The Genus Maiestaticum and Phil 2:5-11: Who’s the “Who” in Philippians 2?
Treptow, Earle D.
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The “conventional approach” to Philippians 2:5-11 hinges on the understanding that ὅς at the beginning of verse 6 refers to the pre-incarnate Christ. Therefore, Jesus’s incarnation was the humiliation, and his resurrection was the exaltation. This view, however, denies the doctrine of genus maiestaticum, which teaches that Christ’s divine nature communicates its attributes to the human nature. Christ’s human nature has full possession of the divine attributes, even in the state of exinanition. The adherence to genus maiestaticum affirms the message of selfless service that Paul was combating against the Philippians’ status-conscious mindset. Jesus’s humiliation was not based solely on his incarnation, for which Scripture has spoken of many instances of exaltation in the flesh, whether Jesus or believers on the Last Day. Instead, it is the continual attitude of selflessness that he exerted daily. Meanwhile, those who witness Jesus can see him clothed “in the form of God”; the miracles performed and the authority he exerted all attest to his divine attributes. Jesus possessed both the divine nature and human nature. Of whom Paul presented a brother in the flesh with whom the Philippians can relate. Christ is the example of one who set his own self aside, despite possessing all divine majesty, to take on the form of a servant to serve daily to the benefit of others. The Philippians needed to hear such a message about a brother who put others before the pride and vanity of his own status.