Philippians 2

Sacrificial Service

Countercultural Humility

He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7).

The act of Christ, divine ruler of the universe, humbling Himself to take on the lowly form of a servant stands in stark contrast to the usual thinking of rulers in Paul’s day. Roman emperors hubristically claimed divinity for themselves when they seized power. This statue of Emperor Claudius (AD 41–54) portrays him as the Roman god Jupiter, the king of the gods in Roman mythology.

The Crucifixion

He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).

This outcropping of bedrock was identified in the 4th century as the place where Jesus’s crucifixion took place. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built around it, although much of the original outcropping was apparently destroyed in the process. The Greek inscription on the wall at the back is from Luke 23:33.

"Divine" Caesar

Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11).

The confession that Jesus is Lord held particular significance for those living under Roman rule. The confession of Jesus as Lord was in direct opposition to the pronouncements that Caesar was the divine Lord. This Latin inscription describes Trajan as “divine,” illustrating the potential conflict between acknowledging Jesus as Lord and acknowledging the titles claimed by the earthly rulers for themselves.

Warning Against Grumbling

Do all things without grumbling or complaining (Philippians 2:14).

The idea of “grumbling and complaining” is strongly associated with the unbelieving wilderness generation (cf. 1 Cor 10:8-11; Heb 3:7–4:13). The Septuagint version of the Old Testament uses that same root word in this verse to describe the Israelites in several places. It is possible that the area shown above is near the wilderness of Sin where the Israelites were when they grumbled against Moses in Exodus 16:2.


Even if I am poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice (Philippians 2:17).

Libations (drink offerings) were very common throughout the history of the ancient Near East. The relief pictured here shows a worshiper (on the right) pouring out a drink offering in a Luwian ritual. The name of the worshiper is given in the Luwian hieroglyphs behind him as PUGNUS-mili. This relief was photographed at the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Turkey.

Trial Under Nero

I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly (Philippians 2:24).

Nero was the emperor of Rome from AD 54 to 68, so he would have been the one to whom Paul appealed for trial as a Roman citizen (Acts 25:11). Many historians believe that Paul was eventually released from prison by Nero, which would have allowed him to visit the Philippians again. This bust of Nero was photographed at the Capitoline Museums in Rome.

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