1 If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy,  2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.  3 Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, 4 each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others.

5 Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, 6 Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. 7 Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, 8 he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. 9 Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. 14 Do everything without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, 16 as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. 18 In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

19 I hope, in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be heartened by hearing news of you. 20 For I have no one comparable to him for genuine interest in whatever concerns you. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know his worth, how as a child with a father he served along with me in the cause of the gospel. 23 He it is, then, whom I hope to send as soon as I see how things go with me, 24 but I am confident in the Lord that I myself will also come soon.

25 With regard to Epaphroditus, my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister in my need, I consider it necessary to send him to you. 26 For he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 He was indeed ill, close to death; but God had mercy on him, not just on him but also on me, so that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow.  28 I send him therefore with the greater eagerness, so that, on seeing him, you may rejoice again, and I may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy and hold such people in esteem, 30 because for the sake of the work of Christ he came close to death, risking his life to make up for those services to me that you could not perform.



  • Paul ended chapter 1 exhorting the Philippians to live worthily of Christ. This means being willing to embrace not only faith, but also suffering.
  • In chapter 2 he calls them to “empty” themselves, to put others first (vv.1-4).
  • Three examples of selfless love are offered:
    • Christ (v.6ff)
      • The essence of Christ’s life was not striving for his rights, but putting others first, even to the point of dying for them.
      • The cross is the way to glory. The “values” of the world are inverted.
    • Timothy (v.19ff)
      • Timothy, more than most, takes a genuine interest in others.
      • Because of their previous relationship (during the Second Missionary Journey), the Philippians know this is true.
    • Epaphroditus (v.25ff).
      • This man truly cared about others and their feelings. When he realized the anguish caused to the Philippians by hearing of his serious illness, he himself was grieved.
      • Willingness to take risks is mark of true love, much more than merely extending normal courtesies, or even being kind towards others.
  • As we imitate these godly examples, we are working out our salvation with fear and trembling (v.12).
    • Not that we are doing it in the flesh; we are relying on God (v.13).
    • We do so without insisting on our own rights (“arguing and complaining,” NIV), as did our Lord.
    • What a contrast Christian behavior is to that of the world (v.15)!
    • This is the lifestyle Paul has embraced (v.17), and in following the same course the fellowship between the Philippians and him will only be strengthened.


  • Tapeinophrosune (humility) is not found in any Greek writing before the N.T. The adjectival form, tapeinos, does appear many times, especially in relation to the mentality of a slave.
  • The beautiful verses 6-11 are sometimes called Carmen Christi, Latin for “The hymn of Christ.”
  • Theologians call the emptying of Christ (relinquishing his claims and divine power) kenosis. This is the Greek word for “emptying.”
  • Ultimately every knee will bow, willingly or otherwise (vv.10-11).
    • Isaiah 45:23, a prophetic passage referring to God, has been adapted and applied to Christ. This shows Jesus’ divinity.
    • The original passage refers to God’s enemies. Paul is thinking of the Day of Christ, when all will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. Of course he is not saying that all who do so will be saved.
    • The passage applies to
      • Those in heaven: the spiritual powers (not humans).
      • Those on earth: the last generation of humans (whenever that may be).
      • Those under the earth: those who have died and are waiting in Sheol (the OT term) or Hades (the NT term).
  • A libation (v.17) is a drink offering. This is a term from both Judaism (Exodus 29, Leviticus 23, Numbers 29, etc) and paganism. Paul is pouring out his life, just as Jesus Christ emptied himself.
  • Ephaphroditus is mentioned only in Philippians (2:25; 4:18).
    • He is not the same person as Ephaphras (Colossians 1:7; 4:12; Philemon 23).
    • He is one of many of Paul's close associates in the ministry.
    • Epaphroditus was evidently the bearer of Philippians to its original audience. Thus he would have, in effect, brought them two messages: the letter and his personal report.

Thought questions:

  • Do I ever complain about things, or selfishly insist on my rights? How does my behavior compare to Jesus'?
  • Does anyone I know remind me of Epaphroditus or Timothy?
  • Which am I more drawn to: the dramatic side of the Cross (like being willing to die for my faith), or the everyday, nitty-gritty, relational side (putting others' interests before my own)?