Philippians 2:5-11 and Waldenström’s Commentary

translated by Tommy Carlson

Epistle Lesson for Palm Sunday

[Editor’s note: Dr. Paul Peter Waldenström based his comments on a Greek New Testament text which he translated into Swedish. Tommy Carlson has translated both the Biblical text and Waldenström’s comments from the Swedish text of his Second Edition, 1892.]

Verse 5—Have the same minds in you that also (was) in Christ Jesus. (I Peter 2:21; I John 2:6).

Verse 6—who, being1 in God’s likeness,2 did not regard it as a means to prey3 to be like God,4 (John 1:1 f, 17:S; II Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3).

  1. When he was. By this the Apostle refers to Christ s pre-existence.
  2. The opposite of God’s shape—see verse 7—a slave’s shape. That shape or form that Christ had before his becoming a man was God’s shape. This presupposes that in essence he was God because only God can have a Godly life-form. God’s shape is glory. (Cf., Heb. 1:3; John 17:5).
  3. The word, in the original text means: TO ROB. This can either represent the deed of stealing something for oneself, or the method for doing it. In this context, it is the latter. In 1Tim. 6:5, the Apostle talks about those who view godliness as an acquisition—as a method to prepare oneself for the gain.
  4. Christ’s existence before becoming a man was like God’s existence. He was not the same person as God the father. But his existence was the same as the father’s. This godlike existence is best expressed with the Savior’s words: Just as the father has life, so he has even given to the son to have life (John 5:26). On one hand the son’s godly existence is expressed . . . (John 1:1) and on the other hand it is a gift from the father so he is subordinate to the father (see John 14:28). Christ did not regard his godlike essence as means for robbery, so he did not want to use it as an advantage to steal prestige, honor, power, kingdom on earth, etc. for himself. He could have done this if he had appeared on earth in glory and majesty, but he did the complete opposite.

Verse 7—but placed himself in a state of poverty1 having taken on himself2 the shape of a slave3, being in humankind’s likeness and in posture5 existed as a human,6 (11 Cor. 8:9; Matt. 20:28; Rom. 15:3; Gal. 4:4)

  1. He put aside God’s shape. The godlike essence itself he did not discard. The godly person put aside the godly form and took on the human form.
  2. In that he took it on.
  3. Not the shape of a mighty lord but of an insignificant slave who comes not to be served but to serve (Matt. 20:28).
  4. Because he took on human form. God’s son became humankind’s son.
  5. In his outward appearance and conduct
  6. But found in him the same gestures, speech, manner of living, wants, etc. as m any other person. However, everything about him was naturally holy, as in no other. Just like any other person he could be tired, suffer, and die.

Verse 8—humbled himself, was obedient1 unto death, yes unto death on the cross.2 (Matt. 26:42; John 10: 17 f; Heb: 2:9. 5:8, 12.2)

  1. Toward God
  2. Which was the most dreadful death. To obey when there is no suffering and sacrifice is not worth mentioning. Death on the cross was the deepest depth of degradation so it was the highest point of obedience. Only as powerful an example as this could exhort the faithful to give up their own benefits and serve each other humbly (verses 2-4).

Verse 9—Therefore,1 God has gloriously elevated2 him and accorded3 him that name which is above every name,4

  1. As a reward for that obedience.
  2. Verbatim: EXALTED ABOVE, that is in a way glorious beyond measure, to the highest honor and glorious elevation. God’s son had the glory of his father before becoming a man. After his degradation, the father restored him to glory as a reward for his complete obedience in fulfilling the work the father had given him to do on earth. Hence, he himself PRAYED to God about it. See John 17:5f. What he had before as God’s son he now as a Godly person received as a reward. Some Bible scholars believe that Paul means by Christ’s elevation that the father gave him power to rule over everything created in heaven and on earth (compare Eph. 1:9 f, 1:20f). This power to rule, they say, had not belonged to him in his previous existence but was given to him as a reward for his work as the Son of Man (compare John 5:27). Then he shall return that power to God after he has laid all his enemies under his feet (I Cor. 15:24).
  3. The expression in the original text indicates giving someone something as a gift of grace. Christ has accepted his elevation as a REWARD OF GRACE by God.
  4. The name LORD (v. 11). This name expresses all the power and majesty that God gave him through the elevation.

Verse 10—so that in Jesus’ name1 every knee may bend,2 of those who are in heaven,3 and of chose who are on the earth,4 and of chose who are under the earth,5 (Is. 45:23; Rom. 14:11)

  1. As the elevated Lord.
  2. To pray to. The New Testament teaching is that Christ shall be worshiped. See Acts 2:21, 7:59; Rom. 10:12 f. Compare also Rev. 5:13 where the same worship is given to the son as is given to the father in chapter 7:12.
  3. The heavenly angels.
  4. The people Living on earth.
  5. Those who are in the kingdom of death. Note clearly this passage proves that the dead have a conscious existence in the kingdom of the dead. To evade this truth, some have said that those who are in the kingdom of death will worship only after the resurrection. But the Apostle does not talk about the RESURRECTED by what those IN THE KINGDOM OF DEATH shall do. Just as the heavenly angels and the believers living on earth ALREADY dead saints in death’s kingdom. After Christ s glorification, shall this worship begin. See John 20:17. Toward this, Romans 14:11 is not in conflict because there Paul reports explicitly the coming judgment of the world. This is not the case here.

Verse 11—and every tongue1 shall confess2 that Jesus Christ1 is Lord3 to God the father’s glory.4

  1. The Apostle assigns GODLY worship to Christ.The language about God in the Old Testament is commonly applied to Jesus in the New Testament (see Rom. 10: 11, 13; I Cor. 2:16, 10:22).
  2. Verbatim: openly and freely confess (see Matt. 3:6).
  3. Lord over everything created in heaven and on earth.
  4. Such worship of Jesus does not infringe on the father’s honor. Rather, it elevates the father who is the one who has given the son this glory. Compare John 13:31f. In addition, it must be noted that this verse does not imply the final salvation of all people. This refers to God’s INTENTION only, not what shall in fact COME TO BE. What shall come to be depends not on God’s will only but also on humankind’s obedience. It is God’s will that all who hear the Gospel shall convert and believe, but that does not always happen. Therefore, God COMPLAINS about people’s unbelief which keeps him from implementing his intention to save them.