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Puritan Catechism Question of the Week
Q 16. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery.

Name: Mike
Location: California, United States
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Humbled Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant

Today I am going to take a break from Romans 9. The time spent studying and writing on that great chapter can be exhausting. In order to avoid tiring myself out, I am going to post a shorter entry on a reflection from my Philippians translation today.

The book begins with this salutation:
Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.

It is important to note that this is the only Epistle in which Paul calls himself a bond-servant (doulos) without also affirming his own Apostleship. Rather, than assert his authority as an Apostle, he chooses to humble himself by focusing on the lowly nature of being a servant. Of course he then does the same thing with Jesus in the next chapter. The famous passage in Phil 2 says:
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

At this point it is helpful to do a little bible background study on the Roman city of Philippi. They were a small city with many Roman solders who were very interested in their appearance. Archeology has revealed that people would build columns, fountains, and buildings and place their inscription in a noticeable location. This inscription would list all of their titles, the amount they contributed, etc. Historical investigation has revealed that Philippi did this far more than any city except the capital of the Roman empire.

So then, how does this relate to this introduction? Paul calls himself a bond-servant. Slaves were worth very little in the Roman empire. They were not even allowed to join the army and certainly could not be considered a reliable witness in court. So Paul, does not assert his title (namely as an Apostle) but humbles himself as a servant. In the midst of this He considers others more highly than himself (another verse from Romans 2) by giving the titles to the church leaders (namely overseer/bishop and deacon).

He is living out the theology that he will soon preach from the get-go. He is preaching the truth that Jesus exemplifies. Jesus stripped Himself of his preincarnate glory to be made a man. In doing so, He humbled Himself more than any person ever could. However, it is after this occurs that God highly exalts him and bestows on Him the name which is above every name.

Let us follow the example of both Paul and our savior.

In Christ alone,


Blogger Daniel said...


That's a great observation with "apostle/servant" bit. I didn't notice that before. Good thoughts.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

By the way,I was wondering. Where are you at? Are you a pastor? Just curious. You email me about it, if don't want to post it on your blog.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It is such a wonderful example of what a biblical servant-leader should be.

11:28 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Neat insight michael :) If it's not wrong to have favorite Bible verses, this is definitely one of the top verses on my list.

Praying that we'll become more like bond-servants,
♥ kate

9:34 PM  
Blogger Mike Garner said...

It is hardly my own insight, but a valuable insight nevertheless. Something we should all dwell on.


3:32 PM  

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