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Answers to Correspondents.
pp. 143, 144
No. 25.--Thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Phil. 2: 6). J.N.D.
translates, "Did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality
with God", and adds the suggestive footnote, "I have no doubt all this is
in contrast with the first Adam".
The R.V. reads, "counted it not a prize", and gives in the margin "a
thing to be grasped".
Arpagmos, "the act or the object of plunder", comes from arpaz§ which
occurs 13 times in the N.T. and is translated "take by force", "catch
away", "pluck", "pull". Arpagē occurs three times, and is rendered
"spoiling", "extortion", "ravening".
Adam when tempted through Eve heard the words, "Ye shall be as
God". It was a thing to be grasped at, and Adam was not equal with
God, he was of the earth, earthy, mortal and but a living soul.
Is this the teaching of Phil. 2:? Does it teach that far from claiming
equality with God, the Lord Jesus never "contemplated such an act of
Let us examine the context. In the first place, why is this profound subject
introduced? Was the Deity of Christ in question? No, for the apostle had just said, "look
not every man on his OWN things, but every man also on the things of others" (2: 4).
That this is the theme of the passage will be evident by reading on to verse 21 where the
answering clause is found, "For all seek their OWN", unlike Timothy who cared for
others. Yet further on the concern of Epaphroditus was not for himself, but because the
Philippians had heard that he had been sick. Finally comes the parallel of Phil. 3:
where the actual "gains" of the Apostle are not "held as a prey", but gladly relinquished
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.
The whole context demands that equality with God was the actual possession of
Christ before He became man. If this be not so, all point is gone from the words, "Let
this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus". If Christ be an example to these
Philippians as was Timothy, Epaphroditus and Paul, particularly the latter, then Christ
must have given up an actual possession. He Who in the beginning "was God"
(John 1: 1) had no necessity to grasp at that which was His own. All others of necessity
must if they aspire to Divine honours. Satan, Lucifer, Adam, Herod, Antichrist, all grasp
at something they desire but which they do not possess. Christ is entirely separated from
these. We feel sure that no argument can overthrow the manifest intention of the Apostle
as indicated by the theme of these two chapters.