Philippians chapter 2 contains an exposition of the relationship between God and Jesus Christ. Verses 5 to 11 need to be read in context to see all the factors in their relationship. Paul tells us Jesus was in “the form of God” and that he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.” These words remind us of the temptation of Jesus when God’s spirit drove him into the wilderness to be tested (Luke 4:1-13). He resisted the temptation to use unlimited divine power in the wrong way, for he had been given “the Spirit without measure” (John 3:34). Jesus came to “serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Others had “grasped” and suffered for doing so. Think of Adam and Eve, tested to see whether they would obey God. They failed having “grasped” for knowledge hoping to become like God (Genesis 3:5). In contrast, Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross” (verse 8).

We recall Christ’s prayers in Gethsemane, agonizing about the sacrifice his Father had appointed for him to make. He said, “My Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Because of this attitude and resultant commitment, says Paul, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (verses 9,10).

Does it mean every tongue? Paul is looking ahead to the time when those granted eternal life will do this. We think of his words to the Romans, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart … you will be saved” (10:9). In Romans 6 Paul had expressed the meaning of baptism and how, as a result, “we shall be united with him in a resurrection like his” (verses 3-5). If we fail to confess our belief in Christ, that is counted as denial. There is no middle path. We have the blunt words of Mark 16:16 “whoever does not believe will be condemned”. May we all be among the tongues that confess a genuine belief from our hearts.