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Sunday, March 7, 2010

What does it mean when Phil. 2:6 says that Jesus was in God's form?

Many trinitarian Bible scholars attempt to force an interpretation of "form" [morphe] that includes the idea of "essence" or "nature." However, even many trinitarian Bible scholars admit:

"Morphe is instanced from Homer onwards and means form in the sense of outward appearance." - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Zondervan, p. 705, vol. 1.

Thayer agrees that morphe is

"the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision; the external appearance" - Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 418, Baker Book House. [Also see Young's Analytical Concordance (also compare the closely-related morphosis) and Liddell and Scott's An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, p. 519, Oxford University Press, 1994 printing.]

If Paul had intended `nature,' `very essence,' etc., he certainly would not have used a word which means only external appearance (morphe). He would have used one of the words which really mean absolute nature.

And EVEN IF we allowed the modern, forced “nature” meaning for morphe, we still wouldn’t necessarily have to understand Jesus as being equally God with the Father. As the trinitarian Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, 1982, Bethany House Publ., tells us:

“the name [‘angel’] does not denote their nature [just as the title ‘God’ or ‘god’ does not necessarily denote one’s nature], but their office as messengers” - p. 38. “As to their nature, they are spirits.” - p. 39.

Or, as the equally trinitarian New Bible Dictionary (2nd ed.), Tyndale House, 1982, tells us, angels are “uncorrupted spirit in original essence.” - p. 36.

Today’s Dictionary of the Bible also tells us that this nature (“spirit”) of angels is “the divine nature” - p. 593. And the New Bible Dictionary admits: “in his nature God is pure spirit.” - p. 427.

Therefore, God, Jesus, and the angels all have the “essence” or “nature” of spirit. This obviously does not make them all equally God! Man, mouse, and canary are certainly not all equally man simply because they all have the same “essence” or “nature” of flesh.

For more about Phil. 2:6, see:
PHIL 2:6

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