He Emptied Himself

“. . . although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:6-7

Have you ever wondered what it means that Christ emptied Himself? This is something I have been pondering for some time, but have not come to a conclusion I am satisfied with.

Is this something that was necessary for him to take on human flesh?

I know that He is fully God and fully man. I understand God to be omnipresent. Yet, Jesus clearly was not. So did He empty Himself of that attribute?

Are there other divine attributes that Jesus gave up, or emptied Himself of, in order be made in the likeness of men? How human was He?

Scripture says he grew in wisdom, but I understand God to be omniscient. Jesus says He does not know the time of His second coming, only the Father does. How does that work? Is this an attribute He gave up too?

What if Jesus did most of the things we read about without using His divine nature? Does that change how we read the gospels? What if He resisted temptation purely in the flesh? What if He didn’t use His “God power”, but did most of his teaching, healing, etc. in His human nature. He says that His followers will do greater things than He, but how can we if He did it all out of His divine nature?

What does it mean that He emptied Himself?

As I said, I haven’t come to a satisfactory answer, but it is something I have been wrestling with, and I hate wrestling alone. Join me and share your thoughts.



Filed under Jesus, Questions

4 responses to “He Emptied Himself

  1. I’ll share with you if you’ll go to my latest blog and share your thoughts with me.

    Perhaps the idea of “emptying” carries with it the ultimate description of humility. We can talk for a thousand years about His nature as the God/Man and not come to an understandable conclusion. At least not this side of heaven. However, we can all identify with the need for humility. Maybe that is the central message.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


  2. benlreed

    Here’s a thought: Could “he emptied himself” be tied directly with the next phrase, “taking the form of a bond-servant?” Maybe “taking the form of a bond-servant” is a description of what Paul meant when he said that Jesus emptied himself. If so, then maybe emptying himself means that he emptied himself of the rights that he was due as God (glory, honor, worship, etc.) by voluntarily placing himself in the position of a servant. His becoming a servant is ultimately good news for us, in that he became sin for us, freeing us from our slavery to sin and making us slaves to righteousness.

    Thanks for the questions, Jeff.

  3. It is somewhat of a puzzlement, isn’t it? Part of the Greek definition of the word used for “emptied” means to make void and be of no reputation. In fact, the KJ and NKJ uses “made Himself of no reputation.” In other words, He laid aside His glory reputation, so to speak, and took on the form of a servant, of no reputation, being in the likeness of man. I don’t know if that helps or not but I appreciated your post. Made me think. I like that! Blessings to you…Lynn

  4. I think this it is a strong possibility that he removed all his divine attributes.

    Here is my biggest question, though… Did he get rid of His divine knowledge? It does not seem so, since He talks often about His father and His relation to The Father.

    The problem that I struggle with here is, didn’t Christ have a simple advantage in KNOWING that God was real and cared about Him? I often wonder what place faith played in Jesus’ life compared to us here on Earth. Do we have as much pure knowledge that God the Father exists as Christ did?

    Just being honest, vulerable, etc… Thoughts?