Wright on Paul

I just finished the chapter on the hymn in Philippians 2:6-11 in The Climax of the Covenant by N.T. Wright. Once I got past the fact that he has quotes in four different languages (Hebrew, Greek, German, French… none interpreted because, after all, every Ph.D. in Biblical studies from a major school would know them…), I found it more or less earth-shattering. He spends numerous pages going over the 10 or so major strains of interpretation on that snatching/grasping word at the end of verse 6 and, after offering a synthesis of his own making, shows how the flow of the text fits in with Paul’s Adam-Christology as well as the creedal view of the Father and Son.

Basically, he has verse 6 saying that Jesus had something (e.g. part of the God-head), but he chose to not take advantage of it. So Wright creates a parallel with Adam, but makes much of the differences as well. At the end of the hymn, we find God exalting Jesus, demonstrating that Jesus had in fact revealed God. The particular point that hit home in a fresh way was the notion that Jesus’ humiliation unto death was not simply a means of our salvation, it was a revelation, in some basic, significant way, of who God is. Thus the admonitions before and after the hymn that call upon us to follow Christ are calling us live as God’s image-bearers. The humbling call of Christ is not simply to test us or sanctify us, it is in an essential way the outworking of being made in God’s image.

It’s really quite overwhelming.


  1. mark
    Apr 19, 2002

    Yes, overwhelming is right! Perhaps I should find the sermon I ripped off from that chapter…

  2. John
    Apr 22, 2002

    And if you do, Mark, you need to post it on Theologia or send it to me before I preach my sermon on that passage!