5

John 1:14 (YLT):

14 And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.

Philippians 2:5-8 (YLT):

5 For, let this mind be in you that [is] also in Christ Jesus,

6 who, being in the form of God, thought [it] not robbery to be equal to God,

7 but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made,

8 and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death -- death even of a cross,

I find some notable parallels between these two accounts:

  • Both appear to be talking about Jesus ("only begotten of a father", "Christ Jesus")
  • Both appear to be describing a transition from a prior state to a next state ("the Word became flesh", from "form of God"/"equal to God" to "form of a servant"/"found as a man")
  • Both mention the fact that this person lived among humans ("did tabernacle among us", "found as a man")

Are John 1:14 and Philippians 2:5-8 describing the same event?

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  • It looks like you may be seeing something that most people don't by choosing a version that translates the aorist participles correctly in Phil. Oct 16 at 7:23
  • Honestly, this seems like a theological synthesis question, not an exegetical question. I'm inclined to refund your bounty and close the question.
    – curiousdannii
    11 hours ago
  • @curiousdannii - what about the 'intertextuality' tag? 11 hours ago
  • There should always be a focus on the exegetical understand of a single passage.
    – curiousdannii
    11 hours ago
  • 1
    @curiousdannii - I had initially agreed with you and begun the process of refunding the bounty and closing the question, but on closer consideration of the question and some of its answers, I take the opinion that it really is a textual question, and some of the answers do take a good exegetical angle, although theological biases are inescapable. It's an interesting angle on both texts and feels mostly on-topic to me. OP - apologies for refunding your bounty, do feel free to reissue it.
    – Steve Taylor
    38 mins ago
4

I agree that John 1:14 and Phil 2:5-8 describe the same process - the change from Jesus being purely divine (John 1:1) through the incarnation - taking on humanity. However, Phil 2:5-8 provides a much fuller, more detailed account complete with the very famous and important "kenosis" verb about Jesus "emptying Himself".

Thus, Phil 2:5-8 tells us that Jesus did not simply put on humanity as an "outer robe" or cloak, but became thoroughly human with all its liabilities, including death!

Further, the human position Jesus accepted was a very lowly human position even by human standards (MUCH lower by heavenly standards of course) even to the point of the most ignominious death.

The "kenosis" means that while Jesus remained fully divine, the emptying meant that He voluntarily laid aside His royal divine prerogatives and powers to live as humans must live in complete dependence on the Father. Thus:

  • Jesus could have made the stones bread (Matt 4:3) but did not use His omnipotence and remained hungry
  • Jesus could have come down from the cross but remained to make the atonement complete
  • Jesus submitted to the father at all times and used only divine power from the Father

Hebrews 4:15 describes this thus:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin.

The incarnation of Jesus is often described as "becoming flesh" but other phrases are used as well. Here is a sample:

  • 1 Tim 3:16 - By common confession, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was proclaimed among the nations, was believed in throughout the world, was taken up in glory.
  • Heb 2:14 - Now since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil,
  • Heb 4:15 - For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin.
  • 1 John 4:2 - This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God
  • 2 John 7 - many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.
  • Rom 8:3 - For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, as an offering for sin. He thus condemned sin in the flesh
  • 1 John 1:1, 2 - That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have gazed upon and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life. And this is the life that was revealed; we have seen it and testified to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.

This is part of the general pattern in the NT about the eternal pre-existence of Christ:

  • Jesus existed with God in heaven and was instrumental in the creation
  • Jesus became human (was incarnated)
  • Jesus died and was resurrected and returned to heaven.

See appendix 1 below.

APPENDIX 1 - Pre-existence of Jesus.

  • John 1:1-3 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made.
  • John 1:14 - The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • John 1:15 - John testified concerning Him. He cried out, saying, “This is He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ ”
  • John 1:18 - No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.
  • John 3:13 - No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man.
  • John 3:16, 17 - For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. [NOTE - God cannot send someone who does not exist!]
  • John 3:31 - The One [= Jesus] who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as one from the earth. The One who comes from heaven is above all.
  • John 6:38 - For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.
  • John 6:61, 62 - But Jesus, aware that his disciples were complaining about this, said to them, “Is this offensive to you? What then if you see the son of man ascending to where he was before?
  • John 8:38 - I speak of what I have seen in the presence of the Father
  • John 8:58 - “Truly, truly, I tell you,” Jesus declared, “before Abraham was [born], I am!"
  • John 13:1, 3 - It was now just before the Passover Feast, and Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the very end. ... Jesus knew that the Father had delivered all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was returning to God.
  • John 16:27, 28 - for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
  • John 17:5 - And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed. See also V24.

The same idea is taught in other places as well.

  • Phil 2:5-8 - Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross.
  • Col 1:16, 17 - For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
  • Heb 1:2, 3 - But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
  • 1 Peter 1:20 - He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
  • Rev 22:13 - I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

We even find this same idea in Messianic prophecies of Jesus -

  • Micah 5:2 - But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come forth for Me One to be ruler over Israel— One whose origins are of old, from the days of eternity. Thus, Jesus always existed, created the universe, was incarnated, died and rose to return to heaven. He certainly could not have been an angel before the incarnation because Heb 1:5 precludes this -
  • For to which of the angels did God ever say: “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father”? Or again: “I will be His Father, and He will be My Son”?

APPENDIX 2 - Jesus Humanity on the Gospel of John

  • “the Word” (= Jesus in this passage”) became flesh (John 1:14)
  • Attended social functions (John 2:1-11)
  • Became angry & passionate (John 2:12-25)
  • Nicodemus saw Him as a man (John 3:1-21)
  • Tired, hungry & thirsty (John 4:1-42)
  • Jesus referred to Himself as a man (John 8:40) See also Rom 5:15, Acts 2:22, Acts 17:31, 1 Tim 2:5,
  • Jewish leaders definitely saw Jesus as a man (John 10:33)
  • Wept with human passion (John 11:1-57)
  • Prays for divine strength (John 17)
  • Feels pain and bleeds (John 18:12ff)
  • Pilate said, "Behold the Man" (John 19:5)
  • Called, “The Son of Man” (John 1:51, 3:13, 5:27, 6:27, 53, 62, 8:28, 9:35, 12:23, 34, 13:31)
  • Dies (John 19:17-42)
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  • Jesus did not take on a humanity that was subject to death. He was not of Adam. His death was voluntary - no man taketh it from me. John 10:18.(thoroughly human with all its liabilities, including death! is not the case.)
    – Nigel J
    Mar 25 at 23:32
  • 1
    @NigelJ - maybe you should post your own answer, I'm really interested to know your thoughts on these passages Mar 25 at 23:34
  • 1
    @NigelJ - I agree - please post an answer because I would greatly appreciate understand your position because it is a complete mystery to me at present.
    – Dottard
    Mar 26 at 3:29
  • 1
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator On this point, I think there should be no confusion, Genesis 3:15, John 10:18 and Romans 5:12-21. Eve was taken out of Adam before his transgression and a seed was promised from her, but not of Adam. Christ came of woman but was not tainted by the transgression. Death had no dominion over him. Paul makes clear the matters of headship in Romans. Jesus makes clear that no man taketh his life : he yielded up the spirit and, thus, was sin eradicated in his death, he being 'effected' sin poeio, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Amen.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 26 at 7:55
  • 1
    @NigelJ - many thanks for this. Unfortunately, I have no idea how this comment has anything to do with what we are discussing. Phil 2:8 - And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross. See Heb 7:26
    – Dottard
    Mar 26 at 9:37
2

They both encompass Christ's entire life from birth through sacrificial death here on Earth. However, the emphasis is different. Philippians 2 emphases Christ's humility resulting in exultation, while John's emphasis is:

but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, ESV)

Birth

being born in the likeness of men. (in Philp. 2:7, ESV)

the Word became flesh (John 1:14, ESV)

Life

by taking the form of a servant, ... And being found in human form (Philp. 2:7–8)

dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (in John 1:14, ESV)

Sacrifice

by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (in Philp. 2:8, ESV).

The fullness of His grace was achieved through his sacrifice.

 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16–17, ESV)

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Yes, they do in general terms, for both texts speak about the one who had been of the same level as and equal to God having been incarnated/become human.

That this is the same thing, is evident, for the Biblical view is not circular so as to allow such an event as incarnation of God to have been made and then abolished by God infinite times, which would allow for a conjuncture that John and Paul could speak about different instances of those infinite happenings. But since both John and Paul believe in singularity of this awesome mystery, God becoming human, then they necessarily speak about the very same event.

John adds a nuance that a) He was before creation of the world with the Father, i.e. His co-uncreatedness, i.e. co-eternity and co-infinity (John 1:1) with the Father and b) that "His ones could not comprehend Him" (John 1:5), and Paul adds a nuance that "He emptied Himself" (Phil. 2:7), but the question was not about those nuances, I guess, so let the above answer suffice.

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Philippians 2:5-6: John 1:1

form of God forms an inclusio with glory of God in the Christ-poem (vv. 6, 11).

   (2:6)   Form of God 
    
   (2:11)  Glory of God 
  • The Greek word ''morphe'' means “form, outward appearance, shape.” (BDAG, p. 659)

  • The Greek word ''doxa'' means "the condition of being bright or shining, brightness, splendor, radiance" and the idea, "honor as enhancement or recognition of status or performance, fame, recognition, renown, honor, prestige''. (Doxa, BDAG 257-258, 1 and 3).

Commentators generally agreed that the form of God in Philippians 2:6 is related to the glory of God. The the pre-existent Jesus Christ who shared glory with God in John 17:5 before he was incarnated.

He who wrote the prologue (John 1:2, 18) meant that, as the Logos had been πρὸς τὸν Θέον and εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ Πατρός, and at a special epoch "became flesh," the beamings forth of his glory on earth were those which belonged to human life, to the form of a servant, and were profoundly different from that μορφὴ Θεοῦ in which his innermost self-consciousness, the center of his Personality, originally dwelt. And now he seeks to carry this new appanage of his Sonship, this God-glorifying humanity, up into the glory of the pre-existent majesty (cf. Philippians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:8, 13). The δόξα which was visible to the disciples on earth (John 1:14) was glory limited, colored, conditioned, by human life and death; but so complete was the Lord's union with the Logos, that it did not quench his memory of the glory of his omnipresent, eternal Being, nor his remembrance of absolute coexistence with the Father before all worlds. (Pulpit Commentary).

ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων] not to be resolved, as usually, into “although, etc.,” which could only be done in accordance with the context, if the ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγεῖσθαι κ.τ.λ. could be presupposed as something proper or natural to the being in the form of God; nor does it indicate the possibility of His divesting Himself of His divine appearance (Hofmann), which was self-evident; but it simply narrates the former divinely glorious position which He afterwards gave up: when He found Himself in the form of God, by which is characterized Christ’s pre-human form of existence. Then He was forsooth, and that objectively, not merely in God’s self-consciousness—as the not yet incarnate Son (Romans 1:3-4; Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4), according to John as λόγος—with God, in the fellowship of the glory of God (comp. John 17:5). It is this divine glory, in which He found Himself as ἴσα Θεῷ ὤν and also εἰκὼν Θεοῦ—as such also the instrument and aim of the creation of the world, Colossians 1:15 f.—and into which, by means of His exaltation, He again returned; so that this divine δόξα, as the possessor of which before the incarnation He had, without a body and invisible to the eye of man (comp. Philo, de Somn. I. p. 655), the form of God, is now by means of His glorified body and His divine-human perfection visibly possessed by Him, that He may appear at the παρουσία, not again without it, but in and with it (Php 3:20 f.). (Meyer's NT Commentary).

Bible scholar Crispin-Louis Fletcher spoke of Hellenistic influences in Philippians 2:6-7:

The main reason is that in my work on the Christ hymn in Phil 2 I have been forced to acknowledge dimensions of Phil 2:6–11 which I had missed and parts that I had, in the past, misunderstood. I am relieved to report that my mind is now settled and I am now in the writing up stage of the Philippians chapter. But I have had to go through a paradigm shift in my thinking. The shift has been precipitated by two factors: lexical semantics and historical context. In short, I have come to see that some of the words do not mean what I thought they meant and I have, progressively, come to the realisation that the hymn, especially its first half, has to be interpreted in a Greco-Roman (pagan), not just a Jewish, cultural context. (The underlying ideas are thoroughly biblical, but their presentation is Greco-Roman). In the last month I have presented the results of my latest research and thinking on this passage to two university NT Seminars (one at the University of Gloucestershire and one in Cambridge), and the reception I received on both occasions has encouraged me to think I am on the right path...the second half (vv. 9–11) cites biblical prophecy (Isa 45:23), the first half lacks scriptural language. Instead it employs Greco-Roman language, especially the conventional terminology for the gods’ self-transformations; stories of gods taking on a new “form (μορφή)” to visit human communities in disguise. Besides the shared language that has been noted especially by German scholars (D. Zeller, U. B. Müller and S. Vollenweider, cf. A. Y. Collins), there are other ways in which verses 7–8 employ the distinctive terminology of divine self-transformations that have hitherto escaped commentators’ notice. Together, Phil 2:6–11 and 3:20–11 also echo distinctive themes of those stories, for example in the combination of divine self-transformation (2:6–8) and the gods’ transformation of human beings (3:21). Christ is a divine ruler who comes to earth in a way that is comparable to the poetic vision of Octavian as a self-transforming God who comes to earth as Rome’s saviour in Horace Odes 1:2 (lines 42ff). However, in other ways Christ’s divine self-transformation is like no other: he empties himself and lives a whole human life, dying on a cross (see vv. 7a, 8a–c), things that the pagan gods never do (A Whole New Approach to the Christ Hymn in Phil 2, Crispin Fletcher-Louis, 2017)

I wrote an article about this scholarly source about the Hellenistic and Jewish nature of Philippians 2:9-11.

The Christ-poem, even if originally composed in Aramaic, still heavily used Hellenistic ideas specifically in the use of Hellenistic phraseology (the form of a god/ equal to god'') as well as in the use of hellenistic theology of a god's ''metamorphosis'' into a man (being in the form of a god...becoming in the likeness of men). The latter part of the passage (Philippians 2:9-10) alluded Hebrew scriptures in Greek (LXX) at least two from psalms (97:9, 132:8) and one from Isaiah (45:23) through Romans 14:11. This shows that the Christ-poem was composed with a Semitic influence. Philippians 2:9-11 is a poem which is of Semitic origins as well as of Greek origins. The parallelism of Philippians 2:6-11 was a Semitic influence whilst the terms morphe theou and iso theo as well as its concept of a god's metamorphosis into a man (huparchon en morphe theou....genomenon en homoimati anthropoi) were of Hellenistic influence. (Primitive Hellenistic-Palestinian Community'' of Christians in Jerusalem as the Origin of the Christ-Poem in Philippians 2, Origines de la Christologie Radz C. Brown 2021).

Philippians 2:7-8: John 1:14

Philippians 2:7 and John 1:14 both used the same verb γίνομαι.

Philippians 2:7  γίνομαι (became)
John 1:14        γίνομαι (became)

Based on Greek Lexicons, all of the definitions of γινομαι have a unifying sense of "coming from X to Y" that can be categorised into two types:

  • (1) coming into existence" ( in this sense the thing/person/event has come from non-existence to existence) e.g. to happen, to occur, to beget

  • (2) coming to a new state/kind of existence" (in this sense the
    thing/person/ event has a prior existence) e.g. to become, to transform, to be born

Philippians 2:7 I am taking excerpts from my article ''The Meaning of ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος in Philippians 2:7'' (2020). I hope it helps:

In Philippians 2:7, the context (v. 6) tells us that Jesus already existed ''in the form of God'' (ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ). Thus, the Greek word γενόμενος (an aorist participle in v. 7) should refer to Jesus ''coming to a new state of existence'' (i.e. to become). γενόμενος as an aorist participle: ''had become''.

Paul used the phrase ''in the likeness'' (ἐν ὁμοιώματι) twice in Romans (1:23, 8:3). The meaning of the phrase points to similarity only, not equality or being identical:

  1. Romans 1:23: ἐν ὁμοιώματι εἰκόνος φθαρτοῦ ἀνθρώπου (Literally, ''in the likeness of the image of mortal man''). The ''image of man'' (φθαρτοῦ ἀνθρώπου) refers to the visible appearance of a man himself (i.e. bodily, in the flesh). The ''likeness of the image of man'' refers to the ''image that is like a man'' (i.e. not referring to the man's body itself, but to its likeness, engraved in a wood or stone).
  2. Romans 8:3: ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας (Literally, ''in the likeness of flesh of sin''). The ''flesh of sin'' (σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας) refers to the ''flesh'' (σαρκί) where ''nothing good lives'' (οὐκ οἰκεῖ...ἀγαθόν), the flesh that makes one ''cannot do what is good'' (τὸ καλὸν οὔ) even if ''one wanted'' (θέλειν παράκειταί μοι,) to: ''I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it.'' (Romans 7:18 NET). Jesus Christ (God's ''own Son'' Grk. ἰδίου υἱοῦ, Romans 8:32) was not sent ''in the flesh of sin'', but rather, he was only sent ''in the likeness'' (ἐν ὁμοιώματι) of it. Jesus was sent like one who had a flesh of sin (one who had nothing good dwelling in his flesh and one who cannot do good even if he wanted to). Jesus resemble the flesh of those people who had a flesh of sin but it actually was different in the sense that it no qualities that a flesh of sin had. This means that Jesus had good dwelling in his flesh and he could do good as he willed. In terms of mortality, Jesus did have the same mortal body as others (Romans 5:6: "Christ died" Grk. Χριστὸς... ἀπέθανεν).

Paul did not say ''became a man''. Paul did not say ''became in the likeness of a man''. Paul said ''became in the likeness of men'' (ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος). That is, became like the humans (ἀνθρώπων is plural, referring to humans in general).

How did Jesus become like the humans? Jesus became like the humans by being born as a mortal. These humans experience both birth and death.

  • Jesus became like the humans by being born of a woman (Galatians 4:4). Paul used γενόμενον in Galatians 4:4 to refer to the 'birth' of Jesus: having come from a woman, which implies Jesus' birth. Paul used a similar idea in ὁ ἀνὴρ διὰ τῆς γυναικός (man came from the woman) (1 Corinthians 11:12)

  • Jesus also become like the humans by experiencing death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).

John 1:14

John was using ἐγένετο in its denotation "to come into existence" or "was made" (1:3, 1:10 NASB/NKJV). The Word "came into human existence (sarxi egeneto) and dwelt among us 1:14ab). It refers to the new existence of the Word (who was already God (theos) in 1:1c) as human (sarx). The same sense which is in the majority of English translations (the Word became flesh - NRSV, NASB, ESV). Also in other Ancient Versions, like that of the Old Latin (Vetus Latina) of the 2nd century A.D. and Vulgate (et Verbum caro factum 1:14a). In Syriac: (ܘܡܠܬܐ ܒܤܪܐ ܗܘܐ ܘܐܓܢ) (the Miltha (the Word) ܒܤܪܐ [became] flesh. 1:14a).

"From that time on, Wisdom appeared on earth and lived among us." Baruch 3:37 (GNT with Apocrypha, 1996)

Philippians was written in A.D. 61 whilst the Gospel of John was written in A.D. 90. Paul died circa A.D. 68. This shows that John was aware of the primitive christology circulating in the days of Paul.

It was mostly likely that John had read of the Pauline epistles. In John 20:28, Jesus is Lord ( =Yhwh) and God. John alludes to both Romans 9:5 (Jesus is God) and Romans 10:13 (Jesus is Lord [ =Yhwh]). Two chapters (9 and 10) in the middle of Romans showed that the divinity of Jesus was higlighted in this epistle. John 1:1 also highlights that Jesus is God in the chiastic structure of this verse.

A In the beginning was the Word, 

B and the Word was with God, 

C and the Word was God; 

B He was with God

A in the beginning 

This chiastic structure highlights that Jesus is θεος (God) in the very beginning of John's gospel. This showed that he deemed the Logos as a heavenly being/divine being, and not human being.

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Conclusion

John 1:14 and Philippians 2:5-8 describing the same event. Both John 1:14 and Philippians 2:7 used the Greek word γίνομαι to refer to the pre-existent Jesus Christ ''becoming'' a mortal ( flesh = in the likeness of men) so as to experience ''death on a cross'' (θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ) (v. 8).


notes

  1. An inclusio occurs when an author places the same idea, word, phrase, or character both at the beginning and end of a unit of thought (source).

  2. The word ''lord'' was used to Abraham, a land-lord, an angel and many other persons in the Bible. But specifically, the Greek New Testament used the word Kyrios (lord) as the substitute for the Tetragrammaton (Yhwh). We will not find a single extant Greek New Testament manuscript with the Tetragrammaton because when the N.T. quoted the name of God from the O.T., they used Kyrios (lord). The Kyrios in Acts 2:21, 2:36 refers to Jesus Christ.

1
  • Really appreciate the first rate quality and depth of research in this answer - thanks for contributing.
    – Steve Taylor
    30 mins ago
0

You are right that there are similarities between the two passages in that both reference the time in history when the Word who became flesh dwelt among us on earth. But the focus of each text is very different. John focuses on the glory Jesus had as a man. Paul focuses on the shame and death Jesus experienced as the Son of God.

This is pretty intuitive since a man with the characteristics of a God is truly something glorious and awe-inspiring to behold. John doesn’t specify what aspects of that glory he was alluding to, but we can find examples throughout the gospels. One obvious candidate would be the transfiguration recorded in the synoptic gospels.

Luke 9 28About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.29As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.30Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.31They spoke about his departure,awhich he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem…. 34While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.35A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

They beheld his glory in the change of his appearance and his status as the Son of God was confirmed by the testimony of the Father himself. The transfiguration was a precursor to the resurrection glory and ascension.

Paul focuses on a completely different aspect of Jesus’ ministry – his death. Many may disagree with me but I believe “kenosis” refers to Christ emptying himself of life, not of divinity. The Messianic Psalm 22 uses an emptying metaphor in foretelling Christ's death.

14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me.

Next, consider the grammar of Phil. 2:7-8. Most translations have it wrong, so you have to find one that is more literal.

7but emptied Himself, having taken the form of a servant, having been made in the likeness of men,8and having been found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient to death—even death of a cross, Literal Standard Version

The main verb “emptied” is followed by three aorist participles indicating actions completed before “ekenosen”. In other words, he did not empty himself until after he had taken the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men, with the appearance of a man. Then the pattern repeats with this intended meaning. He humbled himself unto death, even a shameful death on a cross, because he was submissive and obedient to the Father.

So no, John and Paul are referring to two very different aspects of Jesus, the God/man. John (1:14) exulted in the glory of the Son of God who lived the life of the perfect man and then returned to the Father. Paul (Phil 2) marveled at the Son of God who stooped down to become like a man and even emptied himself unto a humiliating death on a cross to demonstrate the love of God for a lost world.

But allow me to conclude with the next two glorious verses in which the focus of the two apostles would be exactly the same.

9For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Amen!

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