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From the Library of 

Samuel L. Pollard 
Given by his family 


















First Edition, Hadder d.- Stoughtun, 1897 


First Edition, S.P.O.K., 1895 

New Edition, in one Volume, September, 1911 



THE two Treatises here reprinted, by one of the 
most learned, accurate and judicious scholars of 
recent years, will be found, it is believed, of the 
highest value in the discussion which has of late, 
unhappily, become more acute respecting the 
nature of the authority of our Lord s statements 
in reference to matters with which historical and 
literary criticism is concerned. It is maintained 
by Scholars and Divines of high reputation in 
the present day that our Lord s "superhuman 
omniscience," as God, was " continuously and 
consciously held in abeyance " ; l or that in some 
sense, and to some extent, " His Divine powers 
and prerogatives were in abeyance during His 
earthly life " ; 2 and in support of this view St. 
Paul s expression in Philippians ii. 7 is appealed 

1 Cambridge Biblical Essays, 1909, p. 249. 

* The Book of Exodus, in the Westminster Commentaries, p. xi. 

vi Prefatory Note. 

to, that " the Son of God emptied Himself in 
becoming man ". 

This is carried so far as to maintain that " it 
was part of His divine self-sacrifice to refuse to 
know, as man, anything which He could not 
learn by human methods V Now the value of 
the present volume consists in what seems to me 
to amount to the positive proof it offers, that, 
whether such views can be justified on other 
grounds or not, they receive no support what 
ever from St. Paul s language in the text to 
which appeal is made. It is a mere error in 
exegesis to suppose that, as an eminent living 
Divine has expressed it, 2 our Lord is conceived 
by St. Paul " to have emptied Himself of the 
divine mode of existence so far as was involved 
in His really entering upon the human mode of 
existence ". On the contrary, as Dr. Gifford 
sums up his argument, at the conclusion of 
Part I. : "as to the manner in which those two 
Natures are united in one Person as to the 
manner in which the Deity was limited or the 
humanity exalted by their union, during Christ s 
life on earth, the Apostle has said nothing what 
ever in this passage". Those, therefore, who 
are convinced that any such limitation of our 
Lord s authority, as is assumed by modern critics, 

1 Cambridge Biblical Essays, I.e. 

* Bishop Gore s Dissertations on Subjects connected with the Incar 
nation, p. 88 f. 

Prefatory Note. vii 

would be fatal to His claim to be the Son of 
God Incarnate, may at least be assured by the 
first treatise in this volume that there is nothing 
inconsistent with their conviction in the teach 
ing of St. Paul. 

The second short treatise in the volume, being 
a sermon preached before the University of 
Oxford, applies similarly accurate exegesis to a 
particular case in reference to our Lord s know 
ledge, which is of typical importance. It is often 
alleged that the traditional belief that David 
was the author of the 110th Psalm, on which 
our Lord based an argument with the Pharisees 
at a cardinal moment in His career, is disproved 
by modern criticism. But Dr. Gifford adduces 
cogent arguments, from literary and historical 
criticism itself, in support of the traditional 
belief, and exposes conclusively, as it seems to 
me, the unsoundness of the arguments on which 
this belief is impugned. He thus shows that in 
one conspicuous instance, of which much has 
been made, our Lord did not exhibit either the 
literary ignorance, or the condescension to the 
literary ignorance of His opponents, which has 
been attributed to Him ; but that, on the con 
trary, His argument and their belief were alike 
based upon fact. 

The extent to which inferences from our Lord s 
words can properly be brought to bear on ques 
tions of literary and historical criticism requires, 

viii Prefatory Note. 

of course, careful discussion. But the two 
treatises in this volume would seem sufficient to 
show that His words in relation to such ques 
tions cannot, with due regard to facts, be simply 
eliminated from consideration, as is now too 
often assumed. 

The Editor must record the thanks of all who 
are concerned in this republication for the kind 
permissions which have rendered it practicable. 



August, 1911. 



THE interpretation of Philippians ii. 5-H, which 
forms the first part of the present little volume, 
was originally published as two articles in The 
Expositor for September and October, 1896. 

Several friends, upon whose judgment I could 
most fully rely, desired to see the substance of 
the articles re-published, with additions, in a 
more permanent and convenient form. This I 
have now been able to accomplish through the 
kindness of Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton, the 
publishers of The Expositor. 

My purpose throughout has been simply to 
establish the true interpretation of St. Paul s 
language, without attempting to discuss the 
various dogmatic theories which profess to be 
deduced from it, except in so far as they are 
based upon representations of the Apostle s 
meaning, which I can only regard as mistaken 
and misleading. 

In the historical notes, which form the second 
part of the volume, I have endeavoured to trace 

x Pre/ac&. 

briefly the origin and course of certain errors of 
interpretation which have been long and widely 
prevalent in foreign Protestant theology, and 
have recently begun to find favour in our own 

The tendency in modern thought to give es 
pecial prominence to the earthly life and human 
character of Christ is doubtless, in many cases, 
the result of a genuine and earnest desire to 
strengthen men s faith in the great doctrine of 
the Incarnation. And we cannot but sympathise 
with the effort to pourtray the " Perfect Man " 
in all the reality of our human nature, as helping 
to produce a livelier sense of the sympathy, com 
passion, and self-sacrificing love of Him who 
could " be touched with the feeling of our in 
firmities," and " tempted in all points like as we 
are, yet without sin." 

On the other hand, there is cause to fear lest 
humanitarian views of our Saviour s life on earth, 
if regarded too exclusively and pressed too far, 
may tend, in minds less learned and less devout, 
to obscure that glory of the Incarnate Word, 
which was beheld by the Apostles, " a glory as 
of the only-begotten of the Father." 

But however we may regard the tendency of 
some recent theories of the Incarnation, there 
can be but one opinion of the danger of specu 
lative theology based upon erroneous interpreta 
tion of the language of Holy Scripture. And 



that is the danger which I humbly and earnestly 
seek to avert. 

My best thanks are due to the Rev. Dr. Taylor, 
Master of St. John s College, Cambridge, and to 
the Rev. Dr. Bright, Canon of Christ Church, 
Oxford, for the valuable suggestions which I 
have received from them. 


March, 1897. 








NOTES . ... 108 




ToCro (ppovelre ev o Kal ev Xpiorw lr)(rov, 6s ev /j,op(pfj Qeov 

ov% dpTraypbv rjyrjcraTO TO elvai "era 9eo>, d\\a eavrov f 
rfv 8ov\ov Xa/3a>i>, ev o/iotco/nart dvdpa>Tra>v yevopevos KOI 
evpedels u>s livdpcanos fTairelvaxrev eavrbv yev6fj,evos inrriKOO 
davdrov, davdrov 8e oravpov 8ib Kal 6 Qeos avrov virepv^raxrev, KOI 
t)(apicraTO airw ro ovo/ta TO vrrep rrdv oi/o/ia, Iva eV rw oj/d/iart irjcrov 
Trdv yovv Kap.\l^rj tnovpavicov KOI firiydav <al KaTa)(dovLa>v, KOI Trdcra 
y\Sxrcra f^ofj,oXoyfjcrr]Tai, OTI Kvpios Irjaovs XptVror els , 86av Qeov 

Have this miud in you which was also in Christ Jesus ; who, sub 
sisting 1 in the form of God, counted it not a prize that he was 2 on 
an equality with God, but emptied himself by taking the form of a 
servant, being made in the likeness of men : and being found in 
fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto 
death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly 
exalted him and given him the Name which is above every name : 
that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in 
heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth : and that 
every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory 
of God the Father. 

1 R.V. being. Marg. Gr. being originally. 2 R. V. to be. 


Note at foot of p. 28, for 67 read 35. 

37, 151 77. 

38, 153 78. 

38, 110 57. 

40, 24 14. 

(.-fuardian, 1st January, 1896, of Canon Gore s Dissertations on 
Subjects connected with the Incarnation, Murray, 1895 : "The next 
step in the argument is the discussion of the famous passage in St. 
Paul (Phil. ii. r>-ll). Here Mr. Gore takes ( form in both cases in 
its strict technical sense, and in this we cannot but think that he 
falls into an error, which, if it be an error, is one of a highly 
misleading kind. Form of God in the sense of essence or 
specific character of God is a phrase that no Greek philosopher, 
except perhaps the materialists, ever permitted himself to employ, 
and, as servitude is a mere relation, e essence of a slave is a phrase 
of no meaning. St. Paul must have been using the word form in 
a loose, popular sense, as we use the word nature. Form of a 
slave is defined here by the words likeness and fashion, which 
immediately follow, as the emptying is defined by obedience 
unto death . 

" There is room, no doubt, for much variety of opinion, but the 
correct exegesis is the strictest, and in any case the wise interpreter 
will be very shy of erecting a Kenosis doctrine on a phrase the 
exact limits of which no man can fix with precise accuracy." 

3 1* 


death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly 
exalted him and given him the Name which is above every name : 
that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in 
heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth : and that 
every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory 
of God the Father. 

1 R. V. being. Marg. Gr. being originally. 2 B. V. to be. 


IF an apology is needed for adding to the numberless 
attempts to determine the true meaning of St. Paul s 
words in this celebrated passage, it may be found in the 
fact that we still meet with the widest diversities of 
interpretation in the current theology of the day. 1 

There is, however, one point on which all are agreed, 
namely, that the passage is of primary importance in 

1 An interesting example of this wide divergence of opinion 
between able and learned theologians occurs in a review in The 
Guardian, 1st January, 1896, of Canon Gore s Dissertations on 
Subjects connected with the Incarnation, Murray, 1895 : "The next 
step in the argument is the discussion of the famous passage in St. 
Paul (Phil. u. 5-11). Here Mr. Gore takes form in both cases in 
its strict technical sense, and in this we cannot but think that he 
falls into an error, which, if it be an error, is one of a highly 
misleading kind. Form of God in the sense of essence or 
specific character of God is a phrase that no Greek philosopher, 
except perhaps the materialists, ever permitted himself to employ, 
and, as servitude is a mere relation, essence of a slave is a phrase 
of no meaning. St. Paul must have been using the word form in 
a loose, popular sense, as we use the word nature. Form of a 
slave is denned here by the words likeness aud fashion, which 
immediately follow, as the emptying is denned by obedience 
unto death . 

" There is room, no doubt, for much variety of opinion, but the 
correct exegesis is the strictest, and in any case the wise interpreter 
will be very shy of erecting a Kenosis doctrine on a phrase the 
exact limits of which no man can fix with precise accuracy." 

3 1 * 

4 Philippians II. 5-11. 

relation to the fundamental doctrine of the Christian 
religion, the Incarnation of the Son of God. 

But even among those who profess to base their 
interpretations upon a strict examination of the Apostle s 
language, there seems to be as yet no general agreement, 
either as to the meaning of the most important words, 
or the grammatical construction and logical connexion 
of the passage. There is, in fact, little improvement in 
these respects since the author of an elaborate and im 
portant treatise on the subject declared that " the diver 
sity of opinion prevailing among interpreters in regard 
to the meaning of the principal passage bearing on the 
subject of Christ s humiliation that, namely, in the 
second chapter of St. Paul s Epistle to the Philippians 
is enough to fill the student with despair and to afflict 
him with intellectual paralysis." 1 

i. The Context 

In approaching the interpretation of a passage so full 
of acknowledged difficulties, it is desirable first to notice 
briefly its connexion with the preceding context. There 
the Apostle s purpose is happily too clear to be obscured 
by any diversity of interpretation. St. Paul has been 
encouraging his beloved converts at Philippi to " stand 
fast in one spirit, with one soul, striving for the faith of 
the Gospel." He entreats them to make his joy in 
them complete by adding to their faith and courage the 
crowning graces of humility and self-denying love. He 
pleads with them by every motive of Christian fellow 
ship, and not least by their personal affection for him 
self, and their sympathy with his sufferings in behalf of 

1 The Rev. Prof. A. B. Bruce, D.D., The Humiliation of Christ, 
p. 11. 

The Subject. 5 

Christ, to "be of the same mind, having the same love, 
being of one accord, of one mind." " Let nothing," he 
says, "be done through strife or vain-glory; but in 
lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than 
himself. Look not every man on his own things, but 
every man also on the things of others. Let this mind 
be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. 

These earnest and loving entreaties the Apostle pro 
ceeds to enforce, by setting forth our Blessed Lord 
Himself as the supreme example of humility, self- 
sacrifice, and love ; and he is thus led on to speak of 
those deepest and holiest mysteries of the Christian 
Faith, the Incarnation of the Son of God, His voluntary 
self-abasement, His obedience "even unto death, yea, 
the death of the Cross." In order that this view of the 
general connexion of the passage may help to guide us 
to a right interpretation, the point which must especially 
be borne in mind is, that the Incarnation and human 
life of our Lord are set before us as the perfect example 
of the principle enjoined in v. 4, " Not looking each to 
his own things, but each also to the things of others." 

u. The Subject 

In passing to the direct interpretation of our passage, 
we have to notice, first, that there has been much dis 
cussion whether Christ, as denoted by the relative pro 
noun 09, is regarded only in His life on earth, or also as 
the Eternal Word, which " was in the beginning with 
God, and was God." 

In answer to this question we might too easily be 
tempted to argue, as Meyer does, that o<? denotes "the 
subject of what follows ; consequently Christ Jesus, 
but in the prehuman state, in which He the Son of 
God . . . was with God " ; the human state being 

6 Philippians II. 5-11. 

first introduced by the words in v. 7, "He emptied 

In arguing thus we should assume by anticipation a 
meaning in what follows, which is much contested, and 
remains as yet to be proved. For we are reminded by 
Meyer himself that it is still a point of Lutheran ortho 
doxy " to regard the incarnate historical Christ, the 
^0709 eva-aptcos, as the subject meant by 09." l It is 
therefore safer and more strictly correct to say with 
Hofmann, in his Commentary on the Epistle, that 
" the Apostle, speaking of Him who was known to His 
readers under the name of Christ Jesus, asserts some 
thing which He did when in a state of existence de 
scribed as being in the form of God." 

in. vTrapx^v : (a) Pre-existence 

(a) The meaning given to V7rdp%wv in the margin of 
the Kevised Version (Gr. being originally) is so gener 
ally recognised among scholars, that we need not dwell 
upon it, except to point out that this sense is strongly 
marked in several passages of St. Paul s epistles. 

1 Cor. xi. 7, " For a man indeed ought not to have his 
head veiled, forasmuch as he is (vTrdp^wv) the image and 
glory of God." 

Here the word evidently points to what man is by 
his original creation in the image of God. 

2 Cor. viii. 17, "For indeed he accepted our exhorta 
tion; but being himself (vTrapxcw) very earnest, he 
went forth unto you of his own accord." 

Here " himself " is not expressed by a separate word 
in the Greek, nor does it appear in the Authorised 
Version, but has been rightly added by the Kevisers, to 
bring out the meaning of vjrdp^wv. 

1 Commentary on Philippians, p. 79. Eng. Trans. 

Pre-existence "In the Form of God." 7 

On Galatians ii. 14, " // thou being a Jew livest as do 
the Gentiles," Bishop Lightfoot remarks that lovSaios 
vTrdpxwv is "very emphatic," "born and bred a Jew." 
So Meyer, "although a born Jew"; and Howson 
(Speaker s Commentary} : " The Greek means more 
than this ( being ), and denotes that he was a Jew by 
birth, a Jew to begin with." 

This well-established meaning of virdp^v at once 
excludes the many attempts which have been made to 
limit the description, being in the form of God, to the 
time of Christ s sojourn upon earth. 

In this latter sense it has been thought, for instance, 
to refer to the divine majesty and power which Jesus 
manifested during His ministry, either in His miracles 
or generally in His words and works, as when St. John 
says (i. 14), " We beheld His glory, the glory as of the 
only begotten of the Father." 

Others have referred " the form of God" to some 
special manifestation of divine glory, such as occurred 
at His Baptism l and Transfiguration. 

Against all such interpretations it is sufficient to reply, 
that the meaning of VTTUP^MV, in its connexion with the 
following context, clearly implies a state existing prior to 
the point of time at which our Lord took upon Him the 
form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. 

Dr. Resch, Texte u. Untersuchunyen, Band v. Heft 4, AGRAPHA, 
pp. 367 tf., argues from the language of the ancient Syriac Baptismal 
Office of Severus that "the form of God " refers to the glorification 
of Christ in the waters of Jordan. He supposes that in the " Ur- 
Evangelium " some Hebrew word, perhaps " "^J-V occurred in the 
narrative of the glorification, and was translated /iop0^ by St. Paul. 
" In accordance with the heavenly voice, This is My beloved Son, 
Paul thus describes the condition of Jesus, in the glorification at the 
Jordan, by the words in Phil. ii. 6 a os (v nop<pf) Qtov virapx^v, and 
in Phil. ii. 6b as flvai Itra 6c5." 

8 Philippians II. 5-11. 

in. vTrdpxwv : (b) Continued Existence 

This brings us to a second question, which, though 
not less essential to the right interpretation of vTrdp^cov 
ev /J>op(f)f) eov in its relation to the context, has been 
either altogether overlooked or misunderstood even by 
the best scholars and interpreters. Thus according to 
Meyer the clause " simply narrates the former divinely 
glorious position, which he afterwards gave up." 

Even Bishop Lightfoot, to whom every student of 
this epistle is so deeply indebted, and who is usually so 
extremely accurate, writes as follows : 1 " Before at 
tempting to discover what is implied by f^op^fj eov, it 
will be necessary to clear the way by disposing of a 
preliminary question. Does the expression ev ftopfyj 
eov vTtapywv refer to the pre-incarnate or the incarnate 

This statement of the question is evidently incomplete, 
and in fact misleading. It assumes that the clause 
must refer exclusively either to Christ s pre-existent 
state or to His incarnate state; it thus excludes the 
obvious and most important alternative, that it may 
apply to both. 

In the present tendency of theological speculation in 
England concerning the fulness of the Godhead in the 
Incarnate Christ, and the opposite doctrine of Kenoticism, 
it is much to be regretted that the third alternative was 
not taken into consideration by so eminent an interpreter 
of St. Paul as the late Bishop of Durham. The omission 
appears to have arisen from an idea that virapxcov must 
" be referred to a point of time prior to the Incarnation." 

This expression "point of time " (the italics are mine) 
occurs three times on pp. 131, 132 ; and its use pre- 

1 Philippians, Ed. 1891, p. 131. 

Contimiance "In the Form of God." 9 

judges the interpretation of the whole passage by im 
plying, unconsciously perhaps on the Bishop s part, that 
" the form of God " did not continue during the ministry 
on earth. 

The true force of the participle vTrdp-^v is well ex 
pressed by Dean Gwynn in his admirable interpretation 
of the epistle in the Speaker s Commentary : " Its tense 
(Imperfect) contrasted with the following Aorists points 
to indefinite continuance of being." l 

I hope to show that this meaning is fully confirmed 
(1) by the nature of the Imperfect tense, (2) by the use 
of v-rrap-^wv in the New Testament and especially in the 
writings of St. Paul, and (3) by the testimony of very 
early Christian writers. 

(1) Jelf, Greek Grammar, 395 : " The Imperfect is 
to time past what the Present is to time present ; both 
express an action yet in course of performance, and not 
yet completed " ; or, we may add, a state in course of 
continuance not yet ended. 

Green, Grammar of Neiu Testament Dialect, p. 10 : 
" The essential time signified by the PRESENT and 
IMPERFECT Tenses is that of a continued or habitually 
repeated action." Compare p. 100: "The Participle 
conveys the idea of essential time belonging to the 
particular tense from which the participle is derived ." 

(2) (a) This general property of the imperfect par 
ticiple may be illustrated first by the use of wv in 
the New Testament in combination with an Aorist. 
John xi. 49 dp%ipevs wv rov eviavrov eiceivov elirev 
avrols. John xxi. 19 roaovrcav OVTWV OVK ecr^iadtj TO 

Would it be reasonable to say that the states indicated 

1 Estius perceived the true force of vTrupxav, qui cum esset ac sit, 
though he called it less correctly a Present participle. 

10 Philippians II. 5-11. 

by the participles &v and OVTWV ceased when the action 
described by the finite verbs occurred ? 

For other examples see Winer, Grammar of N.T. 
Greek, xlv. 1, (2), b. 

(fl) But it will be more satisfactory to observe the 
use of vTrdpxwv itself. Luke xxiii. 50 Ia>cr?7( 
inrdp xwv . . . ovros TrpocreXOutv rc5 TIeikdrw 
TO trco/ia. Acts ii. 30 7rpo(f)TJTr)<; ovv vTrdp^wv . . . TrpoiScov 

Are we to suppose that Joseph of Arimathea ceased 
to be a " counsellor " as soon as he begged the body of 
Jesus, or David a prophet when he spake of the re 
surrection of Christ ? 

(7 ) The most complete proof of all is St. Paul s own 
use of vTrdpxwv. 2 Cor. viii. 17 o-TrovSaiorepos Se 
avdaiperos e^rjXOev Trpo? v//,a<? . . . xii. 16 aXV 
Travovpyos 86\y v/ia? e\a/3ov. 

Did Titus cease to be zealous at the moment of 
starting to visit the Corinthians ? 

Or does St. Paul mean, in his ironical statement, 
that, in the opinion of the Corinthians, he ceased to be 
crafty as soon as he had once caught them with guile ? 
It is impossible, I think, to find or imagine passages 
more exactly parallel in grammatical construction to 
Philippians ii. 6 than these two examples of St. Paul s 
own use of vTrdp-^wv. 

Another strictly parallel passage is Komans iv. 19 
Karevorjae TO eavrov awp,a [^S?;] veve/cpatpevov, KarovTaTij<; 
TTOV VTrdp^wv. 

In this case it would be manifestly absurd to say that 
the state indicated by inrdp^ajv (" being about a hundred 
years old ") ceased when Abraham " considered his own 
body as good as dead." 

The only other instances of vtrdp^wv in St. Paul s 

Continuance "In the Form of God." 11 

writings are 1 Corinthians xi. 7 ; Galatians i. 14, ii. 14, 
which are not so exactly parallel to Philippians ii. 6, 
because in them vTrdp-^wv is not combined with an 
Aorist : but in neither of them is there anything to 
indicate an immediate cessation of the state described 
by the participial clause. 

So far then as the principles of grammatical con 
struction and the writer s usage are concerned, it is 
unreasonable to assume that Christ ceased to be " in 
the form of God," when he " emptied Himself, and took 
upon Him the form of a servant." 

(3) The true meaning of virdp-^wv is clearly seen in a 
very early, seemingly the earliest, direct quotation of 
Philippians ii. 6, in the celebrated letter of the Churches 
of Lyons and Vienne to their Christian brethren in 
Asia (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. v. c. 2). 

Those who had suffered torture in the persecution are 
thus described : 

" They were so zealous in their imitation of Christ, 
who being in the form of God counted it not a prize to 
be on an equality with God, that though they were 
(vTrdpxovres) in such honour, and had borne witness 
not once nor twice, but many times, having been 
brought back to prison from the wild beasts covered 
with burns and scars and wounds, yet they neither 
proclaimed themselves martyrs, nor suffered us to address 
them by that name." 

These men are held up as zealous imitators of Christ s 
humility in refusing the title which really belonged to 
them. Had they ceased to be held in honour as martyrs, 
there could have been no humility in not proclaiming 
or accepting the title. Only as having been and still 
being (vTrdp^ovre^ in honour could they be said to 
imitate Christ s humility. 

12 Philippians II. 5-11. 

That vTrdpxwv was considered by the Greek Fathers 
to include this idea of continuance, is clear from their 
constant interpretation of the passage as proving that 
Christ was at once both God and Man. 

It is enough for the present to quote a passage from 
S. Chrysostom s Commentary on the Epistle. Horn. vi. 
3, by which the full meaning of the word is well 
illustrated : Aia ri firj eiirev, ev popfyr) Qeov 
d\\\ Tjrdpxwv ; "Icrov earl TOVTO TU> eiTreiv, Eyco 
O v (lv. 1 

The force of vTrdpxwv is extremely well expressed by 
Bengel ; "In that/orw of God the Son of God was ex 
isting from eternity : nor did He cease to exist therein 
when He came in the flesh, but rather, so far as it con 
cerns His human nature, began to exist therein. And 
since He was in that form, which is His own excellence 
as Lord, it was free to Him, even according to His 
human nature as soon as He assumed it, to be on an 
equality with God (Pariter Deo), to adopt such a man 
ner of life and appearance (victu cultuque uti) as would 
correspond to His dignity, so that He might be received 
and treated by all creatures as their Lord : but He did 

From the omission to notice this meaning of con 
tinued existence in St. Paul s use of virdp^wv it has 
been wrongly assumed that the existence in the form of 
God must have ceased at the moment indicated by the 
verb tKevwaev, and this assumption is one of several 
causes tending to the erroneous view that what Christ 
laid aside was the 

IV. ev /jLoptyfj Geov 
Of the phrase "form of God" there are two distinct 

1 Of. also Aristocles, ap. Eus. Pr. Ev. 762 b 8 : rbv pevToi \6yov 
vir<ip\fii> Set rbv alrbv ovia KQI Tncrrtvo^fvov alei. 

" The Form of God." 13 

and opposite interpretations, even among those who 
agree with what has been shown above, that it describes 
something which Christ already possessed before His 

By some " the form of God " is limited, as by Meyer, 
to " the divine appearance " of which Christ by His In 
carnation, " divested Himself," 1 " the former divinely 
glorious position which he afterwards gave up," 2 " the 
glory visible at the throne of God." 3 

In this sense it is said to be " not essentially different " 
from TO elvai Icra Qem. This latter "must in substance 
denote the same thing, namely, the divine habitus of 
Christ, which is expressed, as to its form of appearance, 
by eV floppy &ov vTrdp-^wv, and, as to its internal nature, 
by TO elvai la- a 0eu>." 4 

In this interpretation, which will be fully discussed 
below, the "form" or condition expressed by fiop^j 
Geov, however glorious and majestic, is regarded as 
separable, and, at the Incarnation, actually separated 
from the essential and unchangeable nature of God. 

I have referred to Meyer, because he appears to be 
the ablest supporter of this sense of f^op^ Qeov. He 
is followed by many modern commentators. Thus 
Alford 5 speaks of " the act of laying aside the form of 
God," and says again, " He emptied himself of the 

/JiOp(f)7) &60V." 

According to Wiesinger, " pop^rj is equivalent 
neither to ovcria or <VOY?, nor to status or conditio, but 
to form, figure, outline ; in general it denotes the ex 
ternal appearance and representation, consequently just 
the very opposite of ova-La, in so far as this denotes 
what lies beneath the form, and comes to be represented 
in it. The signification ovaia is besides rejected by the 

1 Commentary, p. 78. 2 p. 79. 3 p. 80. 

4 p. 81 Jin. 5 Note on v. 8 

14 Philippians II. 5-11. 

context ; as, at v. 7 with reference to the popcf)^ Qeov it 
is said eKevwaev eavrov, which certainly cannot be the 
case in reference to His divine nature." 

Hofmann (Philippians, 1875, p. 61) x says that " the 
conceptions /iop(/>r) Qeov and pop^r] oov\ov mutually ex 
clude one another." 

Dr. Bruce (Humiliation of Christ, p. 28) writes : 
" This act of self-exinanition involved ... an exchange, 
absolute or relative, of the form of God for the form of 
a servant." 

Last, not least, Thomasius (Christi Person u. Werk, 
ii. 415) writes : " He emptied Himself of the popfyri 
Qeov, as is shown by the antithesis popfyrj Sov\ov. 

" That ^opcjirj is neither directly ova-ia, nor fyvais, nor 
status, but indicates the forma, the appearance (Er- 
scheinung) in which any one presents himself, we may 
regard as the general result of the recent exposition of 
our passage." 

In all such interpretations it is assumed : 

(1) That the yu.o/x/>r) Qeov is something separable from 
the ova-ia or </>uo-t9, the essence or nature of God ; 

(2) That the /*op</>?) Qeov is either (a) equivalent to 
TO elvai taa 0ec5, (b) or that the latter phrase expresses 
" the internal nature," and the fjiop^ " the form of ap 
pearance " of Christ s deity. 

I shall endeavour to show that each of these assump 
tions is erroneous : 

(1) That pop<j>ij is inseparable from ova-La and fyvcrw, 
which can have no actual existence (evepyeia) without 
fj>op<f>ij, but only a potential existence (Swa/iei). 

(2) That i^op^rj Qeov and TO elvai iaa Qeu> are (a) not 
equivalent, but in (6) their proper meanings are directly 

1 Note on v. 7. 

" The Form of God." 15 

If we can succeed in establishing these points, I be 
lieve that we shall have removed the chief sources of the 
extraordinary confusion and uncertainty by which the 
interpretation of the passage has been obscured. 

(1) fjt,op(f>^. The late Bishop Lightfoot, in his ad 
mirable essay (Philippians, p. 127), has examined the 
use of the words jjiop^rj and o-^^ta with a completeness 
which leaves little or nothing to be desired. 

He has shown that while cr^yua " denotes the figure, 
shape, fashion of a thing," and " altogether suggests the 
idea of something changeable, fleeting, unsubstantial," 
on the other hand, pop^r; even in its original meaning 
as applied to things visible, denotes the one form which 
is proper to the thing as such, and cannot change so 
long as the nature is the same. " The /^op^ij of a de 
finite thing as such, for instance, of a lion or a tree, is 
one only, while its cr^/m may change every minute." 

In passing to the higher philosophic sense of /zop</>?;, 
Bishop Lightfoot quotes the passages of Plato, Phaedo, 
pp. 103 E, 104 A, as showing that " in Plato s language 
the popfa] is the impress of the idea on the individual, 
or, in other words, the specific character." 

Of these two passages the latter is the simpler and 
more decisive : " Not only is the same name always 
claimed for the etSo? itself, but also for something else 
which is not the etSo?, and yet has its pop^rj always 
whenever it exists." Plato s meaning is well illustrated 
by a remark of Sir Alexander Grant : " The Platonic 
idea was meant to be not only an t Sea, or absolute exist 
ence transcending the world of space and time, but 
also an etSo?, or universal nature manifesting itself in 
different individuals." x 

But it is in Aristotle that the use of o becomes 

1 Sir A. Grant, Aristot. Nic. Bth. I. vi. 10. 

16 Philippians II. 5-11. 

frequent, and its philosophical meaning most clearly 
defined. As Dr. Lightfoot writes : " There are, accord 
ing to his teaching, two elements, or principles, or 
causes of things ; the matter, the substratum supporting 
the qualities, and the form, the aggregrate of the 
qualities. The form he calls indifferently et8o9 or 
f^op(f)yj." The last sentence requires some modification : 
for while in most passages no distinction seems to be 
made between the two words, they are elsewhere very 
clearly distinguished. Of the first sort is the passage 
De Anima, II. i. 1 Aeyo^ev Srj yevos ev n rwv OVTCW rr/v 
ovcriav, Tavrr)? 8e TO /juev o>9 vXrjv, o icaff 1 avro yiiei/ OVK ecrri 
roSe rt, erepov 8e /jboptyrjv teal etSo?, /ca@ rjv 77877 \eyerat 
roSe, fcal rpirov TO ex TOVTWV. Here eZSo? and fj,op(f>tj are 
used indifferently for the specific character which must 
be added to the matter to give actual existence to any 
individual thing. 

On the other hand, a clear distinction is drawn in 
Aristot. de Coelo, I. ix. 1 erepov ecrriv avrrj /cad aurrjv rj 
fjbopfyr) teal fj,/j,iyfj,evr) fj,era Trjs V\TJ$. Here we see that 
while poptyr} may be regarded per se in the same abstract 
sense as etSo?, i.e. as the specific character, it also denotes 
the concr-ete realisation, what is called by Plotinus (463 
B) TO ev v\rj elSo?, the r68e TI, or existing individual 

/zop</7 is therefore properly the nature or essence, not 
in the abstract, but as actually subsisting in the in 
dividual, and retained as long as the individual itself 

Thus in the passage before us ^op^rj &eov is the 
Divine nature actually and inseparably subsisting in the 
Person of Christ. 

It is important to remember that this sense of /^op^tj 
was familiar to the contemporaries of St. Paul, as is 

" The Form of God." 17 

proved by the passages quoted by Bishop Lightfoot from 
Plutarch and Philo Judaeus. 

The former, in describing Plato s doctrine of the 
genesis of the soul (Moral, p. 1013 c) writes thus : " For 
this world itself and each of its parts consists of a cor 
poreal and a metaphysical (voijrr)*;) essence, of which the 
one supplied the matter and substratum, and the other 
the form and specific character (pop^v teal et8o<?) to the 
thing produced." 

Again, in p. 1022 E, where some preceding words have 
been lost, there remain the following : Kara ra avra 

Philo Judaeus (de Viet. Off., otherwise de Sacrifi- 
cantibus, 13, p. 261 M) : " That which has been 
mutilated is robbed of its quality and specific character 
(rrjv Trotorrjra Kal TO e So?), and is nothing else, properly 
speaking, than formless matter (apopfos {/X^)." . . . 
" But he made use of the incorporeal powers, which are 
properly called ideas, in order that every genus should 
receive its proper form 

In the history of our English Bible we find reason to 
believe that the translators of A.D. 1611 consciously 
used the word "form" in this philosophical sense. 
Thus Wyclif wrote: "in the fourme of God." and 
" taking the fourme of a servaunt." 

This was altered much for the worse by Tyndale 
(A.D. 1534) into " the shape of God," and " the shape of 
a servaunte," and so it remained in Cranmer s Bible 
(A.D. 1539), and the Geneva (A.D. 1557). But in the 
Khemish Testament (A.D. 1582) the word "forme" was 
restored in both places, and this was adopted in the 
Authorised Version (A.D. 1611). 

It may possibly be asked what reason we have to 

18 Philippians II. 5-11 

think that the translators of A.D. 1611 were familiar 
with the philosophical sense of the word "form." On 
this point we have excellent testimony. 

The first edition of Hooker s Ecclesiastical Polity 
was published in 1594. In Book I. c. iii. 4 he speaks 
of " those forms which give them (things natural) their 
being"; and he adds in a note: "Form in other 
creatures is a thing proportionable unto the soul in 
living creatures. Sensible it is not, nor otherwise dis 
cernible than only by effects. According to the diversity 
of inward forms, things of the world are distinguished 
into their kinds." 

In 1620 Bacon s Novum Or g anon was published, and 
in Book II. Aphorism iv. he gives a definition of 
"form" remarkably pertinent to our present inquiry. 
" The form of a nature is such, that given the form the 
nature infallibly follows. Therefore it is always present, 
when the nature is present, and universally implies it, 
and is constantly inherent in it. Again the form is 
such, that if it be taken away the nature infallibly 
vanishes. Therefore it is always absent when the 
nature is absent, and implies its absence, and inheres 
in nothing else." Again in Aphorism xiii. he says: 
" The form of a thing is the very thing itself" (Cum 
enim forma rei sit ipsissima res). On Bacon s use of 
the word "form" see the preface to the Philosophical 
Works by K. Leslie Ellis, p. 31. 

In Aphorism ii., speaking of the word forms, he 
says, " a name which I the rather adopt because it has 
grown into use and become familiar." 

Thus it is clear that the philosophical sense of 
" form " was as familiar to our translators as that of 
ij to contemporaries of St. Paul. 

If this is the true meaning of popfyr) when used in 

" The Form of God." 19 

its philosophical sense, to say that ftop<j>ij is separable 
from <f>v(7t<i and ova-ia, and that "they can exist with 
out it," is as manifest an error as to say that the 
abstract can exist without any concrete, the universal 
without any individual, goodness without any good 
thing, the "nature" or "essence" of God without 
any God. 

For the interpretation of " the form of God" it is 
sufficient to say that (1) it includes the whole nature 
and essence of Deity, and is inseparable from them, 
since they could have no actual existence without it ; 
and (2) that it does not include in itself anything 
" accidental " or separable, such as particular modes of 
manifestation, or conditions of glory and majesty, 
which may at one time be attached to the "form," at 
another separated from it. (3) The Son of God could 
not possibly divest Himself of " the form of God " at 
His Incarnation without thereby ceasing to be God : 
so that in all interpretations which assume that " the 
form of God" was laid aside when "the form of a 
servant " was assumed, it is, in fact, however uninten 
tionally and unconsciously, denied that Jesus Christ 
during His life on earth was really and truly God. 

Thus far then we have considered the relation of the 
passage to the preceding context, the description of the 
Subject, " Christ Jesus," as pre-existing and continually 
subsisting (virdpxwv) in the form of God (ev /^op^fj 
&eov) , and have maintained the primitive interpretation 
of the latter words as denoting the fulness of the God 
head, against various attempts to assign to them some 
lower meaning. 

We now proceed to examine the next clause, the 
difficulties of which have given occasion to endless 

discussion and the widest diversities of opinion. 


20 Philippians II. 5-11. 

V. ov^ dpTrayjjibv ijy^craro TO elvat, tcra @ec5 

In the interpretation of this clause we have to deter 
mine the following questions : 

(a) What is the meaning of the words TO elvat, ia-a 
Qeu> and their relation to ^op<j)rj Oeov ? 

(6) Do they denote Christ s condition before His 
Incarnation, or that to which He was to attain only as 
His reward ? 

(c) What is the meaning of oi>x dpiray/jLov 

(a] In the Revised Version the words I a-a 0eo3 are 
translated on an equality with God, instead of equal 
with God, as in the Authorised Version. 

The change is of great importance to the right inter 
pretation of the whole passage. 

The rendering "equal ivith God" denoting the 
same essential equality of nature which is already ex 
pressed by "being in the form of God," is evidently 
derived from the Latin Version, " esse se aequalem 
Deo," which passed at an early period into the theo 
logical writings of the Western Church. 

It was apparently due at first to the fact that the 
Latin language had no adequate mode of representing 
the exact form and meaning of the Greek elvat ca-a e&>. 

The neuter plural la-a, whether used adverbially or 
as an adjective, cannot refer to the one unchanging 
nature or essence of Deity, but denotes the various 
modes or states in which it was possible for that nature 
to exist and manifest itself as divine. 

Unfortunately this force of the neuter plural has not 
been very generally observed, or not quite accurately 

The general acceptance of the Latin version, esse se 

"On an Equality with God." 21 

aequalem Deo, led even such great theologians as Bishop 
Pearson and Bishop Bull to interpret TO elvai Icra Sem 
as denoting the equality of nature, and therefore as 
equivalent to eV popfyfj Seov vTrdp-^wv. 

Thus Bishop Bull * writes : " qui cum in forma Dei 
(h.e. Deus) esset, adeoque Deo Patri respectu naturae 
suae aequalis, earn tamen cum Deo aequalitatem sibi 
non assumpsit, non ut Deum sese gessit, non id palam 
patefecit," again, "in forma Dei substitisse, Deoque 
aequalis fuisse ostenditur," - and again, " in forma Dei, 
adeoque Deo aequalem extitisse." But elsewhere more 
correctly he writes: "Quod, cum in forma Dei esset, 
non ostentaverit suam cum Deo la-orifuav (id enim 
significant verba ov% dpiray^oi >}jTjararo TO elvai i<ra 

Bishop Pearson, referring to Homer, Od. xv. 520 

TOV vvi> icra dfia I^aojcrtot 6(<ropoG><r(i/, 

says that " laa has not the nature of an adverb, as 
belonging to ela-opoaxnv, but of a noun referred to the 
antecedent TOV, or including an adverb added to a noun, 
TOV vvv &>? laodeov." 

But Bishop Pearson was perhaps not altogether un 
conscious of the weakness of his argument ; for he goes 
on to examine the use of Iva in the Septuagint, especi 
ally in the book of Job, where it is very frequent, and 
acknowledges that it is always used there adverbially, 
but adds, in support of his own view, that it " has not 
the addition to TO elvai, in which the strength of his in 
terpretation lies." 

We shall presently see that itra, though connected 
with elvai, is still an adverb, not a noun. 

1 De Jcsu Chritti Divinitate, 19 (vol. vi. p. 347). 
3 I.e. ii. c. 3, 15. See also ii. c. 10, 3. 
3 Def. Fid. Nic. ii. c. 3,. 4. 

22 Philippians II. 5-11. 

Meyer, in accordance with most commentators, 1 rightly 
observes, that " taa is adverbial : in like manner " ; but 
then adds, " This adverbial use has arisen from the 
frequent employment, even so early as Homer (U. v. 71, 
xv. 439 ; Od. xi. 304, xv. 520 al.) of foa as the case of 
the object or predicate." 

In the passages thus referred to it will at once be seen 
that Icra is simply adverbial. 

II. V. 70 (ov) erpf(f)f 810 Ofciv<a, 

icra <>ioi(Ti 
xv. 439 (ov) iara <jbiAoi<ri TOK(V<TU> eriofiev. 
Od. xi. 304 rt/xjji 8e XeXoy^ao- icra 6(oicnv. 
xv. 520 : 
rov vvv icra 0fu> \6aKr]<noi flcropoaxriv . 

Meyer proceeds : " But as elvat,, as the abstract sub 
stantive verb, does not suit the adverbial icra, pari 
ratione therefore TO elvai must be taken in the sense of 
existere ; so that TO emu iva @ew does not mean the 
being equal to God (which would be TO elvai ivov @ec3), 
but the God-equal existence, existence in the way of 
parity with God." 

Meyer s view of the construction involves two distinct 
grammatical errors. 

First, the assumption that " the abstract substantive 
verb does not suit the adverbial laa " is contrary both 
to the opinion of grammarians and to actual usage. For 
the general principle, that adverbs may stand in the 
predicate after a verb substantive, see Matthiae, GJc. 
Gr. 309 c ; Bernhardy, Griech. Syjitax, p. 337 ; Jelf, 
GJc. Gr. 374 E, and 375, 3. To the examples commonly 
quoted, as Eur. Hec. 536 crlya Tra? ICTTCO Xea><?, and Horn. 

1 Ellicott, Gwynn, Thomasius, etc. Of. Winer, Gr. xxvii. 3. 
Meyer, p. 87. 

" On an Equality with God." 23 

II. ix. 550 KovpijTea-at, Ka/cws ty, we may add, as more 
closely parallel to the present passage, Thuc. i. 25 
%pijfj,dT(iiv 8vvdfj,ei o v T e 5 /car etcelvov TOV %povov 6 fj, o I a 
rot? E\\ijva)v 7r\ovcri(0TdTOis, and iii. 14 ev ov rut ipq> 
i cr a KOI t/cerai e cr //, e v. 

Still more decisive, as referring expressly to our 
present passage, are two examples of the same construc 
tion in the Epistle of the Synod of Ancyra, A.D. 358, 
contained in the account of the Semi-Arians by Epi- 
phanius, Haer. 73 9 C ovro) teal 6 f/o<? wv TOV eov KOI 
ev floppy vTrdp^wv eov, KOI I a- a wv em, KT\., and 
9 D oirre fj,op<pij ecrri TOV eov d\\a eov, OVTC t o~ a 
e cr T I T&) & e at d\\a 0ec5. 

These examples fully justify the assertion that dvai 
must be taken as the substantive verb in its usual sense, 
referred to 6 <? as its subject, and followed by laa Qe<x> as 
an adverbial predicate, as if St. Paul had written more 
fully TO at!>ro9 elvai icra @e&> ; the subject of elvai being 
thus expressed by a pronoun, as in the Latin esse se. 

Thus it is not the nature or essence, already denoted 
by poptyrj, but the mode of existence that is described 
in this second clause ; and one mode of existence may 
be exchanged for another, though the essential nature 
is immutable. Let us take St. Paul s own illustration, 
2 Cor. viii. 9, " Though He was rich, yet for your sakes 
He became poor, that ye through His poverty might 
become rich." Here in each case there is a change of 
the mode of existence, but not of the nature. When a 
poor man becomes rich, his mode of existence is changed) 
but not his nature as man. It is so with the Son of 
God ; from the rich and glorious mode of existence which 
was the fit and adequate manifestation of His divine 
nature, He for our sakes descended, in respect of His 

24 Philippians II. 5-11. 

human life, to the infinitely lower and poorer mode of 
existence which He assumed together with the nature 
of man. 

Secondly, the assertion that " TO elvai i<ra 0ec3 does 
not mean the being equal to God (which would be TO 
elvai Ivov @eef>), but the God-equal existence," l is quite 

We may just notice by the way that foov, the accusa 
tive, should be t o-o?, referring to the subject of the 
principal verb rjyija-aTo. But the more serious error lies 
in making iaa 0ea> an attributive to TO elvai. That this 
is Meyer s meaning, is clear from the note in the 
English translation, "The German is: nicht das Gotte 
gleich sein, sondern, das gottgleiche Sein, das Sein auf 
gottgleiche Weise, die gottgleiche Existenz." This is 
contrary to the common elementary rule of grammar 
that the attributive must be placed between the article 
and its substantive, not after the latter. 

Bishop Lightfoot, taking iaa as a predicate, says : 
" Between the two expressions l <ro? elvai, and ta-a elvai, 
no other distinction can be drawn, except that the 
former refers rather to the person, the latter to the 

This use of the word "attributes," without any limi 
tation, seems unfortunately to mar what might other 
wise have been a well-drawn distinction. The divine 
" attributes," properly so-called, are neither really nor 
formally distinct from the divine essence. 2 The sum of 

1 Meyer, I.e. 

" Pearson, De Deo et Attributes, Lect. iv. p. 39 s. Compare 
Mansel, Gnostic Heresies, p. 182 : " These attributes, though mani 
fested to the finite intellect as different, are in their own nature one 
with each other, and with the divine essence." See also Newman, 
Parochial Sermons; VI. 378 : " All that He is, is Himself, and 
nothing short of Himself ; His attributes are He." 

"On an Equality with God." 25 

the "attributes" makes up the whole essence; they 
are therefore inseparable from the very existence of the 

But the term " attributes " may also be used in a re 
lative and less proper sense, of which Bishop Pearson 
speaks as follows : J 

"It is also to be observed that from the operations of 
God in regard to His creatures there arise certain new 
relations, and from those relations certain titles (de- 
nominationes) are attributed to God ; yet no change can 
hence be inferred in God, but only in the creatures." 

Among such relative attributes we may place the 
various manifestations of divine power and glory to 
angels and to men. 

That Bishop Lightfoot was really thinking of these 
relative attributes as indicated by the expression la- a 
elvai, Oca, is clear from his notes on verse 7 : " He 
divested Himself, not of His divine nature, for this was 
impossible, but of the glories, the prerogatives of 
Deity ; emptied, stripped Himself of the insignia of 
majesty." The same interpretation is given on p. 135 : 
" The act expressed by ov-% apjray^ov rjyija-aro is brought 
forward as an example of humility, and can only be re 
garded as such, if the expression TO elvai la- a Qeu> refers 
to rights which it was an act of condescension to waive." 

Thus the true distinction appears to be that, whereas 
elvai (, 0-09 would denote equality of nature, elvai iva 
points to the mode of existence, i.e. the state and cir 
cumstances, or, if the term be preferred, the relative 
attributes, which are separable from the essence, and 
therefore variable, or, in a logical sense (if we may so 
speak with reverence), " accidental." 

The distinction is the same as that in Latin 

U. . 94. 

26 Philippians II. 5-11. 

between the Vulgate, " esse se aequalem Deo," and 
Tertullian s ^ " pariari Deo," " to be on a par with God," 
and between "equal with God" (A.V.), and "on an 
equality with God" (K.V.). 

In opposition to this ancient interpretation Meyer 
makes the groundless assertion, that because " the 
emphasis is placed on dptrayfjiov, therefore TO elvat, ta-a 
cannot be something essentially different from ev 
eov virapxeiv, but must in substance denote the 
same thing, namely, the divine habitus of Christ, which 
is expressed as to its form of appearance by ev fioptyf) 
eov virdp^wv, and as to its internal nature by TO elvai 
icra @ew. 2 

Again, in the footnote to this passage he adds, that 
Paul " distinguishes very precisely and suitably between 
the two ideas representing the same state, by saying 
that Christ, in His divine pre-human form of life, did 
not venture to use this His God-equal being for making 
booty. Both, therefore, express the very same divine 
habitus ; but the elvai la- a ea> is the general element 
which presents itself in the divine /J<op<j>rj as its sub 
stratum and lies at its basis, so that the two designations 
exhaust the idea of divinity." 

We have here two important errors, which introduce 
a hopeless confusion into Meyer s interpretation. 

(1) He uses the word habitus to express the whole 
"idea of divinity," as included and exhausted by the 
two phrases pop^r] eov and elvat l<ra eu>. But this 
word habitus, which Meyer emphasises in both sentences 
by italics, is the technical Latin for a-^rj/^a, and is so 
used both in the Vulgate of v. 7, and in St. Augustine s 
1 Adv. Marcion. v. 20. 2 p. 81, E. Tr. 

" On an Equality with God" 27 

interpretation of it, " De eo, quod scriptum est : Et 
habitu inventus ut homo." l 

Meyer himself has given an excellent interpretation 
of the word in v. 7: " a-^^a, habitus, which receives 
its more precise reference from the context, denotes 
here the entire outwardly perceptible mode and form, 
the whole shape of the phenomenon apparent to the 
senses (1 Cor. vii. 31). . . . Men saw in Christ a human 
form, bearing, language, action, mode of life, wants and 
their satisfaction, etc., in general the state and relations 
of a human being, so that in the entire mode of His 
appearance He made himself known and was recognised 
as a man." 

(2) Meyer applies ev ^opfifj Qeov vTrdpxav to the 
"form of appearance" and TO elvat Icra 0eo3 to the "in 
ternal nature " of Christ in His pre-existence. This 
interpretation is wrong as to both expressions, and actu 
ally inverts their meanings. 

fiop</>?7, as we have shown above (pp. 14-19), is the 
" essential form " or " specific character " which pre 
supposes the "nature," and is inseparable from it. TO 
elvai icra 0ew describes the " state and relations " of a 
Divine Being, His modes of manifestation : it is thus 
not co-ordinate, but subordinate, to /iop0r? Qeov, just as 
its correlative in v. 7 is shown by Meyer himself (p. 90) 
to be subordinate to /iop</; 8ov\ov : " The more precise 
positive definition of the mode in which He emptied 
Himself is supplied by fioptyriv Sov\ov \ajBiav, and the 
latter then receives through ev 6 p. dv9p. yevoftevos /cal 
<T%ijfjMTi evp. ft>? civdp. its specification of mode correlative 
to elvat, ia-a 0ea>. 2 This specification is not co-ordinate 

1 D diversis Quaestionibits, Ixxiii. 

2 The italics are Meyer s own. 

28 Philippians II. 5-11. 

(De Wette, Baumgarten Crusius, Weiss, Schenkel), 
but subordinate to poptyrjv SovXov \a/3wv." 

(b) The conclusion to which we have just been led 
by considering the meaning of the words popfyr), o-%r}ju,a, 
Icra @ea>, is strongly confirmed by the general structure 
of vv. 6, 7, and the balance of the two sets of contrasted 

As ev pop^f) 0ov vTrdpx&v finds its antithesis in 
fAOp<f)rjv 8ov\ov \aftu>v, SO ov% dpTrayfjiov r/yijaaTO TO elvat 
la a Qe<a is in direct antithesis to d\\a eavrbv e/cevwcrev. 

This latter antithetical relation is placed beyond 
dispute (1) by the direct opposition indicated by OVK 
. . . d\\d, 1 and (2) by the necessary logical connexion 
of the two clauses. 

For since the phrase eavrov eKevoxrev conveys of itself 
an incomplete idea, we are at once driven to ask, Of 
what did Christ empty Himself ? And the only possible 
answer is, He emptied Himself of that which He did 
not regard as an dpTray/Aov. Thus Dr. Bruce (p. 23) 
says rightly : " Beyond all doubt, therefore, whatever 
TO eti/at t<ra eu> may mean, it points to something 
which both the connexion of thought and the gram 
matical structure of the sentence require us to regard 
the Son of God as willing to give up." So Bishop 
Westcott on St. John i. 14: The word was made flesh, 
writes : " St. Paul describes it as an emptying of 
Himself by the Son of God ... a laying aside of the 
mode of divine existence (TO elvai, caa @eo3) ; and this 
declaration carries us as far as we can go in defining 
the mystery." 

From this again it follows, that TO elvat Icra 0ec3 
denotes something which Christ already possessed as 
1 See below, p. 67. 

" On an Equality with God." 29 

"being in the form of God." It is the condition of 
glory and majesty which was the adequate manifestation 
of His divine nature, and which He resigned for a time 
by taking the form of a servant. 

In order to express the meaning of the clause quite 
clearly, a slight alteration is required in the Revised 
Version : counted it not a prize to be on an equality 
with God. The form " to be" is ambiguous, and easily 
lends itself to the erroneous notion that TO elvat, laa Qew 
was something to be acquired in the future. The ren 
dering, counted it not a prize that He loas on an equality 
with God, is quite as accurate, and [more free from 

When De Wette, who acknowledges that " /cevovv 
is referred to TO elvai laa @e&>," goes on to say, "and 
that, in so far as Jesus might have had it in His power, 
not in that He actually possessed it," Tholuck 1 asks 
very pertinently, " Who ever employed the word empty 
in regard to the renunciation of something not yet 
acquired ? Can you say that any one empties himself 
of that which he does not as yet possess ? How much 
better, with the ancient school of interpreters, to refer 
Kevovv to an equality of condition with God actually 
present, of which Christ resigned the use." 

De Wette s view, however, is still maintained in the 
third edition of Thomasius, Christi Person und WerJc, 
i. p. 417: "Now if ov% apTray^ov jyyrjaaro means, as 
cannot be doubted, non rapiendum sibi duxit, TO elvai 
i<ra 0e&> will mean something which He did not possess 
before, and so something different from /u.op</>7) &eov, 
which belonged to Him as God." 

Thomasius names Tholuck as holding this view, 

1 Disputatio Theologica, Halle, 1848, p. 14. 

30 Philippians II. 5-11. 

although in the passage quoted above from the Dis- 
putatio Theologica he argues expressly and, as it seems, 
conclusively against it. 

The statements of Thomasius that the meaning 
" non rapiendum sibi duxit cannot be doubted," and 
that "all other meanings, non praedam sibi duxit, or, 
He would not hold it fast pertinaciously, cannot be 
justified lexically," are mere arbitrary assertions, which 
cannot themselves be justified in relation to the context. 

We thus get rid of the chief cause of error and con 
fusion in the interpretation of the whole passage, 
namely, the notion that Christ emptied Himself of 
" the form of God." This view, though adopted by 
Meyer, Alford, and other interpreters, 1 is so directly 
opposed to the meaning of the words, vTrdpxwv, f*op(f)ij, 
icra &eu> and also to the antithetical arrangement and 
logical connexion of the several clauses, that I cannot 
refrain from expressing my firm conviction that it must 
in the end be regarded as utterly untenable by every 
competent Greek scholar who will examine the argu 
ments opposed to it carefully, and without dogmatic 

(c) Assuming, as we now may, that " the being on an 
equality ivith God" was something which Christ pos 
sessed prior to His Incarnation, and then for a time 
resigned, we have next to consider and choose between 
two meanings of the word apTraypov. 

Does it here denote an action, a "robbery" (A.V.), 

1 Bruce, Humiliation, p. 26: "All that can be confidently 
affirmed is, that the Apostle does conceive the Incarnation under 
the aspect of an exchange of a divine form for a human form of 
being : so that, as expositors, we are not entitled to interpret the 
words, being in the form of God as meaning continuing to subsist 
in divine form ." 

" Counted It not a Prize." 31 

or the object of an action, "a prize " (B. V.) ? In other 
words, has in an active or a passive signification ? 

The course of the following inquiry will perhaps be 
made clearer, if we first show in a free paraphrase the 
two interpretations to which we are led by the different 
senses ascribed to apTray^ov. 

1. With the active sense "robbery " or " usurpation " 
we get the following meaning : 

" Who because He was subsisting in the essential form 
of God, did not regard it as any usurpation that He was 
on an equality of glory and majesty with God, but yet 
emptied Himself of that co-equal glory, by taking the 
form of a created servant of God." 

2. The passive sense gives a different meaning to the 
passage : 

" Who though He was subsisting in the essential 
form of God, yet did not regard His being on an 
equality of glory and majesty with God as a prize and 
treasure to be held fast, but emptied Himself thereof, 

Whichever of these interpretations be adopted, the 
doctrine of the passage in reference to Christ s Person 
is not affected, so long as we retain the meanings already 
assigned to f^opfj)^ Seov and TO elvai la a &ew. The 
interesting point in the discussion of the meanings of 
dpTray/Aov is, which of the two, being otherwise exegeti- 
cally correct, agrees best with the Apostle s purpose to 
set forth Christ as the supreme example of humility and 

In favour of the active sense it is urged (1) that this 
is the meaning of dpTray/jios in the only known instance 
of its use by a classical writer, Plutarch, de Puerorum 
Educatione, p. 12 A rov e/c KprjTrjs Kd\ovp,evov d 

32 Philippians II. 5-11. 

(2) that the passive sense would be more properly 
expressed by the very usual form apiray pa. 

Both these arguments are true, but neither of them 

(1) We cannot attach much importance to the passages 
quoted by Bishop Lightfoot from Christian writers of 
the fourth and fifth centuries to show that cipTray/jios is 
equivalent to apTraypa, because this later usage is prob 
ably derived from the very passage before us. But we 
may fairly say that the single passage from Plutarch, in 
which the active sense is found, is not sufficient to 
prove that the word could not have been used in the 
passive sense in St. Paul s time. 

To the arguments urged against the passive sense (2) 
Bishop Lightfoot replies that " as a matter of fact sub 
stantives in -yito? are frequently used to describe a concrete 
thing, e.g. tfeoyio?, ^p^oyio?, <j)pay/j,6s, etc." 

Of these examples #ecr/io <? and xprja-uos are hardly 
relevant, as these words have no alternative forms in 
-/j,a. But <f>pay/j,6<; is a very good instance. 

In Herodotus vii. 36, it is applied to the " fence " or 
" bulwark " on either side of Xerxes bridge, constructed 
to prevent the baggage-animals from seeing the water : 
(frpay/jibv Trapeipvaav evdev KCU evQev. 

In Herodotus viii. 52 we read that the Persians, 
having attached lighted tow to their arrows, ero^evov e? 
TO (frpdypa, the (frpdypa being the barricade of planks 
and timbers with which the Athenians had tried to 
fortify the Acropolis. 

It is evident that <j>payp6<; in the former passage has 
the same passive sense as (frpdypa in the latter. 

This passive sense is also evident in the following 
passages where (frpayftos occurs in the Septuagint and 

" Counted It not a Prize." 33 

New Testament ; Ps. Ixxxix. 40, Ixii. 4 ; Prov. xxiv. 31 ; 
Is. v. 5 ; Matt. xxi. 33 ; Mark xii. 1 ; Luke xiv. 23 ; 
Eph. ii. 14. 

Another good example is found in the usage of 
o-raXa7/io?, which, with its cognate a-Ta\ay/j,a, exactly 
corresponds to dpTray/Aos, ap7rayfj,a. 

Thus we read in Aesch. Eum. 802 : 

dcpdcrai 8aifj.6va)v oraXdy^ara, 

and in Sophocles, Antig, 1239 : 

KOI (pvaiciiv o^flav eK/3dXXet TTVOTJV 
\VKrj napfia (fioiviov <rra\dy paras. 

With these passages compare Aesch. Theb. 60 : 

7r(a pyrj(rrr)s c 
Xpaivei oraXay^iois nrTriKcov eic rrvevfjiovcov, 

and Eum. 246 : 

TfTpav/j.aTKTfj,fi>ov yap u>s Kvatv vtjSpov, 
irpbs alfjia <al crra\ayfj.ov fKjj.a<rrfvo^fv. 

Soph. Fragm. 340 : 

\dp.TTfi 8 dyvievs /3w/x6f drpifav irvpl 
(T(j.vpvT]s <rra\ayp.ovs, /3ap/3dpovy evocrpias. 

Eurip. Ion, 351 : 

rjv Se oraXay/ios eV crrt j3a) ris aZ/xaroy ; 

It is evident that in these latter passages 
has exactly the same meaning as a-Ta\ay/j,a in the 

While these examples suffice to show that d 
may have a passive sense, its combination with riyrj 
renders this probable in the present passage. For Bis 
hop Lightfoot has shown that " with such verbs as 
riyelcrOai, 7roLLcr0ai, vofjii^eiv, etc., apTrayfta is employed 
like ep/jiaiov, evp^^a, to denote a highly prized posses 
sion, an unexpected gain ." 

The two quotations most pertinent, as containing 


34 Philippians II. 5-11. 

both apTray^a and rjjelcrdai, are Heliodorus, vii. 20 
apTrayfia ovBe ep/j,aiov rjjelrat TO Trpdy/jua, and Titus Bostr. 
c. Manich. i. 2 aprra^fia -^rev&ws TO dvay/catov T/}<? </>ucre&>9 
rjyeiTai. These passages are both from writers of the 
fourth century, the only example given from an author 
nearly contemporary with St. Paul being Plutarch, de 
Alexandri Fort. 330 D ovoe wo-Trep dpTrayfjua Kal \dfyvpov 
ave\Tri(7TOV cnrapd^ai Kal avaa-vpacrOai Biavorj- 

We proceed to consider the objections which have 
been urged by recent commentators against the active 
sense of dpTraypov, "usurpation," or "robbery." 

(1) One ground of objection has reference to the 
meaning assigned in this interpretation to d\\d, as 
being virtually equivalent to d\\ o/itw?. 

Against this Bishop Ellicott argues very strongly as 
an undue expansion of the meaning of aAAo, and as not 
retaining "its usual, proper, and logical force after the 
negative clause." 

Bishop Lightfoot also calls this rendering of d\\d, 
" unnatural in itself." 

I am not myself disposed to advocate the rendering 
in the present passage ; but with all the deference due 
to such eminent scholars I venture to think that the 
expressions used in enforcing their objections are not 
altogether free from exaggeration. 

That d\\d is in fact sometimes used by St. Paul in 
this meaning after a negative clause, cannot well be 
denied in face of such passages as Romans v. 13 : Sin 
is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless (d\\d) 
death reigned, etc. (ll.V.) ; and 1 Cor. iv. 4 : / know 
nothing against myself ; yet (d\\d) am I not hereby 
justified (R.V.). 

" Counted It not a Prize." 35 

On the other hand it must be fully admitted that this 
sense of d\\d after a negative (ovtc . . . d\\d) is very 
rare in comparison with its more ordinary meaning, 
"but," expressing a direct contrast to what has gone 

(2) A second and much more valid objection is based 
on the relation of ov-% dpTraynov rjj^a-aro to the preced 
ing and following context. 

Thus Dr. Martin Kouth, commenting on the quota 
tion of Philippians ii. 6, in the Epistle of the Churches 
of Vienne and Lyons, writes as follows : l " However the 
words ov% dpTray/jiov rjyrjcraro TO elvai Icra Qew are 
to be interpreted, this at least is certain, that the 
Lyonnais drew from them a proof of Christ s humility 
(rrj<; rarreivo^poa-vvf]^). Nor they alone, but also many 
other ancient writers did the same ; nay more, I will 
undertake to say that up to the time of the Nicene 
Council no ecclesiastical writer can be adduced who has 
clearly and plainly indicated that these words mean, in 
accordance with the rendering in our English Version, 
thought it not a thing alien to Himself." 

Dr. Eouth thus appears to reject the meaning, " He 
thought it not a robbery but His own by right." 

The same objection to the Authorised Version is 
strongly urged by the ablest of our English commenta 
tors, such as Bishop Ellicott, Bishop Lightfoot, and 
Dean Gwynn in the Speaker s Commentary. 

They argue with undeniable force 

(a) that the rendering " thought it not robbery " is 
an assertion of rightful dignity, and that, in a "pro 
minent and emphatic sentence " (Gwynn), where we 
are led to expect " an instance of self-abnegation or 
humility," exemplifying the principle in v. 4, not looking 

1 Bell. Sacr. I. p. 364. 

36 Philippians II. 5-11. 

each to his own things, but each also to the things of 

" We expect this appeal to our great Example (v. 5) 
to be followed immediately by a reference, not to the 
right which He claimed, but to the dignity which He 
renounced. . . . The mention of our Lord s condescen 
sion is thus postponed too late in the sentence " 

(6) A further objection is thus stated by Dean Gwynn : 
" The following verse (7), describing the act by which 
He emptied Himself, brings it into the sharpest con 
trast by the introductory but (d\\d, i.e. but on the 
contrary, as in vv. 3, 4) with that which is conveyed by 
the verb (rjyrja-aTo) of this sentence. But to think it 
robbery to be equal with God stands in no such con 
trast with to empty Himself. To say He did not 
count it a wrongful act to desert Divine Attributes (?), 
but on the contrary laid them aside, is unmeaning." 

Admitting the force of these arguments, we believe 
the right meaning of the clause to be that the Son of 
God did not regard His being on equal conditions of 
glory and majesty with God as a prize and treasure to 
be held fast, but emptied Himself thereof, becoming thus 
the supreme example of that willing self-sacrifice for the 
good of others, which is the aim of the Apostle s ex 

Before passing on, we may do well to observe the 
perfect accuracy with which St. Paul applies the verbs 
vwapxeiv, elvai, and yiyvecrOai,, the first to the eternal 
subsistence of " the form of God," the second to states 
and conditions existing at a particular time, but pre 
sently to be laid aside, and the last (yei/o/xei/o?) to the 
entrance upon a new existence " in the likeness of 

"Emptied Himself." 37 

VI. Passing to the next clause, d\\d eavrov eicevcoo-ev, 
we observe that 

(1) The position of eavrov before eKevwcrev lays an 
emphasis upon the thought that the self-emptying was 
Christ s own voluntary act, an act corresponding to the 
precept in v. 4 p,rj ra eavruv eKao-rot, crKOTrovvres, and 
strongly contrasted with the idea of ap7ray/j,6v in v. 6. 

" Where," exclaims Chrysostom, " are those who say 
that He was under constraint and made subject ? Him 
self He emptied, says the Scripture, Himself He humbled." 1 

(2) The verb Kevow is sometimes followed by a Genitive 
denoting " the contents " which are removed, as in Plato, 
Republ. viii. 560 D rovrwv . . . Kevwaavres rrjv . . . 

SympOS. 197 C ouro? . . . ?;/ia? d\\orpi6rijro<i 

And Plutarch, Apophth. Lacon, 229 D rdv 
tcevwcrai fcatcwv. 

When, as in Phil. ii. 7, there is no Genitive expressed, 
the idea of the contents must be gathered from the con 
text ; and in this case the antithetical relation between 
TO elvai LCTO, @e&5 and eavrov etcevcocrev, enforced as it is 
by the direct contradiction OVK . . . d\\d, leaves no 
room for doubt. 

Accordingly the only admissible interpretation is that 
which was given by the Synod of Antioch (A.D. 269) in 
the Epistle to Paul of Samosata before his deposition,- 
ov "X.u-ptv o auTO? to? /cat dvdpwTros /^crou? X^icrro? . . . 
ev rff eKK\ricrlq rfj VTTO rov ovpavov Trdcrr} TreTriaTevrat 
@eo? fj.ev Kevwcraf eavrov d-rro rov elvai laa &(*>, 
avOpwrros Se real etc (nr^pfiaro^ Aa/318 TO Kara crdp/ca. 

" On which account the same God and man Jesus 
Christ in all the Church under heaven has been believed 

1 Compare p. 151. 2 Cf. Routh, Hell. Sacr. torn. iii. p. 298. 

38 Philippians II. 5-11. 

in as God having emptied Himself from being on an 
equality ivith God, and as man of the seed of David 
according to the flesh." : 

When Meyer asserts (p. 88) that Christ "emptied 
Himself, and that, as the context places beyond doubt, 
of the divine pop^rf, which he possessed, but now ex 
changed for a floppy 8ov\ov," he simply repeats, with 
ill-founded confidence, that identification, or, rather we 
may say, confusion of fiop^ eov with TO elvat i<ra @eo>, 
which has been shown above (pp. 20 f.) to be the chief 
cause of so much erroneous interpretation of the passage. 

vn. In the next clause (jj,op<f>r)v Bov\ov Xaficov) the 
action of the participle Xaftav, as also of the following 
<yev6fj,vo<;, coincides in time with that of the verb efcevcaaev. 
The state of glory and majesty implied in the being on 
an equality ivith God was laid aside in the act of taking 
the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. 
It is undeniable that this coincidence in time between 
the verb and its participles necessarily fixes the action 
of etcevwo-ev at the first moment of the Incarnation, and 
excludes all attempts, such as those of Luther and his 
followers, to assign it to any later period of Christ s 
human life. 2 

On the meaning of " servant " in this passage, Bishop 
Lightfoot writes : " For avOpwiros the stronger word 
SoOXo? is substituted : He, who is Master (/cupto?) of all, 
became the slave of all. Comp. Matt. xx. 27, 28 ; 
Mark x. 44, 45." 

But this reference of SoOXo? to human slavery is 
decisively rejected by Bishop Bull, Primitive Tradition 
on the Deity of Christ, vi. 21, a passage briefly referred 
toby Bishop Ellicott : "It is to be observed that the 

1 Compare p. 153. 2 See p. 110 ff. 

" The Form of a Servant." 39 

form of a servant by no means signifies here a servile 
condition of man, in as far as it is opposed to the state 
and condition of a man who is free and his own master, 
as the heretics contend, and some Catholics have im 
prudently admitted. For the form of a servant is here 
manifestly contrasted with the form of God. And in 
comparison with God every creature has the form of a 
servant, and is bound to obedience towards God. Hence 
the Apostle . . . presently adds yevo/juevo? VTTIJKOOS, be 
came obedient, namely, to God the Father." l 

Bishop Pearson is equally emphatic in rejecting this 
reference to human slavery: "It is a vain imagination 
that our Saviour then first appeared a servant, when 
He was apprehended, bound, scourged, crucified. . . . 
Our Saviour in all the degrees of His humiliation never 
lived as a servant unto any master on earth." 

The full significance of the title, form of a servant, 
is explained at great length by Dean Jackson in his 
admirable Commentaries upon the Apostles Creed, bk- 
viii. capp. 7 if., where he argues that when Christ " did 
in the fulness of time take our nature upon Him, He 
did wholly submit His reasonable will, all His affections 
and desires, unto the will of His Heavenly Father : and 
in this renouncing of the arbitrament of His will, and 
in the entire submission of it unto the will of His 
Father, did th&tform of a servant, whereof our Apostle 
speaks, formally consist." 

The true meaning of fiop<j>i] in the expression form of 
God is confirmed by its recurrence in the corresponding 
phrase, form of a servant. 

It is universally admitted that the two phrases are 
directly antithetical, and that "form" must therefore 
have the same sense in both. 

1 See also Def. Fid. Nic. P. i. L. ii. c. 2, 2. 

40 Phifyjpians II. 5-11. 

The argument to be drawn from this acknowledged 
fact is well expressed by Chrysostom in his Commentary 
on the Epistle: "What then should we say in answer 
to Arius, who said that the Son is of other substance 
(than the Father) ? Tell me, what is the meaning of 
this He took the form of a servant ? He became 
man, says Arius. Therefore also subsisting in the form 
of God, He was God. For the word used in both 
places is popfyr). If the one (fiop<f>r) 8ov\ov) is true, the 
other is true : the form of a servant, man by nature; 
therefore the form of God, God by nature." 

It is sometimes asserted that in taking the form of a 
servant it was necessary to be divested of the form of 
God ; in other words, that the two natures in their ful 
ness and perfection could not exist together in one 
Person. 1 

Thus Canon Gore 2 writes, "The question has been 
asked, Does St. Paul imply that Jesus Christ abandoned 
the /iop</>?) @eoO? " And his answer is, "I think all we 
can certainly say is that He is conceived to have 
emptied Himself of the divine mode of existence (/zop^) 
so far as was involved in His really entering upon the 
human mode of existence. St. Paul does not use his 
terms with the exactness of a professional logician or 
scholastic." 3 

I have always found it dangerous to assume that St. 
Paul was inexact in his use of language, especially in 
passages which have an important doctrinal significance ; 
and I have been led by frequent experience to the con- 

1 See above, p. 24. 

2 Dissertations on subjects connected with the Incarnation, pp. 
88 f. 

3 In like manner Canon Gore s Reviewer in The Guardian, 1st 
January, 1896, says that " St. Paul must have been using the word 
form in a loose popular sense; as we use the word nature ." 

" Is St. Paul s Language Inexact ? " 41 

elusion that the fault lay in my own want of a clear 
perception of the Apostle s meaning, and not in any 
vagueness of expression on his part. 

Such, I believe, is the cause of Canon Gore s difficulty 
in the present instance. 

He has not grasped the true meaning of pop<f>r) Qeov, 
and the distinction between it and TO elvai lea Seco. 
This is very evident in the following passage, in which 
the italics are mine, and are meant to call attention to 
the uncertainty of Canon Gore s interpretation, and his 
confusion of th e two phrases. " The word form, 
transferred from physical shape to spiritual type, 
describes as St. Paul uses it, alone or in composition, 
with uniform accuracy the }~>ermanent characteristics 
of a thing. Jesus Christ then, in His pre-existent state, 
was living in the permanent characteristics of the life of 

" In such a life it was His right to remain. It 
belonged to Him. 

" But He regarded not His prerogatives as a man re 
gards a prize he must clutch at. For love of us he 
abjured the prerogatives of equality with God. 

"By an act of deliberate self-abnegation, He so 
emptied Himself as to assume the permanent character 
istics of the human or servile life." 

Now though St. Paul, we have been told above, " does 
not use his terms with the exactness of a professional 
logician or scholastic," yet nopfo] must be an exception, 
for here we are told he uses it " with uniform accuracy." 
First then it describes " the permanent characteristics of 
a thing " that is, in this case, " the permanent character 
istics " of God ; then, with a slight but not unimportant 
modification, " the permanent characteristics of the life 
of God " ; then, with a further change, it means, " pre- 

42 Philippians II. 5-11. 

rogatives," and so at last "the prerogatives of equality 
with God." When we add to this series of transforma 
tions Canon Gore s previous definition of popfyrj Qeov as 
" the divine mode of existence," we certainly find a 
great want of " exactness," which cannot, however, be 
laid to the charge of the Apostle. 

The same mode of dealing with our passage was 
adopted by Schleiermacher, who, as Dr. Bruce very 
justly remarks (p. 19), sought " to deprive the statements 
contained therein of all theological value, by represent 
ing them as of an ascetic and rhetorical character ; 
the expressions not being intended to be didactically 
fixed, a convenient method of getting rid of unaccept 
able theological dogmas, which may be applied to any 
extent, and which, if applied to St. Paul s Epistles, 
would render it difficult to extract any theological in 
ferences therefrom, inasmuch as nearly all the doctrinal 
statements they contain arise out of a practical occasion, 
and are intended to serve a hortatory purpose." 

viii. In the following clause the meaning of taking 
the form of a servant is more closely defined by the 
words ev 6/u,oic6/AaT avdpwTrwv yevopevos, being made in 
the likeness of men. 

The relation of this clause to the preceding is well 
stated by Bishop Bull, Primitive Tradition, vi. 21 : 
" Christ took the form of a servant at the time when He 
was made man. This is clear from those words of the 
Apostle, eavrov e/cevwcre, fj,op<f>r)v Sov\ov \a(3(av, ev 
6/j,oL(i)fjLart avOputTTUiv yevof^evof, in which there is a con 
tinuous ^yrja~t<f, whereby the latter clause is subjoined 
to the former immediately (a/ieo-co?), without the inter 
position of any copulative conjunction. If you ask how 
Christ emptied Himself, the Apostle answers, by taking 
the form of a servant. If you ask again, how Christ 

"Being Made in the Likeness of Men." 43 

took the form of a servant, the answers follows immedi 
ately, being made in the likeness of men, that is, being 
made man, like unto us men, sin only excepted." 

So Bishop Pearson, referring to the Authorised Ver 
sion, writes : " Our translation of that verse is not only 
not exact, but very disadvantageous to the truth which 
is contained in it. For we read it thus : He made Him 
self of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a 
servant, and was made in the likeness of men. Where 
we have two copulative conjunctions, neither of which 
is in the original text, and three distinct propositions, 
without any dependence of one upon the other ; whereas 
all the words together are but an expression of Christ s 
exinanition, with an explication showing in what it con- 
sisteth : which will clearly appear by this literal trans 
lation, But emptied Himself, taking the form of a 
servant, being made in the likeness of men. Where if any 
man doubt how Christ emptied Himself, the text will 
satisfy him, by taking the form of a servant ; if any 
still question how He took the form of a servant, he hath 
the Apostle s resolution, by being made in the likeness of 
men. Indeed, after the expression of this exinanition, 
he goes on with a conjunction, to add another act of 
Christ s humiliation : And being found in fashion as a 
man, He humbled Himself, etc. etc." 

This excellent exposition stands in strong contrast to 
Meyer s fanciful attempt to maintain a different con 
struction of the clauses : " The division, by which a stop 
is placed before teal o-xifaaTt evpeOels o>? avOpwjros, is at 
variance with the purposely-chosen expressions o-^^art 
and evpeOeis, both of which correspond to the idea of 
/J.op<f>rj, and thereby show that KOL a-x^an evpeQels <w<? 
avOpwiros is still a portion of the modal definition 
of MorV Sov\ov 

44 Philippians II. 5-11. 

The expression likeness of men does not of itself 
necessarily imply, still less does it exclude or diminish, 
the reality of the nature which Christ assumed. That, 
as we have seen, is declared in the words form of a servant. 
"Paul justly says : ev of^oKo^an avOpatTrwv, because, in 
fact, Christ, although certainly perfect man (Rom. v. 15 ; 
1 Cor. xv. 21 ; 1 Tim. ii. 5), was, by reason of the divine 
nature present in Him not simply and merely man, not 
a punts putus homo, but the Incarnate Son of God" l 

We thus see that the full and proper meaning of 
/jiopffrrj is not less essential to the doctrine of Christ s 
true humanity than to that of His perfect deity, as pre 
sented in this passage. 

The plural avdpwTrwv is used because Christ s hu 
manity represented that which is by nature common to 
all men. Thus Hooker, E.P. v. cap. 52, 3, writes : 
"It pleased not the Word or Wisdom of God to take to 
itself some one person among men, for then should that 
one have been advanced which was assumed and no 
more, but Wisdom, to the end she might save many, 
built her house of that Nature which is common unto 
all ; she made not this or that man her habitation, but 
dwelt in us. 

ix. The next participial clause KOI o^ /tart evpeOels 
a>9 avdpwjros, belonging to the following verb e ravre ivwcrev, 
declares what Christ appeared to be in the eyes of men, 
and so prepares the way for the statement of that 
further humiliation to which He submitted at their 
hands. As popfyr) and o/totw/xa describe what He was 
in Himself as Man, so cr^/io, denotes the entire out 
wardly perceptible mode and shape of His existence. 

1 Meyer, after Theophylact and Chrysostom : compare Frifczsche, 
Rom. viii. 3. 

"He Humbled Himself." 45 

This meaning is well brought out by Meyer: "Men 
saw in Christ a human form, bearing, language, action, 
mode of life, wants and their satisfaction, etc., in general 
the state and relations of a human being, so that in the 
entire mode of His appearance He made Himself known 
and was recognised (eupe#et?) as a man." 

The clause gives no real support to the docetic view 
of Christ s humanity, which Marcion 1 of old, and Baur 
in modern times \Paul, ii. p. 52, E. Tr.) tried to find in 
it, but rather implies the contrary. In the whole mode 
and fashion of His life, in every sensible proof whereby 
a man is recognised and known as man, Christ was so 
recognised and known and found as man. 

x. The words He humbled Himself mark a distinct 
and further step in that self-humiliation which began 
when He emptied Himself of His Godlike majesty and 
glory. Both acts were voluntary (as is expressly shown 
by the use of the word eavrov in each case), both sprang 
from the same mind and spirit of loving self-sacrifice, 
and both were accompanied by the same self-conscious 
ness of deity, 2 which is implied in the fact that, as is 
shown above, He was still subsisting in the form of 
God. It is this continuous self-consciousness of the 
Son of God that gives the true measure of His transcend 
ent humility, in every act of submission to His Father s 
will, in suffering patiently endured, in man s ingratitude 
meekly borne, and finally in obedience unto death, even 
the death of the cross. 

1 Tertullian, c. Marcion. v. cap. 20. See more on this point be 
low, p. 55 f. 

2 Meyer, p. 97 (E. Tr.) : "The self-consciousness of Christ 
necessarily remained the self-consciousness of the Son of God de 
veloping Himself humanly." 

46 Philippians II. 5-11. 

XL vv. 9-11. The extreme and final depth of Christ s 
self-humiliation in submitting to His shameful death 
finds its immediate and necessary reward in an exalta 
tion proportionately great. Thus the Apostle s exhorta 
tion to the Philippians to have the same mind which 
was also in Christ Jesus is finally enforced by the 
promise of a glorious reward for themselves, which, 
though not expressed, is necessarily implied in this 
supreme fulfilment of the divine law that he that 
humbleth himself shall be exalted. 

It is important to observe that this exaltation applies 
to Christ primarily and properly in His human nature 
only. This distinction was carefully maintained by 
Athanasius and other Fathers against the Arians, who, 
denying the eternal generation of the Son, argued from 
the "wherefore " in this passage, that, being exalted as 
the reward of His work on earth, Christ was " therefore 
called both Son and God, without being very Son." 1 
To this Athanasius replies that, " As Christ died and 
was exalted as man, so, as man, is He said to receive 
what, as God, He ever had, that even such a grant of 
grace might reach unto us." 2 " For as He was ever 
worshipped as being the "Word, and subsisting in the 
form of God, so being the same, and having become 
man, and been called Jesus, Ho none the less has the 
whole creation under foot and bending their knees to 
Him in His name, and confessing that the Word s 
becoming flesh, and undergoing death in flesh, has not 
happened against the glory of His Godhead, but to the 
glory of the Father. For it is the Father s glory that 
man, made and then lost, should be found again ; and 
when dead, that he should be made alive, and should 
become God s temple." 3 

1 Athan. c. Arian. i. 37. 2 42. 3 42. 

"Highly Exalted." 47 

Dean Jackson, however, shows 1 that, in a certain 
sense, even the Divine nature is exalted, not in itself 
but in relation to us, by the " glorious attributes of being 
our Lord and Redeemer, and of being the Fountain of 
grace and salvation unto us. 

"All these are real attributes, and suppose a real 
ground or foundation ; and that was, His humbling 
Himself unto dehth, even unto the death of the cross. 
Nor are these attributes only real, but more glorious, 
both in respect of God the Father, who was pleased to 
give His only Son for us, and in respect of God the Son, 
who was pleased to pay our ransom by His humiliation, 
than the attribute of creation is. 

" The Son of God, then, not the Son of David only, 
hath been exalted since His death to be our Lord, by a 
new and real title, by the title of redemption and salva 
tion. This is the sum of our Apostle s inference con 
cerning our Saviour s exaltation, Phil. ii. 11 : That every 
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the 
glory of God the Father. 1 " 

In TO ovof^a the article, which has been rightly 
restored by the Revisers on the united authority of N 
A B C, is full of significance. We know what " the 
Name " meant to every Hebrew, and St. Paul was a 
Hebrew of the Hebrews. To him " the Name which is 
above every name" could mean nothing less than the 
sacred Name, Jehovah. This meaning seems to be 
placed beyond doubt, when we see that St. Paul 
immediately quotes the great passage, Is. xlv. 23 : By 
myself have I sworn . . . that unto Me every knee shall 
bow, every tongue shall swear. 

Bishop Lightfoot observes that, "If St. Paul were 

1 On the Creed, bk. xi. c. ii. 4. 

48 PhUippians II. 5-11. 

referring to any one term, Kvpios would best explain the 
reference, for it occurs in the context on Kvpio? "I^crou? 
X/HCTTO?." Now Kvpios is the constant rendering of the 
Name mrP, and thus the Apostle s meaning is clearly 
seen to be, that He who says in Isaiah (v. 18) I am the 
Lord ; and there is none else, graciously gave (e^apiVaro) 
to Him, the son of Man (Lightfoot), the Name which 
He gives to no other. 

There is a very interesting comment on our passage 
in Jeremy Taylor s Life of Christ, Part i. 5, 8: " Be 
cause God gave to the Holy Babe the name in which 
the treasures of mercy were deposited, and exalted this 
name above all names, we are taught that the purpose 
of His counsel was, to exalt and magnify His mercy 
above all His other works ; He being delighted with this 
excellent demonstration of it in the mission and mani 
festation and crucifixion of His Son, hath changed the 
ineffable name into a name utterable by man, and desir 
able by all the world ; the majesty is all arrayed in robes 
of mercy, the tetragrammaton, or adorable mystery of 
the patriarchs, is made fit for pronunciation and expres 
sion, when it becometh the name of the Lord s Christ." 
Compare Orac. Sibijll. i. 324-327, and Dr. C. Taylor s 
note in the new edition of Sayings of the Jewish Fathers 
on the custom of bowing at the name of God. 

We may now look back for a moment on the results 
of our interpretation, so far as they affect the inferences 
that may, or may not, rightly be drawn from the passage 
in regard to the Person and Natures of Christ in His 
state of humiliation. 

1. We have seen that the word vTrdpxwv, subsisting, 
as used by St. Paul, denotes both the pre-existence 
and the continued existence of Christ in the form of 
God ; pp. 8-12. 

Eesults of the Interpretation. 49 

2. In illustration and confirmation of Bishop Light- 
foot s interpretation of the word fj>op<j>ij as "essential 
form," it has been shown that this sense was well 
known to contemporaries of St. Paul, that it was 
adopted generally by the early Greek Fathers, and ad 
visedly restored to our English Bible by the Translators 
of the Authorised Version in A.D. 1611 ; pp. 12-19. 

3. We have noticed briefly the opposite theory of 
those who contend that the form is separable from the 
nature and essence, that they can exist without it, and 
that in the Incarnation the Son of God did in fact empty 
Himself of the form, while retaining the essential nature, 
of deity. This error will be further discussed and traced 
to its source in certain false definitions of Zanchi, pp. 
63 ff., where it will be more fully shown that the Son 
could not possibly empty Himself of the form of God 
without thereby ceasing to be God in any true sense. 

4. Next we have seen that icra @e&3 denotes the mani 
fold circumstances of glory and majesty, or the particular 
modes of manifestation, which were an adequate ex 
pression of the divine nature of the Son, but not insepar 
able from it, pp. 20-30. 

5. It has been seen that the meaning of the clause 
ov% apTray/jibv rjyrjcraro TO elvai i<ra Qew and its direct 
antithesis to a\\ eavrbv ercevwa-e, clearly prove that 
what the Son of God laid aside at the Incarnation was 
that equality of conditions, such as glory, majesty, and 
honour, which He possessed in His pre-existent state, 
and to which He prayed to be restored, in John xvii. 5 : 
And 7ioiv, Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own 
self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the 
world was, pp. 30-36. 

50 Philippians II. 5-11. 

6. We have seen how the Apostle sets forth on the 
other hand the fulness of Christ s humanity in a climax 
advancing from its most general to its most special 
features, from that form of a servant which includes 
all God s creatures as ministers of His who do His 
pleasure, to that likeness of men which unites Him 
with us in our true nature as made in the image of 
God, and finally to that outward guise and fashion, 
in which He was seen as a man of sorrows and ac 
quainted with grief, humbling Himself yet further in 
obedience to His Father s will unto death, even the 
death of the cross, pp. 37-42. 

St. Paul has thus shown us in brief outline the 
essential features of the Incarnation, the perfect God 
head and perfect Manhood united in the one Divine 
Person, who is the subject of the whole passage, and 
" never to be divided," seeing that the Human nature, 
denoted in the name Jesus, is now highly exalted in 
inseparable union with the Divine, pp. 42-48. 

But as to the manner in which those two natures are 
united in one Person, as to the degree in which the 
Deity was limited or the Humanity exalted by their 
union, during Christ s life on earth, the Apostle has 
said nothing whatever in this passage. 

In fact, the precise manner of this union has been 
justly described by one of the best English divines of a 
former age as " a mystery the most to be admired by 
all, and least possible to be expressed by any living man, 
of all the mysteries whose belief we profess in the 
Apostles Creed, the mystery of the Blessed Trinity 
alone excepted." a 

1 Jackson, On the Creed, vii. c. 30. 

Results of the Interpretation. 51 

If then the conclusions warranted by the language of 
St. Paul leave much still unexplained and incompre 
hensible to man s understanding in the mystery of 
Christ s Holy Incarnation, they may yet be justly said 
to reveal as much as is needed for the confirmation of 
our faith. , 

The continuance in Christ of the form of God assures 
us that at least the moral attributes of the Godhead are 
faithfully represented in the one perfect image of the 
Father, His Incarnate Word. And thus His every act 
of tender compassion, of patient endurance, and of 
loving self-sacrifice shines out in its perfect beauty as 
a revelation of God s own nature, and of His gracious 
disposition towards us. 

If, on the other hand, the form of God is laid aside 
in taking the form of a servant, and the influence of 
the Divine nature thus suppressed, as in kenotic theories, 
the life of Christ on earth may still serve for our ex 
ample, by showing what man may possibly attain when 
endued with the fulness of grace and power by the Holy 
Spirit ; but by ceasing to be a direct revelation of the 
character of God it loses the power " to clothe eternal 
love with breathing life." l 

1 Hutton, Theological Essays, p. 289. 





APPARENTLY the earliest attempt to misrepresent the 
meaning of the Apostle s words was that of Marcion 
(c. A.D. 150), directed against the reality of Christ s 
human nature. 

"Of course," writes Tertullian, 1 "the Marcionites 
suppose that they have the Apostle on their side in the 
following passage in the matter of Christ s substance 
that in Him there was nothing but a phantom of flesh. 
For he says of Christ that " subsisting in the form of 
God, he thought it not robbery to be on equality with 
God, but emptied Himself, by taking upon Him the 
form of a servant," not the reality, "and was made in 
the likeness of man," not a man, "and was found in 
fashion as a man," not in substance, that is to say, 
flesh ; just as if there were not also a substance to which 
fashion and likeness and/on/i are attached." 

Dr. F. C. Baur employs the same argument to prove 
that the Epistle to the Philippians could not be a genuine 
work of St. Paul. After finding supposed evidence of 
Gnostic modes of thought and expression in apTraypov, 
eKevcocrev, fioptj)^ Qeov, and f^op^r] 8ov\ov, he proceeds as 
follows. 2 

" In a writer so obviously influenced by Gnostic ideas, 

1 Adversus Marcionem, V. c. 20. 

2 Baur, Paul, his Life and Works, vol. ii. pp. 51 ff. 


56 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

it cannot surprise us to find a close approach to the 
Docetism of the Gnostics. This is undoubtedly the case 
in verse 7. If, as ev 6/j.otco/jLaTi avdpcofrcov yevopevos, 
Christ was only o/ioto? to men, then He was no true 
and actual man, but only seemed to be so. The expres 
sion ofjLOiwfia can signify only similarity, analogy ; it 
cannot denote identity or parity of essence." . . . "That 
this is the meaning of o^oiw^a in our passage is suffi 
ciently clear from the phrase o-^rj^an evpedel? <*>? 
avOpcoTTos, which stands close beside it, and does not 
admit of any other interpretation." . . . "In 0~%%ia 
we have, as clearly as need be, the notion of an externus 
habitus, of a thing changing, passing, and quickly dis 
appearing (cf. 1 Cor. vii. 31)." 

Dr. Bruce says in reply to this, that "while it may 
not be impossible to put a doketic construction on the 
letter of the passage, such a construction is utterly ex 
cluded by its spirit"; and that "from the mind in 
which the Incarnation took its origin, the complete 
likeness of Christ s humanity to ours may be inferred 
with great confidence. He who was not minded to 
retain His equality with God, was not likely to assume 
a humanity that was a make-believe or a sham." l 

This inference from the " spirit " of the passage is 
true in itself, but hardly conclusive; and it is much 
more satisfactory to be able to show that Dr. Baur s 
charge of Docetism is entirely excluded by the actual 
words of the Apostle. While commenting carefully on 
the subordinate terms o/Wayia and cr^ua, Dr. Baur 
omits here all mention of the more important expression 
fAoptyrj &ov\ov : yet this, by his own showing, must ex 
clude all idea of an imperfect or transient condition, for 
he says elsewhere that, " If Christ was ev pop^f] Qeov 
1 I.e. p. 31. 

Ambrosiaster : Erasmus. 57 

, then His nature was from this very fact 
divine." l 

A great part of the confusion which has been intro 
duced into the Interpretation of our passage had its 
source in the use made by Erasmus of a passage in the 
Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paulby an unknown 
author surnanaed Ambrosiaster or Pseudo-Ambrosius, 
from his work having been falsely attributed to St. 

Ambrosiaster wrote that " Christ was always in the 
form of God, because He is the image of the invisible 
God. But the Apostle is speaking of the Son of God 
when He was incarnate and made man. . . . When He 
dwelt among men, it was evident by His words and 
works that He was God. For the form of God differs 
in nothing from God." 

Upon this Erasmus founds the following disingenuous 
statement : "St. Ambrose interprets form as a specimen 
or example, because when walking in a human body He 
yet gave proofs of divinity. For what," says he, "is 
the form of God but an example, because He appears as 
God, while He wakes the dead, gives hearing to the 
deaf, cleanses the lepers. 

"... Accordingly this whole passage seems to me to 
be violently perverted when applied to Christ s nature, 
whereas Paul is speaking of the appearance exhibited to 
us." 1 

This opinion of Erasmus, that the whole passage re 
fers only to Christ s human life, was unhappily adopted 
by Luther ; for as Dr. Dorner observes, " The words of 
Phil. ii. 6 ff., as is well known, are referred by him not 

1 Theol. Jahrb. viii. 508 sef{., quoted by the Editor of Baur s 
Paulus, II. p. 49. 

2 Erasmus, Annotationes in Nov. Test. 

58 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

to the deity but to the humanity, and his example has 
been followed by Lutheran dogmaticians." : 

The effect on the exegesis of the passage has thus been 
permanent and disastrous ; but it would be unjust to 
infer that either Luther himself, or Lutherans in general, 
have adopted all the doctrinal consequences which would 
logically follow from their exegesis. 

To avoid misrepresentation, it will be best to adopt 
the words of Dr. Dorner, who thus describes Luther s 
discussion with Hier. von Dungersheim in the year 1519. 2 
" The figure or form of God is not the essence of God ; 
for, in the first place, Christ did not lay down nor re 
nounce the divine essence ; nor, in the second place, did 
He assume the essence, but merely the appearance and 
form of a servant. As to His inner being He continued 
to be a free Son. " Form," however, must in both cases 
be taken in the same signification. By the " Form of 
God," therefore, we must understand the wisdom, might, 
righteousness, piety, and freedom of the God-Man. The 
sense we arrive at, consequently, is the following : 
Christ was man, free, powerful, wise, subject to no one, 
excellent in those forms which chiefly befit God. Never 
theless, He was not haughty in this form ; He did not 
act disdainfully towards others who were servants, nor 
did He regard as a robbery that which He was ; He 
did not presumptuously attribute or assume this form 
to Himself, but attributed and gave it up to God, and 
for Himself renounced and laid it down, not wishing 
to be unlike us, but determining to become as one 
of us." 

"... Dungersheim appealed to the circumstance, that 

1 Dorner, Person of Christ, Die. II. vol. ii. p. 96. Compare 
System of Christian Doctrine, iii. 238. 

2 Dorner, Person of Christ, Die. II. ii. p. 391. 

Luther. 59 

the passage had always been used in proof of the deity 
of the Son, to which Luther replied : The Fathers have 
often enough erred ; it is enough that we do not cause 
them to be pronounced heretics ; the Scripture is not to 
be interpreted and judged through them, but they 
through the Scriptures. Even though he should grant 
that the passage may be mediately referred to the 
deity, still it is more fitting to refer it to the human 
ity of Christ. Referred to the humanity alone, we 
arrive at a real abasement of Christ ; otherwise not, 
seeing that the deity cannot, strictly speaking, be 

For an explanation of the doctrinal results of this 
interpretation, the reader may refer to Dorner, I.e. pp. 
81, 95. Our present concern is with the interpretation 
itself, and in this it is evident that Luther is acting upon 
his own advice, " to utter the new wisdom as in new 
tongues " ; for the Apostle s words are so transformed 
as to assume a wholly new meaning. Thus pop^ &eov 
is not the divine essence ; vTrdp^cov has no reference to 
the pre-existence of the co-eternal Son, but to some 
undefined period in Christ s human life, at which He re 
nounced for Himself and gave up to God those attributes 
of the God-man " which chiefly befit God," and so are 
denoted by "the form of God." At this same unde 
fined period He took " the form of a servant, being 
made in the likeness of men"; from which we must 
conclude that between the times of His Incarnation 
and this exinanition He had not been made in the 
likeness of men. The popfo] Sov\ov which He assumed 
was not the essence, but merely the appearance and form 
of a servant. 

Can we wonder, at this point, that Melanchthon was 
afraid that Luther s view would lead to Docetism, and 

60 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

exclaimed " Marcion is breaking into your house (will 
dir in Garten)." l 

The interpretation of the whole passage was thus 
thrown into inextricable confusion, the true meaning of 
the most important words perverted, and every safeguard 
against the intrusion of the Eutychian and Docetic 
heresies recklessly thrown aside. 

Calvin s interpretation of poptyr) @eov was no better 
than Luther s. In his commentary on the epistle he 
writes : " The form of God here signifies majesty. For 
just as a man is known from beholding his form, so the 
majesty, which shines in God, is the figure of Himself. 
Or if you would prefer an apter simile, the form of a 
king is the apparel and splendour which indicates the 
king, as sceptre, diadem, cloak, apparitors, tribunal, and 
the other ensigns of royalty ; the form of a consul is a 
toga bordered with purple, an ivory chair, lictors with 
rods and axes. Christ, therefore, before the creation of 
the world, was in the form of God, because He was in 
possession of His glory from the beginning with the 
Father, as John says, xvii. 5." 

It will be seen as we proceed that the meanings thus 
assigned by Luther and Calvin to /iop</>?) @eoO belong 
not to it but to TO elvat laa @ea>. 

A striking proof of the permanent and mischievous 
effect of Luther s misinterpretation may be found in 
Dr. Corner s own treatment of the passage. 

Dr. Dorner himself has been justly described as " one 
of the greatest modern divines and teachers of Germany," 
and again as " one of the profoundest and most learned 

1 Domer, Hist. Protest. Theol. i. p. 326. Compare Bruce, I.e. 
p. 140 : " The Lutheran Christology, to say the least, threatens 
with extinction the reality of Christ s human nature." 

Dr. Dorner. 61 

theologians of the nineteenth century " l : and probably 
no foreign author of our day has exercised a more 
powerful and, in some respects, beneficial influence on 
English theology. We may add that Dr. Dorner was 
also one of the most earnest and devout representatives 
of Lutheran orthodoxy ; and in the interpretation of 
our passage he followed only too faithfully the guidance 
of the great Reformer. 

" Paul does not prefix Christ, but Jesus Christ as 
subject. Consequently there is no necessity present for 
the reference of the humiliation to the Divine side for 
the end of the Incarnation. 

"An example must be historically cognisable, which 
that supposed invisible and transcendent act of a self- 
emptying of the eternal Son prior to the Incarnation 
would not be. 

" The passage will therefore be better translated, that 
Jesus Christ although in divine outline or form, and 
thereby being already in the likeness of God (eV p.. 0. 
UTT.), held equality with God (TO emu . . . @ew), which 
is supposed to pertain to Him as the God-human unity, 
to be no fact of an arbitrary or powerful snatching for 
oneself, to be no robbery, which he has to drag to Him 
self of His own might, but in complete self-forgetfulness 
and humiliation He showed His humble and self-forget 
ful life of love." 2 

It is evident that this interpretation is opposed on 
every important point to that which we have tried to set 
forth as required by the usual principles of grammar, 
and by the true meaning of the Apostle s words. 

no longer denotes an existence prior to the 

1 Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia. 

2 System of Christian Doctrine, iii. pp. 182, 183. 

62 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

time of the Incarnation. v<op(f>r) @eov instead of the 
essential form of God is no more than a divine outline 
or form, a likeness of Gfod ; TO elvai 2, cra @e&> instead of 
the glory which the Word had with the Father before the 
world was, and resigned on becoming Man, is an equality 
with God, which was not originally His own, but per 
tains to Him as the God-Man. 

The Person of the Incarnate Son is no longer the 
Divine Person of the Eternal Son, but a Divine-Human 
personality which first comes into existence with the 
union of two natures. 

Yet Dorner admits that " the logical consequence of 
the Lutheran theory" is "a real God-manhood, pre- 
existent, and the cause of the humanity, whose existence 
began with the conception. " * 

It is no part of our purpose to trace the various forms 
which Luther s Christology assumed in the hands of his 
followers, nor the contrast between it and the doctrines 
held by Melanchthon, Zwingli, Calvin, and the Keformed 
Church in general. Dr. Bruce s lucid and impartial 
treatment of these and similar points in the history of 
these doctrines will be found at least as interesting and 
intelligible as the more voluminous works of Dorner and 
other German theologians. 

Our concern is with matters which have materially 
affected the exegesis of the passage before us ; and in 
this connexion we need only name the treatise of the 
Lutheran Chemnitz, De duabus in Christo Personis 
1570, as having in turn called forth on the side of the 
Reformed Church the work of Lambert Daneau, 
" Examen libri De duabus in Christo Naturis a 
Chemnitio conscripti." Genev. 1581. 

1 Bruce, p. 147 : Dorner, Person of Christ, II. vol. ii. 292-297 
(and 247), 431-5. 

Zanchi. 63 

In this work Daneau seems to have introduced l 
certain novel definitions of ovcria, </>u<m and nopfyrj. 

Zanchi, another member of the Eeformed Church, 
and Professor of Divinity at Strasburg (1553), and at 
Heidelberg (1568), in his elaborate and learned Commen 
tary on the Epistle to the Philippians, and again in 
his work De Incarnatione Filii Dei, adopted Daneau s 
definitions, which are as follows : 

" ovcria properly signifies the bare essence, which is 
usually expressed by the definition made up of genus and 
difference, by which (according to Aristotle s doctrine) 
the TO ri rjv elvat is declared : e.g. the ovcria of man is to 
be an animal endowed with reason. For this is the pro 
per definition of man, whereby it is declared what he is. 

" cf>vcris, i.e. Nature, adds to the mere essence the 
essential and natural properties, as in man these are 
the capacity for learning, capacity also for knowledge, 
immortality (in the soul), risibility, speech ; for these 
we say are natural to man, and his natural properties." 

" fj,op<j>i] adds to the essence and to the essential and 
natural properties other accidentals, which follow the 
true nature of the thing, and by which, as it were by 
lineaments and colours, ovcria and <j)v<rts are fashioned 
and depicted, as in man to have the face turned up 
towards heaven, from which he is also called avOpwrros, 
and as also the being endowed with such or such a form 
of body and limbs, etc." 

On these definitions we may remark that ovcria, fyvcns, 
and ftopcfrr) are properly metaphysical terms, not logical ; 
and Zanchi s attempt to find equivalents for them in 
terms of the Aristotelian Logic involves much error and 

1 1 have not been able to consult this work of Daneau, which is 
very rare, and not mentioned in the Bodleian Catalogue. 

64 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

In Aristotle s teaching, as Bishop Lightfoot l says, 
" there are two elements or principles or causes of things ; 
the matter, the substratum supporting the qualities, 
and the form, the aggregate of the qualities. The form 
he calls indifferently etSo? or popfoi, etc. He moreover 
designates it by various synonyms. It is sometimes 
the abstract conception realised (TO TI fjv elvaC), some 
times the essence corresponding to the definition (17 
ova-ia 77 icara rov \6yov), sometimes the definition of 
the essence (o \6yos TT}? ova-La*?), sometimes the defini 
tion alone, sometimes the essence alone." 

Every one of these designations shows that ova-ia, as 
defined by Zanchi, and identified with TO TI fjv elvai, is 
included in the form (fiop<f>ij) and inseparable from it. 

(frva-is is not a logical term, and its definition by 
Zanchi, as " adding to the mere essence the essential 
and natural properties," is entirely arbitrary, and incon 
sistent with the use of the word by Aristotle. 

In Metaph. iv. 1. 3, he classes (frvai? as a first principle 
(ap^rf) with thought and will and essence, and the final 
cause ; and in iv. 4. 8 he says that "nature properly so 
called is the essence of things which have their efficient 
cause in themselves, by reason of what they are." 2 

Dr. Bruce unfortunately did not carry on his quota 
tion from Zanchi beyond the three paragraphs quoted 
on p. 63 f., and so fell into the mistake of supposing, 
not very unnaturally, that Zanchi meant to limit the 
meaning of pop^rf to those "other accidentals" which, 
he says, it " adds to the essence and to the essential 
and natural properties." Accordingly, Dr. Bruce makes 
the following comment : " Thus understood, pop^r/ pre 
supposes ova-La and <f)vo-is, and yet is separable from 

1 Philippiaiis, p. 126. 

2 Of. Sir A. Grant, Eth. Nic. ii. 1. 2, n. 3. 

Dr. Bruce and Zanchi. 65 

them : it cannot exist without them, but they can exist 
without it. The Son of God, subsisting in the form of 
God, must have possessed divine ovcrla and divine Averts : 
but it is conceivable that, retaining the ovaia and the 
<f>vais, He might part with the popfpij. And in point of 
fact such a parting for a season with the ^op^-q seems 
clearly taught in this place. The Apostle conceives of 
the Incarnation as an exchange of the divine form for 
the human form of existence." 

Dr. Bruce is so eminently fair and candid, both in 
his quotations and in the inferences which he draws 
from them, that I feel sure he would not have put this 
interpretation upon Zanchi s definitions, if he had ob 
served the paragraphs which follow immediately after 
the passage already quoted. 

I must indeed plead guilty to having myself fallen 
into the same error with Dr. Bruce, through fixing my 
attention rather upon his comments on the abbreviated 
quotation than upon Zanchi s own application of his 
definitions to the language of St. Paul, which is as 
follows : 

" Accordingly f*op<p>] embraces in itself both (frvcriv 
and ova-iav : and is nothing else than ovaia itself in 
vested with all its properties. 

" Thus in God, although whatever is God and in God 
is in reality His perfectly simple essence, yet in a cer 
tain manner the ovaia is distinguished from the (pvo-is, 
that is, from His natural and essential properties, which 
are omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, etc. 

" However, the name ftopfaj, as we have said, em 
braces them all, with the further addition of glory and 
majesty to the Divine nature, and the figure of a true 
body to the human nature. LET THIS BE OUR CON 
CLUSION ; by this phrase the Apostle has expressed the 

66 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

most perfect Divine nature in Christ, which he presently 
calls TO elvcu icra (id est laws) &(*>, just as he presently 
expresses the whole and perfect human nature by the 
term fjbopfyr) 8ov\ou." 

If it is difficult to reconcile this with the author s 
previous definition of /AO/X^, we can forgive the incon 
sistency for the sake of the true conclusion. Only here 
also Zanchi falls into another error in identifying popfyrj 
@eov with TO elvat, Icra @ew. 1 

When we pass on to modern theologians, we find 
that the errors of the first Protestant Reformers in 
Germany have exercised an unfortunate influence on 
the interpretation of the passage even to the present day 
among writers who by no means admire the general 
theology of either Luther or Calvin. 

The Doctrine of the Incarnation is the title of a 
learned and important work by the Rev. R. L. Ottley, 
Canon Gore s successor as Principal of the Pusey 
House, Oxford, and Bampton Lecturer for the present 
year, 1897. 2 

The book has been subjected to a close and searching 
criticism in the Church Quarterly Review for October 
1896, where the Reviewer draws attention to much that 
is "admirable," and says very justly that "the whole 
work is marked by reverence and high tone." 

It is from no want of reverence that Mr. Ottley, like 
so many before him, has failed to give a clear and con 
sistent interpretation of the great passage on which the 
true doctrine of the Incarnation so largely depends. 

In Mr. Ottley s various definitions of the all-important 
word ytiopc^r; there is the same vagueness and incon- 

1 See p. 12 f. 

2 Now Regius Professor of Pastoral Theology in the University 
of Oxford. 

Dr. Ottley. 67 

sistency which we have observed in Canon Gore s re 
marks on the same word. 1 

" This phrase," Mr. Ottley says, " implies possession 
of all the characteristic and essential attributes of 
Deity : popfyr) is not to be confounded with ova-la, but 
only one who was God could subsist eV yu.op(/>?7 eov." 

The statement, though not actually incorrect, leaves 
too much room for misunderstanding : /u,op0^ not only 
"implies," but necessarily includes in itself, both 
"ova-ta" and "all the characteristic and essential at 
tributes of Deity," as has been shown above on pp. 12 
ft, 65 f. 

In the note (3) on this statement, Mr. Ottley says, in 
reference to Chrysostom s identification of ^op<f>rj and 
</>u<rt<? " It would be more strict to say, perhaps, that 
the Son of God could part with /j^op^rj eov, but not 
with ova-ia or fyvcris eov." 

Among the writers to whom in particular Mr. Ottley 
feels himself under obligation we find the name of Dr. 
Bruce : and it is evident that we are here listening to 
an echo of Dr. Bruce s statement which we have noticed 
above : " The Son of God, subsisting in the form of 
God, must have possessed divine ovala and divine (frva-is : 
but it is conceivable that, retaining the ovaia and the 
(frvo-is, He might part with the pop^rf." 

We have shown above (p. 64 f.) how Dr. Bruce was 
misled by an ambiguous phrase in Zanchi s definition 
of fj-optyr) : and here we see that Mr. Ottley has fallen 
into the same confusion, when, after writing that 
virdp^wv ev f^op^fj eov "implies possession of all the 
characteristic and essential attributes of Deity," and 
again " the form of a servant {^op^v SovXov), i.e. the 
essential attributes of a servant," he contradicts himself 

See p. 40 f. 2 Ottley, i. 103. 

68 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

by saying that " the Son of God could part with 
eov, but not with ova-la or (/>u<n.? eov." 

Again, when Mr. Ottley says that " The word fAop(f>rj 
in fact comprises all those qualities which convince us 
of the real presence of a being or object," he seems to be 
really describing not popfyri but a^/ta, 1 and expressing 
in other words Zanchi s ambiguous definition of /^op^rj, 
namely, that it adds to the essential and natural pro 
perties other accidentals which follow the nature of the 
thing, and by which, as it were by lineaments and 
colours, ovaia and </>u<rt<? are fashioned and depicted. 2 
This is, in fact, what is expressed in our passage by 
TO elvat icra @e&>. 

After differing so widely from Mr. Ottley as to the 
meaning of the important word fj*op(f>tj, it is a pleasure 
to be able to defend him against an objection brought 
by his critic in the Church Quarterly Review on another 
point. "Mr. Ottley," it is said, "fails to show reason 
for his view that TO elvat, Icra @e&5 means the equality 
in state with its glory and bliss, as distinct from the 
common possession of the Divine attributes, or for his 
assumption that our Lord in the Incarnation parted 
with this TO elvai icra @ero." 

I believe that Mr. Ottley s views are right on both 
points, and in support of them I may refer to what I 
have written above (p. 20 f.) on the meaning of the 
phrase Icra @e&> and its relation to pop(f>r) eov : and if 
Mr. Ottley has given no reasons " for his assumption 
that our Lord in the Incarnation parted with this TO 
elvai "era @ew," he may possibly have supposed that it 
must be as clear to others as to himself that the logical 

1 See Meyer s good definition of (rxw n n P- 27. 
J The italics in both passages are mine. 

Dr. Pfleiderer. 69 

connexion of the antithetical clauses necessarily ex 
cludes every interpretation, except that of the Synod of 
Antioch, Kevwqas eavrbv airo rov elvat ccra ew. 1 

If Mr. Ottley s interpretation of the passage had been 
as correct generally as it seems to be on these points, it 
would probably have saved him from attempting to 
draw from St. Paul s language some inferences which 
it by no means warrants. 

Dr. Otto Pfleiderer, Professor of Theology at Berlin, 
is well known in England by his Hibbert Lectures 1885, 
and his earlier and more important work Paulinism, 
published by the Committee of the " Theological Trans 
lation Fund." 

His interpretation of " the form of God" is not based 
on any careful investigation of the meaning of pop^t), 
but on a pre-conceived idea of Christ as the pre-existent 
" heavenly man." 

Eeferring to 1 Cor. xv. 47: The second man is from 
heaven, he argues that " this human person who had 
his origin from heaven, had also pre-existed in heaven 
as man y that is to say, as spiritual man, 1 as the same 
subject, and in the same form of existence, as that in 
which he continues to live again in heaven as the ex 
alted one." 2 

In reference to 2 Cor. iv. 4, 6, where St. Paul speaks 
of the exalted Christ as " the image of God," and of 
" the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" Dr. 
Pfleiderer writes, "it is perfectly intelligible that the 
pre-existent Christ also, with reference to this form of 
appearance in the image of God, is described as eV 
H<op(j>f) 0eo> vTrdp-)(wv. This by no means implies that 
he himself was also God (@eo9 o \6<yo$) ; on the contrary, 
the Pauline notion of being in the image of God, as we 

] See above, p. 37. 2 Paulinism, i. 138 f. 

70 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

have already seen, distinctly includes within itself that 
of being the pattern of humanity." 

In the note on this passage he refers to Phil. iii. 20 
f., " Christ will change our body of humiliation into one 
made like to the body of his glory." "What else," he 
asks, " can we understand by this aw^a TT}? 80^779 avrov 
than that very pop^rj Qeov in which the exalted one as 
well as the pre-existent was clothed ? But in that 
case this popfyrj Qeov also contains nothing which lies 
outside of the notion of the eliccbv rov vlov [Qeov], Rom. 
viii. 29, or that of the Sei/repos avOpwiros e ovpavov, whose 
image we shall all one day bear (1 Cor. xv. 47-49)." 

Again Dr. Pfleiderer writes, 1 " The expression TTO.V TO 
7r\r)pa)juia (1 Col. i. -19) is, according to the parallel 
passage (ii. 9), the fulness of the Godhead, the concen 
tration of all the powers which constitute the Divine 
nature. Paul never says that these dwell in Christ, 
not even in Phil. ii. 6, where the ftoptyrj Qeov refers 
only to the form of His appearance, the a-w^a TIJS 80^9 
(see above) : but that this fulness of the Godhead should 
have taken up its abode in the earthly Christ (for so we 
must understand Col. i. 19, on account of its connexion 
with ver. 20) is directly contradictory to that which we 
shall shortly see to have been the older Pauline view of 
Christ s becoming man." 

By thus misinterpreting /j-op^r/ Qeov as meaning only 
"the form of appearance " and so opposing it to " the 
fulness of the Godhead," Pfleiderer comes to the portent 
ous conclusion that "if we are unwilling to pronounce 
the Epistle to the Colossians altogether spurious, there 
appears to be scarcely any other way out of the difficulty 
than to suppose that this, as well as other passages of 
this Epistle, was tampered with at a later period." 

1 Paulinism, i. 146. 

Dr. Pfleiderer. 71 

In answer to such speculations it is sufficient to refer 
to our previous investigation of the true meaning of 
fjiop^r) Qeov (pp. 12-19). 

Again, after quoting Phil. ii. 5-8, Dr. Pfleiderer 
writes : l "It has been already remarked on the words 
ev fj>op<f)rj Qeov vtrapxatv, that they mean nothing else 
than the eifcwv and Saga Qeov. 

"The only difficulty is in the words 011% apira^^ov 
TO elvai caa Qew. . . . They are opposed to 
eavrov, that is to the self-sacrificing mode of 
action of which Christ is held up as an example. . . . 
They express in a figurative manner the disposition and 
mode of action of one who in selfish arrogance only ra 
eavrov GKOTrel." 

So far we could hardly wish for a better explanation 
of the clause : but from this point Pfleiderer begins to 
fall into the errors which have been discussed above 
(p. 27 f.), of making TO elvai taa Qeu>, something higher 
than nopfyrj Qeov, something to be obtained by re 
nouncing this latter, instead of that which was itself 
renounced. He makes his meaning, however erroneous, 
too clear to be mistaken: "What Christ might have 
striven after in this selfish, grasping manner, if he had 
wished it, is expressed by the words TO elvai iaa Qeu>. 
They must therefore indicate something beyond and 
above that which he already had, the fj-optprj Qeov : 
and this can only be the dignity of supreme Lordship 
and equality with God, the absolute, perfect, sovereign 
Majesty, which belongs to God alone, and to no other, 
not even to the Son who was the very image of Him as 
regards the form in which he appeared. 

" He emptied himself (instead of coveting that which 

1 Paulinism, i. 147. 

72 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

was greater and higher) of that which he justly pos 
sessed (namely of the /^op^rj @eoO). 

" Paul, after what he has said elsewhere, can hardly 
have ascribed to Christ an actual eivat, la a @eo3." l 

In the Hibbert Lectures (p. 58) we are told that " God 
has sent his Son into terrestrial life, in a body of flesh 
similar to our own, and by means of birth from a 

" As Paul understood it, this was not an incarnation 
(Menschwerdung) in the strict doctrinal sense, inasmuch 
as the Son of God was really the celestial man and head 
of the human race before his appearance on the earth ; 
he did not need, therefore, to take upon him a human 
nature, as orthodox theology teaches, but, according to 
Paul, he simply exchanged the form of his celestial 
existence, or his godlike body of light for the earthly 
form of existence, or a body of flesh like that of men." 

This " we may express in modern forms of thought 
by saying, he is the embodied Ideal of religious and 
divine humanity, of its filial relationship to God, and 
of fraternal love between its own members" 

It is needless to say that in fantastic speculations of 
this kind we can discover no resemblance to the real 
meaning of the passage. But I have given Pfleiderer s 
views at.large in his own words, because they express very 
clearly a notion which pervades a great part of German 
theology, and is upheld, as we have seen (p. 62), by so 
important a writer as Dr. Dorner, I mean the representa 
tion of Christ as the Ideal Man pre-existing in the 
thought of God. 

Hilgenfeld expresses the same view with equal plain 
ness : " The Pauline Christ is indeed the heavenly man, 
but no divine being: " 2 and again, " The eV pop^y Qeov 

1 Paulinism, i. p. 148, note 1. a Zeitschrift, 1871, p. 197- 

Hilgenfeld: Ritschl. 73 

, which is attributed to Christ before his ap 
pearance as man, is explained, without reference to 
Philo s Logos-doctrine, from the conception of the 
heavenly Christ, attached even to Dan. vii. 13. The 
equality with God (Gottgleichheit), however, is first won 
through Christ s self-humiliation, and consists in the 
name which is above every name, at which all knees in 
heaven, on earth, and under the earth do bow." J 

No theological work, we are told, has caused more 
excitement, or had a wider influence in Germany, during 
the last twenty years than Dr. Albrecht liitschl s 
Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation. 

It has been subjected to a severe but not unmerited 
criticism by L. Stahlin in a volume entitled Kant, Lotze, 
and Ritschl, of which an English translation has been 
published by Messrs. T. and T. Clark of Edinburgh. 

" An Exposition and Critique of the Theology of A. 
Ritschl " is the work of an ardent admirer, Julius 
Thikotter, which has been translated into French by 
another enthusiastic disciple, M. Aquilera, a Protestant 
pastor, under the ambitious title, The Theology of the 

To avoid the possibility of misrepresentation, I shall 
quote from the admirer rather than from the critic, as I 
have only the first and not the second edition of 
Kitschl s own work at hand. 

In dealing with such a subject, it was, of course, 
impossible for the author to avoid declaring what he 
thought of Christ Himself : and though Eitschl, as far 
as I have observed, gives no express interpretation of 
our passage, we are left in no doubt as to the meaning 
which he attached to the all-important clause eV 

iEinleit-ung in d. N. T., p. 339. 

74 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

" Ritschl acknowledges a pre-existence of Christ, but 
this pre-existence is ideal, it is founded on the immut 
able will and eternal love of God, who determined before 
the foundation of the world that the unique Son should 
be the head of the Church which He was in some manner 
to embrace." l 

Ritschl s professed object is to release the Christian 
religion from all metaphysical accretions. But what can 
be more entirely metaphysical than this notion of an 
ideal pre-existence of Christ in the thought of God ? 

Again we are told that, according to Eitschl, " The 
term divinity applied to Jesus expresses, in fact (au 
fond), nothing else than the absolute confidence of the 
believer in the redemptive power of the Saviour (Ritschl, 
iii. p. 360-368)." 2 

May we not then acknowledge a divine revelation in 
Christ s own statements concerning His relation to the 
Father, and in the statements of His Apostles concerning 

" We must not seek in the New Testament a doctrine 
on the divinity of Jesus Christ, but simply the expres 
sion of the religious experiences of the first believers in 
their contact with His person. The classical passages, 
such as Philippians ii. 6-11, Colossians i. 14-20, 2 Corin 
thians iv. 11, contain, in fact, nothing else than these 
experiences, the unique importance of the person of the 
Christ for the community which he founds, and in a 
secondary way for the universe in general. The same 
point of view dominates the Prologue of John (iii. p. 
370, 376). " 3 

Thus in interpreting the language of St. Paul we are 
forbidden to connect it with a Divine revelation con- 

^UJ-lI-lCVjll 1L Wll/JJ. Ol JV1V111C It 

1 Theologie de I Avenir, p. 57. 
*Ibid. p. 116. 3 Ibid.p. 117. 

Dr. Harnack. 75 

tained in Christ s declarations of His relation to the 
Father, or granted to St. Paul himself, as he frequently 

From the author of such a theory we cannot expect 
help in determining what St. Paul himself meant by 
such a description as vTrdp^wv ev p.op$f) @eov. 

Dr. Harnack s explanation of the passage demands 
attention rather from the high reputation of the author 
than for any light that it throws upon the real meaning 
of the Apostle. 

In common with many others he regards the doctrine 
of the Divine pre-existence as a mere reflexion in St. 
Paul s mind of the glorified humanity in which he had 
first beheld the risen Christ. 1 

"According to one of the Apostle s ways of regarding 
the matter, Christ, after the accomplishment of His work, 
became the Tri/eO/zo. ^WOTTOLOVV through the resurrection. 

" But the belief that Jesus always stood before God 
as the heavenly man, suggested to Paul the other view, 
that Christ was always a spirit, that He was sent 
down by God, that the flesh is consequently something 
inadequate, and indeed hostile to Him, that He never 
theless assumed it in order to extirpate the sin dwelling 
in the flesh, that He therefore humbled Himself by 
appearing, and that this humiliation was the deed He 

" This view is found in 2 Cor. viii. 9 ( I^crou? Xpio-rbs) 
St upas eTTTtoxevaev Tr\ovcno^ &v, in Horn. viii. 3 6 @eo? 
TOV eavrov viov Tre/i-v/m? ev 6 [to tutsan crap/cos a/JLapria? teal 
Trepl a/iaprta? Kareicpive rrjv a/jbapriav ev rfj aapxl, and 
in Phil. ii. 5 f. o? ev floppy eov vTrdpxcav . . . eraTreivoxrev 
eavrov, K.T.\. 

1 Harnack, History of Dogma (Theological Translation Library), 
vol. i. p. 327. 

76 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

"In both forms of thought Paul presupposes a real 
exaltation of Christ. 

" Christ receives after the resurrection more than he 
ever possessed (TO ovopa TO vjrep Trdv ovo^ia). In this 
view Paul retains a historical interpretation of Christ, 
even in the conception of the 7rz/et)/m Xpto-ro?. 

" But whilst many passages seem to imply that the 
work of Christ began with suffering and death, Paul 
shows in the verses cited that he already conceives the 
appearance of Christ on earth as His moral act, as a 
humiliation, purposely brought about by God and Christ 
Himself, which realises its culminating point in the 
death on the cross. 

" Christ, the divine spiritual being, is sent by the 
Father from heaven to earth, and of His own free will 
He obediently takes this mission upon Himself. He 
appears in the o/ioioyta crap/co? a/zaprta?, dies the death 
of the cross, and then, raised by the Father, ascends 
again into heaven, in order henceforth to act as the 
Kvpio? fybvTtov and (sic) vetcptov, and to become to His 
own people the principle of a new life in the spirit." 

In an interesting and important work on The Prin 
ciple of the Incarnation, the Rev. H. C. Powell has 
recently discussed from a psychological point of view 
the nature and limits of human knowledge, and the 
essential difference between it and the Divine manner 
of knowing, and has applied his conclusion thus formed 
to the relation between our Lord s divine and human 

In Book II. he deals with the Incarnation from a 
theological point of view, with especial reference to the 
Kenotic theory ; and Book III. is devoted to a careful 
examination of the evidence of the Gospels concerning 
our Lord s knowledge during His life on earth. 

Mr. Powell. 77 

The only part of the work with which we are especially 
concerned is the interpretation of Phil. ii. 5-7 in Book 
II. pp. 237-255. 

Of the points which Mr. Powell selects as " of especial 
exegetical importance" the following seem most im 
portant : 

(1) The emphatic position of kavrov before etcevcocrev 
does not " convey that it was Himself, after the analogy 
of a vessel, that our Lord emptied, and so lend counten 
ance to the idea that He actually laid aside something 
internal to Himself." St. Paul s intention was to bring 
out the thoroughly voluntary character of our Lord s 
self-humiliation. " Interpreters ancient and modern are 
entirely agreed upon this point. No one, as far as the 
present writer is aware, has, on exegetical grounds, taken 
the other view." 

(2) All that can be got out of " the words kavrov 
etcevaxTev, emptied Himself, is that our Lord did, in some 
manner not precisely specified, voluntarily divest or 
empty Himself of something either internal to or ex 
ternal to Himself. We must look beyond these two 
words to determine what it was which our Lord divested 
Himself of, and in what manner, etc." 

(3) and (4) In answer to the question, Why did St. 
Paul not insert a defining genitive after e/cevwo-ev Mr. 
Powell replies that "the participial clauses which follow 
do not exactly take the place of a defining genitive, but 
by explaining the manner in which our Lord emptied 
Himself they virtually indicate what it was which He 
emptied Himself of." . . . "Because of the three pos 
sible alternatives external glories, internal attributes, 
or both the emptying or divesting Himself of the ex 
ternal glories of Deity would be a natural and direct 
consequence of taking the servant s form. By the very 

78 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

act of doing this, our Lord concealed His Godhead. 
But no emptying of the internal attributes or essence of 
the Godhead would be a similar consequence." 

The direct and complete answer to the question, What 
did our Lord resign ? is that which Bishop Ellicott ap 
pears to have indicated in a letter to Mr. Powell : 
" Would not the logically exact genitive be TOV elvai ta-a 
0oi ? This aequal^er esse He gave up, and in the 
manner specified in the participial clauses." 

Bishop Ellicott thus agrees with Bishops Westcott 
and Lightfoot, and with the Synod of Antioch. See 
above pp. 25, 28, 37. Such a consensus should be 
decisive for English scholars. 

M. Godet, the learned Professor of Theology in the 
Reformed Church at Neuchatel, whose Commentaries 
and other works are so well known in England, and in 
many respects so admirable, has been led into some 
very vague and inconsistent statements through his 
erroneous interpretation of St. Paul s language in 

Thus in his Defence of the Christian Faith, p. 288, he 
writes: VBefore He appeared here below, He existed 
in the form of God, that is to say, in a state of Deity ; 
it was by His own will that he became man, after He 
had emptied Himself, to take upon Him the form of a 

Again on p. 297 : " The Divine manner of being, I 
must acknowledge, is not compatible with our present 
human manner of existence. But that is precisely the 
reason on account of which Scripture teaches two 
things ; first, that Jesus had to lay down His divine 
manner of existence His form of God in order to 
become man ; second, that in order to regain His divine 

M. Godet. 79 

condition, a glorious transformation was effected in His 
humanity by means of the Ascension. I say, a laying 
down, a stripping of Himself. St. Paul describes this 
supreme event in these words, He who was in the form 
of God emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form 
of a servant. 

By leaving out the intermediate clause, " counted it 
not a prize that He was on an equality with God," 
Godet makes it appear that Christ emptied Himself of 
the " form of God." 

In like manner he says again, " In Philippians . . . 
he speaks of Christ as having by nature the form of 
God, the divine manner of being, and then, at the 
moment of His appearing here below, renouncing this 
equality with God to which He had a right, taking 
upon Him voluntarily the form of a servant, that is 
the human condition, etc." l 

Elsewhere 2 he writes: " The idea of this divestiture 
of the divine state and of the entrance into the condi 
tions of the human state is expressed by St. Paul still 
more clearly in another statement, Phil. ii. 6-8 : " Who, 
although He was in form of God, did not avail Himself 
of it to appear as a God ; but stripped Himself in taking 
the form of a servant, and appeared in the likeness of 
men, being found in all things such as a man." 

It is in this vague and inadequate conception of 
&eov as identical with TO elvat iaa &eu>, and therefore 
meaning a "divine state," "a divine manner of being," 
that M. Godet s erroneous inferences have their root. 
He makes the Kevcoais consist in laying aside not only 
the metaphysical attributes of God, as omnipotence, 
omniscience, omnipresence, but also the moral attributes 
1 Defence, p. 322. 2 Etudes Bibliques, p. 134. 

80 Notes on Various Interpretations. 

of immutable holiness, and perfect infinite love, and, 
most surprising of all, His personal consciousness : " He 
knew Himself as Son, with that knowledge with which 
the Father Himself knew Him eternally, and here is 
the self-stripping (ddpouillemenf) on which all the fore 
going depend that consciousness of Sonship, which was 
His light, He let it be extinguished within Him, to re 
tain only His inalienable personality, His ego endowed 
with liberty and intelligence as every human ego : for 
our personality is formed in the image of His. In virtue 
of this abasement He was able to enter into a human 
development completely similar to ours." 1 

That so devout a believer as M. Godet could entertain 
such a thought as is expressed in the words which I 
have emphasised by italics, is a remarkable instance of 
the extreme danger of metaphysical speculation on so 
profound a mystery as the Incarnation, a danger im 
mensely increased when speculation is founded upon 
false inferences from an erroneous interpretation of the 
language of Holy Scripture. 

In justice, however, to M. Godet we must remember 
that however erroneous the Kenotic views into which he 
was thus led by misunderstanding of St. Paul s language, 
he never consciously adopted any theory of Christ s 
Person inconsistent with His pre-existence as the very 
and eternal Son of God. Of that primary truth Dr. 
Godet was always a most earnest and devout advocate, 
as we may learn from the following and many other 
passages of the works which we have been quoting : 

" Every time that I consider this question before God, 
three convictions seize me, laying hold at the same time 
of my mind and heart. 

" First, that it is impossible to detract anything from 

Bibl. p. 135. 

M. Godet. 81 

the doctrine of the essential and personal divinity of the 
Christ, without at the same time infringing equally upon 
the belief in the intimacy of the relation between God 
and man. 

" Secondly, that whatever detracts from the essential 
and personal divinity of our Lord, detracts equally from 
the horror which we feel at that which separates us from 
God, that is sin. 

" Thirdly, that whatever we detract from the essential 
and personal divinity of our Lord, detracts ipso facto 
equally from the glorious reality of Christian holiness." : 

I have quoted these words of M. Godet not only in 
justice to him, but also because I believe that they 
represent the most cherished convictions of others, whose 
interpretation of Philippians ii. 5-11 I have had occa 
sion to criticise. 

If some of the ablest and most influential theologians 
of our own Church have drawn, as we believe, erroneous 
and dangerous inferences from a mistaken exegesis of 
St. Paul s language, we must not forget that in other 
branches of theology they have proved themselves to be 
most earnest, devout, and enlightened advocates of the 
chief doctrines of the Christian Faith. 

If anything that I have written should give pain to 
such men, let me end this little volume by a humble 
apology for this and its many other faults, and let me 
try to make my peace with all who love truth for 
truth s sake in the oft-quoted words of Aristotle : 
<yap ovToiv <$>i\oi,v o(Tiov TrpOTi^av rrjv 

1 Defence, p. 325. 




" The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest 
for ever after the order of Melchizedek." Psalm ex. 4. 

ST. AUGUSTINE speaks in his commentary on this Psalm 
as if it were some excellent instrument of music, a lute 
or harp, requiring a skilful hand, and an attentive ear. 
" Let us listen to it," he says, " let us touch it carefully ; 
let us strike its chords with devotion, and draw out its 
tones with love." Pulsemus pietate, cxtorqueamus 
caritate. 1 

Its traditional meaning and scope are well expressed 
in the brief heading in our English Bible " The King 
dom, the Priesthood, the Conquest, and the Passion of 

To the Christian Church of all ages the value of the 
Psalm has been immeasurably enhanced by the very fre 
quent quotations in the New Testament, and especially 
by the distinct testimony which our Lord Himself has 
apparently borne to its authorship and subject, in His 
controversy with the Pharisees.- 

Bat historical criticism, which in modern times has 
been so unsparingly applied to every particle of Messi 
anic prophecy, is supposed by some to have robbed the 
mysterious utterances of this Psalm of the deep spiritual 
meaning involved in the reference to a future Messiah. 

1 St. August. Enarratio in Ps. ix. J^ 7. 
3 Matt. xxii. 41-46. 


86 The Authorship of the IlQth Psalm. 

Where the truth at stake is so precious, and opinions 
so various, we will make no arbitrary assumptions, no 
appeals to tradition, however ancient and credible, nor 
to authority even so sacred as that of our Lord and His 
Apostles, but will let the Scripture speak for itself, while 
we try to ascertain its literal meaning, its authorship 
and application. 

The Psalm itself in its opening words claims to be a 
direct revelation from God, "an oracle of Jehovah." 
This phrase is robbed of its proper force in the usual 
English rendering, " The LOKD saith." Its constant use 
is to introduce some solemn utterance of Jehovah, as, 
for example, on its first occurrence in the great promise 
to Abraham after his offering of Isaac, " By Myself have 
I sworn, saith the LORD," and in that solemn denuncia 
tion of doom, " As I live, saith the LORD, your carcases 
shall fall in this wilderness." In the Psalms the phrase 
is found in this one place alone, but by the Prophets it 
is constantly used in announcing the messages which 
they have received from God. 

Thus it evidently claims the highest degree of Divine 
inspiration for the one Psalm which it ushers in, with 
such peculiar solemnity, as the "voice" or "oracle of 
Jehovah to my Lord." 

After all that has been written on that word " Adorn," 
" my lord," it is strange to see how persistently the old 
error is repeated : it seems almost incredible that a 
theologian of such repute as Dr. Bernhard Weiss should 
state, in his Life of Christ, that "David addresses him 
equally with Jehovah by the title of Lord." 1 

The word is in fact no name of God, like Jehovah or 
Adonai ; it is simply a title of respect and honour, by 

1 Vol. iii. p. 200 (English Trs., T. & T. Clark). 

The Authorship of the 110//i Psalm. 87 

which the speaker recognises the superior rank of the 
person addressed. 

It is thus used a hundred times and more, in speaking 
to a great chieftain as Abraham, to a husband, or father, 
or elder brother, to " my lord Moses," and " my lord 
Elijah," to Sisera and Naaman, to Kings of Assyria, or 
Israel, or Judah. 1 

The person, therefore, who is thus addressed in the 
Psalm either may or may not be the reigning king ; 2 
he is acknowledged by the Psalmist as his superior, and 
is invited by Jehovah to share the honour of His throne : 
" Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies 
thy footstool" (v. 1). 

So far the oracle has spoken, and now the Psalmist 
interprets it to him who is to sit at God s right hand. 
The means by which he shall prevail are the help of the 
Lord, and the willing devotion and valour of his own 
people : " Jehovah shall send the rod of thy strength out 
of Zion : rule thou in the midst of thine enemies " (v. 2). 

The language here is like that of the 2nd Psalm : " the 
rod of strength," like the "iron sceptre," is the emblem 
of the resistless power, with which Jehovah will endue 
the king whom He has set upon His " holy hill." From 
Zion, the centre of His kingdom, He shall stretch out 
His dominion over His enemies on every side. 

In the third verse the king, strong in the promised 
help of God, " goes forth to war ; " for that is the mean 
ing of the words, " in the day of thy power " in the 

1 See Gen. xviii. 12 ; xxiii. 6 ; xxxi. 35 ; xxxii. 18 ; Num. xi. 
28; 1 Kings xviii. 7, 10 ; Judges iv. 18 ; 2 Kings v. 3 ; xviii. 23 ; 
1 Kings xviii. 32 ; 2 Kings vi. 12 ; Jer. xxxvii. 20. 

a No argument on either side can be drawn from the fact that the 
title is "habitually used in addressing the Israelitish king " (Driver, 
Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, 1891, p. 362, 

88 The Authorship of the IWth Psalm. 

day when thou gatherest thine host, and girdest thyself 
with strength unto the battle. There is a wonderful 
beauty in the picture of that gathering host. The Spirit 
of God (as Hupfeld and others rightly remark) breathes 
zeal and courage into the hearts of the people. They are 
literally "freewill offerings," each one of them gladly 
devoting himself, his service, and his life to the cause of 
their king. 

They go forth " in the beauties of holiness," clad, that 
is, " in holy attire," as an army of the Saints of God. 
That host of youthful warriors in their white and glitter 
ing raiment seem to the poet s eye as bright and fresh 
and numberless as the dewdrops sparkling in the morn 
ing light. According to this interpretation adopted by 
Ewald, Hitzig, and other critics, and in our own Revised 
Version, the sentence, " From the womb of the morning 
Thou hast the dew of Thy youth," means simply, " Thy 
young men are as the dew which is born of the morn 
ing." And the meaning of the whole verse, according 
to Hupfeld, or his latest editor, Nowack, is this, " the 
youth of thy people come with glad will and in count 
less numbers to thy warlike expedition." 

The warriors thus seen in their " holy and beautiful 
garments " are like an army of priests, going forth to 
fight the battles of the Lord. The king is in their 
midst ; and as the prophet looks on him, he suddenly 
announces a second oracle more solemn, more mys 
terious than the former. 

It is attested by the oath of Jehovah, "The Lord 
hath sworn:" it is irrevocable, for "He will not re 
pent." " The word is gone out of His mouth in right 
eousness, and shall not return : " and the word is this 
" Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchi- 
zedek " (v. 4). 

The Authorship of the 110th Psalm. 89 

We do not at present stay to ask what is the meaning 
of this brief oracular reference to the ancient King of 
Salem, who was also " priest to the most high God : " 
for he appears and disappears as suddenly in the Psalm 
as in the history. It is not the priest but the warrior, 
the mighty conqueror, that is seen in the remaining 
verses of the Psalm. To him the Psalmist now turns 
with the assurance, " The Lord at thy right hand shall 
shatter kings in the day of His wrath : He shall judge 
among the nations : He shall fill them with dead bodies : 
He shall shatter the heads over a wide land." 

So far the poet apparently speaks of God Himself as 
judging and smiting, or at least helping to smite, His 
enemies. But in the last verse we get a passing glimpse 
of a special incident of the battle full of pathetic human 
interest: the victorious king, "faint but pursuing," 
stoops, in the weariness and thirst of the conflict, to 
"drink of the brook in the way," and then "lifting up 
his head," refreshed and strengthened, goes onward 
conquering and to conquer. 

Such appears to be the literal meaning of the Psalm, 
apart from all theories of interpretation, Jewish or 
Christian, sceptical or conservative. 

The striking and impressive character of the scenes 
which it sets before us is acknowledged by all. 

The Psalmist s "lord " or king, seated at God s right 
hand, the promise of victory over every enemy, the 
power sent forth from Zion, the self-devotion of the 
saintly host, the irrevocable oath of Jehovah, the vision 
of the new Melchizedek, the warfare in which the Lord 
God of Hosts stands as an invisible power at the king s 
right hand, the wide battle-field strewed with the dead, 
the victor himself hard be-sted and fainting by the way, 
yet lifting up his head in triumph at the last all this 

90 The Authorship of the 110th Psalm. 

forms a dramatic picture too impressive to be lightly set 
aside by any merely negative criticism, too mysterious 
and amazing to be interpreted with easy confidence, 
even by those who are most willing to recognise the 
deep meaning of the prophecy. 

In the attempt to explain so difficult a passage there 
is great need not only of reverent and careful study, but 
also of patience and candour towards those whose views 
may differ from our own. 

The date and authorship of the Psalm having long 
been in dispute, our first inquiry, if we are to follow the 
usual method of literary criticism, must be, What notes 
of time, place, or person does the, writing itself present ? 

First, then, as to place ; in this, as in the 2nd Psalm, 
so similar in many respects, Jerusalem is expressly 
indicated as the scene of action. It is on the holy hill 
of Zion that Jehovah enthrones His king, and it is out 
of Zion that the rod of His power is sent forth. We 
see that, the passages, which thus clearly determine the 
place, agree further in their description of the person 
who is in each case the subject of the poem. He who 
sits enthroned on Zion is the king whether actual or 
ideal, present or future of God s people Israel. 

In the 2nd Psalm this king, the Lord s Anointed, 
appears to have been newly seated on the throne in 
Zion ; he is surrounded by hostile nations, over whom 
he is to triumph by the help of Jehovah, and is to 
receive the heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost 
parts of the earth for his possession. 

Every one of these features appears also in the 110th 
Psalm, with new expression, and in such combination 
with other features, as seems to show that the two poems 
are original and independent compositions of the same 
date, the same subject and probably the same author. 

The Authorship of the 110th Psalm. 91 

The likeness between them may be further traced in 
their warlike spirit in the high and solemn tone of 
thought, expressed in vigorous, brief, oracular language 
and in the dramatic construction which gives life and 
motion to the song. 

We hear the voice of Jehovah Himself, alike in the 
proclamation, " I have set My king upon My holy hill," 
and in the invitation, " Sit thou at My right hand, until 
I make thine enemies thy footstool." 

From a second voice we hear, in the one case 
Jehovah s fixed decree, "Thou art My Son, this day 
have I begotten Thee ; " and in the other the irrevocable 
oath, " Thou art a priest for ever after the order of 

Without tracing the likeness, as we might, still 
further, I think we have seen enough to justify the belief 
that we have here two sister poems of the same date and 

If, however, we desired a further proof of the similarity 
of the poems, and the identity of authorship, we might 
find it in that most strange and irrational conjecture of 
Hitzig, 1 that the author of both these Psalms was 
Alexander Jannaeus, the debauched and blood-thirsty 
tyrant, who caused 800 of his fellow-countrymen to be 
crucified in the midst of Jerusalem, and their wives and 
children to be slain before their eyes, while he watched 
the sight as he lay publicly feasting and drinking in the 
midst of his concubines. 2 

Even in the monstrous supposition that such a being 

1 Hitziy on Ps. ii. (p. 7). " Our author, a king, is also to be re 
garded as one of that priestly dynasty, and in fact, on the grounds 
developed in vol. ii. p. 223, as Alexander Jaunaeus, to whom the 
60th Ps. also belongs." 

2 Josephus, Ant. XIII. xiv. 2 ; Bell. Jud. I. iv. 6. 

92 The Authorship of the 110th Psalm, 

was the inspired author of these glorious Songs of Sion, 
there is just this gleam of truth, that the two Psalms 
are too much alike to have had different authors. 

But if Hitzig has been rightly described by a most 
competent authority as " that master of modern Heb 
raists," then his belief that so hateful a tyrant as 
Jannaeus could have been the author of these divine 
and spiritual songs, must lead us to this inevitable con 
clusion, that a man may be a great expert in grammar 
and philology, and yet strangely deficient in literary taste 
and historical judgment. 

More recent critics, even the boldest, have seen that 
the adoption of Hitzig s theory would be an insult to the 
moral sense as well as to the intelligence of their readers. 
Some worthier representative of the Maccabean age 
must therefore be sought among those who bore the 
title of high priest, and exercised the chief authority in 
the state. 

Accordingly this 110th Psalm is declared with great 
confidence to be "in the fullest sense a glorification of 
Simon," the successor of his brothers, Judas Maccabaeus 
and Jonathan, and we are asked whether the Psalmist s 
description of the king " does not fully correspond to the 
historical position of Simon." x 

Now first, it is evident on the face of the Psalm, and 
is not disputed, that he who is invited by Jehovah to sit 
at His right hand, is thereby declared a king whether 
human or divine of God s own choice and direct ap 
pointment. How does this correspond to Simon s posi 
tion ? The answer is " He did not, of course, claim to 
be a king, but he lacked nothing of the dignity but the 
name. Syria claimed no authority over him." 

1 Professor Cheyne, Origin of the Psalter, p. 24. 

The Authorship of the IWth Psalm. 93 

Let us verify this statement by turning to the author 
ity from which it is derived, the 1st Book of Maccabees 
xiii. 34-39. There we find that when his brother 
Jonathan was dead, Simon, having been chosen by the 
people of Jerusalem as their leader, sent a present of a 
golden crown and scarlet robe to Demetrius, King of 
Syria, with a request that "he would give the land an 
immunity" from tribute. 

And Demetrius, to secure the allegiance and help of 
Simon, wrote in answer, " We are ready to make a 
steadfast peace with you, yea, and to write unto our 
officers, to confirm the immunities which we have 
granted. As for any oversight or fault committed unto 
this day, we forgive it, and the Crown-tax also, which 
ye owe us : and if there were any other tribute paid in 
Jerusalem, it shall no more be paid." 

And yet we are bidden, in the name of historical 
criticism, to believe that Simon, this tributary vassal, 
" lacked nothing of the dignity of a king but the name," 
and " Syria claimed no authority over him." 

Again, when we are told that " without asking leave 
of his nominal lord, he struck coins," l it is strange to 
read in the sole authority on the subject, that Antiochus 
Sidetes, brother and successor to Demetrius, writes to 
Simon thus : "I give thee leave also to coin money for 
thy country with thine own stamp." 

Passing on to the priesthood, we find in the Psalm, 
that the newly-enthroned king is declared by Jehovah 
Himself, with a solemn and irrevocable oath, to be a 
priest for ever "after the order " not of Aaron but 
"of Melchizedek." 

All reference to the Levitical Priesthood is thus ex- 

1 Cheyne, p. 24. See Notes at conclusion. 
2 1 Mace. xv. 6. 

94 The Authorship of the HQth Psalm. 

eluded, and the passage is inapplicable to any who 
claimed to be high priest of the Jews in the ordinary 
sense. Now Simon and his brethren were by birth 
priests of the order of Aaron priests before they be 
came by popular election rulers and therefore neither 
as priests nor rulers did they answer to the description 
in the Psalm of one who is first a king of God s own 
choice, and then is declared to be a priest of a new 
order, "the order of Melchizedek." 

Moreover in the days of the Maccabees the high 
priesthood had already begun to be bought and sold, 
being bestowed by heathen sovereigns as a reward for 
political subserviency and aid in war. 

In Simon s own case, the very first mention of his 
high priesthood is when Demetrius, King of Syria, in a 
letter already quoted, accepting Simon s present, and 
granting his petition for exemption from tribute, ad 
dresses him as "the high priest and friend of kings." 
And that this was the origin, or at least the confirma 
tion, 1 of his appointment, appears from the statement 
which immediately follows " Then the people of Israel 
began to write in their instruments and contracts, In 
the first year of Simon the high priest, the governor 
and leader of the Jews." 2 

That Simon was a man of heroic virtues, a valiant 
captain, a prudent statesman, a patriotic ruler, a devout 
and faithful servant of the God of Israel, none can 
doubt. Nor would we detract one word of praise from 
his " glorification," for such it is, in the Book of 

But to suppose that a poet of that age, even if there 

1 1 Mace. xiv. 38 : " King Demetrius also confirmed him in the 
high priesthood." 
2 1 Mace. xiii. 42. 

The Authorship of the 110th Psalm. 95 

could have been found one capable of writing so sub 
lime a Psalm, would have ventured, in the wildest flight 
of poetic imagination, to speak of Simon as called by 
Jehovah to sit at His right hand, and as receiving from 
Jehovah Himself the solemn consecration, " Thou art a 
priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek " such a 
supposition, I say, is as directly opposed to the facts of 
history as it is repugnant to every principle of literary 
taste and sober judgment. 

If further proof were needed that the Psalm could 
not have been written in the Maccabean times, it might 
be found in the distinct claim of a prophetic revelation. 
Upon the Jews of that age no feeling was more deeply 
impressed than the mournful consciousness that they 
had lost the gift of prophecy, and must wait for the 
time when a prophet should arise to make known the 
will of God for their guidance. 1 " How," it has been 
rightly asked, "in such an age could a Psalm have 
been composed, in which the investment of the king 
with priestly dignity is introduced by the words, The 
Lord has sworn a Psalm, too, which begins with the 
characteristic phrase of prophecy, an oracle of Jehovah 
unto my lord ? " 

Such expressions clearly show that the Psalm was 
written at a time when the reality of Divine inspiration 
was fully acknowledged, and when the prophet s testi 
mony was believed to express Jehovah s pleasure in the 
enthronement of His King on Zion, and in the reco^ni- 
tion of his royal priesthood. 

Further it will, I think, be generally admitted that 
such a Psalm could only have been written when the 

1 Of Simon himself it is said (1 Mace. xiv. 41) that he was to be 
"governor and high priest for ever, until there should arise a 
faithful prophet." 

96 The Authorship of the IWth Psalm. 

lyric poetry of the Hebrews was still in its early prime, 
still marked by the genuine simplicity, force and beauty 
which are so conspicuous in David s undisputed poems, 
the lament over Saul and Jonathan, and " the last 
words " of the son of Jesse. 1 

Thus Ewald, a most competent judge of style, is so 
impressed by the "genuine prophetic brevity" of the 
poem, by its " lyrical compression," and its " grand, 
briefly-sketched pictures," that he assigns it without 
hesitation to " the age of the greatest lyric Poet of 
Israel," and maintains that "we may certainly regard 
David as the king referred to," for this further reason 
that "king and kingdom here appear in the highest 
degree of nobility and glory." 

We may thus with great confidence, and with very 
general assent of ancient and modern interpreters, Jew 
ish as well as Christian, refer the Psalm to the age and, 
in some sense, to the person of David. But the crucial 
question remains, Was David the author, or was he only 
the subject of the Psalm ? 

Now besides the similarity of general style already 
noticed, there are certain characteristic marks which 
seem to indicate that the writer could have been no 
other than David himself. 

We have already seen that the first word in the 
Hebrew describes the Psalm as a Divine utterance, 
" an oracle," inspired by Jehovah ; and that this word, 
though constantly used in this sense in the prophecies 
of all ages, from Genesis to Malachi, is never so used in 
any other Psalm than this. 2 But it does occur, and 

*2 Sam. xxiii. 1-7. 

2 In Ps. xxxvi. 1, "an oracle of Transgression," "Transgression 
is personified, and is represented as uttering its counsels to the 
wicked man, and finding the same ready obedience in his heart, as 

The Authorship of the IWth Psalm. 97 

with an emphatic repetition, in that undoubtedly genu 
ine, prophetic, and Messianic poein, 1 " the last words of 
David, the oracle of David the son of Jesse, the oracle 
of the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God 
of Jacob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel." 

No candid critic will, I think, deny that so peculiar a 
coincidence of expression, added to the general similarity 
of style, points very significantly to the identity of the 

The inference thus drawn from the language of the 
Psalm is strongly confirmed by its contents. And to 
avoid the possibility of prejudice on this point, let me 
borrow a recent description of the Psalm from an op 
ponent of David s authorship, who, for learning, and 
candour, and reverence, is justly regarded as the best 
exponent of what are alleged to be the established re 
sults of modern criticism. 

"The Psalm," he says, "though it may be ancient, 
can hardly have been composed by David. ... It pro 
duces the irresistible impression of having been written, 
not by a king with reference to an invisible spiritual 
being standing above him as his superior, but by a pro 
phet with reference to the theocratic king." 2 

Here is much that we willingly accept, for we also 
believe that the Psalm was written, " not with reference 
to an invisible spiritual being," but " by a prophet with 
reference to the theocratic king." David s hopes were 
not fixed on an " invisible spiritual being," but on "the 

the voice of God Himself in that of the good man." PEKOWNE, 
The Psalms. 

1 Orelli, 20, p. lt>4, calls it "an oracle mysteriously introduced, 
prophetic in form, ... of original antique speech, and unimpeach 
able authenticity." 

2 Driver, Introduction, &c., p. 362, note. 


98 The Authorship of the IWth Psalm. 

seed which should proceed out of his bowels," * a de 
scendant and successor truly human, though invested 
with a halo of mysterious glory, and raised above the 
kings of the earth by God s promise, " I will stablish the 
throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his Father, 
and he shall be My son. Thy throne shall be established 
for ever." 2 

Again, we agree with the same author that the Psalm 
"depicts the ideal glory of the theocratic king, who 
receives from a Prophet the twofold promise of victory 
over his foes, and of a perpetual Priesthood." 

For who will not agree with St. Peter, preaching on 
the Day of Pentecost, that David was a prophet, and 
knew " that God had sworn with an oath to him, that 
of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh He would 
raise up Christ to sit on his throne " ? 3 

And what is " the ideal glory of the theocratic king," 
but the acknowledged type and figure of Christ ? Or to 
whom, if not to Him, can we refer the promise of a per 
petual Priesthood ? 

And as to the other promise of victory over his foes, 
it is certain that a victorious King of Israel " triumphing 
through Jehovah s help over earthly foes," is a form 
under which the Messiah was most frequently fore 
shadowed, and finally expected ; and the very form in 
which the vision of his glorious Son was most likely to 
rise up before the warlike soul of David. 

Accepting thus the very description of the Psalm 
which is supposed to disprove the authorship of David, 
and putting no strain either upon the language or con 
tents, we may go on to show in closer detail, that the 
whole course of thought is such as would most naturally 

1 2 Sam. vii. 12. vv> 13 . 16 . s Acts y 30) 31 

The Authorship of the HQth Psalm. 99 

be suggested to David, and to no other, by the known 
circumstances of his life. 1 

To whom else is the enthronement of One mightier 
than himself at God s right hand so likely to have been 
suggested, by natural association as well as by Divine 
inspiration, as to him who had received the assurance 
from Jehovah, " Yet have I set my king upon My holy 
hill of Zion"? 

Who else so likely to be prompted and inspired, 
through the means of his own desires and hopes, to 
say, " The Lord shall send the rod of thy power out 
of Zion : rule thou in the midst of Thine enemies " 
as David himself, at the very time when the 
heathen were tumultuously gathering, and " the Kings 
of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers took 
counsel together, against the Lord and against His 
Anointed " ? 

To what historical event can we so probably trace the 
original thought of that picture of the youthful warriors 
in holy attire, assembling at the summons of their king, 
as to the gathering of the armies of Israel to bring up 
the Ark of God to Jerusalem ? 

That event occurred in the midst of David s wars with 
the Philistines, which had " begun with the transference 
of the seat of royalty to Jerusalem." 

There was peril in approaching the frontier of such a 
foe, and we read that David, in his first attempt to bring 
back the Ark, "gathered together all the chosen men of 
Israel, thirty thousand ;" and on the second occasion, 
besides gathering all Israel together, according to the 
narrative in 1 Chronicles xv., he especially summoned 
the Priests and Levites, of whom more than 800 went 

1 See Notes at conclusion. 
3 Wellhausen, History of Israel, p. 133. 

100 The Authorship of the IWth Psalm. 

forth with him, led by Zadok and Abiathar, and the chiefs 
of all the houses of the Tribe of Levi. 

When we picture to ourselves the scene thus presented 
to the eye of David, does it not seern most natural that 
the feelings of the heroic warrior should be reflected in 
his prophetic vision of the saintly host, arrayed in the 
beauty of holiness, around the Prince, who shall lead 
them forth in the day of His power against the enemies 
of the Lord ? 

As a final and decisive test, let us turn once more to 
the history of the same memorable event in 2 Sam. vi., 
and see if it supplies any explanation of the mysterious 
reference to Melchizedek. 

Of David himself we read that " when they that bare 
the Ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an 
ox and a fatling. And David danced before the Lord 
with all his might ; and David was girded with a linen 
ephod." And again, when they had "brought in the 
Ark," " and set it in its place in the midst of the taber 
nacle," " David offered burnt-offerings and peace-offer 
ings before the LORD. And when David had made an 
end of offering the burnt-offerings and the peace-offerings, 
he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Hosts. 
And he dealt among all the people ... to every one a 
cake of bread," and a portion of flesh l [Marg. E.V. " or, 
of wine "], " and a cake of raisins." 

In these actions of David, especially in the assump 
tion of the priestly dress, the blessing of the people, and 
the distribution of bread and wine, there is a close and 
seemingly conscious imitation of the office and actions 
of Melchizedek King of Salem, and Priest of the Most 
High God, who brought forth bread and wine for Abra- 

1 " I have no doubt that we should understand a certain measure, 
or ciip (of wine, or drink)." (Gesenius, Lexicon.) 

The Authorship of the 110th Psalm. 101 

ham, and blessed him in the name "of the Most High 
God, possessor of heaven and earth." l Thus in David s 
acts, as well as in the words of the Psalm, we find a 
clear indication of the priestly character of the new 
King of Salem, as one "anointed of the Lord" to rule 
over His people as " a kingdom of priests, and a holy 

That I have stated the historical facts correctly and 
without exaggeration, let the words of Wellhausen bear 

" David," he writes, 12 " sacrificed on the occasion of 
his having successfully brought the Ark to Jerusalem : 
that it was he himself who officiated, appears from the 
fact that he wore the priestly ephod the epkod bad 
and at the close of the offering pronounced the Bene 

When such was David s conception of the nature of 
the kingdom promised to himself and to his seed for 
ever, can we imagine any other mind so fit, so well pre 
pared, to receive and to proclaim the revelation of the 
settled purpose of Jehovah concerning that Greater Son, 
in whom the promise was to receive its full and final 
accomplishment: "The Lord sware, and will not re 
pent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Mel- 
chizedek " ? 

The last verse of the Psalm, " He shall drink of the 
brook in the way, therefore shall he lift up his head," 
is regarded almost universally as a reminiscence of the 

1 My attention has been drawn to a most interesting article by 
Professor Sayce in the Newbury House, Magazine, Dec. 1891, in 
which it is shown that the Scriptural account of Melchizeclek is 
remarkably confirmed by the cuneiform inscriptions discovered at 
Tel-el- Amamah. 

2 History of Israel, p. 33. 

102 The Authorship of the 110th Psalm. 

Psalmist s personal experience of the sore thirst of battle. 
Thus Ewald, and the present Chief Eabbi Adler, and 
many other recent commentators, refer, in illustration 
of the passage, to that chivalrous and pathetic incident 
in David s recent war with the Philistines, when he 
"longed and said, Oh! that one would give me drink 
of the water of the Well of Bethlehem " and, when the 
water was brought, "poured it out to the Lord," be 
cause he would not drink the blood of the men who had 
brought it from the midst of the enemy, in jeopardy of 
their lives. 1 

These many striking coincidences between the thoughts 
of the Psalm and the personal history of David seem 
to point with unmistakable significance to him as its 
author. And if we accept the reasonable principle of 
modern criticism that " Prophecy never wholly forsakes 
the ground of history," that the vista of the future, 
however far it may extend through the ages, "begins 
at the Prophet s feet," we must look to his own life for 
what has well been called "the secret impulse of his 
song." 1 And in the present case no author has ever 
been suggested upon whom the various lines of internal 
evidence so manifestly converge as upon David ; nor in 
his life is there any occurrence which seems " so natur 
ally and obviously to associate itself with the language 
of the Psalm, as the bringing up of the Ark of God to 
the tabernacle prepared for it on Mount Zion." s 

For if the Holy Spirit of prophecy wrought through 
the natural faculties of man, not by suppressing but by 
strengthening and exalting the characteristic impulses 
of mind and heart, then we must look for the author of 

1 2 Sam. xxiii. 15-17. 

2 Perowne, Introduction to Ps. c.c. 
* Perowne, as above. 

The Authorship of the 110th Psalm. 103 

this Psalm in a man whose personal experience and 
mental history tended towards the development of the 
sublime and mysterious thoughts which here find ex 

And I know of none whose character and circum 
stances answer to these conditions so well as David s 
at that very time, when dwelling beside the Ark on 
Mount Zion, himself as it were enthroned at God s right 
hand, fresh from his victories over the Philistines, and 
from the priestly offices of sacrifice and benediction, and 
full of the desire to build a house for God, he received 
the gracious promise of a son in whom His house and 
His kingdom should be established for ever. 

It is hardly possible to exaggerate the impression 
which that promise made on David s mind, as witnessed 
in the immediate out-pouring of his thankfulness and 
praise as he " went in and sat before the Lord," l and 
afterwards in this and other Psalms. It was then, as 
we believe, that first beholding from afar the glory of 
that promised Son, he rejoiced, like Abraham before 
him, to see the day of Christ, and he " saw it, and was 
glad." 2 


In reviewing Dr. Driver s Iivbroduction to the Literature of the 
Old Testament, Professor Cheyne (Expositor, March, 1892, p. 239) 
speaks of my remark concerning Simon s coinage (p. 11) as a 
"hasty criticism of a well-weighed statement," which the notes to 
his Bampton Lectures would have enabled me to correct. The 
note to which Professor Cheyne especially refers (Burn /Jon 
Lectures), p. 39, Note hh ) is as follows: 

"1 Mace. xiii. 42 ; cf. Josephus, Ant. xiii. 6, 7, who gives the 
titles of Simon as benefactor and ethnarch of the Jews (on the 

1 2 Sam. vii. 18. 2 St. John viii. 56. 

104 The Authorship of the 110th Psalm. 

former, cf. Luke xxii. 25 ; and on the latter, Jos. Ant. xiv. 7, 2 
both imply the possession of virtually supreme authority). Several 
other cities also dated new eras from their declaration of indepen 
dence about this time (Sidon, from 111 B.C.). See also 1 Mace, 
xiii. 39, and cf. Madden, Coins of the Jews, p. 67 (Simon struck 
coins before Antiochus expressly ^conceded the privilege)." 

I have not been able myself to consult Madden s Coins of the 
Jews, but a friend who has done so for me writes that the earliest 
of Simon s coins, ascribed by Madden to B.C. 141, bears on the 
obverse "A cup or chalice, on either side a pellet, above the cup 
the letter &$, that is 1 = first year of Simon s mintages." 

Now Simon s embassy and presents to Demetrius, his confirma 
tion in the high priesthood, and the grant of immunity by the king, 
took place in B.C. 142 (Clinton s Fasti Hellenici, p. 344), before 
Oct. 1, i.e. in A.S. 170, as stated in 1 Mace. xiii. 41, 42: "Thus 
the yoke of the heathen was taken away from Israel in the hundred 
and seventieth year. Then the people of Israel began to write in 
their instruments and contracts, In the first year of Simon the high 
priest, the governor and leader of the Jews." 

The coin of the first year of Simon seems to mark the commence 
ment of this new era, showing that the right of coinage then first 
assumed was a natural consequence of the immunity from tribute 
and other concessions granted by Demetrius. This view is con 
firmed by the fact that other States still under the suzerainty of 
Syria had their own separate coinage. Thus the fact of Simon s 
coining his own money, whether with or without leave, cannot 
justify the assertion that " Syria claimed no authority over him," 
an assertion which, as it seems to me, contradicts the one original 
record in the book of Maccabees. 

The titles "benefactor and ethnarch " are substituted by Jose- 
phus (Ant. xiii. 6) for those in 1 Mace. xiii. 42, " High Priest, 
General (STparr^yov), and Governor ( Hyovp.fvov) of the Jews." 
This is no proof that Simon was officially styled " Benefactor," 
whatever that title may imply : for the account in Josephus is 
simply borrowed, with arbitrary variations, from the earlier and 
more trustworthy historian. 

As to the title " Ethnarch," which is thrice attributed to Simon 
(1 Mace. xiv. 47 ; xv. 1, 2), Fritzsche, an impartial witness, in 
commenting on the words " the yoke of the heathen was taken 
away from Israel," makes the following remark (Handbuch zu den 
Apokryphen, 1 Mace. xiii. 41) : " The meaning is not that they 

Notes. 105 

became unconditionally independent, for the Syrian kings retained 
the supremacy, as is shown not only by the whole tone of the pre 
ceding letter, but also by the known course of the following history 
(xiv. 38 f.), especially by the title Ethnarch applied to Simon, de 
noting a subordinate Prince (Unter-iuisien) ; cf. Winer RW. Art. 

Professor Cheyne s theory of the Maccabean origin of the 110th 
and other Psalms is so confidently based upon the assertion that 
Simon lacked nothing of the dignity of a king but the name, that it 
may be worth while to quote the opinion of Ewald. Speaking of 
the " ill-defined relation in which Simon stood to the Syrian king 
dom," he remarks (History of Israel, v. p. 341): "Like every 
prince of Israel, he could not help striving for complete independ 
ence. Yet his position was simply that of a vassal, a term which 
we may here employ with perfect appropriateness. " I quote from 
the English Translation, 2nd Edition, not having the German at 

One other point in Professor Cheyne s allusion to the foregoing 
Sermon requires my notice. After gently admonishing Dr. Driver 
for "his useless attempt to soften opposition by a necessarily 
vague description of the contents of the Psalm," Professor Cheyne 
remarks that " Such a description can be made to suit any theory, 
as Dr. Gifford . . . has shown, by basing upon it the conclusion 
that the whole course of thought favours the old theory of the 
Davidic authorship of the Psalm." 

It is not for me to defend Dr. Driver s description of the con 
tents of the Psalm ; though I think it deserves to be welcomed for 
its studied fairness and freedom from prejudice : but it is evident 
that Professor Cheyne entirely mistakes the use which I have made 
of it. That it suits the Davidic authorship, I have, I trust, shown, 
but certainly not "by basing upon it the conclusion that the 
whole course of thought favours the old theory of the Davidic 
authorship of the Psalm." That conclusion is entirely indepen 
dent of Dr. Driver s description, and is based solely upon the actual 
language and contents of the Psalm compared with the known 
circumstances of David s life (pp. 97-101). 

In conclusion I have only to thank Profesor Cheyne sincerely 
for the very courteous tone in which he has referred to the Sermon 
and its author. 


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