Name Above All Names

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:6-11)

Scripture Study

2:6 Either a reference to Christ’s preexistence and those aspects of divinity that he was willing to give up in order to serve in human form, or to what the man Jesus refused to grasp at to attain divinity. Many see an allusion to the Genesis story: unlike Adam, Jesus, though … in the form of God (Gn 1:26–27), did not reach out for equality with God, in contrast with the first Adam in Gn 3:5–6.

2:7 Taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness: or “… taking the form of a slave. Coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance.” While it is common to take Phil 2:6, 7 as dealing with Christ’s preexistence and Phil 2:8 with his incarnate life, so that lines Phil 2:7b, 7c are parallel, it is also possible to interpret so as to exclude any reference to preexistence (see note on Phil 2:6) and to take Phil 2:6–8 as presenting two parallel stanzas about Jesus’ human state (Phil 2:6–7b; 7cd–8); in the latter alternative, coming in human likeness begins the second stanza and parallels 6a to some extent.

2:8 There may be reflected here language about the servant of the Lord, Is 52:13–53:12 especially Is 53:12.

2:9 The name: “Lord” (Phil 2:11), revealing the true nature of the one who is named.

2:10–11 Every knee should bend … every tongue confess: into this language of Is 45:23 there has been inserted a reference to the three levels in the universe, according to ancient thought, heaven, earth, under the earth.

2:11 Jesus Christ is Lord: a common early Christian acclamation; cf. 1 Cor 12:3; Rom 10:9. But doxology to God the Father is not overlooked here (Phil 2:11c) in the final version of the hymn. 

Scripture Reflection

In what he says about Jesus Christ, the Apostle is not simply proposing him as a model for us to follow. The man-God, Jesus Christ, makes the cross the climax of his earthly life; through it he enters into his glory as Lord and Messiah. The Crucifixion puts the whole universe on the way to salvation.

Jesus Christ gives us a wonderful example of humility and obedience. St Josemaría Escrivá in Christ Is Passing By, reminds us, “We should learn from Jesus’ attitude in these trials. During his life on earth he did not even want the glory that belonged to him. Though he had the right to be treated as God, he took the form of a servant, a slave. And so the Christian knows that all glory is due to God and that he must not use the sublimity and greatness of the Gospel to further his own interests or human ambitions. Jesus’ attitude in rejecting all human glory is in perfect balance with the greatness of his unique mission as the beloved Son of God who becomes incarnate to save men.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.