Philippians 2:6-7a

In the interests of continuing a conversation, but freshening it a bit with a new blog post, I will make one or two comments on this rather important text. Here is the Greek:

6ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ, 7ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος:

And the translation (ESV) is here: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

The main point I wish to make here is very simple: if Jesus “made Himself nothing,” then He must have existed before He made Himself nothing. If He existed before He made Himself nothing, then there must have been some form in which He existed before He made Himself nothing. (“Made Himself nothing” does not mean that He ceased to exist; it means rather that He humbled Himself) The form in which He existed before He made Himself nothing was the form of God, according to the first part of verse 6. The “form of God” does not mean “almost, but not quite God,” but rather “the very nature of God.” Therefore, the conclusion to this logic is that if Jesus made Himself nothing (humbled Himself), then He was God, according to this text. That is what the text is saying, based on pure exegesis, not quoting one single early church father, not quoting any council or creed. Pure exegesis.

Of course, the question of whether He ceased to be God is a whole ‘nother question. This passage does not say that Jesus ceased to be God. Rather, the focus is on the voluntary humiliation of Christ.

And if Steve wants to comment on this, he must read this article first or I will block his comments.

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30 Comments

  1. theologian said,

    November 2, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    Did you get that link from Reformation Theology Blog?
    I liked the article. James White is cool 8)

    What is your opinion of translating it “made himself nothing” as in the ESV opposed to “emptied himself” as found in the NASB?

  2. storbakken said,

    November 2, 2006 at 3:56 pm

    very interesting point. thanks for the insight.
    http://www.morefire.wordpress.com

  3. greenbaggins said,

    November 2, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    I like the ESV better, if only that it avoids the impression that Jesus let go of His deity in becoming a human being. BDAG likes the interpretation, “lay aside His power or prestige.” I think that is what the text is saying.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    November 2, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    You’re welcome, storbakken.

  5. theologian said,

    November 2, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Some other things i thought of in regards to Philippians 2…

    v3 – kenodoxian -
    Translated as “conceit.” The word is more literally “empty glory.”

    The term is especially important in this passage as this is the place we read of our Lord relinquishing His glory (ie: humbling himself) to become a man. He had real glory that He departed from to take on human nature, we are men who only imagine we have glory. We, as unglorious beings, seek to show ourselves glorious. In direct contrast Jesus, full of glory,gives up His glory to seek us.

    v3 tapeinophrosune -
    Translated as “humility.” The word is more literally “humility of mind.”

    With the more literal translation we see the contrast between our “humility of mind” and Christ’s being humbled, but not of mind (v8 – etapeinosen).

    It seems to me that since our glory is empty (v3), we must be humble in mind, since it is only in our mind that we have glory. While Jesus having real glory is actually brought to a humble state as a man. When we humble ourselves in our mind we find our true nature. When Christ humbles Himself He takes on a less glorious nature (a little lower than the angels).

  6. Steve said,

    November 2, 2006 at 7:15 pm

    Dear Greenbaggins,

    About your comment: “if Steve wants to comment on this, he must read this article first or I will block his comments”…

    Listen, you should know that I WANT to read links like this. I appreciate all sorts of pointers towards differing analysis made by people who are trying their hardest to understand and explain scripture. I also appreciate pointers towards various books.. I am passionate about understanding others belief systems, the reasons for them, and testing them against my own understandings. I view the Bible as the ultimate authority in all matters.

    I do tend to be skeptical and test every opinion I hear. I am rigorous about deciding whether an opinion really is 100% proved by the Bible, or whether it is somewhat subjective and open to interpretation (and then disagreement). Where something is subjective, I thrive on understanding why the other person believes that and testing it against other opinions.

    I absolutely bristle when other Bible students insult others of other opinions. So, can we agree to drop insulting names in any of our discussions?

    -Steve

    P.S. Is there a mission statement somewhere on this blog? I’m wondering what the ultimate focus of this site is? Are you hard-core Catholics? University students in Translation? General Students of the Bible from various backgrounds?

  7. theologian said,

    November 2, 2006 at 8:12 pm

    Steve,

    For info. about Greenbaggins you can check out his “about” page…

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/about/

  8. Josh said,

    November 2, 2006 at 9:43 pm

    I have not seen any name calling, Steve. Written media does not always translate the intended tone of the author. Your posts are educational, although perhaps not in the way you always intend them to be. You have brought some lively interaction to the blog. Personally, I thank you for taking the time to post and respond.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    November 3, 2006 at 8:25 am

    To Steve, I am a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) pastor, which should give you some idea of my theological leanings. I am Reformed in persuasion, and hold to the ancient creeds of the church, as well as to the Westminster Standards (the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, which, by the way, I have taken an oath to uphold). Most of the people who are commenting on my blog are also Reformed in persuasion.

    As to name-calling, since what you have said is not argumentation about the biblical issues, and since I am the owner of this blog, I do reserve the right to use whatever language I see fit. I do not consider that I have given anyone a derogatory name. Many scholars I have read even in the modern age will say things identical to what I have said. To me this is such a peripheral issue that I don’t intend to comment further on it. But I do echo what Josh has said. Although I, for one, am not afraid of a little heat every now and then.

    What did you think of White’s article, and what do you think about my argumentation?

  10. theologian said,

    November 3, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    Looking at this question more…

    “What is your opinion of translating it “made himself nothing” as in the ESV opposed to “emptied himself” as found in the NASB?”

    I am starting to question if either translation is better than the KJV/NKJV of “made himself of no reputation.”

    I may put something of this on my blog next week. I want to look over a few things first.

  11. theologian said,

    November 6, 2006 at 10:48 am

    o.k. i posted the Phil. 2:7 translation issue on my blog…

    http://theologian.wordpress.com/2006/11/06/philippians-27-translation/

    I was asked to post it here as well, so here goes…

    I was thinking of which had the better translation of the Greek “kenow” from Phil 2:7, the NASB or ESV, “emptied himself” or “made himself nothing”…

    NASB – but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
    ESV – but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

    But then I starting to question if either translation was better than the KJV/NKJV of “made himself of no reputation”…

    KJV – But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

    Regarding this translation, B.B. Warfield said in “Bible Doctrines” -

    “And here it is important to observe that the whole of the action adduced is thrown up thus against this background — not only its negative description to the effect that Our Lord (although all that God is) did not look greedily on His (consequent) being on an equality with God; but is positive description as well, introduced by the ‘but…’ and that in both of its elements, not merely that to the effect ( ver. 7 ) that ‘he took no account of himself’ (rendered not badly by the Authorized Version, He ‘made himself of no reputation’; but quite misleading by the Revised Version, He ‘emptied himself’), but equally that to the effect ( ver. 8 ) that ‘he humbled himself’… In other words, Paul does not teach that Our Lord was once God but had become instead man; he teaches that though He was God, He had become also man.”

    “The verb here rendered ‘emptied’ is in constant use in a metaphorical sense ( so only in the New Testament: Romans. iv.14; I Corinthians i.17; ix.15; II Corinthians ix.3 ) and cannot here be taken literally. This is already apparent from the definition of the manner in which the ‘emptying’ is said to have been accomplished, supplied by the modal clause which is at once attached: by ‘taking the form of a servant.’ You cannot ‘empty’ by ‘taking’ — adding. It is equally apparent, however, from the strength of the emphasis which, by its position, is thrown upon the ‘himself’. We may speak of Our Lord as ‘emptying Himself’ of something else, but scarcely, with this strength of emphasis, of His ‘emptying Himself’ of something else. This emphatic ‘Himself’, interposed between the preceding clause and the verb rendered ‘emptied’, builds a barrier over which we cannot climb backward in search of that of which Our Lord emptied Himself… ‘He made no account of Himself’, we may fairly paraphrase the clause; and thus all question of what He emptied Himself of falls away. What Our Lord actually did, according to Paul, is expressed in the following clauses; those not before us express more the moral character of His act. He took ‘the form of a servant’, and so was ‘made in the likeness of men’.”

    “…The term ‘form’ here, of course, bears the same full meaning as in the preceding instance of its occurrence in the phrase ‘the form of God’. It imparts the specific quality, the whole body of characteristics, by which a servant is made what we know as a servant. Our Lord assumed, then, according to Paul, not the mere state or condition or outward appearance of a servant, but the reality; He became an actual ’servant’ in the world. The act by which He did this is described as a ‘taking’, or, as it has become customary from this description of it to phrase it, as an ‘assumption’. What is meant is that Our Lord took up into His personality a human nature; and therefore it is immediately explained that He took the form of a servant by ‘being made in the likeness of men’.”

  12. greenbaggins said,

    November 6, 2006 at 11:18 am

    Thanks, Larry. Steve, are you reading this?

  13. Steve said,

    November 6, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    Yes. Sorry, I haven’t been writing the last few days because I’ve been sick. But I’m on the mend now.

    I’ve read through all of your references to Phil 2:6, 7 and although they are well written, I don’t find them persuasive enough to make the leap to thinking that Jesus is Jehovah.

    For about 4,000 years from the time of Adam and Eve to the time of Christ, the Israelites clearly understood the God they worshipped. His name was YHWH, they used his name in their daily conversations… about 7,000 times in the Old Testament. There was no uncertainty or ambiguity…The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was clearly understood by his personal name Jehovah.

    Jesus is not Jehovah. This is clearly seen by this scripture:

    (Acts 3:13) The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has glorified his Servant, Jesus, whom you, for your part, delivered up and disowned before Pilate’s face, when he had decided to release him.

    and this one:

    (Psalm 110:1-5) The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord is: “Sit at my right hand Until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.” 2 The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, [saying:] “Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.” 3 Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In the splendors of holiness, from the womb of the dawn, You have your company of young men just like dewdrops. 4 Jehovah has sworn (and he will feel no regret): “You are a priest to time indefinite According to the manner of Mel•chiz′e•dek!” 5 Jehovah himself at your right hand Will certainly break kings to pieces on the day of his anger.

    The correct understanding of any hard-to-translate, or hard-to-understand, scripture must be analysed in the context of the obvious scriptures.

    Jesus is not Jehovah. Jesus is the first born son of Jehovah. As a spirit being, he is 2nd in command of the Universe. Even with this very high station, he humbled himself to do Jehovah’s will and came to earth as a real and perfect man (what Adam was when created) to provide the ransom sacrifice in our behalf.

    Your articles about how to understand the word “form” are just not convincing in the light of these other very overt scriptures.

    Jesus being in God’s form, a slaves form, or even being the image of the invisible God indicates that he possesses the qualities an attributes of that category. This is similar to how man was created in God’s image. (2Cor 4:4; Gen 1:26)

    Question back for you. If you believe that Jesus is Jehovah, how do you understand Acts 3:13 and Psa 110:1-5

  14. theologian said,

    November 6, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    And yet Jehovah created all things by Himself, and Jesus created all things…

    For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col 1:16-17)

    Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone, (Isa 44:24)

  15. greenbaggins said,

    November 6, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    Acts 3:13 refers to Jesus in His state of humiliation. It refers to his human nature and human state. But orthodox Christianity has never had a problem with such texts. Such texts abundantly prove that Jesus was human. But by the same token, such texts do *not* prove that Jesus was not God. Indeed, in the context of the Acts passage, strong reference is made to the OT prophets who prophecied about Jesus. In that context, Peter speaks of Christ as the Holy One and the Righteous One (3:14). those are OT phrases applied to the Holy and Righteous One of Israel, Yahweh. the Servant language of Isaiah 53 is usually seen by Christians to refer to Jesus as well. This is not a problem for orthodox Christology. There is no discomfort whatsoever. In His humanity, Jesus was indeed subordinate to the Father. But this proves nothing with regard to His divinity. In His divinity, Jesus was God and fully equal with God.

    With regard to Psalm 110, one only has to see how Hebrews uses it to interpret it correctly. Psalm 110 shows the dignity and high rank of Jesus. Hebrews takes it farther, especially in Hebrews 1. And by the way, what do you do with Hebrews 1:8 “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.’” Plainly equates Son with God, Steve. This one is irrefutable.

    In fact, the entirety of Hebrews 1 is impossible for you. 1:3 describes the very nature of God as being the exact imprint of God’s nature. This is different from man being in the image of God, because of what is said in the first part of verse 3: the radiance of the glory of God. Jesus is so superior to angels (1:4) that He cannot be even in the same class as they are (contrary to JW’s). In 1:6 the Son is worthy of ***worship***!!! Who is worthy of worship except God alone? If Jesus is worthy of worship, then you are forced to polytheism without the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. The contrast between 7 and 8 makes it absolutely impossible for Jesus to be an angel.

    Verses 10-12 are even more difficult. The “and” at the beginning of the verse plainly indicates that Hebrews is continuing the catena of quotations about the Son (vs 8a). Then he quotes an OT Psalm that is talking about Elohim (see Psalm 102:24 right before the quoted material in vv. 25-27). Hebrews adds a word to the Psalm (for clarification). In verse 10, Hebrews adds the word “kurie” (vocative form of “kurios”) to the quotation, plainly equating Elohim with Kurios with Jesus the Son.

    Then, in Hebrews 3, you run into more difficulty. Moses equals house in verse 3′s analogy. Jesus equals builder of house. Then verse 4: the builder of all things is God. this verse plainly shows the solidarity of Jesus with God: they are the same in substance. This point is by no means diminished by verse 6, since the emphasis of the passage is not how much lower Christ is than God, but how much higher Christ is than Moses. This is enough for now.

  16. Steve said,

    November 6, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    I want to recommend that anyone who is really committed to understanding whether the Trinity doctrine is true or false, should read through the following link. This online brochure provides a detailed explanation about every Trinity proof text you can imagine.

    http://www.watchtower.org/e/ti/index.htm

    I have taken the initiative to read dozens of proTrinity books to test my understanding of Bible truths. After much study, I have concluded the Trinity doctrine is inaccurate. I would suggest that those who are hard-core Trinity believers test there understanding by going through this online brochure.

    If nothing else, you will have a better basis of understanding when talking to someone who see things differently that you.

    -Steve

  17. greenbaggins said,

    November 6, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    Steve, you need to answer what I have said, and not dismiss it without any argumentation whatsoever.

  18. Steve said,

    November 6, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    OK, glad to respond….

    I pointed to Acts 3:13 to show that Jesus and Jehovah are two different persons. Here’s the scripture:

    (Acts 3:13-14) The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has glorified his Servant, Jesus, whom YOU, for YOUR part, delivered up and disowned before Pilate’s face, when he had decided to release him. 14 Yes, YOU disowned that holy and righteous one, and YOU asked for a man, a murderer, to be freely granted to YOU,

    In simplified words this is saying:

    “Jehovah glorified Jesus. You disowned that holy and righteous one”.

    Your points included that this doesn’t matter because Jesus was human and that Jehovah has previously been called holy and righteous.

    Yes, I agree, Jesus was human. Yes, Jehovah is holy and righteous. I’m not sure why that argues against the clear statement that “Jehovah glorified Jesus”…

    Thus, Jesus is a different person than Jehovah.

    Jesus also agrees with this when he said:

    (John 8:54) Jesus answered: “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifies me, he who you say is your God;

    Who was their God? It was Jehovah. Jesus says he is not glorifying himself, but it is his father, Jehovah who is glorifying himself.

    And it’s not just when he’s here on earth as a man. It’s also when he’s back in heaven:

    (Revelation 3:12) “‘The one that conquers—I will make him a pillar in the temple of MY GOD, and he will by no means go out [from it] anymore, and I will write upon him the name of MY God and the name of the city of MY GOD, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from MY GOD, and that new name of mine.

    By the way, when the resurrected and glorified Jesus say he will “write upon him the name of MY GOD”… what was that name?

    -Steve

  19. Steve said,

    November 6, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    Your 2nd point is this:

    “With regard to Psalm 110, one only has to see how Hebrews uses it to interpret it correctly. Psalm 110 shows the dignity and high rank of Jesus. Hebrews takes it farther, especially in Hebrews 1. And by the way, what do you do with Hebrews 1:8 “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.’” Plainly equates Son with God, Steve. This one is irrefutable. ”

    If a Bible student reads Psa110:1-5 without Jehovah’s personal name removed, it says:

    (Psalm 110:1-5) The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord is: “Sit at my right hand Until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.” 2 The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, [saying:] “Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.” 3 Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In the splendors of holiness, from the womb of the dawn, You have your company of young men just like dewdrops. 4 Jehovah has sworn (and he will feel no regret): “You are a priest to time indefinite According to the manner of Mel•chiz′e•dek!” 5 Jehovah himself at your right hand Will certainly break kings to pieces on the day of his anger.”

    Here Jehovah is talking with Jesus and describing him to be a priest like Melchizekek….

    This doesn’t say some Trinity God is talking to itself, it says that Jehovah is talking to Jesus.

    Although this scripture is absolutely clear that Jehovah and Jesus are two different persons that can talk to each other and sit next to each other, you point to Hebrews 1:8 “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.’” Plainly equates Son with God, Steve. This one is irrefutable.

    Irrefutable? Any Bible student who has ventured past looking at the KJV or the RS, knows that this scripture is highly contested as to how to properly translate it.

    However, verse 9 is very clear in helping when it says of Jesus: “You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with [the] oil of exultation more than your partners.””

    “That is why God, YOUR GOD”, anointed you”….

    The controversy over translating verse 8 spans religious affiliation….

    Although RS reads: “Of the Son he says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.’” (KJ, NE, TEV, Dy, JB, NAB have similar renderings.) However, other translations read: “But with reference to the Son: ‘God is your throne forever and ever.’” (AT, Mo, TC).

    Which rendering is harmonious with the context? The preceding verses say that God is speaking, not that he is being addressed; and the following verse uses the expression “God, thy God,” showing that the one addressed is not the Most High God but is a worshiper of that God.

    Here’s a key point—–Hebrews 1:8 quotes from Psalm 45:6, which originally was addressed to a human king of Israel. Obviously, the Bible writer of this psalm did not think that this human king was Almighty God. Rather, Psalm 45:6, in RS, reads “Your divine throne.” (NE says, “Your throne is like God’s throne.” JP [verse 7]: “Thy throne given of God.”) Solomon, who was possibly the king originally addressed in Psalm 45, was said to sit “upon Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chron. 29:23, NW) In harmony with the fact that God is the “throne,” or Source and Upholder of Christ’s kingship, Daniel 7:13, 14 and Luke 1:32 show that God confers such authority on him.

    Hebrews 1:8, 9 quotes from Psalm 45:6, 7, concerning which the Bible scholar B. F. Westcott states: “The LXX. admits of two renderings: [ho the•os′] can be taken as a vocative in both cases (Thy throne, O God, . . . therefore, O God, Thy God . . . ) or it can be taken as the subject (or the predicate) in the first case (God is Thy throne, or Thy throne is God . . . ), and in apposition to [ho the•os′ sou] in the second case (Therefore God, even Thy God . . . ). . . . It is scarcely possible that [’Elo•him′] in the original can be addressed to the king. The presumption therefore is against the belief that [ho the•os′] is a vocative in the LXX. Thus on the whole it seems best to adopt in the first clause the rendering: God is Thy throne (or, Thy throne is God), that is ‘Thy kingdom is founded upon God, the immovable Rock.’”—The Epistle to the Hebrews (London, 1889), pp. 25, 26.

    -Steve

  20. Steve said,

    November 6, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    Your next point is this:

    “In fact, the entirety of Hebrews 1 is impossible for you. 1:3 describes the very nature of God as being the exact imprint of God’s nature. This is different from man being in the image of God, because of what is said in the first part of verse 3: the radiance of the glory of God. Jesus is so superior to angels (1:4) that He cannot be even in the same class as they are (contrary to JW’s). In 1:6 the Son is worthy of ***worship***!!! Who is worthy of worship except God alone? If Jesus is worthy of worship, then you are forced to polytheism without the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. The contrast between 7 and 8 makes it absolutely impossible for Jesus to be an angel.”

    The rest of your quotes are not impossible to explain at all. Of course, Jesus as the firstborn son of Jehovah is going to exhibit many of his qualities. Of course Jesus is superior to the angels, because he’s 2nd in command of the Universe under his father, Jehovah.

    You point to verse 6, saying that if he’s “worshipped”, then he must be Jehovah….

    What did Paul mean here? He used the Greek word pro•sky•ne´o. Unger’s Bible Dictionary says that this word literally means to ‘kiss the hand of someone in token of reverence or to do homage.’ An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine, says that this word “denotes an act of reverence, whether paid to **man . . . or to God***.” In Bible times pro•sky•ne´o often included literally bowing down before someone of high stature.
    Consider the parable Jesus gave of the slave who was unable to repay a substantial sum of money to his master. A form of this Greek word appears in this parable, and in translating it the King James Version says that “the servant therefore fell down, and worshipped [form of pro•sky•ne´o] him [the king], saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” (Matthew 18:26; italics ours.) Was this man committing an idolatrous act? Not at all! He was merely expressing the kind of reverence and respect due the king, his master and superior.
    Such acts of obeisance, or expressions of respect, were fairly common in the Orient of Bible times. Jacob bowed down seven times upon meeting his brother, Esau. (Genesis 33:3) Joseph’s brothers prostrated themselves, or did obeisance, before him in honor of his position at the Egyptian court. (Genesis 42:6) In this light we can better understand what happened when the astrologers found the young child Jesus, whom they recognized as “the one born king of the Jews.” As rendered in the King James Version, the account tells us that they “fell down, and worshipped [pro•sky•ne´o] him.”—Matthew 2:2, 11.
    Clearly, then, the word pro•sky•ne´o, rendered “worship” in some Bible translations, is not reserved exclusively for the type of adoration due Jehovah God. It can also refer to the respect and honor shown to another person. In an effort to avoid any misunderstanding, some Bible translations render the word pro•sky•ne´o at Hebrews 1:6 as “pay him homage” (New Jerusalem Bible), “honour him” (The Complete Bible in Modern English), “bow down before him” (Twentieth Century New Testament), or “do obeisance to him” (New World Translation).

  21. Steve said,

    November 6, 2006 at 8:19 pm

    According to Dr. Debuhn:

    “The verb proskuneo is used fifty-eight times in the New Testament. When the King James translation was made, the word picked to best convey the meaning of the Greek word was “worship.” At that time, the English word “worship” had a range of meaning close to what I have suggested for the Greek word proskuneo. It could be used for the attitude of reverence given to God, but also for the act of prostration. The word was also used as a form of address to people of high status, in the form “your worship.” So the King James translation committee made a pretty good choice.

    But modern English is not King James English, and the range of the meaning for the word “worship” has narrowed considerably. Today, we use it only for religious veneration of God, so it no longer covers all of the uses for the Greek verb proskuneo, or of the English word in the day of King James. For this reason, it is necessary that modern translations find appropriate terms to accurately convey precisely what is implied by the use of proskuneo in the various passages where it appears. If they fail to do this, and cling to the old English word “worship” without acknowledging its shift of meaning since the days of King James, they mislead their readers into thinking that every greeting, kiss, or prostration in the Bible is an act of worship directed to a god.”

    Also worth consider is the example where proskuneo is used in the Gospels while pleading before man (Matthew 18:26). This verse is translated in most versions as “prostrated himself before,” “fell on his knees,” and “fell down before.”

    Translating this word as “worship” is generally a result of translators who want to support their Trinitarian belief structure. As Dr. DeBuhn says:

    ” Rendering a single Greek word into more than one English alternative is not necessarily inaccurate in and of itself. Since Greek words such as proskuneo have a range of possible meanings, it is not practical to insist that a Greek word always be translated the same way. . . . But in our exploration of this issue, we can see how theological bias has been the determining context for the choices made by all of the translations except the NAB and NWT. There are passages where many translators have interpreted the gesture referred to by the Greek term proskuneo as implying “worship.” They then have substituted that interpretation in place of a translation.

    I am not going to enter into a debate over interpretation. It is always possible that the interpretation of the significance of the gesture may be correct. But the simple translation “prostrate,” or “do homage,” or “do obeisance” is certainly correct. So the question is raised, why depart from a certain, accurate translation to a questionable, possibly inaccurate one?

    The answer is that, when this occurs, the translators seem to feel the need to add to the New Testament support for the idea that Jesus was recognized to be God. But the presence of such an idea cannot be supported by selectively translating a word one way when it refers to Jesus and another way when it refers to someone else. . . . They might argue that the context of belief surrounding Jesus implies that the gesture is more than “obeisance” or “homage.” It’s not a very good argument, because in most of the passages the people who make the gesture know next to nothing about Jesus, other than that it is obvious or rumored that he has power to help them.”

    -Steve

  22. Steve said,

    November 7, 2006 at 1:14 am

    Thank you so much for bringing up Hebrews 3:1. Here you say:

    “Then, in Hebrews 3, you run into more difficulty. Moses equals house in verse 3’s analogy. Jesus equals builder of house. Then verse 4: the builder of all things is God. this verse plainly shows the solidarity of Jesus with God: they are the same in substance. This point is by no means diminished by verse 6, since the emphasis of the passage is not how much lower Christ is than God, but how much higher Christ is than Moses.”

    Let’s go through it step by step….

    3:1 Consequently, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest whom we confess—Jesus.

    Jesus holds the title and descriptive phrase of “Apostle” and “High Priest”… who gave him these titles? Let’s see in verse 2….

    3:2 He was faithful to the One that made him such, as Moses was also in all the house of that One.

    Who was Moses faithful to? (Jehovah). Therefore, Who was Jesus faithful to? (Jehovah) Who made Jesus these titles? (Jehovah) Thus, Jesus is being described as being faithful to Jehovah, just as Moses was.

    Why was Moses faithful to Jehovah? Let’s see…

    3:3 For the latter is counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who constructs it has more honor than the house.

    Both Jesus and Moses are being discussed in relation to Jehovah… Who is “the later” being discussed here? Verse 2 is discussing how both Jesus and Moses were faithful to someone.. who? (Jehovah)

    3:4 Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God.

    Who constructed the house? Note verse 6: “Christ was faithful as a son over the house OF THAT ONE (Who is Christ faithful to? The same person as Moses was… Jehovah)

    3:5 And Moses as an attendant was faithful in all the house of that One as a testimony of the things that were to be spoken afterwards,

    Moses was faithful in who’s house? (Jehovah)

    3:6 but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over the house of that One. We are the house of that One, if we make fast our hold on our freeness of speech and our boasting over the hope firm to the end.

    Once again, just like Moses was faithful to Jehovah, so is Jesus over the house OF THAT ONE….(meaning Jehovah) just like Moses was.

    -Steve

  23. greenbaggins said,

    November 7, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    BOQ Your points included that this doesn’t matter because Jesus was human and that Jehovah has previously been called holy and righteous. EOQ

    An amazing misquotation of my argument. I don’t recognize it at all. Did you get it from somewhere else? I said this passage doesn’t matter? The context, by the way, is the discussion of Acts 3:13. What I actually said was this: “Acts 3:13 refers to Jesus in His state of humiliation. It refers to his human nature and human state. But orthodox Christianity has never had a problem with such texts. Such texts abundantly prove that Jesus was human. But by the same token, such texts do *not* prove that Jesus was not God.”

    Secondly, You mistranslate the verse quite badly by saying “that holy and righteous one.” The demonstrative pronoun is not present in the Greek. All that is there is the definite article. It should be translated “You denied the Holy and Righteous One.” The definite article here has the force of singularity and exclusivity: It is THE Holy and Righteous One. The translation of the NWT is completely off-base, and twists the Greek grammar to make it sound as if Jesus was merely one of several holy and righteous ones. That is what “that” does: “Which holy and righteous one? That one.” Not what the Greek says at all. It says “the holy and righteous one.”

    BOQ Yes, I agree, Jesus was human. Yes, Jehovah is holy and righteous. I’m not sure why that argues against the clear statement that “Jehovah glorified Jesus”… Thus, Jesus is a different person than Jehovah. EOQ

    Again, this is not what I said, and you are grossly twisting my argument. You are assuming a human relationship of Jesus to God. You are assuming that the relationship of Son to Father has to be the same as it is in human relationships. That is why, when you come to a text that has the Father doing something to the Son, you assume that two different people are being talked about. You assume that because there is an “I” and a “Thou” that therefore they must be separated. So my argument goes like this: texts that prove Jesus’ humanity cannot be used to *dis*prove Jesus’ deity. Texts that prove that Jesus was different in *person* from the Father cannot be used to disprove that Jesus was the same in essence as the Father. To do so is to apply human standards to the being of God, something that the Arian heresy always did, and the JW’s have taken up that line of thinking. It is illogical. I will get to answering your other arguments. I have to post something else today.

  24. Brad said,

    December 4, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Does anyone find it alarming that “harpagmos”, in verse 6, is translated as “robbery” by the KJV, but is translated as “gain” by most modern English translation? If the verb (harpazo) is used throughout the New Testament to mean: steal, sieze, snatch away, etc., why would the noun be used to mean the object of robbery instead of robbery itself? The entire sentiment and meaning of the verse is changed by this difference in interpretation. Can someone shed some light on this topic, please?

    thanks,
    brad

  25. greenbaggins said,

    December 5, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Bullinger’s Figures of Speech Used in the Bible says that the interpretation should be of the action, not of the result.

  26. Brad said,

    December 8, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    So you agree that it is renderd correctly, “Php 2:5 For let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
    Php 2:6 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,
    Php 2:7 but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”, as it appears in the AV?

  27. greenbaggins said,

    December 9, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    I agree that “robbery” is a good translation of harpagmos. However, it is difficult to understand the syntax of the KJV there. What does “though it not robbery to be equal with God” mean? Does it mean that He thought that since He already was God, He didn’t need to “rob” God in order to be God? This, of course, wouldn’t fit the scope of the passage at all, which is about Christ’s humiliation. It is also possible (and this happens quite a bit) that the change in the English language could account for the misunderstanding. Words and idioms mean different things today than they did in the time of the KJV.

  28. Dan Dameron said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    some great discussion here. you should check out this article from Westminster theological Journal http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/NTeSources/NTArticles/WTJ-NT/Strimple-Philip2-WTJ.pdf
    In particular , the discussion of harpagmos(with recent discussion of it’s idiomatic use as “windfall” or something for one’s advantage) and kenosis (referencing Isaiah’s suffering servant pouring out his soul).

  29. March 17, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    This is quite interesting. Thanks for your discussion of this passage.

  30. greenbaggins said,

    March 17, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Thank you Maria, and welcome to my blog.


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