ος εν μορφη θεου υπαρχων ουχ αρπαγμον ηγησατο το ειναι ισα θεω
Philippians 2:6 [TR - undisputed]
... who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God ... [KJV]
... who, being in the form of God, thought `it' not robbery to be equal to God ... ... ... [Young's Literal Translation]
... who in [the] form of God subsisting, not rapine esteemed it to be equal with God ... ... [Englishman's Greek New Testament - literal]
First as to Paul's use of morphe. Paul uses the same word when he says to the Galatian church, Galatians 4:19 : 'I travail in birth again for you that Christ should be formed (morphe) in you.
Clearly, this is not a matter of outward appearance but of indwelling spirit.
God is no respector of persons, says Peter, Acts 10:34. So, also, saith Paul in Romans 2:11.
Here, in Philippians 2:6, the Son of God demonstrates, as reported by his own appointed apostle, that even he, himself, does not base his outlook on his own person. He does not regard his own divine person and then make estimations, or assumptions, based upon his own person.
Rather, being himself in a specific nature (morphe), or 'form', as some suggest the translation should be, he regards his own nature/form and, therefore (and only therefore) esteems that he is equal in deity. He has a certain form, or nature, and on this basis, he regards that he has equality. That is to say equality 'with' (KJV) or 'to' (YLT) God.
He does not seize equality based upon his own person.
It is perfectly understandable why the verse is so constructed.
It could not be otherwise.
For God is whom he is.
This verse very clearly declares both the divine nature of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and the divine person of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Baptised into the Church of Scotland at the age of five and baptised, as an adult, into the Baptist Assembly of Scotland, at the age of sixteen, I have been a lifelong Trinitarian and have studied the records of the Council of Nicaea and have studied the Trinitarian views of such as :-
Athanasius (297-373), Augustine (354-430), Columba (521-597), John Wycliffe (1328 -1384), Martin Luther (1483-1546), John Calvin (1509-1564), John Knox (1514-1572), John Owen (1616-1683), George Whitfield (1714-1770), William Huntington (1745-1813), Robert Mussay McCheyne (1813-1843), William Gadsby (1773-1844), J C Philpot (1802-1869), John Kershaw (1792-1870), J N Darby (1800-1882), John Burgon (1813-1888), Robert Young (1822-1888), William Kelly (1821-1906), J K Popham (1847-1937), Herman Hoskier (1864-1938) and John Metcalfe (1931-)
All express the same view on this particular passage. There is unanimous agreement.
There can be no doubt that in classical Greek it describes the actual specific character, which (like the structure of a material substance) makes each being what it is; and this same idea is always conveyed in the New Testament by the compound words in which the root “form” is found (Romans 8:29; Romans 12:2; 2Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 4:19). (3) On the other hand, the word “fashion,” as in 1Corinthians 7:31 (“the fashion of this world passeth away”), denotes the mere outward appearance (which we frequently designate as “form”), as will be seen also in its compounds (2Corinthians 11:13-14; 1Peter 1:14). The two words are seen in juxtaposition in Romans 12:2; Philippians 3:21 (where see Notes). Hence, in this passage the “being in the form of God,” describes our Lord’s essential, and therefore eternal, being in the true nature of God; while the “taking on Him the form of a servant” similarly refers to His voluntary assumption of the true nature of man.
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Notice the two natures of Christ; his Divine nature, and human nature. Who being in the form of God, partaking the Divine nature, as the eternal and only-begotten Son of God, Joh 1:1, had not thought it a robbery to be equal with God, and to receive Divine worship from men.
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
The importance of the passage on the question of the divinity of the Saviour will be perceived at once, and no small part of the point of the appeal by the apostle depends, as will be seen, in the fact that Paul regarded the Redeemer as equal with God. If he was truly divine, then his consenting to become a man was the most remarkable of all possible acts of humiliation. The word rendered "form" - μορφή morphē - occurs only in three places in the New Testament, and in each place is rendered "form." Mark 16:12; Philippians 2:6-7.
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
The word rendered "being" (ὑπάρχων) means, as R.V. in margin, being originally. It looks back to the time before the Incarnation, when the Word, the Λόγος ἄσαρκος, was with God (comp. John 8:58; John 17:5, 24). What does the word μορφή form, mean here? It occurs twice in this passage - Ver. 6, "form of God;" and Ver. 7, "form of a servant;" it is contrasted with σχῆμα fashion, in Ver. 8. In the Aristotelian philosophy (vide ' De Anima,' 2:1, 2) μορφή. is used almost in the sense of εϊδος, or τὸ τί η΅ν εϊναι as that which makes a thing to be what it is, the sum of its essential attributes: it is the form, as the expression of those essential attributes, the permanent, constant form; not the fleeting, outward σχῆμα, or fashion.
The Pulpit Commentary
ὅς] epexegetical; subject of what follows; consequently Christ Jesus, but in the pre-human state, in which He, the Son of God, and therefore according to the Johannine expression as the λόγος ἄσαρκος, was with God. The human state is first introduced by the words ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε in Php 2:7. . . . . it simply narrates the former divinely glorious position which He afterwards gave up: when He found Himself in the form of God, by which is characterized Christ’s pre-human form of existence.
Meyer's NT Commentary