God Gave Christ this Revelation?
The Testimony of Jesus, Chapter 3
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him… Revelation 1:1
Although the Lord Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, is very God, the same in essence as the heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, and equal in power and glory, we’re told that in God’s authoritative Word that this revelation of our Lord was given to Him by God (which God gave Him). This speaks of Christ’s humanity; and though crucified, resurrected, ascended to His heavenly throne, and reigning in the eternal glory Jesus knew with the Father before the world was (John 17:5), we’re presented from the beginning of this very special written work, the book of Revelation— the humility of Christ; and thus, for you and me, the we can know the approachability of Christ.
Jesus humbled Himself to become a flesh and bone human being; born as a babe, yet eternal God. One of the great portions of Scripture to express both Christ’s deity and humanity is found in the second chapter of Philippians:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8
Let’s break this portion down:
Have this mind among yourselves (v5a). You and I, as born-again believers saved by God’s grace, should take this truth oh so seriously; that it should be a great meditation in our thoughts; that we should commit it to the depths of our memories until it becomes the very fabric of our hearts and souls.
Which is yours in Christ Jesus (v5b). This truth is one huge part of our inheritance in Christ, and one you and I need not wait for the Lord’s promised return to receive it. It is available as a precious gospel blessing now, and it will grow in magnitude and magnificence as we grow in grace because its truth transforms our lives to become more and more like Christ Jesus (Rom 8:28-29).
Who, though He was in the form of God (v6a). The word ‘form’ here comes from the Greek root, μορφη (mor-PHĀ), which means ‘shape.’ Figuratively, it means ‘nature,’ as expressed in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Dr. MacArthur says, “Paul affirms that Jesus eternally has been God. The usual Greek word for being is not used here. Instead, Paul chose another term that emphasizes the essence of a person’s nature— his continuous state or condition” (John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible, 2005, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN). Christ’s form, though very God (v6a) is also expressed in His humanity, since Jesus took “the form of a servant” (v7b). The Lord Jesus is essentially, eternally, and unchangeably God, as the apostle amplifies in the next part of the verse….
Did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (v6b). As the second Person of the Tri-une God, the Lord Jesus, though becoming a Man, did not have to reach or grasp at deity. His holy and righteous efforts and behavior as a human being did not earn Him a deified place or a position alongside deity. Said another way, Jesus didn’t have to attain to deity. The King James Version of the Bible renders this portion of the verse in this way: “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” I like this English translation as well. In other words, Christ becoming a human being didn’t rob God of His deity; and in the English Standard Version, Christ’s deeds, including His sacrificial death on the cross, not only didn’t elevate the Lord Jesus to some status in the Godhead, moreover, Christ’s becoming a Man did not add to God’s nature or character as if there was something lacking therein. None of these could be true if it is to remain consistent with what God has revealed in His Word about Himself. Again, as eternal God, Jesus was “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb 1:3). You see, God, being immutable, cannot stop being God, else He was never God at all to begin with.
The Trinity, and Christ’s two natures specifically, is mysterious, an infinite truth beyond our finite comprehension. Nevertheless, although we cannot fully understand how Jesus can be both fully God and fully Man, its veracity from the Word of God is a proposition we can trust because it rests upon the unchanging truth of an unchanging God. Because it is true, it strengthens our faith in Christ and secures our faith to Christ.
But emptied Himself (v7a). Since the previous verse informs us that God cannot stop being God, else He would be something less than almighty, unchanging God, Christ’s emptying Himself of deity, as a few might suggest, cannot be what the Holy Spirit means here. Of what, then, did the Lord Jesus empty Himself? The answer: His glory as God. While the Lord Jesus Christ, as a Man, was the most glorious human being the universe has ever witnessed, Christ in all His human glory, still cannot compare with the eternal glory He possessed with the Father before His incarnation. Remember, Jesus prayed on the night He was arrested, “And now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed” (John 17:5).
There may be some who suggest that Jesus emptied Himself of His divine powers. I don’t believe this is what is implied. In one of Satan’s temptations, the devil challenged the Lord Jesus saying, “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matt 4:3). If Jesus was a Man void of divine powers, this would not have been a temptation at all if there was no way He could accomplish such. Since it was possible for Him to do so as God, Jesus didn’t do it to satisfy the starvation He was now experiencing from His forty-day fast because His will was to do the Father’s will— always! which we will see in a moment. Granted, some of Christ’s miracles were accomplished by His humanity empowered by the Holy Spirit indwelling Him. Not all the miraculous powers recorded in the gospels may be clearly defined as being either performed by His divine nature or accomplished in His humanity under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, some miracles are quite obvious because of His inherently divine attributes and power; and examples of such are Jesus forgiving sins (Mark 2:5), Jesus having life in Himself (John 5:26), Jesus declaring the sin-debt was paid in full by His death upon the cross (John 19:30a), and Jesus bowing His head and giving up the spirit (John 19:30b), since no man can will himself dead or raise Himself from the dead except the Son of God who became Man (John 10:18).
The King James Version renders our phrase to the Philippians, “But made Himself of no reputation,” which would be entirely consistent with Christ’s humbling Himself to be born as babe. It is also in keeping with the rest of the seventh verse…
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