Christ Hymn at Christmas

*I’m preaching on the Christ Hymn this Advent Season. Here are a few thoughts on the passage and my personal translation from the Greek New Testament.

In Philippians 2:1-5, Paul instructs the church to imitate Christ’s humility.  He reinforces his message by quoting what many casual observers, and scholars alike, consider an early hymn in Philippians 2:6-11.  Perhaps it was written by Paul or perhaps it was existing hymn of the church.  We think it’s a hymn due to its style and vocabulary.  Your Bible likely puts Philippians 2:6-11 in prose form.

We date the book of Philippians to around 60AD (perhaps earlier).   That means within 30 years of Jesus’ death, the church was already writing and singing hymns with deep meaning and deep theology concerning Jesus. 

It would be like me preaching a sermon about God’s greatness and ending the sermon by saying, “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, how great thou art.” 

No matter the style or origin of Philippians 2:6-11, it is undeniable that the passage provides a concise summation of the identity, life, and ministry of Jesus.  It speaks of Jesus being God, of his obedience to God the Father, of his birth on Christmas morning, of his crucifixion on Good Friday, and of his exaltation on Easter morning and in the Second Coming.  

Here’s my translation of the Christ Hymn from the Greek New Testament:

Who, existing in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God something on which to cling;

Rather, he poured himself out,

Taking the form of a slave, and

taking the likeness of men.

He humbled himself becoming obedient unto death – death on a cross!

Therefore, God exalted him

and gave him the name above every name.

At the name of Jesus every knee will bow,

in Heaven, and earth, and under the earth,

and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

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