Being in the form of God, an exposition of Phillipians 2 v 6 by John Gill

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Who being in the form of God,…. The Father; being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. This form is to be understood, not of any shape or figure of him; for as such is not to be seen, it is not to be supposed of him; or any accidental form, for there are no accidents in God, whatever is in God, is God; he is nothing but nature and essence, he is the  Jehovah, I am what I am; and so is his Son, which is, and was, and is to come, the fountain of all created beings nor does it intend any outward representation and resemblance of him, such as in kings; who, because of the honour and dignity they are raised unto, the authority and power they have, and because of the glory and majesty they are arrayed with, are called gods: nor does it design the state and condition Christ appeared in here on earth, having a power to work miracles, heal diseases, and dispossess devils, for the manifestation of his glory; and so might be said to be in the form of God, as Moses for doing less miracles is said to be a God unto Pharaoh; since this account does not regard Christ; as he was on earth in human nature, but what he was antecedent to the assumption of it; or otherwise his humility and condescension in becoming man, and so mean, will not appear: but this phrase, “the form of God”, is to be understood of the nature and essence of God, and describes Christ as he was from all eternity; just as the form of a servant signifies that he was really a servant, and the fashion of a man in which he was found means that he was truly and really man; so his being in the form of God intends that he was really and truly God; that he partook of the same nature with the Father, and was possessed of the same glory: from whence it appears, that he was in being before his incarnation; that he existed as a distinct person from God his Father, in whose form he was, and that as a divine person, or as truly God, being in the glorious form, nature, and essence of God; and that there is but one form of God, or divine nature and essence, common to the Father and the Son, and also to the Spirit; so that they are not three Gods, but one God: what the form of God is, the Heathens themselves (g) say cannot be comprehended nor seen, and so not to be inquired after; and they use the same word the apostle does here (h): and now Christ being in this glorious form, or having the same divine nature with the Father, with all the infinite and unspeakable glories of it, thought it no robbery to be equal with God; the Father; for if he was in the same form, nature, and essence, he must be equal to him, as he is; for he has the same perfections, as eternity, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability, and self-existence: hence he has the same glorious names, as God, the mighty God, the true God, the living God, God over all, Jehovah, the Lord of glory, &c. the same works of creation and providence are ascribed to him, and the same worship, homage, and honour given him: to be “in the form of God”, and to be “equal with God”, signify the same thing, the one is explanative of the other: and this divine form and equality, or true and proper deity, he did not obtain by force and rapine, by robbery and usurpation, as Satan attempted to do, and as Adam by his instigation also affected; and so the mind of a wicked man, as Philo the Jew says (i), being a lover of itself and impious, , “thinks itself to be equal with God”, a like phrase with this here used; but Christ enjoyed this equality by nature; he thought, he accounted, he knew he had it this way; and he held it hereby, and of right, and not by any unlawful means; and he reckoned that by declaring and showing forth his proper deity, and perfect equality with the Father, he robbed him of no perfection; the same being in him as in the Father, and the same in the Father as in him; that he did him no injury, nor deprived him of any glory, or assumed that to himself which did not belong to him: as for the sense which some put upon the words, that he did not “affect”, or “greedily catch” at deity; as the phrase will not admit of it, so it is not true in fact; he did affect deity, and asserted it strongly, and took every proper opportunity of declaring it, and in express terms affirmed he was the Son of God; and in terms easy to be understood declared his proper deity, and his unity and equality with the Father; required the same faith in himself as in the Father, and signified that he that saw the one, saw the other, Mark 14:61John 5:17. Others give this as the sense of them, that he did not in an ostentatious way show forth the glory of his divine nature, but rather hid it; it is true, indeed, that Christ did not seek, but carefully shunned vain glory and popular applause; and therefore often after having wrought a miracle, would charge the persons on whom it was wrought, or the company, or his disciples, not to speak of it; this he did at certain times, and for certain reasons; yet at other times we find, that he wrought miracles to manifest forth his glory, and frequently appeals to them as proofs of his deity and Messiahship: and besides, the apostle is speaking not of what he was, or did in his incarnate state, but of what he was and thought himself to be, before he became man; wherefore the above sense is to be preferred as the genuine one,

(g) Socraticus, Xenophon, & Aristo Chius, apud Minuc. Felic. Octav. p. 20. & Hostanes apud Caecil. Cyprian. de Idol. van. p. 46. (h) Laertii proem. ad Vit. Philosoph. p. 7. (i) Leg. Alleg. l. 1. p. 48, 49.

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4 Responses to Being in the form of God, an exposition of Phillipians 2 v 6 by John Gill

  1. Anonymous says:

    With figurative speech, the Form (morphe) refers to the body (soma). Hierarchically Jesus is the head of man, God is the head of Jesus. It doesn’t mean man is equal to Jesus.
    Phil 2:6 Who, being in the form of God.
    1Cor 11:3 The head of Christ is God.

    Paul doesn’t say Jesus *is* the form of God unlike the flawed Trinitarian misreading, but specifically *in the form* of God. Jesus is in the Father, just as the believers are in the Father. Hence, Jesus teaches the Biblical mystery of spiritual synergy and inter-dwellingness beyond nature. Logically, the concept of place and space become irrelevant. In material world, something that is contained can’t be found outside of the container.
    Monarchism and Oneness Pentecostalism use the verse to argue that the Father is a “form” (morphe) of God.
    Jn 14
    23 My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
    1Jn 3
    24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us.
    1Jn 4
    13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us,
    1Jn 4
    15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
    1Jn 4
    16 God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

    Jesus talks about a spiritual synergy among God, Jesus and the believers. The Father dwells in believers. By so, Jesus is the biggest Unitarian as well as the enemy of Trinitarians because the Biblical concept of the inter-dwellingness destroys the main Trinitarian doctrine of “nature” (ousia).

  2. Anonymous says:

    One of the bad habits of the Trinitarians when arguing for the deity of Jesus is they occasionally turn to be the Unitarians first. In Phil 2:6 for example, the Trinitarians play a game of pretending to be the Jews, or the Arians, or the Unitarians, or JWs first: the nature “God” is loosely identified as a person “the Father”. Why do they do that? Why don’t they identify “God” as the Sonship instead? Why don’t they stick with the Trinity?

    If Jesus were God, the context of Phil 2 would have just meant the preexistent Jesus – prior to incarnation – was in a form (morphe) of God, but was not seeking an equality whatsoever with his own 2nd person, i.e. the Son. Therefore, It is rather about a “Dualism” of persona before the incarnation: a Preexistent Jesus (that is, a person in the form of God) and the Son (that is, a person of the 2nd person of God).
    In a nutshell, Phil 2:6 has nothing to do with the Father, let alone with equality between the Son and the Father.
    Moreover, in fact, Philippians 2 is a conformation that the Father is always greater than the Son:
    Phil 2:11
    And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Otherwise, if the Trinitarians insisted on defining “God” as the Father (as in the Unitarian reading) for Phil 2:6, they would have read it consistently as “Who, being in the form of the Father, thought it not robbery to be equal with the Father”.
    Apparently, the Unitarian reading is more correct since the Son has been an exact manifestation of the Father since the days of his Preexistence (Christophany), that he already manifested the Father’s form- either as angel of the Lord, or Michael, or the Wisdom, or the preexistent olive branch (Zech 4:12-14) before he became a man.
    Jn 14:9
    He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
    Jn 5:37
    And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
    Zech 4
    12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Zech 4:12-14 are absolutely a Unitarian gem to defeat the false theology of the Trinitarians, the verses so clearly refer to Jesus’ Dualism before becoming a man (Phil 2:6), that is in the Father’s form and in himself. Otherwise, the Trinitarians believe in the Preexistence of other mortals beside Jesus.
    Zech 4
    12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

  4. θ says:

    At most, Philippians 2:6 is not a text-proof for the Trinity the Trinitarians sought for. It is still the verse that favors a binitarian heresy. It is ironic the Trinitarians need to act like the Unitarians (by identifying God with the Father) yet to argue for the binitarianism. Double self-defeating.

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