Category Archives: Biblical Theology

A Survey Of Exegesis Of Philippians 2:5-11 In The Patristic Period

NT515 – Philippians

Dr. Dennis Johnson

12 / 04 / 09

In this paper my plan is to briefly sketch some of the major contours of Pastristic thought with regard to the exegesis of Philippians 2:5-11.  This passage is sometimes referred to as the “kenotic hymn” because, in addition to being song-like in form, it contains the infamous statement that Christ “emptied himself” in taking on the form of a man.  The Greek word Paul uses here, ekénōse, comes from the word kenós, meaning “empty.”  This term immediately became the center of Christological debate.  How is it that Christ emptied himself?  What did he empty himself of?  If he was truly God before his incarnation, did he totally empty himself of all divinity and become merely human?  How would such an emptying even be possible, and what would it mean for divine immutability?  The simple presence of this one word within this one short epistle meant that such questions could not possibly be avoided; they must be met head on.  And they were.  The answers, however, were varied, and it took several centuries for orthodox Christology to be solidified. Continue reading



Filed under Ancient Thought, Biblical Theology, Exegesis, Historical Theology