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
             (TURN and READ)

        - 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 three 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