects: descent and return, which form a curve whose two ends meet.
    During his stay on earth, Jesus was deprived of the glory that belonged to him, so that he might receive it again from the Father as a reward for his supreme sacrifice. He descended into the ultimate depths of abasement; then the movement was reversed: the Father glorified him, made the universe subject to him, and gave him the supreme prerogative, the regal and Divine title of “Lord.”
    In the background here, Paul was thinking of the pride shown by created beings who want to be equal to God (the desire of Adam); he contrasts with this the self-giving and self-denial of Christ. But the hymn reminds us even more clearly of the songs of the Servant of God (especially Isa 53), which echoed strongly in the preaching of Jesus and in the teaching and Liturgy of the very early Church.
    It is the whole mystery of the incarnate Son of God that Paul here chants with such clarity and depth: his preexistence, his abasement, and his exaltation. And the Apostle does so in order to exhort some Christians to live the demands of their Baptism!
  3. Philippians 2:7 He emptied himself: this means, not that Jesus ceased to be equal to God, but rather that in his humanity he stripped himself of the Divine glory, manifesting this only at the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-8), and subsequently received it again from the Father (v. 8).
  4. Philippians 2:11 Jesus Christ is Lord: a common acclamation used by the early Christians (see Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3).
  5. Philippians 2:12 Christians are touched by the Lord to the very depths of their being. Their conduct, their plans, and their testimony are the authentic expression of this in their life. Using the religious language of the time, Paul regards his role as apostle and the surrender of his life as an offering and sacrifice, a true worship of God (see Rom 1:9; 15:16).
  6. Philippians 2:12 Fear and trembling: an expression common in the Old Testament to indicate awe and devotion in God’s service (see Ex 15:16; Jud 2:28; Ps 2:11; Isa 19:16).
  7. Philippians 2:19 Paul announces to the Philippians that he is sending them his most trusted coworker—Timothy, whom they already know (see Acts 16:1-15). He also hopes to visit them himself upon being released. And he will send Epaphroditus back to them when he is well. The last line (v. 1a) seems to be the beginning of a conclusion to the Letter.

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