But made himself of no reputation - Ἑαυτον εκενωσε· He emptied himself - did not appear in his glory, for he assumed the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of man. And his being made in the likeness of man, and assuming the form of a servant, was a proof that he had emptied himself - laid aside the effulgence of his glory.
But made himself of no reputation - This translation by no means conveys the sense of the original According to this it would seem that he consented to be without distinction or honor among people; or that he was willing to be despised or disregarded. The Greek is ἑαυτον ἐκένωσεν heauton ekenōsenThe word κενόω kenoōmeans literally, to empty, “to make empty, to make vain or void.” It is rendered: “made void” in Romans 4:14; “made of none effect,” 1 Corinthians 1:17; “make void,” 1 Corinthians 9:15; “should be vain,” 2 Corinthians 9:3. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, except in the passage before us. The essential idea is that of bringing to emptiness, vanity, or nothingness; and, hence, it is applied to a case where one lays aside his rank and dignity, and becomes in respect to that as nothing; that is, he assumes a more humble rank and station. In regard to its meaning here, we may remark:
(1) that it cannot mean that he literally divested himself of his divine nature and perfections, for that was impossible. He could not cease to be omnipotent, and omnipresent, and most holy, and true, and good.
(2) it is conceivable that he might have laid aside, for a time, the symbols or the manifestation of his glory, or that the outward expressions of his majesty in heaven might have been withdrawn. It is conceivable for a divine being to intermit the exercise of his almighty power, since it cannot be supposed that God is always exerting his power to the utmost. And in like manner there might be for a time a laying aside or intermitting of these manifestations or symbols, which were expressive of the divine glory and perfections. Yet,
(3) this supposes no change in the divine nature, or in the essential glory of the divine perfections. When the sun is obscured by a cloud, or in an eclipse, there is no real change of its glory, nor are his beams extinguished, nor is the sun himself in any measure changed. His luster is only for a time obscured. So it might have been in regard to the manifestation of the glory of the Son of God. Of course there is much in regard to this which is obscure, but the language of the apostle undoubtedly implies more than that he took an humble place, or that he demeaned himself in an humble manner. In regard to the actual change respecting his manifestations in heaven, or the withdrawing of the symbols of his glory there, the Scriptures are nearly silent, and conjecture is useless - perhaps improper. The language before us fairly implies that he laid aside that which was expressive of his being divine - that glory which is involved in the phrase “being in the form of God” - and took upon himself another form and manifestation in the condition of a servant.
And took upon him the form of a servant - The phrase “form of a servant,” should be allowed to explain the phrase “form of God,” in Phlippians 2:6. The “form of a servant” is that which indicates the condition of a servant, in contradistinction from one of higher rank. It means to appear as a servant, to perform the offices of a servant, and to be regarded as such. He was made like a servant in the lowly condition which he assumed. The whole connection and force of the argument here demands this interpretation. Storr and Rosenmuller interpret this as meaning that he became the servant or minister of God, and that in doing it, it was necessary that he should become a man. But the objection to this is obvious. It greatly weakens the force of the apostle‘s argument. His object is to state the depth of humiliation to which he descended, and this was best done by saying that he descended to the lowest condition of humanity and appeared in the most humble garb. The idea of being a “servant or minister of God” would not express that, for this is a term which might be applied to the highest angel in heaven. Though the Lord Jesus was not literally a servant or slave, yet what is here affirmed was true of him in the following respects:
(1) He occupied a most lowly condition in life.
And was made in the likeness of men - Margin, habit. The Greek word means likeness, resemblance. The meaning is, he was made like unto people by assuming such a body as theirs; see the notes at Romans 8:3.
Many a laborer fails in his work because he does not come close to those who most need his help. With the Bible in hand, he should seek in a courteous manner to learn the objections which exist in the minds of those who are beginning to inquire, “What is truth?” Carefully and tenderly should he lead and educate them, as pupils in a school. Many have to unlearn theories which they have long believed to be truth. As they become convinced that they have been in error concerning Bible subjects, they are thrown into perplexity and doubt. They need the tenderest sympathy and the most judicious help; they should be carefully instructed, and should be prayed for and prayed with, watched and guarded with the kindest solicitude. GW 190.1
It is a great privilege to be a co-laborer with Christ in the salvation of souls. With patient, unselfish effort the Saviour sought to reach man in his fallen condition, and to rescue him from the consequences of sin. His disciples, who are the teachers of His word, should closely imitate their great Exemplar. GW 191.1
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Yet Christ had not been forced to take this step. He had contemplated this struggle. To His disciples He had said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” “Now is your hour, and the power of darkness.” He had volunteered to lay down His life to save the world (The Signs of the Times, December 9, 1897). 5BC 1104.1
43 (Mark 14:40; Luke 22:45). Picture of a Sleeping Church—In this fearful hour of trial Christ's human nature longed even for the sympathy of His disciples. A second time He rose from the earth and went to them and found them sleeping. This was not a deep sleep. They were in a drowse. They had a limited sense of their Lord's suffering and anguish. In tenderness Jesus stood for a moment bending over them, and regarding them with mingled feelings of love and pity. In these sleeping disciples He sees a representation of a sleeping church. When they should be watching, they are asleep (Sufferings of Christ, 19, 20, found in The Signs of the Times, August 14, 1879). 5BC 1104.2
57 (John 18:13, 14). Need Not Be Instruments of Unrighteousness—Caiaphas was the one who was to be in office when type met antitype, when the true High Priest came into office. Each actor in history stands in his lot and place; for God's great work after His own plan will be carried out by men who have prepared themselves to fill positions for good or evil. In opposition to righteousness, men become instruments of unrighteousness. But they are not forced to take this course of action. They need not become instruments of unrighteousness, any more than Cain needed to (The Review and Herald, June 12, 1900). 5BC 1104.3Read in context »
Your soul is not sanctified to the work. You do not take the burden of the work upon you. You choose an easier lot than that which is appointed to the minister of Christ. He counted not His life dear unto Himself. He pleased not Himself, but lived for others’ good. He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant. It is not enough to be able to present the arguments of our position before the people. The minister of Christ must possess an undying love for souls, a spirit of self-denial, of self-sacrifice. He should be willing to give his life, if need be, to the work of saving his fellow men, for whom Christ died. 2T 151.1
You need a conversion to the work of God. You need wisdom and judgment to apply yourself to the work and direct your labor. Your labors are not required among the churches. You should go out in new places and prove your work. Go with a spirit to labor to convert souls to the truth. If you feel the worth of souls, the least indication for good will rejoice your heart, and you will persevere, although there may be labor and weariness in the effort. After you have once agitated the subject of truth, do not leave that place if there is the least indication for good. Do you expect a harvest without labor? Do you expect that Satan will readily allow his subjects to pass from his ranks to the ranks of Christ? He will make every effort to keep them bound in fetters of darkness under his black banner. Can you expect to be victorious in winning souls to Christ without earnest effort, when you have such a foe to face and battle? 2T 151.2
You must have more courage, more zeal, and put forth greater efforts, or you will have to decide that you have mistaken your calling. An easily discouraged minister does injury to the cause he desires to promote, and injustice to himself. All who profess to be ministers of Christ should learn wisdom by studying the history of the Man of Nazareth, and also the history of Martin Luther and the lives of other Reformers. Their labors were arduous, but they endured hardness as faithful soldiers of the cross of Christ. You should not shun responsibilities. With modesty, you should be willing to be advised, to be instructed. After you have received counsel from the wise, the judicious, there is yet a Counselor whose wisdom is unerring. Fail not to present your case before Him and entreat His direction. He has promised that if you lack wisdom and ask of Him, He will give it to you liberally and upbraid not. The sacred, solemn work in which we are engaged calls for wholehearted, thoroughly converted men, whose lives are interwoven with the life of Christ. They draw sap and nourishment from the living Vine, and flourish in the Lord. Although they feel the magnitude of the work, and are led to exclaim, “Who is sufficient for these things?” yet they will not shrink from labor and toil, but will labor earnestly and unselfishly to save souls. If the undershepherds are faithful in all their duty, they will enter into the joy of their Lord and have the satisfaction of seeing souls saved in heaven through their faithful efforts. 2T 151.3Read in context »
He became poor, and made Himself of no reputation. He was hungry and frequently thirsty, and many times weary in His labors; but He had not where to lay His head. When the cold, damp shades of night gathered about Him, the earth was frequently His bed. Yet He blessed those who hated Him. What a life! what an experience! Can we, the professed followers of Christ, cheerfully endure privation and suffering as did our Lord, without murmuring? Can we drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism? If so, we may share with Him His glory in His heavenly kingdom. If not, we shall have no part with Him. 3T 107.1
Brother S has an experience to gain, without which his work will do positive injury. He is affected too much by what others tell him of the erring; he is apt to decide according to the impressions made upon his mind, and he deals with severity, when a milder course would be far better. He does not bear in mind his own weakness, and how hard it is for him to have his course questioned, even when he is wrong. When he decides that a brother or sister is wrong he is inclined to carry the matter through and press his censure, although in doing so he hurts his own soul and endangers the souls of others. 3T 107.2
Brother S should shun church trials and should have nothing to do in settling difficulties, if he can possibly avoid it. He has a valuable gift, which is needed in the work of God. But he should separate himself from influences which draw upon his sympathies, confuse his judgment, and lead him to move unwisely. This should not and need not be. He exercises too little faith in God. He dwells too much upon his bodily infirmities and strengthens unbelief by dwelling upon poor feelings. God has strength and wisdom in store for those who seek for it earnestly, in faith believing. 3T 107.3Read in context »