Plea for Unity and Humility.* 1If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.a 3Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,b 4each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.c
5Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,*
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.*
7Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;*
and found human in appearance,e
8he humbled himself,f
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.*
9Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name*
that is above every name,g
10that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,*
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,h
11and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,*
to the glory of God the Father.i
Obedience and Service in the World.* 12j So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.* 13For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.k 14Do everything without grumbling or questioning,l 15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,* among whom you shine like lights in the world,m 16as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.n 17But, even if I am poured out as a libation* upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.o 18In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.p
IV. Travel Plans of Paul and His Assistants*
Timothy and Paul. 19I hope, in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy* to you soon, so that I too may be heartened by hearing news of you.q 20For I have no one comparable to him for genuine interest in whatever concerns you. 21For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.r 22But you know his worth, how as a child with a father he served along with me in the cause of the gospel. 23He it is, then, whom I hope to send as soon as I see how things go with me, 24but I am confident in the Lord that I myself will also come soon.*
Epaphroditus. 25With regard to Epaphroditus,* my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister in my need, I consider it necessary to send him to you.s 26For he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27He was indeed ill, close to death; but God had mercy on him, not just on him but also on me, so that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28I send him therefore with the greater eagerness, so that, on seeing him, you may rejoice again, and I may have less anxiety. 29Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy and hold such people in esteem,t 30because for the sake of the work of Christ he came close to death, risking his life to make up for those services to me that you could not perform.
* [2:1–11] The admonition to likemindedness and unity (Phil 2:2–5) is based on the believers’ threefold experience with Christ, God’s love, and the Spirit. The appeal to humility (Phil 2:3) and to obedience (Phil 2:12) is rooted in christology, specifically in a statement about Christ Jesus (Phil 2:6–11) and his humbling of self and obedience to the point of death (Phil 2:8).
* [2:5] Have…the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus: or, “that also Christ Jesus had.” While it is often held that Christ here functions as a model for moral imitation, it is not the historical Jesus but the entire Christ event that Phil 2:6–11 depict. Therefore, the appeal is to have in relations among yourselves that same relationship you have in Jesus Christ, i.e., serving one another as you serve Christ (Phil 2:4).
* [2:6–11] Perhaps an early Christian hymn quoted here by Paul. The short rhythmic lines fall into two parts, Phil 2:6–8 where the subject of every verb is Christ, and Phil 2:9–11 where the subject is God. The general pattern is thus of Christ’s humiliation and then exaltation. More precise analyses propose a division into six three-line stanzas (Phil 2:6; 7abc, 7d–8, 9, 10, 11) or into three stanzas (Phil 2:6–7ab, 7cd–8, 9–11). Phrases such as even death on a cross (Phil 2:8c) are considered by some to be additions (by Paul) to the hymn, as are Phil 2:10c, 11c.
* [2:6] Either a reference to Christ’s preexistence and those aspects of divinity that he was willing to give up in order to serve in human form, or to what the man Jesus refused to grasp at to attain divinity. Many see an allusion to the Genesis story: unlike Adam, Jesus, though…in the form of God (Gn 1:26–27), did not reach out for equality with God, in contrast with the first Adam in Gn 3:5–6.
* [2:7] Taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness: or “…taking the form of a slave. Coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance.” While it is common to take Phil 2:6, 7 as dealing with Christ’s preexistence and Phil 2:8 with his incarnate life, so that lines Phil 2:7b, 7c are parallel, it is also possible to interpret so as to exclude any reference to preexistence (see note on Phil 2:6) and to take Phil 2:6–8 as presenting two parallel stanzas about Jesus’ human state (Phil 2:6–7b; 7cd–8); in the latter alternative, coming in human likeness begins the second stanza and parallels 6a to some extent.
* [2:10–11] Every knee should bend…every tongue confess: into this language of Is 45:23 there has been inserted a reference to the three levels in the universe, according to ancient thought, heaven, earth, under the earth.
* [2:17] Libation: in ancient religious ritual, the pouring out on the ground of a liquid offering as a sacrifice. Paul means that he may be facing death.
* [2:25] Epaphroditus: sent by the Philippians as their messenger (literally, “apostle”) to aid Paul in his imprisonment, he had fallen seriously ill; Paul commends him as he sends him back to Philippi.