Exegesis of Philippians 2:5-11 (Verses 10-11)

Philippians 2:10

Verse 10, a subordinate clause of verse 9, notes Jesus’ vindication with a citation from Isaiah 45:23 and also includes three sub-points. The verse reads; “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (NASB). The conjunction ἵνα (ina, “so that”) is vital in that it demonstrates the intent of the Father for His Son. The Father’s purpose in the exaltation of the Son is for obeisance and vindication due to His humility, rejection by His own people (John 1:12) and cross death; “Therefore God has highly exalted Him . . . so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow . . .” (Phil. 2:9a, 2:10a, ESV).[1]

It is interesting to note that the citation of Isaiah 45:23 helps to explain the “form” and “equality” of verse 6. Here, the apostle uses a direct Old Testament citation that can only be applied to YHWH; thus, further adding to His point of humility. Moreover, the submission that is to be declared by all who are; (1) in Heaven, (2) on the earth and (3) under the earth, finds a fuller fulfillment in verse 11 where it is proclaimed that “every tongue will confess” that “κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς” (“kurios Iesous Christos”). The use of the term “LORD” for the Son in this context is quite revealing, given the context of Philippians 2:5-11 and Paul’s citation of Isaiah 45:23. In the LXX, the term “LORD” is substituted for the Divine name of YHWH. The Greek word for “LORD” is that of “κύριος” (kurios), the very same term used of the Son in verse 11. Point-in-fact, the context of Isaiah 45, which Paul has in view via his citation, demands the proclamation of Jesus Christ as YHWH. In Isaiah 45:3, it is clear that it is the Covenant God of Israel speaking when the text declares, “ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς,” (“ego kurios ho theos” > “I LORD the God”). Yet, in the Hebrew, it is the name of YHWH (יהוה ) that is in view in verse 3. Silva proclaims the following on this view; “Whether or not Paul composed the Christ-hymn, it patently expresses his own conviction that the worship of Jesus Christ does not compromise Israel’s monotheistic faith. On the contrary, Jesus Christ the righteous Savior bears the name of the one Lord, Yahweh, ‘to the glory of God the Father.”[2]  With these words, correspondence is found between the author’s argument, scholarship and Paul’s citation of Isaiah 45:23.

Philippians 2:11

Having already presented the Deity, humility and exaltation of the Son in preceding text, verse 11 is a continuation of the apostle’s argument from verses 2:9b through 2:10. All in Heaven, earth and under the earth will bow and profess that Jesus Christ is YHWH and this to the Glory of God the Father. Paul’s words in 2:11b fill in the purpose clause found in the beginning of verse 9 and also relate to intra-Trinitarian communion. It was the Father’s purpose to glorify and vindicate the Son according to the humility and obedience He displayed (vs. 6-8). This glorification includes the exaltation of the God-man to His former pre-incarnate position of glory and the proclamation and conformation that Jesus Christ is YHWH, the second member of the Triune “Godhead.” Thus, to glorify one member of the Trinity is to glorify all of the members of the Trinity, which is to glorify the one “being” of God; hence, Paul’s words or usage of the “Christ Hymn” to close his argument.

[1] Isaiah 45:23 is in view in verse 10, which is noted by its direct citation; “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance” (NASB).

[2] Silva, 112.