I remember what it was like being a young Christian and reading this passage for the first time. I felt joy in my heart because these verses substantiated once again my faith in the person of Jesus Christ, the reality of His Lordship and the awful consequences of denying His Lordship. I don't pretend to know much about Christ except only to know that faith in God's Word is the key to learning more about Jesus.
We begin with the understanding of who Jesus Christ really is. In verse 6, He is presented to us as being in the form of God and equal with God. The phrase 'form of God' is significant because this tells us that whatever God is, so is Jesus Christ. The word specifically used is 'morphe' (or shape), i.e. He is, in essence, God; and not 'schema' (or fashion) which denotes only an external figure and subject to change - (Vincent). This phrase is a powerful proof text that we can use to show people that Jesus Christ, in His pre-incarnate state, is God. Jesus Christ did in fact exist with God the Father in eternity past. In John 17:5, Jesus prayed this to the Father: "...glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
The next phrase is just as insightful and important: "equal with God." The word 'equal' in the Greek is 'isos.' We use this word in chemistry - Isotopes. These are two or more chemical elements having the same chemical properties (same atomic number) but different atomic mass or weight. (I heard a preacher use this as an illustration helping me understand the thought conveyed in this phrase). Again we know that Jesus Christ is equal to the Father in His 'being' and 'essence' or 'kind' and yet distinct in His 'personality.' When the unbelieving Jews consipired to kill Jesus in John 5, The Beloved Apostle made an observation in v.18; he basically understood the significance of the claim that Jesus made in calling God His Father. This meant that Jesus was 'equal with God.' This is a truth that even the Apostle John believed and understood.
The Father is over the Son economically (in the Godhead) but not ontologically (in essence or being). The Son is in perfect submission to the Father, but we should not equate submission with subordination (as one writer puts it).
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