In this final segment (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/to-the-glory-of-god-the-son-refuting-a-common-arian-canard-pt-2/), I am going to take a further look at the text of Philippians in order to show that the very context of this verse refutes the notion of Jesus being a creature exalted by God.
Note carefully what the blessed Apostle wrote:
“for which very reason God raised him supremely high (hyperhypsosen) and granted him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY knee of what is IN HEAVEN and what is ON EARTH and what is UNDERGROUND should bend and EVERY tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 The Bible in Living English (https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/b/r1/lp-e/by/E/1972/50/2#study=discover)
Much like Revelation 5:13, this passage emphatically and unambiguously affirms that Jesus is no mere creature but is separate and greater than the entire creation. Similarly to John, Paul virtually exhausts the language in highlighting the fact that every creature in the entire created order must and eventually shall worship Christ as the exalted Lord.
This means that Jesus cannot be a mere creature seeing that he is differentiated from every created thing and is worshiped by the whole creation. Otherwise, Jesus would have to also be worshiping and confessing himself as Lord to the glory of God the Father if he were a mere created spirit being, as Arian heretics like Stafford believe.
Here is a break down of the reasoning employed, which highlights the inescapable conclusion that according to this inspired passage, God’s beloved Son is no mere creature but is, in fact, Jehovah God Almighty in the flesh:
- Every created being in all of creation shall worship Jesus as Lord (Cf. Romans 14:9-12; Revelation 5:13).
- Jesus is, thus, separated and distinguished from every created thing that exists.
- This, in turn, shows that Jesus must be uncreated by nature.
- Yet only Jehovah is uncreated by nature.
- Jesus must, therefore, be Jehovah God in the flesh.
- At the same time, Jesus is personally distinct from the Father who himself is Jehovah God.
- Jehovah must, therefore, be a multi-Personal Being who eternally subsists in at least two divine Persons, namely, the Father and the Son.
This, in turn, explains why Paul attributed to Jesus the very worship, which the prophet Isaiah ascribed to Jehovah,
“By myself I have sworn; The word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, And it will not return: TO ME every knee will bend, Every tongue will swear loyalty” Isaiah 45:23
And further helps us to appreciate why the Father exalted Jesus to the highest position imaginable and bestowed on him the name above every name in existence,
“and how surpassing the greatness of his power is toward us believers. It is according to the operation of the mightiness of his strength, which he exercised toward Christ when he raised him up from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE EVERY government and authority and power and lordship and EVERY NAME that is named, not only in this system of things but also in that to come. He also subjected all things under his feet and made him head over ALL THINGS with regard to the congregation, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills up all things in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23
“because in him is dwelling down all the fullness of the divinity bodily, and YOU are in him, (ones) having been filled, who is the head of all government and of authority,” Colossians 2:9-10 KIT (https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/b/r1/lp-e/int/E/1985/51/2#study=discover)
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold on to our public declaration of him.” Hebrews 4:14
“who has become such, not by the legal requirement that depends on fleshly descent, but by the power of an indestructible life… but because he continues alive forever, his priesthood has no successors. So he is able also to save completely those who are approaching God through him, because he is always alive to plead for them. For it is fitting for us to have such a high priest who is loyal, innocent, undefiled, separated from the sinners, AND EXALTED ABOVE THE HEAVENS.” Hebrews 7:16, 24-26
“For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, so that he now appears before God on our behalf.” Hebrews 9:24
“He is at God’s right hand, for he went to heaven, and angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him.” 1 Peter 3:22
Even though the Hebrew Bible is emphatically clear that it is Jehovah who is exalted as head over all creation,
“Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah. You are the One exalting yourself as head over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11
“For you are the Lord most high over all the earth; you are greatly exalted (hyperhypsothes) above all gods.” Psalm 96:7 LXX
And who alone possesses the name that is high above everyone else’s:
“Let them praise the name of Jehovah, For his name ALONE is unreachably high. His majesty is above earth and heaven.” Psalm 148:13
Here’s the English translation of the Greek rendering of this text:
“let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name ONLY is exalted; his praise is above the earth and heaven.”
This also explains why Jesus can be described as the glorious Lord enthroned in heaven,
“It is this wisdom that none of the rulers of this system of things came to know, for if they had known it, they would not have executed the glorious Lord.” 1 Corinthians 2:8
“My brothers, you are not holding to the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ while showing favoritism, are you?” James 2:1
Despite the fact that it is Jehovah alone who is the glorious King that reigns from on high:
“Lift up your heads, you gates; Open up, you ancient doorways, That the glorious King may enter!i Who is this glorious King? Jehovah, strong and mighty, Jehovah, mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; Open up, you ancient doorways, That the glorious King may enter! Who is he, this glorious King? Jehovah of armies—he is the glorious King. (Selah)” Psalm 24:7-10
Since Jesus is Jehovah in the flesh, even though he is not the same Person as the Father, it only makes sense that he would be granted the very status and glory that belongs only to Jehovah, and why he receives the very worship that is to be given to Jehovah alone.(1)
So much for the claim of Arian cultists such as Greg Stafford that the Father does nothing to and for the glory of another.
Unless noted otherwise, scriptural quotations were taken from the New World Translation (NWT) of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/study-bible/books/).
(1) To respond to another typical Arian objection, the reason why Jesus had to be given such an exalted position is because he voluntarily humbled himself to take on the status of a slave in order to die a humiliating and painful death:
“in order to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, who said: ‘Look! My servant whom I chose, my beloved, whom I have approved!q I will put my spirit upon him, and what justice is he will make clear to the nations. He will not quarrels nor cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the main streets. No bruised reed will he crush, and no smoldering wick will he extinguish, until he brings justice with success. Indeed, in his name nations will hope.’” Matthew 12:17-21
“For even the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.” Mark 10:45
“For which one is greater, the one dining or the one serving? Is it not the one dining? But I am among you as the one serving.” Luke 22:27
“For you know the undeserved kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sake, so that you might become rich through his poverty.” 2 Corinthians 8:9
“Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and became human. More than that, when he came as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, yes, death on a torture stake.” Philippians 2:5-8
Jesus was, therefore, given a status that already belonged to him by virtue of his being Jehovah God, but with one major difference. When Christ voluntarily set aside his exalted position in order to come to the earth, he did so as Spirit, meaning as a bodiless, spaceless, immaterial Being. When he returned to the glory that he possessed from before the creation of the earth,
“So now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.” John 17:5
He did so as embodied Deity, as God incarnate, entering heaven with a glorified physical body of flesh due to his resurrection from the dead where he will forever remain a flesh and bone human being, and a physical descendant of David:
“While they were speaking of these things, he himself stood in their midst and said to them: ‘May you have peace.’ But because they were terrified and frightened, they imagined that they were seeing a spirit. So he said to them: ‘Why are you troubled, and why have doubts come up in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have FLESH AND BONES just as you see THAT I HAVE.’ And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. But while they were still not believing for sheer joy and amazement, he said to them: ‘Do you have something there to eat?’ So they handed him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it before their eyes.” Luke 24:36-43
“But Thomas, one of the Twelve, who was called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were telling him: ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them: ‘Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will never believe it.’ Well, eight days later his disciples were again indoors, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and he stood in their midst and said: ‘May you have peace.’ Next he said to Thomas: ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop doubting but believe.’ In answer Thomas said TO HIM: ‘My Lord and MY GOD!’ Jesus said to him: ‘Because you have seen me, have you believed? Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’” John 20:24-29
“Men, brothers, it is permissible to speak with freeness of speech to you about the family head David, that he died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath that he would seat one of his offspring on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in the Grave nor did his flesh see corruption. God resurrected this Jesus, and of this we are all witnesses. Therefore, because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you see and hear.” Acts 2:29-33
“True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance; but now he is declaring to all people everywhere that they should repent. Because he has set a day on which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by A MAN whom he has appointed, and he has provided a guarantee to all men by resurrecting him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
“My aim is to know him and the power of his resurrection and to share in his sufferings, submitting myself to a death like his, to see if at all possible I may attain to the earlier resurrection from the dead…But our citizenship exists in the heavens, and we are eagerly waiting for a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our humble body to be like HIS GLORIOUS BODY by his great power that enables him to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:10-11, 20-21
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, A MAN, Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5
“But one of the elders said to me: ‘Stop weeping. Look! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered so as to open the scroll and its seven seals.’” Revelation 5:5
“I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to you about these things for the congregations. I AM the root and THE OFFSPRING of David and the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16
This means that Christ now reigns as the God-Man, the divine Son of God who rules as a glorified human being with an immortal physical body.