27 Oct 2022


What Does Philippians 2: 1-11 Mean?

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The primary function that the Bible serves is to provide believers with direction for living. Through a variety of strategies, the Bible challenges believers to emulate Christ in all that they do. While this is the overall role that the Bible plays, there are particular passages through which God reminds believers of righteous living. Philippians 2:1-11 is among these passages. The focus of this passage is the need for Christians to exhibit humility in their personal lives and their interactions with other believers. Throughout the passage, the Bible calls on believers to follow the example the Jesus set. It makes it clear that believers should place others first and be driven by such values as compassion and tenderness. For this discussion, Philippians 2: 1-11 was selected for review. The reason for the choice of this passage is mainly because of the relevance of the message that the passage conveys. Today, the world is grappling with such challenges as income inequality, sexual violence against women and armed conflict. I believe that Philippians 2: 1-11 provides insights which can be used to address these challenges. I also feel that this passage presents implications for my own journey. By embracing the message that the passage delivers, I am confidence that I will be able to develop more fulfilling relationships by investing in the welfare of others.

Original Meaning of Passage 

To make sense of Biblical passages, it is helpful to view them within their original context. When Paul wrote this passage, he sought to remind the Church of the value and importance of love within the Christian community. This is according to Matthew Henry (n.d) who authored an insightful commentary. In his piece, Henry notes that at the time of writing the passage, Paul aimed to promote Christ-like mindedness. Basically, Paul understood that if the Church was to thrive, the believers needed to focus on the wellbeing of the whole instead of selfishly pursuing their own interests. It is also fair to suppose that Paul was driven by the goal of protecting the church from the threat of division and possible collapse. While it set the stage for the generations of passionate Christians who emerged in later years, the early church was rocked with many challenges. Among these challenges included selfish desires among members. Left unchecked, these desires would result in the ultimate failure of the church. There is no doubt that Paul set out to reinforce the foundations of the church by injective love, compassion and consideration for others in the spirits of the early church.

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Paul’s motive for writing Philippians 2: 1-11 must have extended beyond simply strengthening the early church. One can argue that he also aimed to encourage the early church to continue to rely on Jesus Christ for comfort and assurance. David Guzik also authored a commentary that explores the meaning and implications of Philippians 2:1-11. He asserts that among the purposes of this passage was to remind the believers that Jesus remained a constant source of hope, comfort and strength. Part of the passage reads “if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love…” (Philippians 2:1). Here, the Scripture essentially makes it clear that even as it grappled with such challenges as the threat of conflict and divisions, the early Church could turn to the Cross for assurance that Christ’s love remained unwavering and limitless.

Application to Contemporary Issue 

While it is true that Philippians 2:1-11 was written with the early church as the target audience, this passage does indeed have implications for the modern society. As noted earlier, there are numerous issues and challenges that can be solved by integrating some of the lessons from the passage. One of the issues that could benefit from this passage is the question of income inequality. The alarm has been raised about the growing income inequality in the US and other parts of the world. According to Reinicke (2018), in 2015, the income of America’s richest 1% was more than 25 times the earnings of the country’s bottom 99%. This data highlights the glaring nature of America’s income inequality problem. Despite efforts by successive governments to address this problem, the income gap has only become larger. Even as the US implements solutions, the country needs to rely on Philippians 2:1-11 for insight. The inequality problem is the result of selfishness and the nation’s failure to invest in the wellbeing of the poor and vulnerable. For example, recently, President Donald Trump announced a new tax regime. Critics of his policy argue that the new tax system would mostly benefit the wealthy at the expense of the country’s poor. Philippians 2:1-11 encourages compassion, love, humility and selflessness. These are some of the values that the US needs to embrace if it is to successfully narrow the income gap. It is particularly important for the wealthiest to exhibit these values. For example, they could push the government to increase the amount of taxes that they pay and pay their employees higher wages. As they do this, the wealthy Americans will be making it clear that they respect Paul’s call for compassion and love. More importantly, these Americans will be following the example of Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, Apostle Paul played a critical role in establishing the early church. Among other things, he delivered messages that fueled the church and directed the attention and lives of believers toward the cross. In Philippians 2: 1-11, the Apostle calls on believers to endeavor to be like Christ. In particular, he urges them to show the same love and compassion that Jesus exhibited. In conveying this message, Paul sought to shield the church against the serious threats that it faces. His message should resonate with modern Christians who are frustrated by the gross income inequality in the US.


Guzik, D. (n.d). Humble living in light of Jesus’ humble example. Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved September 13, 2019 from https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Phl/Phl_2.cfm

Henry, M. (n.d). Philippians 2. Bible Study Tools. Retrieved September 13, 2019 from https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/philippians/2.html

Reinicke, C. (2018). US income inequality continues to grow. CNBC. Retrieved September 13, 2019 from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/19/income-inequality-continues-to-grow-in-the-united-states.html

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