V&A_-_Raphael,_St_Paul_Preaching_in_Athens_(1515)

Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515. This sermon addressed early issues in Christology

By Mari Kaimo, co-host, The 700 Club Asia

The Apostle Paul has many critics, about 1.5 billion of them from Islam alone. Their chief contention is that Paul taught a very different Gospel than the one Jesus brought: that the Son of God, Himself God, had come to earth to be the Sinless Sacrifice Who would redeem us from our sins and restore us to the Father.

In Philippians 2:5-11, the Apostle Paul lays out his Gospel for us to compare with Jesus’ own teaching:

5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,

6 who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.

7 Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,

8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.

9 For this reason God highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name
that is above every name,

10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—

217px-Bartolomeo_Montagna_-_Saint_Paul_-_Google_Art_Project

Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna

11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

How does this teaching of Paul’s align with the teachings of His Messiah, Jesus?

In the text below, Paul’s claims about Jesus in Philippians 2 will be in italics. They will be followed by Jesus’ teachings about Himself. We will be using only the verses in which Jesus speaks to show that Paul taught nothing that Jesus Himself did not teach:

v. 6 Point A: Jesus is God
Point B: Jesus is equal to God

For Point A, Jesus says “I am Yahweh” in the following verses:

Matthew 14:27, Mark 6:50, Mark 14:62, Luke 22:70, John 4:26, John 6:20, John 8:24, John 8:58, John 13:19, and John 18:6. (see link provided below titled “Where Does Jesus Say, “I Am YHWH (God)” in the Bible?“)

Regarding Point B, Jesus says, “I am equal to the Father (Who is God)” in these verses:

22 “The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son,

23 so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5

27 “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.

28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.

29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

30 The Father and I are one.” John 10

v. 7 Jesus emptied Himself of “the form of God” is Point A, and “He assumed the form of a slave” is Point B

For Point A, Jesus said He descended from Heaven. Note as well Jesus’ use of the word “We” in verse 11 of John 3, which is a Trinitarian reference:

11 “I assure you: We speak what We know and We testify to what We have seen, but you do not accept Our testimony.

12 If I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about things of heaven?

13 No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man.” John 3

38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6

62 “… what if you were to observe the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” John 6

23 “You are from below,” He told them, “I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” John 8

For Point B, Jesus came to serve and, along with that service, purchase redemption for mankind:

28 “… just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” Matthew 20

45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” Mark 10

27 “For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves.” Luke 22

v. 8 Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient all the way to His own death on a cross

Apart from the servanthood verses already listed above, Jesus demonstrates His humble obedience to the Father in these passages:

38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6

39 Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26 (see also Luke 22:42)

14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.” John 3

30 Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for Me, but for you. 31 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

32 As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.”

33 He said this to signify what kind of death He was about to die. John 12

Jesus taught about His coming death and resurrection here as well:

Matthew 16:21-23, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 17:9-13, Matthew 20:17-19, Matthew 26:1-2, Mark 8:31-33, Mark 9:9-13, Mark 9:31-32, Mark 10:31-34, Luke 9:22, Luke 9:43-45, and Luke 18:31-33 (see article titled “Jesus Teaches About His Coming Death and Resurrection” linked to below)

v. 9 God highly exalted Him, gave Him the name above every name

Jesus said,

18 “… All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28

See article linked to below titled “What Is the Name Above All Names?” for more information on the verse above.

v. 10-11 describes Jesus’ complete power and dominion over all creation under the headship of the Father

Jesus already discussed this in Matthew 28:18-20 already quoted above. But He also taught it elsewhere, such as in Matthew 25:31-46, in His parable in Matthew 21:42-44, and in the Book of Revelation, where He once again calls Himself God and says:

12 “Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done.

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22

As we can see, everything that Paul taught in this passage in Philippians 2 was also taught or spoken by Jesus. It is the same way with all that Paul taught. This because Paul had been personally selected by his Lord, who spoke these words to Ananias regarding the former persecutor of Jesus’ followers:

15 But the Lord said to [Ananias], “Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to take My name to Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites.

16 I will show him how much he must suffer for My name!” Acts 9

Jesus is Lord!