Philippians 2:5-18

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

Spend some time in worship.




Philippians 2:5-18
Some commentators think verses 5-11 in this chapter originated as a hymn used by the early Church. However, Paul wrote in poetic styles in other passages (eg 1 Corinthians 13) and he was capable of writing in this way. He continues by describing the aspects of the mind of Christ that are applicable to the Philippians at this point in time. Paul’s goal was to persuade the Philippians to live a life in which conflict, arguments and personal ambition had no place. But rather than just a lovely description, Paul urges Christ-followers to choose to take action and adopt such a mind-set for themselves.

Paul’s use of the words ‘being in the form’ affirms the continuation of divinity in Jesus as man. The Greek word ‘morphe’ denotes the essence which never changes. Whilst Jesus gave up His equality with God during His time on earth He did not lose this equality. Rather He had humanity added to who He is in the form of a servant as a man. It was only by leaving the halls of heaven and humbling Himself in many ways, even to the point of death, that Jesus was able to become fully man.

As a result, God the Father lifted Him up, crowned Him and placed Him on His throne in heaven! The Father gave Him the name of Lord (Yahweh). Anyone who is able to say that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ declares their faith as a Christ-follower. This was the first creed used by Christians in the early Church. There is no higher name than Jesus. The world will eventually submit to Jesus and all creation, whether dead or still alive, will acknowledge and worship Him as Lord, not because of His power but because of His love, for the glory of God the Father.

By describing the humiliation and ultimate exaltation of Jesus, Paul helped the Philippians to understand his own position as he was imprisoned for his faith. Paul expected the members of the Church to follow Christ’s example in humility and obedience. He is not saying they have to work to earn their salvation but that their lives should reveal their commitment to Jesus in all they do. Such a life will be evidenced in:

  • effective action;
  • a deep concern that we cannot do this alone so we seek God to help us;
  • serenity and assurance brought about by trusting God;
  • a lifestyle that was different from those who did not believe;
  • a desire to be light to the world as they share Jesus with those who do not know Him.

These things should be even more evident in Paul’s absence. He encourages them to live in this way to please God. He then reminds them not to argue or complain about anything as those who do not believe do. In this way believers can show they are true followers of Jesus. It is a fact that as Christ-followers believers are the light of the world. They are to cling to the word of life, even as they proclaim it to others. In this way Paul knew his own work with the Philippians had not been in vain.

It was a Jewish (and pagan) practice when they made a sacrifice to pour out wine or perfume as an offering to make the sacrifice even more precious (Numbers 15:4-5; 28:7). Paul uses the present tense here, indicating the possibility that he may soon be executed. He asked the Philippians to rejoice with him in this as his death would bring glory to God.


The Morning After
The room is still the morning after.
Bread crumbs scattered.
An empty cup,
Redolent still with wine.
Tumbled cushions.
Signs of hasty leaving,
Door ajar.
There, in the corner,
A basin of grubby water
Wrapped around
by a damp towel,
Crumpled in a heap.
Sun rise brings light
Streaming through the window.
Streaming, shining.
And on the water,
In the basin,
Sparkling now with golden light,
The shadow, the reflection
Caused by barren tree.
The reflection, the shadow
Of a Cross.
Do you know what I have done for you? AMH
What do the poem and the picture say to you?


  • What is your favourite praise song that speaks to you as you worship God when you sing it? Why is it special for you? (If you feel able to do so, hum or sing it so the group knows which one you mean – join in if you know the songs others choose so they are not alone)
  • How often do you worship God through an average day? What prompts you to do so? How do you do it?
  • What do you do to serve God? How has He called you to do so? What does it mean to you to take action in service for Him? Does it pull you ‘out of the box’ or are you within your comfort zone as you serve Him? Why do you respond in this way?
  • Does the fact that Jesus came as our Servant King make it easier for you to worship and serve Him or would you respond to a more authoritarian King? Why do you respond in this way? What difference does it make to you?
  • Looking back over the last year, would you say your mind and lifestyle is more like Christ’s mind and attitude than it was before? How are you living this out?
  • How can you become a servant leader/s yourself or as a group? What action can you take in the next week or so to live in this way?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Spend some time in silence, bowing down in worship, gratitude and surrender to God.
Then pray for the leadership of Gracepoint as they meet on 7 October to spend time looking at the way ahead for the church.
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Ask God to help you to surrender to Him during the week and to show you how you can be a servant to those around you. What happens? Be prepared to share next week as to where God led you.


Hargreaves, John, A Guide to Philippians, SPCK, London 2001

Philippians Chapter 2

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