Treasures From the Original

How Did Jesus Remain Fully God When He Took On Human Flesh?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
A look at the original Greek of the New Testament gives the answer.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part three of a three-part series of the New Testament's use of two important Greek words. Read part two.

Did Jesus Remain Fully God?

The first of our five passages is Philippians 2:5-11. We've highlighted the words that are a translation of morphe or schema each time they appear.

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

When the Apostle Paul under divine inspiration speaks of Jesus "being in the form of God" and "taking the form of a bondservant," which word, morphe or schema, do you think he uses? In this case it is morphe - an outward appearance that agrees with the inward nature.

The use of the Greek word morphe in the phrase "being in the form of God" tell us two things. First, Jesus' deity is the outward expression of His inward nature - the morphe. Second, Jesus' deity is a continuous state - past, present, and future. In other words, He did not empty Himself of, or in any way diminish His deity when He came into this world in a body of flesh. In taking on the form of a servant, Jesus voluntarily laid aside heavenly privileges and prerogatives in obedience to God the Father, but His deity was not changed or diminished. Jesus was still the God of the universe while in this world.

The phrase "taking the form of a bondservant" is in harmony with this. It's morphe again. It tells us that servanthood was also an outward expression of Jesus' inward nature. His deity remained intact when He took on the form of a servant. Humanity was the means by which He manifested His servanthood. This passage echoes Jesus' own words in the Gospel of John:

"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:38)

"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28)

Jesus is the Suffering Servant spoken of in Isaiah 52:13 - "Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high" - and onward through chapter 53 culminating in verse 11: "My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities."

So, in Philippians 2:5-11 we have our first instance of morphe - demonstrating that Jesus' deity and servanthood both reflect His true nature as God. His outward appearance changed, but His inner nature did not. Jesus was - and is - both fully God and fully man at the same time. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).

Preaching "Another Jesus"

Sadly, there is a tendency in much of today's evangelical preaching to over-emphasize Jesus' humanity to the point of dangerously diminishing or even denying His deity. This is, in fact, the preaching of "another Jesus." The Apostle Paul warns us against being taken in by such preaching:

"But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted - you may well put up with it!" (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

The Bible does not speak of "another Jesus" who was anything less than fully God during His earthly ministry - quite the contrary! The Suffering Servant is also the God of the universe, the Lord of glory.


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