5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8 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.
After telling us, in verses three and four, to put the concerns of others before our own, Paul gives us, in verses five through eight, the ultimate example of this — Christ Jesus. (Note the order of the name — see 1:1.)
let this mind (v.5) = have understanding, be wise, strive for — emulate in your own life the virtues of Christ.
being (v.6) = existing prior to what is here stated (present participle — another example of this usage can be found in Galatians 2:14) and a continued existence in regard to what is stated.
form of God (v.6) = characteristic form, nature, essence (not shape) — establishes Christ’s deity, preexistence and continuity.
Our Lord was in the form of God. The word “God” is without the definite article in the Greek text, and therefore refers to the divine essence. Thus, our Lord’s outward expression of His inmost being was as to its nature the expression of the divine essence of Deity. Since that outward expression which this word “form” speaks of, comes from and is truly representative of the inward being, it follows that our Lord as to His nature is the possessor of the divine essence of Deity, and being that, it also necessarily follows that He is absolute Deity Himself, a co-participant with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in that divine essence which constitutes God, God. — Wuest, page 63.
consider (v.6) = judgment based on facts
robbery (v.6) — can mean “seizing” as in a robbery, but here it means “a thing held as a treasure.”
Harpagmos may have two meanings, (1) the act of seizing (robbery), (2) a thing grasped or held as a treasure. As to (1) the meaning would be “Who, because He was subsisting in the essential form of God, did not regard it as any usurpation that He was on an equality of glory and majesty with God, yet emptied Himself of that coequal glory.” As to (2) the meaning is, “Who though He was subsisting in the essential form of God, yet did not regard His being on an equality of glory and majesty with God as a prize and a treasure to be held fast, but emptied Himself thereof.” After thus clearly presenting the two interpretations, Gifford rightly decides on the latter. It is in agreement with the object of the passage in presenting Christ “as the supreme example of humility and Self-renunciation.” — Vine, page 300.
equal (v.6) = on an equality — with a plural sense indicating all the ways Christ has the same nature and attributes of God.
Verse 6 — Who has always been and at present continues to subsist in that mode of being in which He gives outward expression of His essential nature, that of Deity, and who did not after weighing the facts, consider it a treasure to be clutched and retained at all hazards, to be equal with Deity (in the expression of the divine essence) — Wuest, page 65.
but (v.7) — in contrast with what Christ would have done if He thought equality something to be grasped
made Himself of no reputation (v.7) = emptied Himself — emphasis on “Himself” — it was His own voluntary act. He did not empty something from Himself — He emptied Himself from something. He emptied Himself from the expression, but not the possession, of deity.
form of a servant (v.7) — “form” is the same word as in verse 6
servant (v.7) — not a slave (here) but in total submission to God. He took the form of a servant by being made in the likeness of men
coming (v.7) = entrance into a new state, become
likeness of men (v.7) — He became perfect man, possessed of complete manhood (Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 15:21; 1 Timothy 2:5), but He was not merely man. He was also God, possessing, at the same time, the nature and attributes of God. That’s what “likeness” means, not that He just looked like a man.
found (v.8) = showing Himself, being seen
fashion (v.8) = what is visible — His life as perceived by men
humbled (v.8) = made low
humbled Himself (v.8) — again, the emphasis is on “Himself,” showing that He emptied Himself of glory and majesty voluntarily while remaining aware of His deity and in possession of the attributes of deity.
became obedient (v.8) — to the Father (John 6:38; 14:31). For Him, it wasn’t a learning process. He never wasn’t obedient to the Father’s will.
even (v.8) = as far as, to the length of (He wasn’t obedient to death itself.)
the cross (v.8) — capital punishment reserved for slaves and the lowest criminals — a curse under the law (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13).
Crucifixion was one of the most cruel, inhumane forms of death ever devised by mankind. It is believed to have originated with the Persians, but the Romans perfected it to inflict as much pain as possible. Crucifixion was reserved for the vilest of criminals. “For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Doctor C. Truman Davis provides the following physical description of death by crucifixion:
“The Cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place.
“The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain — the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet.
“As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen.
“Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.
“It is now almost over — the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level — the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues — the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the chill of death creeping through his tissues. Finally he can allow his body to die.”
Normally death by crucifixion took a number of days, but the Scriptures reveal the Savior died in a matter of hours due to the awful weight of the sins on the world that He bore. As horrific as the physical sufferings of Christ were, the anguish of His soul was even more intense as He hung there that day reflecting on why He had been forsaken of the Father. One of the seven last sayings of Christ on the cross was: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The answer to the question is found in the Book of Psalms, where the innermost thoughts of Christ that day are recorded for us: “But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:1-3).
Sin is, without exception, a violation of God’s holiness. The Father is holy, which theologically speaks of His moral excellence. Our finite minds cannot begin to take in the majesty and holiness of God. He is infinitely pure. This is graphically illustrated by the veil in the tabernacle that separated a Holy God from His unholy people. When the prophet Isaiah, a righteous man, saw the holiness of God, he said: “Woe is me! I an undone; because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). As the blackness of darkness eerily fell over Jerusalem the day Christ died, the Father turned aside when His dear Son was made sin for us; consequently, He died alone for you and me! — Sadler, pages 108-110.