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The following is one of the things they stated. "Like the rest of us, Christ was fully human and had the outward form (morphe), of a human. However, because he always did the Father’s will and demonstrated godly behavior and obedience, he therefore had the outward “appearance” (morphe) of God also. https://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/philippians-2-6-8

Since Jesus Christ was born as a human being like the rest of us, meaning He appeared as a man why was it necessary for Him to take the form of a bond-servant/man at Philippians 2:8 since He is a man already?

And at verse 6 the Apostle Paul states, "who, although He existed in the morphe or form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped." The following is what Greek Scholar A.T. Robertson says about verse 6, "Being (υπαρχων — huparchōn). Rather, “existing,” present active participle of υπαρχω — huparchō In the form of God (εν μορπηι τεου — en morphēi theou). Μορπη — Morphē means the essential attributes as shown in the form. In his preincarnate state Christ possessed the attributes of God and so appeared to those in heaven who saw him. Here is a clear statement by Paul of the deity of Christ.

Then at verse 7 the very first word is "but." That word means that what follows is going to be the antithesis of what preceded it. So what preceded it is the fact that Jesus Christ went from one form of being God to another form of that of being a man.

So again, since Unitarians believe Jesus was a man and appeared as a man or from verse 8, Jesus took the "fashion" (schema) or "appearance of a man why did He have to change forms?

Or to put it simply, why go from already being a man to being a man again?

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  • Can you make it clear in your question that you seek a response from Biblical Unitarians? That's because there are also Universalist Unitarians who do not take the Bible as God's inspired word. Having looked carefully at the Biblical Unitarian point of view, I confess I fail to understand their reasoning, so I sincerely hope that someone will be able to explain it from the Biblical Unitaraian position. – Lesley Mar 29 at 9:09
  • @Lesley I agree, I should have focused just on them because I know it's better that threads should be more specific in order to get specific answers so I did as you asked. Thank You! – Mr. Bond Mar 29 at 13:51
  • I find it interesting that Unitarians seem to quietly ignore Isaiah 9:1-7 (particularly vs 6). There are also many other chapters in Isaiah that in reality dispell with any notion of unitarianism's validity. Perhaps you could include Isaiah 9:6 in your referencing for the question. I would be very interested in how Unitarians view Isaiahs writings as he was clearly trinitarian. – Adam Mar 29 at 20:18
  • @Adam 'Mighty God' -> 'Mighty Hero' (or you could say 'Mighty god'). revisedenglishversion.com/Isaiah/chapter9/6 has detailed commentary on Isaiah 9:6. "People familiar with the Semitic languages know that a man who is acting with God’s authority can be called “god.”" – One God the Father Mar 30 at 0:21
  • @Adam Think of it this way - were Jews expecting the Messiah to be God? No, but they were expecting him to be the representative of God. – One God the Father Mar 30 at 0:26
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"Here is a clear statement by Paul of the deity of Christ."

If Paul had wanted to make a clear statement equating Jesus with God, he sure did it in a funny way - a series of verses that are highly contentious, whether between trinitarians and unitarians or just between trinitarians themselves.

IMO something clear would have been something that included "Jesus is God." Easy! Because this is an earth-shattering claim for Paul, an observant Jew who believes God is Spirit, you would think he would not only state it once in one letter, but repeat it loudly and clearly. Instead, he uses a word here which can mean all sorts of things ('morphe'), in particular 'shape' or 'outward appearance'.

Strong's Greek 3444: Form, shape, outward appearance. Perhaps from the base of meros; shape; figuratively, nature.

On the other hand, St. Paul distinguishes time and again between Jesus and God. So which is the proper hermeneutic - a cryptic, highly debated sentence which suggests to some that Jesus is God, or clear, repeated statements distinguishing them? My hermeneutic favours the latter.

Philippians 2 5-11:

"Have this mindset in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, considered being equal with God not something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! And therefore God raised him to the highest place of honor and gave him the name that is above every name, in order that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth — and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Revised English Translation)

(As a sidenote, the passage distinguishes between God and Jesus just after 2:6-8 at 2:9. "And therefore God raised him to the highest place of honor [...]")

The article you linked to explains fairly clearly in what sense Jesus was 'existing' as the 'morphe' (form) of God and instead took on the 'morphe' (form) of a servant:

"Scripture says Christ was the “image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4), and Jesus himself testified that if one had seen him, he had seen the Father. Saying that Christ was in the “form” (outward appearance) of God is simply stating that truth in another way. Unlike Adam, who grasped at being like God (Gen. 3:5), Christ, the Last Adam, “emptied himself” of all his reputation and the things due him as the true child of the King. He lived in the same fashion as other men. He humbled himself to the Word and will of God. He lived by “It is written” and the commands of his Father. He did not “toot his own horn,” but instead called himself “the son of man,” which, in the Aramaic language he spoke, meant “a man.” He trusted God and became obedient, even to a horrible and shameful death on a cross."

On this view, Jesus isn't just a man like any other man. He is the Son of God, the Messiah. So what does 'being made in human likeness' mean? My best guess on this view is that it means he carried himself as a typical man, the 'son of man' - a carpenter from a small-town.

So, from the OP:

"Since Jesus Christ was born as a human being like the rest of us, meaning He appeared as a man why was it necessary for Him to take the form of a bond-servant/man at Philippians 2:8 since He is a man already?"

He is born not just any man, but the Son of God. He has to empty himself of "all his reputation and the things due him" as the Christ, and follow God's plan.

Q: You say St. Paul's language isn't clear here re Jesus' divinity, but isn't he being clear at Titus 2:13?

A: Titus 2:13 is another contentious passage. See here for a Biblical Unitarian discussion of it.

Q: But how could he be born a man if he starts out a man?

A: This question seems to take a trinitarian lens to the passage. So he's in the form of God, then empties himself just before or during the incarnation, and so is born a man. This is not the unitarian view - this is not a temporal sequence referring to conception. St. Paul does not make the logical connections between the various elements clear here, but 'being born in the likeness of men' is probably a paraphrase or goes along with taking the form of a servant - i.e., “emptying himself” of all his reputation and the things due him as the Messiah and Son of God and living in the same fashion as other men. This is probably meant to refer to an on-going state of affairs (hence a 'mindset'), not an event that just happened once as in the trinitarian view.

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    You did not address my initial question? Why was it necessary for Jesus to go from one form, Philippians 2:6 to another form at vs 7-8? Paul did make a clear statement of Christ's deity at Titus 2:13. Peter at 2 Peter 1:1, Thomas at John 20:28 and there are others. Even if Jesus said the words "I am God" you still would not believe Him. And who are you to question how somebody "says" something under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Your also making in logic "an argument from silence" when you say, "something clear should have been said. There are clear verses, you just don't believe them. – Mr. Bond Mar 29 at 17:44
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    Titus 2:13 isn't clear! See discussion here revisedenglishversion.com/Titus/chapter2/13 – One God the Father Mar 29 at 17:51
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    @Mr.Bond I don't quite understand what you're asking. The link provided discusses how Titus 2:13 can be read as St. Paul not claiming Jesus is God. – One God the Father Mar 29 at 18:04
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    I knew that the mods wanted to move this discussion to chat. Are you willing to do so? Also, we have gone off track to my original question to the deity of Jesus Christ. I still want to know why it was necessary for Jesus Christ who you claim is a man all along went from that form to another form which is a man again according to Philippians 2:7-8? Or, let me try this? What form did Jesus Christ have at Philippians 2:6 that He chose to empty? – Mr. Bond Mar 29 at 22:30
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    @Mr.Bond I've already answered those questions. If you approach the text as a statement on the incarnation, it seems confusing from how a unitarian interprets it. But of course Biblical Unitarians tend not to approach it that way. – One God the Father Mar 29 at 22:34
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Mark 10:18

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Holy1 Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me holy? No one is holy but God alone.

more even, he was fully aware of the difference:

Matthew 24:34-36

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

and in this it is manifest that in the last sentence he said the truth, as it proven that he did really not know the hour.

The argumentation on the cited Unitarian page is almost as complicated as the Trinity dogma. The reality is that Paul and John tend to attribute a divine quality to Jesus which is the root of the trinity dogma. But Jesus himself had clearly denied because he knew it.

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  • Are you stating the official Unitarian interpretation of Philippians 2:6-8? – Lesley Mar 29 at 9:11
  • I am stating an individual Unitarian position. There is no compulsory dogmatic in the Unitarian movement. The author is trying to find a harmony between the conflicting messages, me, I accept the conflict. – Dflat Mar 29 at 11:30
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    I understand there is no compulsory dogmatic approach to beliefs within the Unitarian movement, but I wondered if you are speaking from the perspective of Biblical Unitarianism, Christian Unitarianism or Universal Unitarianism. As I am discovering, they are quite different in many respects. – Lesley Mar 29 at 11:34
  • I am a member of the Reformed Church. The Reformed Church allows divergent opinions having a biblical base, following God an Jesus Christ. The Reformed Church includes Unitarian positions but other positions are present as well. My position would be a Christian Unitarian. – Dflat Mar 29 at 11:50
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    @Dflat Which "Reformed" Church is that? The normal "Reformed Christianity" we're familiar with (also called Calvinism) has zero allowance for Unitarianism. – curiousdannii Apr 9 at 3:18

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