Christ's Exaltation, Part 3
March 8, 2020
Christ’s Exaltation: Part 3, 3.8.20
The Lord be with you, church family. I am so excited to be here with you this morning. My excitement centers on Jesus Christ. Amen? He tells us that he will build his church and that the gates of hades shall not prevail against his church. What great hope we have in Jesus, dear friend. Trust him. Love him. Give him your all.
This morning we will again be wading through another theologically weighty passage. This part in Philippians is one of the weightiest passages in the entire NT. We are going to conclude this week our discussion of Christ’s exaltation. This is the third and final installment of this topic.
As we wade through this material, I want you to know that if you ever have a question about my sermon, I would love to talk with you about. Please come ask me if you have any questions about what I say. If you need any clarification, I would love to try to offer that to you. Also, if there is something going on in your life that you would like to pray about with me, I would love to do that. My heart for this church, for you is that Christ would be formed in you. If there is any way I can help you, dear brother or sister, please let me know. I would love to have the opportunity to help you love Christ more.
Also, young theologians, I want you to know that if you ever have any questions about my sermons, about the Bible, or about theology, I want you to know that I would love to talk with you as well. If I say something during the sermon that you don’t understand, make sure you write it down on your sermon notes so that you can ask me later. I would love to talk with you.
Let’s go ahead and open to Phil 2:9. Our passage this morning is vv. 10–11 but to get an understanding of the passage as a whole, let’s start in 2:9 and read through 2:11. We will read Phil 2:9–11. Our passage this morning will run through v. 11. Paul writes this,
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Result of Christ’s Exaltation
For this first point this morning, we will explore the result of Christ’s exaltation. That is our first point this morning: the result of Christ’s exaltation. I get this point from the first two words found in v. 10.
With these two words, “so that,” Paul is providing us with the result of what happened in v. 9. Verse 9, read it with me, says,
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name
We explored this passage last week. In v. 10, Paul provides the result of v. 9. So, what is the result of God the Father highly exalting Jesus and bestowing upon him the reputation that is above every reputation? The result is indicated by the “so that.” God the Father exalted the Son so that, with the result that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
This result clause, this “so that” clause starts at the beginning of v. 10 and proceeds into v. 11. The “so that” clause stops before the “to the glory of God the Father.” That prepositional phrase that Paul ends v. 11 with, “to the glory of God the Father,” will be what we explore in our second point. So Paul is proving for us the result of the Father’s exaltation.
In order for us to understand this result clause, the “so that,” we must look at a certain passage in the book of Isaiah. Turn with me to Isaiah 45:23. The passage reads,
By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.
At first glance, you can see the thematic similarity between this Isaiah passage and our Philippians passage. Specifically, notice what is said at the at the end of v. 23 is nearly the same as what Paul says in our Philippians passage. The difference between the passages is the agent to whom the bowing of the knee and the confessing of allegiance is directed towards.
In this Isaiah passage, to whom is the kneeling and confessing directed towards? In Isaiah 45:23 the entity that who will be recognized as Lord is YHWH. Verse 23 is a quote from the God of Israel. This is a direct quote. It is he that is talking. The “me” at the end of v. 23 is YHWH. Look at Isaiah 45:18, just a few verses before this passage in 23.
In v. 18 is where God begins his discussion of his absolute sovereignty. The passage beings by saying,
For thus says the LORD
Notice here how the word “Lord” is capitalized. Most of the time in English translations, the translators capitalize the word “Lord” when the Hebrew OT uses the name of God. I touched upon this last week but I think it is so important that I want to explain it again.
In Exodus 3, when God reveals himself Moses from the burning bush, Moses asks God what his name is. God’s answer to the question was that his name was YHWH. YHWH is not a title for God. It is his very name. God is a title. There are many gods in this world. There are many beings or things that people worship. God is a title that can and is used in the Bible to refer to beings other than the true God. YHWH on the other is never attributed to any other being. While there might be many gods, there is only one YHWH.
When the name of God, YHWH, occurs in the Hebrew OT, English translators translate God’s name with “LORD.” That’s what we have here in Isaiah 45:18. This is YHWH talking. He uses his name here to designate his unique identity.
End of Digression
Who exactly is YHWH according to Isaiah 45? Well, v. 18 specifies that he is the maker of heaven and earth:
For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!).
At the end of v. 18, YHWH specifies that he is unique, that he is the only YHWH, that there is not other YHWH.
I am the LORD, and there is no other
Jump down to the end of v. 21. YHWH says again that he is the only God that he is the true God. He is righteous and he is also Savior.
And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me
He repeats a similar idea in v. 22—that he is the only God and the way that the world would be saved.
Turn to me and be saved, hall the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other
And then YHWH states, as we’ve already covered, that to him and him alone will all glory be given to.
“To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.”
Now with all of that in mind—YHWH is the only God, and he is supreme above all—turn back to Phil 2:10.
Back to Philippians
When we understand the background text of Isa 45, we see that what Paul is doing in Phil 2:10 is truly amazing. Paul transfers all of what YHWH said of himself in Isa 45 to Jesus. Paul takes this passage from Isa 45 and applies it to Jesus. So, rather than at the name of YHWH will every knee bow and every tongue confess, it is at the name of Jesus that every knee will bow, and every tongue confess.
The reason why Paul can say this is because Jesus is YHWH. That’s what Paul means when he says towards the end of v. 11. Look with me there. Paul says that the content of the universal confession of Christ’s exaltation is that, “Jesus is Lord.” “Lord” here is a reference to YHWH. The whole wide world, every person who has ever lived, will submit to and confess this truth.
This universality is what the phrase “in heaven and on earth and under the earth” is referring to. Paul is referring to all people—whether they dwell in heaven, on earth, or in the place of the dead. Everyone, no one excluded, will bow their knee to and confess that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus is YHWH.
So bringing this point to a close. What exactly is the result of the Father’s exalation of the Son. It is this: it is the universal submission to and recognition of the Jesus is YHWH, that Jesus is Lord.
The Purpose of Christ’s Exaltation
There is one more prepositional phrase, which I referenced earlier, that we must tackle at the end of v. 11. Paul writes,
To the glory of God the Father.
With this final phrase, Paul is bringing his discussion of Christ’s exaltation to a conclusion. This statement “to the glory of God the Father” is the purpose of it all. What is the purpose of the father exalting the Son? What is the purpose of all peoples bowing and confessing that Jesus is Lord? It for the purpose that God the Father would be glorified. “Glory” here refers to honor, distinction, praise, adornment.
In this passage, we get a window into the inner workings of the Trinity. Paul belief that Jesus is YHWH does not mean that he rejects that the Father is YHWH. Both Jesus and the Father are YHWH. Both Jesus and the Father are God.
To bring this discussion full circle with a reference to all three persons of the Trinity, look at Phil 1:19. Paul writes there,
for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.
Notice how Paul speaks of the Spirit in this passage. The Spirit is so intimately connected with Jesus, as mentioned in this passage, the Paul says the Spirit is “the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Because Jesus is YHWH, as we saw in 2:10–11, the Spirit can be understood from this passage as the Spirit of YHWH. So, in Philippians, the identity of YHWH is one that is applied to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. YHWH, we see, is an identity that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all share in. Wow. That, dear brothers and sisters, is the doctrine of the Trinity.
Jesus as Selfless
Now look with me at Phil 1:6. It reads,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God ra thing to be grasped.
When I explained this passage a few weeks ago, I argued that what Paul is saying here is that Jesus, the Son of God, is not a selfish being but a selfless being. Jesus, although he was fully God, did not insist upon his rights as God but forsook the prestige and privilege that he had as a divine being in exchange for the humiliation of the incarnation and ultimately the cross. Jesus sought to obey the Father. He wanted to honor the Father in all that he did.
The propositional phrase, “to the glory of God the Father,” highlights Jesus’ selfless nature one again. Jesus will before he became a man, while he was on earth as the God-man, and in his exaltation as the God-man has been and always will be to honor his Father. Jesus motive is always towards his Father. Jesus will be acknowledged as Lord but Jesus will give all glory to the Father.
1 Cor 15:28
Turn with me to 1 Cor 15:28 to explore this idea a bit more. Paul writes there,
When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
What we see here is what our Philippians passage alludes to. At the end of time, which this 1 Cor passage is talking about, Jesus will be exalted as Lord. Every knee will bow to him and every tongue in all of the world will confess that he is Lord, that he is YHWH. At this time, at the end of time, quoting this 1 Cor passage, “when all things are subjected to him,” Jesus will willingly be subjected by the Father to the Father’s reign and rule.
Jesus’ exaltation has the result that all will recognize him as Lord and yet the goal of this is that Jesus willingly gives all glory to the Father who exalted him as Lord. Jesus, “the Son will also be subjected to him [the Father] who put all things in subjection under him [Jesus?].” Why will this happen? “That God [the Father] may be all in all.”
There is a beautiful and perfect symmetry here within the inter-trinitarian relationship. Both father and Son are YHWH. And yet Father and Son are not the same. The Father exalts the Son. The Son is recognized as the Lord of heaven and earth. And the Son willingly subjects himself to the Father and gives all glory to the Father. There is no competition. There is no rivalry. Within the Godhead—Father, Son, and HS—the Father exalts the Son, the Son exalts the Lord, and God the Father is the one who is ultimately gloried. Wow! Words really fail to express these deep theological truths of the Trinity. But there here. And we must understand them and celebrate them
As we had with our past couple of sermons, Paul gives no command or exhortation in this passage. Paul doesn’t tell us to do anything in this passage. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no application of this verse in our lives. There is. Tremendous application.
What Paul is talking about in this passage, every knee bowing and every tongue confessing, has not yet happened. This is a reality that has not taken place yet. It is a future reality. It is one that will occur in the future, at the end of time.
And I said, this is a universally true passage. That is, everyone will bow with their knees and confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. There will be no exceptions to this reality. Christians and non-Christians will recognize that Jesus is YHWH.
If this is the inevitable reality, if this reality is going to happen (and it will; Jesus death and resurrection prove it), then we need to start practicing this posture. Right now, not later or only in the future, we need to do this. We literally need to get to bow down before God and confess that
Jesus is Lord. I’m not saying that we do that here right now. Rather, I’m saying that when you get home, when you have a private moment, bow down on the ground before God the Father and tell him that Jesus is Lord.
Kneeling before God shows humility. It shows that we ascribe to him honor, praise, and might. It shows him that you are not God, but that he is. Bowing, kneeling is a sign of humility. Humility is key in the Christian life. Confessing is agreeing with God. In this case, it is agreeing with God the Father that Jesus is Lord, that I am not Lord, and that one day everyone will bow to Jesus. To confess means to agree with God.
This application is for the Christian and the non-Christian. For the Christian, it’s in bowing and confessing where our love for Christ is renewed. It is in this act where we find our love for Christ renewed, our hope refreshed, and our strength enriched.
For the non-Christian, this is where your walk with Christ begins. My own Christianity began when I did this. I was 18. I was convicted that my life was not right with God. I was convicted that I was living a life of sin. After attending church one evening, I went back to my room, knelt beside my bed, and confessed to God. By doing this act of bowing and kneeling, I became a Christian. Non-Christian, will you do this today? When you get home? I pray that you will.
Jesus is the exalted King. Although he existed in the form of God, he became a slave in his incarnation. He took upon himself human flesh. He lived, he suffered, he died. He did this all for you. He came to this earth to save you from your sins. He obeyed the Father and submitted himself to the Father’s will. Jesus, YHWH in the flesh, died on a Roman cross—the most heinous, shameful of punishments. Due to his obedience, though, God the Father has exalted God the Son. He raised him up and seated him above all earthly powers. Now the slave who died on a Roman cross is the Lord of heaven and earth. All people will one day recognize that. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord.