Philippians 2:5-11 Kenosis, The Only Path To Unity

by | Mar 25, 2023 | New Testament, Philippians

The Philippians were experiencing disunity amongst some of their members. (1:27; 4:2, 3) 
Their disunity prompted Paul to bring forth one of the greatest passages ever written about Jesus.
Ke-no’-ō- A voluntary laying aside of one’s rights, privileges, abilities, and desires.
A man might lose his eyesight, or his health, or a job, or a marriage, or a family.
He might say that “God is emptying me out”.  That would be loss, but it wouldn’t be ke-no’-ō.

Ke-no’-ō is a voluntary laying aside of one’s rights, privileges, abilities, and desires, and not forced.
Not losing your rights, or having them taken from you, but giving up the right to your rights.
Kenosis is to not insist on that which is rightfully yours, but to forfeit it.  Jesus was not a victim.

I. Before The Kenosis

A. A Clear Understanding Of Self Exists V. 6a

      1. Jesus had a clear view of Himself & His rights, privileges, abilities, and desires.
      2. Being: This is from the ancient Greek verb huparchein, which “describes that which a man is in his very essence and which cannot be changed. It describes that part of a man which, in any circumstances, remains the same.” (Barclay)
      3. being in the form of God- Jesus has been eternally divine, since before “time”.
      4. In his humanity, Jesus never divested Himself of His deity, only the prerogatives.
      5. form- morphe- essential form, mode, or essence of a thing which never changes.

a. The outward expression of the innermost nature.

6. John 13:1-17 Example- of laying aside one’s rights, while maintaining essential nature.

a. He laid aside His robes and girded Himself with the slave’s towel.
b. When he was done, he redressed Himself in His robes.
c. Jesus took the form of a servant, but He never stopped being their Master.
d. Jesus chose a different form of expressing His true nature.
e. Example- “He was in fine form today”.  He expressed his true nature well.

B. An Attitude Is Chosen V. 5

      1. Jesus chose to have a certain mindset.
      2. Let this mind- permit, authorize, allow this mind to be in you. It is a choice.
      3. 1 Corinthians 2:16b “But we have the mind of Christ.
      4. If you are a Christian, God brings more & more of His thoughts into your mind.
      5. We need to choose to receive those thoughts from God and surrender to them.
      6. God brings the idea of kenosis to our minds.
      7. If you want unity, choose kenosis.

C. A Decision Is Made To Not Preserve Self V. 6b

1. Literally- to grasp or hold on to something at all costs.  Supreme self preservation of identity, ability, privilege, prerogative, recognition
2. Jesus decided to not preserve “self” at all costs and disobey the Father’s will.

II. The Kenosis

A. The Right To Be Recognized Is Laid Aside V. 7a

1. Jesus had every right to desire recognition & worshipped as God.
2. Jesus laid aside His right & desire to be recognized as God.
3. We all have a right to be recognized in some fashion, but will you lay it aside?

B. Choice Made To Become A Slave To The Father V. 7b

1. Jesus exchanged one form of expression of His true self for another form.
2. As God, He was always interested in humanity.
3. He took on a human form of His willingness and desire to serve mankind
4. bondservant- doulos- one who serves to his own disregard
5. Christians can do that by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is possible.
6. Colossians 1:27  “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

C. Choice Made To Walk In A New Nature Vs. 7c, 8a

1. coming in the likeness of men- Jesus took on a new nature, a foreign nature.

a. Though always willing to serve man, He had never become man.
b. His humanity was the new medium which He took on in order to serve
c. Though fully human, He did not forfeit His deity.  He veiled it.

2. appearance as (a) man

a. Jesus appeared as man.  Not a man, but man.  A man is only man.
b. Jesus appeared as man but was always more than man.  He was also God.

3. Jesus appeared as something that would never fully reveal all that he was.
4. Mt. Of Transfiguration- His veil of humanity pulled back, revealing His glory.
5. He chose to live in an appearance that kept back the truth of Who He fully was.
6. Its a choice to live without our ego badges.  Wear a servant’s badge instead.

D. Choose To Walk In Humility V. 8b

1. Humbled- to make or bring low.
2. Not a kenosis of His deity, but of His humanity.
3. He laid aside His right of deity to become man.
4. He laid aside His rights as man when he went to the cross
5. His humility was a choice, not a result of embarrassment, or forced upon Him.
6. John 10:18 “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.”

E. Choose To Obey The Father V. 8c

      1. Kenosis is not just denying yourself your right for recognition and self assertion.
      2. Kenosis sometimes means receiving what is unfairly done against you.
      3. Jesus didn’t just lay aside His rights in denying himself of what was His due.
      4. He became obedient to the most severe command of God: the cross.

a. The physical aspect of the suffering of the cross-kenosis of his humanity
b. The spiritual aspect of suffering for our sins- kenosis of His deity

III. The Fruit Of Kenosis

A. Reward & Recognition Kenosis Vs. 9-11a

1. The basis for disunity is self exaltation.  The Father exalted the Son after kenosis.
2. It’s not that Jesus wasn’t exalted before, but now He was exalted as Savior.
3. Previous to kenosis, Jesus could never have been exalted & praised for kenosis.
4. He could have been praised for many things, but not for that display of love.

B. Glory To God V. 11b

C. Possible To Have Unity With Those Sacrificed For

1. Jesus’ kenosis makes it possible for us into unity with God.
2. Kenosis would bring unity for the Philippians if they would mutually embrace it
3. Kenosis is needed for unity in your marriage, family, and friendships.
4. Jesus’ kenosis took Him to the cross to pay for our sins, but we must receive Him

D. Misconceptions About Unity

1. Unity not possible unless we all agree on every point.
2. Unity isn’t about arguing a point.  It is about humility and death to self.
3. Compromise isn’t unity; it is just a partial insistence on having your way.
4. Compromise may end hostilities, but it is a long way from unity.