COMMENTARY ON PHILIPPIANS
T E X T
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11. NKJV)
The ultimate example of the outcome of true humility is seen in the Lord Jesus Christ. He “humbled Himself and became obedient” more extensively than any of the sons of men. On earth, it did not appear this was in His own best interests. But behold the response of Almighty God to our Savior’s unparalleled condescension and unfaltering obedience! He has been exalted to such a high position that all created personalities, regardless of their location, will publically acknowledge His superiority. No one will be excluded. It is only a matter of time until it happens.
GOD HAS HIGHLY EXALTED JESUS
“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (NASB). “Therefore . . . ,” i.e., BECAUSE the Lord Jesus emptied Himself, humbled Himself, and became obedient, even to the death of the cross–because of that, God “highly exalted Him.” This did not occur simply because an unparalleled feat was performed–something that had never been done before. Rather, a Divine requirement was met in Christ’s submission. God could not save humanity without the condescension of Jesus! He “so loved the world,” and fervently desires that “all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (John 3:16; 1 Tim 2:4). Yet, they could NOT be saved or come to know the truth through their own effort. They had fallen too far and become too weak to correct their own situation. It was because of this circumstance that what Jesus accomplished brought such great satisfaction to God.
The word “Therefore,” means “for this reason.” There is, however, something important to be seen here. On the surface this may appear trite, but we must not allow ourselves to so think. Jesus did not humble Himself so that He might be exalted – He was already exalted, and emptied Himself of that.This describes more the response of God than the goal of Jesus. It is as though He said, “I will make You the Captain of salvation because you have emptied Yourself of glory in order to fulfill My will, absorb the curse, and defeat the devil in his own territory.” That sanctifies all obedience to God!
Although largely unrecognized in the world, Jesus has been “highly exalted.” He is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim 6:15). If this were believed, churches would be filled whenever they were opened. Cries of “What shall we do?” would rise from men and women everywhere. “The people that do know their God” (Dan 11:32) would be sought out and told “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech 8:23). Men would seek His favor, inquire concerning His will, and engage in an unrelenting quest to “know Him.” The general absence of these traits confirms how little this truth is really known.
By “highly exalted,” the Spirit means Christ’s exaltation is not apparent–it is not visible, or in this world. He has been elevated to God’s“own right hand in the heavenly places.” There, He is “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named” (Eph 1:20-21). The exaltation is very real–so real that anyone who becomes aware of Him submits to Him.
His “name” commands the respect of all who hear it. It is “above” every other name. He is not using the word “name” as commonly used among men. This does not refer to a mere appellation, but refers to His Person and character. Men can have a name that does not match their persons–i.e., a good name with a bad character. But the name “Jesus” (the Lord saves) precisely describes Christ’s Person! It is a name that reveals Jesus, and Jesus alone has been commissioned to save humanity. All men will bow before Him in that capacity–the Savior. The “name above every name” is the name of a Savior, a Deliverer! What a high priority that places on this “great salvation!”
EVERY KNEE WILL BOW BEFORE HIM
“ . . . that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (NASB). God has bestowed honor upon Jesus, and has determined that all created beings will do the same–willingly or unwillingly. The word “should” does not mean “ought to,” but “surely will.”
“The name of Jesus” is related to His humanity. It is the One who“humbled Himself” and “became obedient” that will be acknowledged–“the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). God the Father has recognized and exalted Him in the capacity of a glorified Man. Presently, only those who are washed, justified, and sanctified bow to Him. Even though He took away the sins of the world, reconciling it to God, yet the vast majority of men are not submissive to Him. It is not owing to any deficiency in Jesus that men do not bow their knees to Him. He has been exalted, and given a superior name. Were men to recognize and embrace His Person, they would call upon His exalted name, that they might be saved (Rom 10:13).
Notice the extent of our lord’s exaltation. By saying “every knee will bow,” the Spirit includes every created intelligence, whether in heaven, earth, or the unseen realms–“under the earth.” In His capacity as a glorified Man, angels, men, and demons will bow before Him! Even when He was upon the earth, the demonic world submitted to Him (Matt 8:31; 12:28; Lk 4:34). What do you think they do now that He has been exalted? If the unseen world recognized Who He was when clothed with flesh, what must they do now that He is enthroned in glory? How glorious the words, “who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Pet 3:22).
The appointed universal recognition of Jesus is mentioned elsewhere. The Spirit makes clear He is speaking about the day of judgment. “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God” (Rom 14:10-11). In vivid language, John describes the scene He was given to see–a scene of appointed destiny. “And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Rev 5:13).
There will be a universal recognition of the exalted Christ. It will be acknowledged before an assembled universe that He, and He alone, has been invested with “all power in heaven and in earth.” For some, the acknowledgment will be the induction of condemnation. For others, it will be the confirmation of “eternal salvation” – but all will acknowledge the truth.
Make no mistake about this: because Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the death of the cross, He alone is worthy of our submission and obedience. To give ourselves to anyone or anything else is nothing less than rebellion. Too, if Jesus was highly exalted as a consequence of His obedience, we must view humility as something to be gained at all cost.
EVERY TONGUE WILL CONFESS THE LORD
“ . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (NASB). Again, this is something that has been determined by God. He has appointed this because of the humility and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this world, men can choose whether or not to confess Christ with their tongues. In the world to come, there will be no choice. Whatever a person chooses to believe about the “free will” of man, it must be acknowledged that God has appointed a day when His Son will be confessed by every tongue, whether they want to or not.
This is not a superficial confession, but one dictated by the revelation of the King of kings. When men see Him as He really is, a confession will erupt from their mouths: “Jesus Christ IS Lord.” No earthly king will be acknowledged as lord! Although the devil is presently the “God of this world,” he will not be so recognized then! Only the Son of God will be honored! All crowns will be cast before His throne (Rev 4:10).
In this world, tongues do not readily confess Jesus is Lord. Every Lord’s day, countless multitudes acknowledge other lords. Wherever people choose to serve other interests, Jesus is not confessed as Lord. But the day is coming when this will not be the case! It is at the appointed time when His enemies will become His “footstool” (Heb 1:13; 10:13).
Through Isaiah, nearly 800 years before Jesus, God revealed His intention. “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear [allegiance, NASB]” (Isa 45:23). The objective for every person is to confess the Lord with the tongue now, in “the day of salvation.” Only now, in this world, are men given a choice to do this. In the day of judgment, they will have no choice in the matter. That is why believers are told, “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:10). Confession presumes the recognition of the one confessed. Such recognition leads to salvation in this world. O, that men were more inclined to this.
This universal acknowledgment of Jesus will be “to the glory of God the Father.” It will confirm that everything He said about the Son was precisely true. It will also substantiate that the exaltation of Jesus was right, and in strict accord with truth. God never misrepresented Jesus! He is everything God has declared Him to be. He accomplished everything the Father affirms He accomplished. The Father is properly seen now ONLY “in the face of Christ”(2 Cor 4:6). He cannot be comprehended in a saving sense anywhere else. If honor is to be brought to the Father, it must come through the Son, to Whom the Father has committed everything. As it is written, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23).
The purpose belonged to God, and thus God will be glorified when the Administrator of that purpose is confessed by every tongue! Thus the time will come when the Son will turn the kingdom back to the Father that He might be “all in all” (1 Cor 15:24-28).
The due consideration of these realities will confirm the high worth of humility, and esteeming others better than ourselves.