Grace Bible Church
(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font)
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
May 2, 2004
Our Exalted Lord
Last week we examined the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ that serves as the example for our own attitude. The point of this whole passage is that humility is the practical means by which Christians are able to conduct themselves worthy of the gospel and stand firm in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (1:27). Humility is the key to unity in the church. It is humility that allows us to actually consider others as more important than ourselves and look out for the interest of others instead of just our own (2:3,4).
The problem is that this is against natural human pride that drives us the opposite direction. People generally consider themselves to be more important than others, and they look out for the interest of others only after their own interests have been satisfied. The Christian is to live a radically different kind of life because of God’s working in us. The Christian can be humble and walk in unity because we do have encouragement in Christ; we do have consolation of love, we do have fellowship of the Spirit and we do have affection and compassion, therefore we can be of the same mind, maintain the same love, be united in spirit and intent on one purpose (2:1,2). It is Jesus’ humility that gives us the example of humility necessary for true Biblical unity in the church.
Jesus’ humility is demonstrated by what He had to set aside to accomplish the work for which God the Father sent Him. Jesus is God and shared with the Father the fullness of the glory that belongs to the eternal Godhead along with all the other attributes of deity. Jesus’ willingly set certain aspects of deity aside in order to become a man. He had to limit the radiance of His glory. He had to limit His omnipresence in order to dwell within a physical human body. He set aside His omniscience in order that He might grow in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man as can any other human.
But as pointed out last week, Jesus not only left the glories of heaven to do this, but He was also made in the likeness of man, and He also took the form of a bond-servant. He took on a lowly position among mankind instead of one of glory. But He went beyond this too.
Phil. 2:8 states that Jesus was also humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. A person can die in a noble manner and gain fame and prestige in their final action, but Jesus had to die in a manner in which there is nothing noble. He died as a common criminal would die in a manner that reflected God’s curse upon Him as He bore all the sins of mankind. That is the ultimate example of humility.
If Jesus could humble Himself in such a manner, who are we to continue to think of ourselves as something important? If Jesus could leave Heaven to become a servant instead of one who is served, who then are we to expect others to serve us instead of us serving them? If Jesus could be obedient even to death on the cross to pay for our sins, who are we to say it is too difficult to be patient with, forgive and help bear the burdens of others (Gal. 6:1-5)?
Jesus left the glories of heaven and became the suffering servant described in Isaiah 53. Many people tend to view Jesus to still be that meek and mild servant who would not break a reed or crush as smoldering wick (Mt. 12:20), but there is another side of Jesus and we meet Him this morning in Philippians 2:9-11 as our exalted Lord.
Reasons for His Exaltation
– vs. 9
“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The word “therefore” at the beginning of verse 9 gives us the reason that Jesus is exalted by pointing us back to the previous verses that describe the depth of Jesus’ humility and obedience. God will only exalt those who have those qualities. Humility is necessary because God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble and will exalt them at the proper time (1 Peter 5:5,6). Obedience is necessary because God will correct and chastise those that belong to Him that are disobedient (Heb. 13) while those that are not God’s adopted children will experience His wrath and judgement upon them for their disobedience (2 Thess. 1; Rev. 20, etc.).
Hebrews 12 lets us know that Jesus understood this prior to the cross because it was “for the joy set before Him” that He “endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus was willing to endure the suffering and shame of the cross because He knew that on the other side of it was His return to the glory He had with the Father prior to His incarnation. This was part of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 to the Father “glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (17:5)
– vs. 9
Because Jesus was humble and obedient even to death on the cross, God highly exalted Him. The word for “highly exalted” here is uperuyow / huperupsoô. It is a compound word that combines “above” with “to raise up” and hence, “highly exalted.” It can be used literally such as in John 3:14 for the serpent of brass being raised on a staff or of Jesus when He was crucified. When used figuratively, as it is here, it means to “exalt,” “make great,” “to raise to dignity and honor.” The usage here is in direct contrast to the lowliness Jesus subjected Himself to when He became and man and died for our sins on the cross. There are therefore several aspects to Jesus being exalted which culminated in His final position as Lord.
First Exaltation: The lowest point of Jesus life was His death and burial. That was the greatest demonstration of His humility, for it was the greatest contrast to the glory He had prior to the incarnation. The first aspect of God’s exaltation of Jesus was raising Him from the dead. This exaltation was both literal and figurative,
Physically, Jesus was raised to new life. This is a central truth of Christianity, for to paraphrase what Paul said 1 Cor. 15:17-20, if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our faith is worthless, we are still our sins, those who have already died in Christ have perished, and having such a vain hope in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But Jesus Christ is risen, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
In the figurative sense, one who is physically alive is far above those who are physically dead. As Ecclesiastes 9:4 so succinctly puts it, “surely a live dog is better than a dead lion.” The dead no longer share in “all that is done under the sun” (Eccl. 9:5). The living continue to impact other people by their words and actions while all that is left of the dead among the living is their memory. The first aspect then of God’s exaltation of Jesus was to lift Him up from the lowly place of the dead and restore Him back to the living.
Second Exaltation: The second aspect of God’s exaltation of Jesus was bringing Him back to heaven. Paul points out that another aspect of Jesus’ attitude of humility is seen in His willingly leaving the glories of heaven in order to become a man and dwell among men. Since our only reference is earth, we cannot understand the real contrast there is between heaven and earth. We only know that heaven is far superior in every dimension. We know it is a place of beauty and majesty, but we cannot begin to imagine it except from the few very brief descriptions of it in the Scriptures. It foundations are of precious stones. Its streets are pure gold, like transparent glass. There is the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, and on either side of the river is the tree of life bearing 12 different fruits in their season. To top it off, it is illuminated by the glory of the Lord, which brings up the point that more than any beauty found there is the fact that it is the dwelling place of God. It is a place of security, comfort and love. God will dry our tears there and no one who is evil is allowed (Rev. 21, 22). The second aspect of Jesus’ exaltation occurred when He ascended back to heaven from where He had come (John 3:13; 20:17; Acts 1:9,10).
Third Exaltation: The third aspect of Jesus’ exaltation is His restoration to the right hand of God the Father (1 Peter 3:22) after ascending to Heaven. In this, Jesus’ prayer of John 17 was answered as He was restored to the glory that He had previously with the Father. Acts 7:54-60 records that Stephen’s vision of seeing the “Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” was more than his enemies could handle so they stoned him to death. Jesus’ return to the right hand of the Father is the fulfillment of Psalm 110:1 “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.”
Jesus also gained a new position upon His return to heaven and the Father’s right hand. He became the high priest for mankind. Paul states in Romans 8:34 that Jesus “is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that Jesus is our great high priest who can sympathize with our weakness because He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. Through Him we can draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 7:24,25 and 10:12,13 add that Jesus is different from all earthly priests because “He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently, hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” and that after He offered Himself as “one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.”
Final Exaltation: The final aspect of Jesus’ exaltation will occur when all His enemies are made a footstool for His feet (Ps. 110:1; Mt. 22:44; Heb. 1:13). Paul expands on that time here in Philippians 2:9-11 describing the exaltation of His name and stating that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.
This aspect of His exaltation begins with God bestowing on Him the name which is above every name (vs. 9). The idea of “bestowing” here (carizomai / charizomai) is to give graciously or freely. God the Father does not hold back from God the Son. The name given to Him is one that is above all names. There are many, many names given to Jesus including “Christ,” “Son of Man,” “Son of God,” “Immanuel,” the “Lamb of God,” “Alpha & Omega,” “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace,” the “Word of God,” “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” to name a few. The most unusual name given to Jesus is mentioned in Revelation 19:12 which says He has “a name written [upon Him] which no one knows except Himself.”
There is a lot of speculation on which name is the one that is “above every other.” It is highly doubtful that the name “Jesus” is in view since it a name that other people have had. The context here indicates that “Lord” is the name above other names. By definition the title “Lord” is given to one who is over everyone else. Jesus is “Lord of lords” so this is the supreme title given to the supreme being. However, in my own view, this goes beyond just the title “Lord,” and is actually a reference to the covenant name of God Himself.
Recall from Exodus 3 that Moses wanted to know God’s name so that he might tell the sons of Israel who was sending him. God answered that His name was “I am” – YHWH – Yahweh. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament this name was used as God’s supreme name. In fact, in keeping with the third commandment in Exodus 20:7 to “not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” the Jews would not say this name for fear of even accidently taking it in vain. Instead of saying the name, which would be something close to Yahweh (using a German pronunciation – Jehovah), they would say Adoni, which means “lord.” Better Bibles will actually indicate this in the text by using small capitals. For example, if you turn to in Exodus 20:7 and you have one of these Bibles you will notice that the word Lord is in small caps indicating that the actual word here is Yahweh. If the word “lord” is in lowercase letters, such as in Genesis 47:25 where it refers to Joseph, it is the word “Adoni.” There is not a Greek equivalent of Yahweh, so the Jewish method is used throughout the NT in which references to God, such as Romans 10:9, Revelation 1:8, are made by using the Greek word kurios, translated as Lord. It is my belief that is the usage of “Lord” in verse 11. The name above every name is the name God uses of Himself. That same name also belongs to Jesus, because He is also the Lord God, the Almighty
Response to His Exaltation
– vs. 10, 11
Paul explains the reason and the future response to Jesus after He is exalted in verses 10 & 11. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The reason that God the Father bestows upon Jesus the name above every name is for the purpose of having all of creation exalt Him. When the exalted name belonging to Jesus is put forth then there will be a response by all of creation.
First Action of Response: Bowing Knee (vs. 10)
The first action of response to our exalted is Lord is the bowing of the knee. This is a physical act by an inferior by which they acknowledge and submit to a superior. This is not something done much in America where we stress the equality of man, but it was common practice in the ancient world. When Joseph was made second in command of Egypt, Pharaoh put him in his second chariot and all the people were commanded to “bow the knee!” as Joseph traveled along. The practice of bowing the knee is still common in many places around the world today. I am sure all of you have either read about or seen in a film the actions of a vassal to a king. By bowing the knee the inferior physically places themselves lower than their superior. By bowing the knee the inferior places themselves in a position of vulnerability to any action by the superior.
This passage is not stating anything new for Isaiah predicted it more than 2700 years ago. In Isaiah 45:22, 23 God says, “Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear [allegiance.]” The bowing of the knee before Jesus Christ will not be optional. It will be done by all of creation as the end of the verse indicates.
The Responders – (vs. 10)
There are three groups of responders to the exalted Jesus. Those in heaven. Those on earth. And those under the earth. Who is in each of these groups?
The first group, those in heaven, are comprised completely by those that will willingly bow the knee and confess Jesus as Lord. This group includes the holy angels of every type including seraphim and cherubim. It includes redeemed believers of all ages. Remember that for the Christian to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8), and since the Lord is in heaven, that is where we will be also. This would include Old Testament saints who were waiting in Sheol and taken to heaven at the atonement of Christ (cf. Matt. 27:52,53).
The second group, those on the earth, are comprised of a mixture of those who are saved and will willingly bow the knee and confess Jesus as Lord, and the unsaved who will be forced to do so. Those on the earth include all people currently alive and those fallen angels, demons, that are active here.
The third group, those under the earth, are comprised completely by those that will be forced to bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord. This group includes all the unsaved that have died and now wait in Hades for final judgement as well as those fallen angels that were confined to prison (1 Pet. 3:19).
The sum of these three groups cover all created beings, both those that are followers of God and those who are His enemies. That is an extremely important point to make. Submission to God is not optional. It can be done willingly, or it will be forced, but if it has to be forced, it is too late to receive God’s mercy and grace. All that will be left will be judgement and condemnation which is the reason the submission will be forced.
Second Action of Response: Confessing His Lordship – (vs. 11)
In verse 11 Paul brings out the second action of response to the Jesus Christ when God exalts Him. Every created being will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Confession is from a word (exomologew / exomologeô) that means “to agree with” or “profess the same thing.” To confess is to agree with God. It is to profess what He has already said. This is an open, public confession just as Jesus said Matthew 10:32,33. Those who confess Jesus before men will have Jesus confess them before His Father in heaven, but He will deny those that deny Him.
Confession is an important part of Christianity. It covers both doctrinal belief and daily practice. My doctrinal beliefs and my confession of faith are the same thing. They are my statements of agreeing with what God has revealed about Himself, His world and how I am to live. When I confess my sins, I agree with God that what I have done is against His will. We both acknowledge that He is right and I am wrong.
The confession that is made here is to agree that the statement that Jesus is Lord is true. It is not a matter of what I would like or not like. It is simply a matter of reality. This is who Jesus Christ is. The two critical factors in this confession are what is meant by the word “lord” and when this confession occurs.
As I stated earlier, the term “Lord,” in its context here is referring to supreme deity. Jesus is God almighty, and in my own view, the term “Lord” here may well be referring to the very name that is above every name which is the one God called Himself when talking with Moses in Exodus 3. Jesus Christ is the great “I am,” which He called Himself in John 8:58 and which resulted in an attempt by the Jews to stone Him for blasphemy. In John 18 the cohort, officers from the chief priest and the pharisees stated that they were looking for Jesus the Nazarene and Jesus responded, “I am,” they all fell down. That was a small demonstration of His deity and the fact that they could not arrest Him unless He was willing.
In Romans 10:9,10 Paul states that “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” There are those that say that the term “Lord” in this verse is simply a term of respect similar to our usage of the term “sir.” These are people that are so afraid that works might get mixed in with salvation that they want to make sure there is no sense of obligation to obey Jesus necessary for salvation. If Lord carries the sense of master, as would be its normal meaning, there would be, so they reject that in favor of it being a term of respect equivalent to our “sir.” Frankly, that is silly on its very face value. There cannot be salvation without acknowledgment of the person and work of Jesus Christ including His resurrection. To confess Jesus as “sir” and have respect for Him does not convey any acknowledgment of who Jesus is or what He has done. Many people respect Jesus including most non-Christians. There are some that even believe God raised Jesus from the dead while still denying His deity, virgin birth, sinless life, and the efficacy of His atonement. They are still busy trying to earn their way to heaven, and so are still in their sins and under God’s condemnation. Respect for Jesus is not enough.
There are others that want to make the term “Lord” as a substitute term for God, which is fine with me, but they also want to remove any sense of Jesus being “master.” Frankly, that is also silly. By definition, God is sovereign and is to be obeyed. To remove the sense of “master” from confessing Jesus as Lord is to also remove any sense of His deity, and if you do not believe Jesus is God, then you have a different Jesus than the one presented in the Bible. Such a Jesus cannot save you and those that would proclaim such a Jesus are not from God, but are in fact false teachers. Neither good works nor a wrong confession can save you from your sin and its condemnation.
Those are strong words, but the issue here is serious. For the confession that Jesus is Lord to do you any good, you must know what it means that He is Lord. To be wrong on Jesus’ lordship is to be wrong about Jesus. To be correct about Jesus’ Lordship is to believe His claims about Himself, what He has done to pay for our sins, and His promises to forgive us and take us to be with Him in heaven. Our good works do not save us but simply come as a result of our beliefs about Jesus (Eph. 2:8-10). They are the evidence of our belief.
The timing of the confession is also critical. As already pointed out, every created being will confess that Jesus is Lord. The only question is whether that will happen while you are physically alive or only when you face God in judgement for your sin. If you confess it now while you are still alive, then there is salvation from your sin as already explained from Romans 10:9,10. You do not earn it. It is given to you as a gift of grace from God who reckons your faith as righteousness, and He forgives you for Christ’s sake and adopts you into His family. If that is true, then Jesus is even now preparing a place for you in Heaven and He will return to take you there to be with Him.
Let me add here that there is no such thing as “making Jesus Lord.” He is Lord. You either acknowledge that fact or you do not. Christianity is not two tiered as some have tried to make it in which they separate salvation from being a disciple of Christ. As I have pointed out many times, salvation and following Jesus Christ go hand in hand. You cannot be saved without also being Jesus’ disciple. The maturity level of each disciple will vary, and at times radically so as we struggle against the sin that dwells within us (Rom. 7:20), but every Christian is also a follower of Jesus Christ. You cannot believe that Jesus is Lord without also striving to follow Him. A refusal to follow Jesus demonstrates a failure of belief. Christians still sin, but their desire and effort in life is opposite of sin. They want to please and obey their Lord, Jesus Christ, and they confess their sins to Him when they do not. Have you yet confessed Jesus as Lord?
If you delay your confession and you should die or Christ returns before you do, then you will be forced to do so when you are judged by God for your sins. Revelation 20:11-15 describes that judgement. There will not be any weighing of your good against your bad, because Scripture is clear that there is no good. Isaiah 64:6 states that all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags before Him. All that the deeds you have ever done will be judged against God’s perfect standard, and you will be condemned accordingly. At that judgement you will bow your knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but it will be too late for it to save you from your sentence of eternity in the lake of fire.
It is a matter of timing. If you have not bowed the knee yet and confessed Jesus as Lord, what keeps you from doing so? Talk with myself or any of our church leaders. There are plenty of people here to answer any of your questions or help you with any difficulty you may have. There is no reason to leave today without being right with God.
– vs. 11
Paul concludes with a brief but powerful statement about the ultimate purpose in the exaltation of Jesus Christ. It is “to the glory of God the Father.” This is the mystery of the triune Godhead. There is no competition or jealousy between them. The exaltation of the Son brings glory to the Father, and as the Son glorifies the Father, the Father exalts the Son (John 13:31,32). Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is answered, the Father glorifies the Son that the Son may glorify the Father. We enter into that glory when we confess Jesus as Lord (John 17:22f).
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the word “lord” is said. Talk with your parents about what it means that Jesus is Lord.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
Why is humility so important in the church? How did Jesus show that He was humble? Why does God the Father exalt Jesus? What is God’s reaction to humans that are humble? Proud? What does “exalt” mean? There are four distinct aspects to Jesus’ exaltation – What are they? What is the importance of each? How does each contrast with Jesus’ humiliation? How many different names for Jesus Christ can you find? What do you think is the “name above every name? Why? What is the required physical response to Jesus’ exaltation? What is its importance? What is the required verbal response to Jesus’ exaltation? Who gives this response? What is confession? What does it mean that Jesus is “Lord”? What does “Lord” mean in this confession? Why is the definition of “Lord” here and in Romans 10:9,10 so important? Everyone will confess, why is the timing of this confession so critical? What is the ultimate goal of Jesus’ exaltation? How do the Father & the Son glorify each other?
Our Exalted Lord – Philippians 2:9-11
Reasons for His Exaltation
– vs. 9
– vs. 9
Lord or lord
Response to His Exaltation
– vs. 10, 11
First Action of Response: Bowing Knee (vs. 10)
The Responders – (vs. 10)
Second Action of Response: Confessing His Lordship – (vs. 11)
– vs. 11
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