Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Translate, "Who subsisting (or existing, namely, originally: the Greek is not the simple substantive verb, 'to be') in the form of God (the divine essence is not meant: but the external self-manifesting characteristics of God, the form shining forth from His glorious essence). The divine nature had infinite BEAUTY in itself, even without any creature contemplating that beauty: that beauty was 'the form of God'; as 'the form of a servant' (Philippians 2:7), which is in contrasted opposition to it, takes for granted the existence of His human nature, so 'the form of God' takes for granted His divine nature [BENGEL], Compare John 5:37; John 17:5; Colossians 1:15, 'Who is the IMAGE of the invisible God' at a time before 'every creature,' II Corinthians 4:4, esteemed (the same Greek verb as in Philippians 2:3) His being on an equality with God no (act of) robbery" or self-arrogation; claiming to one's self what does not belong to him. ELLICOTT, WAHL, and others have translated, "A thing to be grasped at," which would require the Greek to be harpagma, whereas harpagmos means the act of seizing. So harpagmos means in the only other passage where it occurs, PLUTARCH [On the Education of Children, 120]. The same insuperable objection lies against ALFORD'S translation, "He regarded not as self-enrichment (that is, an opportunity for self-exaltation) His equality with God." His argument is that the antithesis (Philippians 2:7) requires it, "He used His equality with God as an opportunity, not for self-exaltation, but for self-abasement, or emptying Himself." But the antithesis is not between His being on an equality with God, and His emptying Himself; for He never emptied Himself of the fulness of His Godhead, or His "BEING on an equality with God"; but between His being "in the FORM (that is, the outward glorious self-manifestation) of God," and His "taking on Him the form of a servant," whereby He in a great measure emptied Himself of His precedent "form," or outward self-manifesting glory as God. Not "looking on His own things" (Philippians 2:4), He, though existing in the form of God, He esteemed it no robbery to be on an equality with God, yet made Himself of no reputation. "Being on an equality with God, is not identical with subsisting in the form of God"; the latter expresses the external characteristics, majesty, and beauty of the Deity, which "He emptied Himself of," to assume "the form of a servant"; the former, "HIS BEING," or NATURE, His already existing STATE OF EQUALITY with God, both the Father and the Son having the same ESSENCE. A glimpse of Him "in the form of God," previous to His incarnation, was given to Moses (Exodus 24:10-11), Aaron, etc.
Other Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown entries containing Philippians 2:6:
1 Corinthians 3:23
2 Corinthians 8:9
1 Timothy 2:6
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