Son of God or Adamic Christology – Phil 2:6-11

I thought I need to write out something to explain the problems with the Kenosis theory.

I suppose you are aware that theologians often speak about the Kenosis (Gk for “emptying”) of the preincarnate Christ in the Philippian passage.

Phil 2:
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

However, if you search, you find many opinions in regards to what Christ emptied himself from. Was it his deity, will or something else? There is a lot of debate going on between the theologians of various Christian denominations, just google for “kenosis” to see it for yourselves.

In my opinion far too much energy is invested in something that is not even what it appears to be. If we suppose that one of the Kenosis theories is correct, the passage makes absolutely no sense in the context. Let’s just read Phil, 2:5 again:

Phil 2:
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus

If the passage is about the pre-incarnate Christ, who, being in the form of God, refused to grasp equality with God, but rather emptied himself of his own deity / divine attributes / will / etc, then I CANNOT possibly have the same attitude or mind, because I can NEVER be in the same position / situation, so the passage has absolutely no relevance to me. To have any relevance I need to exist in the form of God and be in the position to not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.

How else can I have the exact same attitude (mind) as Christ had if I am poor, I have nothing to empty myself from, and can only give up very few things that I own. I can only empty myself of my will, but that is not what the Kenosis theology is about.

Perhaps we should also read the verses that follow the above passage:

Phil. 2:
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

“So then” means BECAUSE of what Paul has just said. It reveals that the idea is about obedience. If the second person of the trinity voluntarily becomes a human being, it is not obedience. If he becomes a human being because the Father commands him to do so, we have another problem. I can understand that the man Jesus obeyed the Father, but what sort of obedience can there be between the members of the trinity? Obedience means there is a superior. By theory all members of the trinity are equal, so there cannot be a superior among them. If one of them has the authority to send the others, then there is no equality. The sender is always greater than the sent one, and has authority over him.

I hope you see the problem with this theory. Now I suggest that the Adamic Christology (which you can also find in theology books) better explain what Paul has in mind.

The Adamic Christology draws a parallel between the first man and the second man. You often find the idea in Paul’s letters.

The first man was made the King of the world, he was commanded to rule over all creation. This would have been the Kingdom of God had he not failed. Though he himself was in the form / image of God, when challenged to become LIKE God, he jumped on the idea. He considered equality with God a thing to be grasped. This equality was not about essence or power, but about knowing good and evil. Knowing good and and refusing evil means obedience. You don’t “know”, that is, intimately experience evil. The first man up to that point only knew good, but by grasping the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the fruit of disobedience, he violated his relationship with God, his LORD. When you disobey the LORD you refuse to acknowledge His Lordship.

Sure, God knew evil also, but not by committing evil. In Genesis 1 we read that everything God made was good. And once all creation was complete, God declared that everything was very good. Then in Genesis 2 God sees that it was not good, that is, it was bad for the man to be alone. But the first man experienced evil another way, by forfeiting his relationship with God and in pride elevating himself to His position.

The obedient is subject to his LORD. When you disobey God, you are refusing to acknowledge His Lordship, making yourself an equal in that respect (“who is the LORD that I should obey His voice” – said the Pharaoh). You obey the voice of your lord, but you don’t obey your equal.

The second man was also tested in the same way as the first man was. Remember, he was not only born King of the Jews, but also had the mission to bring about the Kingdom of God, to become the King of the world. He had the right to the throne. Then God delivered him up to be tested (the Spirit drove him out to the wilderness – Mark 1:12), where he was offered all the kingdoms of the world – as long as he obeyed the tempter. Yet, he refused to grasp the offer. He humbled himself from this very position of being the King, and became an obedient servant of God his Father, right to the point of death.

As a reward God highly exalted (elevated) him. If he was the second person of the trinity, at this stage he could only regain his former position, he could be restored, but not exalted. When you are exalted, you receive a position you didn’t have before.

Now, this interpretation has something to offer us. An example of great humility and obedience for the great reward that lies ahead, that we all should follow and “walk as he also walked”.

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