Many questions have been asked about Phil. 2:6-11. The following question asking about ἴσα is the closest to this one, but another question is the meaning of μορφῇ

What is the significance of ἴσα in Phil. 2:6?

Whatever μορφῇ means with μορφῇ θεοῦ, one would expect it to mean with μορφὴν δούλου. Jesus was more than the appearance of a servant (Matt. 20:28; John 13:3-14; Rom. 15:8). How is Jesus in the μορφῇ of God, when God is invisible (Col. 1:15-16, 1 Tim. 1:17, Heb. 11:27)? Apparently, μορφῇ doesn't means the same thing as what we normally think of form in English.

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    You expect 2000 years of debate about this verse to be resolved here? I hope we can!
    – Dottard
    Jan 5, 2022 at 10:42
  • According to the dictionary it means "demeanor" here, not a tangible "form" or "shape". "Divine demeanor" and "slavish demeanor". Jan 7, 2022 at 6:44

2 Answers 2


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

Christ's humility (Matthew 11:29, 23:12; Luke 14:11, 18:14).

he was in the form of God

As Adam and Eve in paradise, before the fall, since man (John 19:5) was initially made in God's image (Genesis 1:26-27, 5:1; Wisdom 2:23); see also Last Adam and Adam Kadmon.

Typologically, the untilled ground from which Adam was taken (Genesis 2:4-7) parallels the untouched womb from which Christ was born (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-36); notice also the Spirit's life-giving role and presence in both passages, as well as both being called sons of God (Luke 3:38).

did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped

Unlike the primordial couple, whose hearts were poisoned by the venom of the snake, before grasping or reaching for the fruit of the tree of knowledge, in their perverted desire to become godlike (Genesis 3:1-6), in a manner befitting fallen angels (Isaiah 14:12-14).

emptied himself

Of man's ancestral pride and selfishness (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23).

by taking the form of a servant

As opposed to that of a master (Matthew 20:25-27, 23:11; Mark 10:42-44; Luke 22:25-27) or earthly king (Matthew 21:5, John 12:15), contrary to preconceived Jewish expectations of how the Messiah was supposed to be(have).

being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form

Fallen humanity, when contrasted to its initial paradisiacal state, alluded to earlier (Psalm 82:6-7, Hebrews 4:15).

he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

The crucifixion, seen as a harrowing self-sacrifice, in light of Christ's complete obedience (Matthew 6:10, 26:42; Luke 11:2, 22:42).

  • man's ancestral pride and selfishness - neither of which Jesus had. What are you suggesting?
    – Steve
    Jan 5, 2022 at 9:26
  • @steveowen: Yes. He emptied our human nature, which he borrowed from us, of its sinful inclinations.
    – Lucian
    Jan 5, 2022 at 9:41
  • lol, "borrowed"
    – Steve
    Jan 5, 2022 at 9:50
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    +1 good start. if Jessus wasn't/isn't God, doesn't that mean Jesus' wasn't/isn't human as well? So, what was he if neither?
    – Perry Webb
    Jan 5, 2022 at 10:08
  • @PerryWebb: One needn't interpret the passage in an ontological manner; one could, of course, but it is not mandatory; even then, it still quite possible for one and the same term to carry diverse connotations, within the same context. It suffices to regard it through a deontological lens.
    – Lucian
    Jan 5, 2022 at 10:25

Warfield (1988: 177) clearly expresses its semantic force: Paul does not simply say, “He was God.” He says, “He was in the form of God,” employing a turn of speech which throws emphasis upon Our Lord’s possession of the specific quality of God. “Form” is a term, which expresses the sum of those characterizing qualities which make a thing the precise thing that it is … And “the form of God” is the sum of the characteristics which make the being we call “God,” specifically God, rather than some other being—an angel, say, or a man. When Our Lord is said to be in “the form of God,” therefore, He is declared, in the most expressed manner possible, to be all that God is, to possess the whole fullness of attributes which make God God.

To deny that the Son was truly the morphē of God is to deny that the Son was truly the morphē of man, “taking the form [morphē] of a bond-servant.”

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    – Steve can help
    Dec 14, 2022 at 8:45
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    Thanks @Stevecanhelp. I needed that. I almost wanted leaving the site Dec 14, 2022 at 14:47
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    Thanks for your ongoing patience and kindness to others - do just raise a flag anywhere you experience behaviour inconsistent with the Code of Conduct. Hopefully it improves from here forward.
    – Steve can help
    Dec 14, 2022 at 15:46

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