Jesus Christ is Lord

The wonderful hymn of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation reaches its climax in these verses. Paul has said that the Father exalted Jesus and bestowed on Him the name. He’s said it was the name which is above every name. And here he says that at that name—which is better rendered: in honor of that name—every knee is going to bow.

So what’s the name? Jesus has a lot of names. Is it: Son of Man? Son of God? The Alpha and Omega? The First and the Last? The Faithful and True? The Beloved Son in whom the Father is well-pleased? Is it Christ? The Messiah? Is it the long-awaited prophet? Is it our Great High Priest? Is it the King of kings?

Finally, the almost unbearable suspense is broken, and the Apostle Paul tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The Slave is Now the Master

The word “Lord” is the Greek word kurios and means “master,” “sovereign,” “one of ultimate authority.” It is a title of majesty, of sovereignty, of honor, and of authority. John MacArthur writes, “Whoever is Lord is over everyone else. . . . [He] has absolute supremacy and the right to be obeyed as divine Master.” Such is the Father’s exaltation of the Son. Jesus submitted Himself to the lowliest of places, and God exalted Him to the very highest position and rank.

The One who was equal with God, but out of love for the Father and love for us His people, did not count that equality with God as something to be held on to, but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave. And as a result, Paul wants us to know that the slave has now been exalted as Lord. The slave is now once again shown to be Master of all, with all the divine rights, honors, and prerogatives of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.

Lord Jesus, Not Lord Caesar

And the implications of this resounding note of Christ’s lordship would not have been lost on the Philippians. According to Acts 16:12 Philippi was a Roman colony, and the Philippians were very proud to be Roman citizens—so much so that Paul has to remind them that they are citizens of heaven before they are citizens anywhere else (Phil 3:20).

But there was another character in Rome who was laying claim to the title of “Lord.” And that was Caesar. In fact, the confession “Caesar is Lord” was just as widespread and just as central to identification and participation in the Roman Empire as “Jesus is Lord” was to the church. And so when Paul says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, he knows what he was saying would be shocking. He was letting the Philippians know—and letting every other citizen of the Empire who would read this letter know—that Jesus, not the Roman Emperor, was the Sovereign Ruler of the world.

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Source: Mike Riccardi | The Cripplegate