I was trying to represent the word "Kenosis" (Philippians 2:5-8) in a graphic way in order to understand it better. I know it sounds strange, but I imagine this concept as an almost empty hand which pours wine in another hand which is filled by the first one.

What analogies have been suggested for kenosis?

  • An analogy is something that shows how two things are alike, but with the ultimate goal of making a point about this comparison. The purpose of an analogy is not merely to show, but also to explain. For this reason, an analogy is more complex than a simile or a metaphor, which aim only to show without explaining. So, do you want a visualisation or an image of what it looked like when Jesus emptied himself, or do you want an analogy? I ask because your original question did not ask for an analogy, and I'm not sure what it is, exactly, that you are looking for. – Lesley Apr 3 at 14:35
  • Thank you for your answer. I asked for a visualization but probably the title has been changed by an admin. – Saymon Apr 11 at 22:00
  • I realise your question was edited to ask for an analogy because to ask for a visualisation would attract only opinion-based answers. However, there may be some relevant information that does not depend upon opinion. – Lesley Apr 12 at 7:23

Jesus “made himself nothing” (Philippians 2:7 NIV). When He came to earth “he gave up his divine privileges” (NLT). Jesus had to enter this world incognito, "his glory veiled". There were brief occasions when the disciples were enabled to glimpse that glory, as at his transfiguration.

He veiled His glory, and He chose to occupy the position of a slave. The kenosis was a self-renunciation, not an emptying Himself of deity. Christians who believe the incarnation, that Jesus was fully divine as well as fully human, understand this emptying took place when the Word or Logos of God agreed to give up the glory he had in heaven and condescended to “become a little lower than the angels” and took on human form. This required humility and obedience, even to death on a cross. Christ’s “emptying” of Himself was the laying aside of the privileges of divinity, not divinity itself. The verb form κενόω (kenóō) means "to empty".

There are unbiblical views of kenosis, and I hesitate to draw attention to them. However, this one provides you with a form of visualisation:

The equivalent to kenōsis in Gnostic literature is Christ's withdrawal of his own luminosity into himself, so as to cease dazzling his own disciples. At the request of his disciples, "Jesus drew to himself the glory of his light". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenosis#Gnosticism

Thinking about a suitable analogy, I turn to the death and resurrection of Jesus for inspiration. In order for a seed to grow it has to be planted in the soil. There it remains, in darkness, till the process of germination is complete. Then a new plant emerges, and reaches up to obtain energy from the sun. The old has gone, the new arises.

The Word, or Logos, voluntarily agreed to give up the glory he had in his pre-incarnate existence, and submitted himself to death, in order to accomplish the will of his Father in heaven. Then the resurrection takes place and Jesus arises from the tomb in a glorified body and the world is transformed because of his glorious victory over death.

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (John 1:4).

The light and life of the world was veiled for a short while, but the veil has now been removed. The resurrected Jesus is no longer “the suffering servant” of Isaiah, but is revealed as “the true light that gives light to every man” (John 1:9).

The following article provide some Christian insights: https://www.gotquestions.org/kenosis.html

  • When you say "empty", Did Jesus kenosis also means, He was born with zero "grace" while human were born "deprived of grace". The only difference is Jesus flesh & blood is pure like Mary's birth or not corrupted of any stain of original sins, while man was born tainted with it. – jong ricafort Apr 13 at 22:45
  • No, I do not mean that Jesus was born with zero grace. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Jesus birth is unique and bears no resemblance to the birth of his mother, Mary. And this question has nothing to do with Mary. – Lesley Apr 15 at 16:03
  • Even if this gnostic quotation, "Jesus drew to himself the glory of his light" has nothing to do with the Christian understanding of kenosis, it is not so preposterous: that is exactly what Moses did (Ex 34:29-35). – Miguel de Servet May 5 at 18:58

One analogy I have heard goes something like this:

The founder and owner of a large manufacturing firm, desiring to "stay in touch" with the operation of his plant, disguises himself as a newly hired and lowly line worker at his own company. There, without ever abdicating his ownership and ultimate sovereignty over the whole thing, he punches the time clock, learns the job, works the line, goes on break, obeys his supervisor (and by extension, himself), receives compensation, etc.

The man is for a time, both owner and hireling. He both is the boss and has a boss. If he is exceptionally good at his effort then the only ones who become privy are those who know him personally or those to whom he reveals himself.

Obviously, like every other analogy, this can only be pushed so far.

  • It could be extended to his having to work his way, without cheating, to the top of the company hierarchy. When he does, he regains control of the company; if he fails, he permanently loses it. The point of the exercise being to demonstrate that it is possible for an ordinary person to advance through the ranks. – Ray Butterworth Apr 13 at 14:52
  • @RayButterworth Except that he really wasn't an ordinary person the whole time. At any moment he could step out of the ranks and back to the corner office. (Matthew 26:53) – Mike Borden Apr 14 at 12:00

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