John 1:14 (YLT):

14 And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.

Philippians 2:5-8 (YLT):

5 For, let this mind be in you that [is] also in Christ Jesus,

6 who, being in the form of God, thought [it] not robbery to be equal to God,

7 but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made,

8 and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death -- death even of a cross,

I find some notable parallels between these two accounts:

  • Both appear to be talking about Jesus ("only begotten of a father", "Christ Jesus")
  • Both appear to be describing a transition from a prior state to a next state ("the Word became flesh", from "form of God"/"equal to God" to "form of a servant"/"found as a man")
  • Both mention the fact that this person lived among humans ("did tabernacle among us", "found as a man")

Do Biblical Unitarians agree that John 1:14 and Philippians 2:5-8 are describing the same event?

Related BH.SE question: Are John 1:14 and Philippians 2:5-8 describing the same event?

1 Answer 1


No, not exactly. While there are clearly some connections, we must be careful to not draw links that are unfounded and read-in that which is not intended.

  • One passage describes Jesus' birth through Mary which occurred at a specific point in time. This is the important point from v14. Jesus 'dwelling' amongst us does align with the Phil passage.
  • The Phil ref., describes Jesus' whole life. His consistent humbling and obedience, learned through suffering, was an ongoing emptying process. This enabled him to submit his will to God's will in all things leading to his suffering and death of the trial and crucifixion.

This 'lifetime' example is the one we are called to follow - 'have this mind in you'. Paul then describes what Jesus did to become the perfect servant - the perfect Lamb, for the perfect sacrifice for all.

The erroneous idea that there is, "a transition from a prior state to a next state" regarding the form of God and of a servant is not expressed in the scriptures. It is eliminated from a rational view when we consider that Jesus was constantly in the form of God - being the image of God and the one true means of knowing the Father. "If you have seen me, you have seen (known) the Father". Being full of grace and truth and the only begotten are references to his godliness as the true representation of his Father and God while living as a servant of God and man.


The matter of equality is explained here

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    @Kris - did you mean to tag OneGodTheFather?
    – user50422
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 14:01
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    @MikeBorden No, it happened when the 72 were sent out. Otherwise it's a puzzling comment. See revisedenglishversion.com/Luke/chapter10/18 In particular, "Some Christians teach that when Jesus said he saw Satan fall from heaven, he was saying that he existed in the beginning and saw when Satan and his demons rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven. That interpretation does not fit the context of the verse. What difference would it make in the context of Luke 10 that Jesus had seen Satan’s rebellion and fall?" Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 17:39
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    @Kris Certainly 'notional pre-existence' is a phrase used by unitarians, but 'notional pre-existence' is also a concept used by academics who note a pattern of describing things as existing in God's mind or plan in ancient Jewish literature. It is not ad hoc, it is the application of a more general tendency to this specific case. Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 20:53
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    @MikeBorden From the link given "Although some people mistakenly believe that Satan is no longer allowed in heaven, the Scripture testifies that he is often there, sometimes “day and night” (Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2; Rev. 12:10)." Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 15:10
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    @MikeBorden Jesus doesn't say He cast Satan out. A strangely passive way of describing that, if that is indeed what He was describing. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 15:11

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