Philippians 2:8-11 - Christ's Obedience

Dr. Steve Viars August 12, 1995 Philippians 2:8-11

Philippians chapter 2.
- In a sense, we're going to complete this portion on "the
characteristics Christ modeled for us which lead to unity."

- I say "in a sense" because Paul has such long sentences, that the
thought continues to be developed in subsequent verses...but at least
today we will finish up verse 11 of chapter two where Paul "takes a
breath" and therefore provides a natural place to tie some things

- remember, as we've been studying for several weeks, the overall theme
of these verses in "Christian unity."
- the idea began all the way back in chapter 1, verse 27 where Paul
commanded the people in this church to "stand fast in one spirit,
with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."

- so that was the command to grow in unity.

- the basis of unity is in chapter 2:1-2---named our blessings in Christ.
- we've been pointing out that people who are divisive are ones who
have not been impacted by what Christ has done for them.

- so you have the command to unity, and the basis of unity...
- then in verses 3-4, Paul gives some very specific steps...
- if you want to contribute to unity in the church, or unity in your
marriage, or unity wherever, you must:
a. not act out of selfish ambition or vain deceit
b. in humility, consider others better than yourself
c. look not only on your own interests
d. instead, look on the interests of others

- When you read those steps, your response is -- Who has ever done that?
- Paul's answer in verses 5-11 is -- Jesus Christ has.
- you don't have to plow new ground, or blaze a new trail.
- v. 5 - Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus

- so in the last couple of weeks, we've been studying what the mind
of Jesus Christ was like:
- what did Jesus Christ do for us?

- the sequence in the verses we've studied so far has been:
a. was willing to relinquish his position and rights in order to
b. He emptied Himself of things that were rightly His in order to
c. took on the form of a servant
d. He humbled Himself
e. He was obedient
- last week we just got started on the matter of Christ's obedience.
- we're going to begin there this morning at the middle of verse 8

- we'd like to complete that verse and then study down through verse 11.
- the overall thought is -- Obedience is a critical characteristic for
those who want to contribute to unity.
- let's begin this morning by thinking about:

I. The Extent of Christ's Obedience

- read verse 8

A. Unto death

- the most important events of all time are the death, burial,
and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

- it's one thing for a person to talk about humbling
- or taking on the form of a servant
- or relinquishing rights or position...

- all of that is important, and all of that is difficult to do,
but its a whole different step when we talk about the extent of
Christ's obedience being, "unto death."

- I imagine if we went around the room this morning and asked --
Do you want to be a person who is obedient to Christ---
everyone would say, "Yes."

- But what if we added to the question this qualification, "To
what extent would you be willing to go to to be obedient to

- let's brainstorm that for a moment:

- I'm not asking you to speak for yourself, but
let's hypothetically think through some instances
where a person's obedience to Christ might waver.

- INPUT - At what point might a person's willingness to
be obedient falter? They would be obedient to
Christ unless ___________?

- you could see how we could dovetail that idea back into the overall
subject of unity.
- divisive people might answer this question:
1) I'd be willing to be obedient to Christ unless it meant
giving up the joy of gossiping.

2) I'd be willing to be obedient to Christ unless I had to
ask someone's forgiveness.

3) I'd be willing to be obedient to Christ unless I had to
admit that some else's opinions were better than mine,
or that someone had a better idea than mine.
- people who want to contribute to unity are people who have the mind
of Christ when it comes to the matter of obedience.
- we will go to whatever extent is necessary to be obedient.

- How far would you go to be obedient?

- Paul points one more point on the top of that in verse 8.
- INPUT - What does he say?

B. Even the death of the cross

- INPUT - from your knowledge of the Easter story, what about
dying on the cross would be especially difficult?

- in concluding this section, William Hendriksen said: "The underlying
thought of verse 5-8 is this: Surely, if Christ Jesus humbled Himself
so very deeply, you Philippians should be constantly willing to humble
yourselves in your own small way. Surely, if he became obedient to
the extent of death, yes death by a cross, you should become
increasingly obedient to the divine directions, and should accordingly
strive more and more to achieve in your own lives the spirit of your
Master, that is, the spirit of oneness, lowliness, and helpfulness,
which is pleasing to God.

- now let's see what Paul adds to that in verses 9-11.

II. The Result of Christ's Obedience

A. God has highly exalted Him.

- this is the only place the phrase "highly exalted," or "exalted
Him to the highest place" is used in the Scripture.

- it literally means "super-exalted." (given the highest place)

- there are many, many places we could turn to see how this idea
is emphasized---one of the most beautiful is Eph. 1:20-21

- one of the amazing things about Christ's exaltation is that it
was predicted hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of years
before it occurred.

Isa. 53:10-12 -

Psalm 2:7-9 -

II Sam. 7:13 -

- the point is -- there was a reward for Jesus Christ's obedience.
(we'll see later that the reward was/is not an end in itself)
- but the passage definitely wants us to consider how Jesus
Christ was exalted because of His obedience.
- when you think about it, that’s very consistent with what Jesus
and others taught:

Matthew 23:12 - And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be
abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

James 4:10 - Humble yourselves, therefore, in the sight of
the Lord, and He shall lift you up.

- one other verse that makes that point very clearly is I Peter 5:6 (turn
and read)

- so the overall point is -- choosing to live the way these verses are
commanding will result in exaltation.

INPUT - why is it important for us to hear that?

(balance - not an end in itself -- keep reading! -- but your
willingness to live like these verses are commanding will not
go unnoticed or unrewarded.)

- the next part of the verse tells us specifically how Jesus Christ was

B. Given the name "Lord".

- in writing about this second half of verse 9, William
Hendriksen says "...a name which trembles on Paul's lips but
which even now he does not yet fully mention but reserves as a

- of course the climax is reached in verse 11 -- "every tongue
should confess that Jesus is Lord."

- when you think about it – that’s a lot different than the names
Christ was "given" while he was on earth.

INPUT - What were some of the things our Lord was called while
he ministered among sinful men and women?

- in Bible times, names were more than just a way of
distinguishing one person from another.
- often, a person's name was intimately associated with the
person who bore it...and was an expression of that
person's character, reputation, work, or power.

- thats why often in the Bible, a person's name "kept pace with
their character"
INPUT - examples in the Scripture of persons whose names were

1) Abram to Abraham

2) Sarai to Sarah

3) Jacob to Israel

4) Simon to Cephas

- that’s why the derogatory names that were attached to the Lord
were especially offensive
- it demonstrated that the person speaking had refused to
acknowledge who Jesus Christ really was.

- that’s also why an essential part of the church's message has
always been that Jesus Christ is Lord.

- here's a sampling of the passages:

1) Acts 2:36 - Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly
that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus you

2) Romans 10:9 - If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and
believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou
shalt be saved.

3) I Cor. 12:3 - No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy

4) Rev. 17:14 - These will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will
conquer them, for He is the Lord of lords and King of kings.

5) Rev. 19:16 - And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name
inscribed, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

- the point is that God the Father has highly exalted His Son, and given
Him the name He truly deserves----"Jesus is Lord"

INPUT - what impact would that have had on Paul as he faced possible
execution? Impact on the way we face trials?

INPUT - what impact should that have had on the members of this church
who were being divisive?

III. The Purpose of Christ's Exaltation

- Paul says in verse 11 that all this has happened that EVERY knee
should bow, and EVERY tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is
- this is why individually and as a church we must be faithfully
proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. But it's imperative
that we do it in a balanced way
- illustration - conversation with lady this week about
salvation --- not just God loves you and has a wonderful plan
for your life.

- God's desire is that every knee bows, and every tongue confesses...
- that’s why it's imperative that we be telling others.

- that’s also why its imperative that we be growing.
- INPUT - practical ways believers can do this (bow the knee...)
on a daily basis?

- of course, those who won't accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and
Savior in this life will acknowledge these truths when they face
Him as judge.
- this should be a powerful motivator for evangelism.

- the final purpose -- to the glory of God, the Father.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video