It says "Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves."

This simple passage is actually complex from my perspective. Who are the "others" it refers to? Other Christians, or all people? What about people who behave as enemies to sound morals or the Christian faith specifically? Pardon my needless over-dramatic point, but would I treat Nazi SS leadership as "better than myself?"

Ultimately, regardless of who the "others" are and their moral standard, I feel as if this passage contradicts many other passages that teach "love others as yourself." Those passages don't say "love others more than yourself" and for good reason...you can only love other people as much as you love yourself.

If Phil 2:3 had simply said "treat others as valuable/worthy as yourself," then I would have no questions at all...it would be a powerful statement (particularly if the "others" it refers to are "all people"). I would then simply take it to mean that I should be humble. But again, the passage does not speak of equality with others...it speaks of superiority of others.

I'm curious if someone can pick this apart for me. Perhaps the Greek contains subtleties not reflected in English?

  • The context is clearly within the church. 'Be of one mind, of one accord, let nothing be done through strife' is undoubtedly speaking of fellow Christians, brothers and sisters. There is no question of esteeming Nazis better than oneself. – Nigel J Oct 31 '19 at 19:17
  • @NigelJ the answer I accepted, based on verse 3:5, I think did a good job of showing it does apply to all people - even Nazis. Jesus came to save everyone, even Nazis. – Brent Arias Nov 4 '19 at 5:29

The actual Greek word in the verse is not "better" but rather "ESTEEM." Which means to put others first. In other words the Apostle Paul is making the point to consider, deem, regard, and respect others as superior to yourself. Strong's #2233.

If you continue to read the context after vs3 you will discover that Paul uses Jesus Christ as the perfect example of putting other first when he says at vs5, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus."

Vs6, although He always existed as God He humbled Himself and took the form of a bond-servant/man and died on the cross for all of mankind. The issue is that the Philippian believers were being selfish, conceited putting their own interest first and only thinking of themselves, (vs3,4).

Since this is the case the Apostle Paul at Philippians 2:12-13 says to "work out the solution/deliverance of your problems because it is God who is at work in your, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." It "DOES NOT MEAN WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION" in order to be saved because they are already believers.

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  • vs5, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." I think that statement is the best answer I could hope for. – Brent Arias Nov 4 '19 at 5:28

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