that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth
Philippians 2:10 | NIV (1984) | Other Versions | Context
Humility. The book of Philippians is known for a great many verses, especially in chapter 4, where many short but impactful verses would certainly rank amongst the favourites of a great number of Christians over the generations. In chapter 2, however, Paul implored the Philippians to practise humility – to imitate the humility of Christ, Jesus Christ, to whom we are to revere. Jesus is worthy of being worshiped by every being in heaven, on earth and under; and yet, such a man was immensely humble himself. His humility was expressed at his willingness to lower down himself, to become flesh, to suffer in our stead, and to die for those whom did not deserve it, whether they appreciated it or not. We have no such opportunity – or need – to express our humility in such epic proportions. Our greatest act of humility is, perhaps as simple as it sounds – the bowing of our knees. In this study, we will examine how the extent of the greatness of Christ is such that every single being on earth ought to express our greatest humility to him and submit to him in reverence and worship.
in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and that’s basically, everywhere – not just horizontally so, but also vertically so. If the Bible just said everywhere, we would have merely thought of all the creatures on the earth, since it is not natural for us to see things of the spiritual realm. What are the beings in heaven? Spiritual beings, generally understood as angels in our lingo. Beings under the earth? Either the spiritual beings – the evil spirits or devil in the abyss, or the dead in the grave. They too will confess that Jesus is Lord, compelled to acknowledge him and submit to his universal will. Beings on earth? Most prominently, human beings, but some would include all the living creatures too, even if majority of them do not have knees and have no obvious methods of being able to worship the Lord. Yet, so great is Jesus our Lord that even those who seemingly cannot worship him will worship him; even those who seemingly never would worship him will come to worship him, and every being – horizontally or vertically will worship him. The sheer extent of the magnitude of this verse is necessary for the reverence that our Lord deserves.
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow – Jesus is not an uncommon name amongst the Jews. It is the Greek version of the name Joshua, which is a rather popular name, and even the Joshua in the Bible was called Jesus once, in Hebrews 4:8. Not many versions kept it as Jesus, since it was obvious that it was referring to Joshua, but check out some older versions like the KJV – For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. I’ve personally never come across anyone called ‘Jesus’, but I’m sure there are many, and if we take this verse literally, are we supposed to kneel and bow at them? Or, are we supposed to kneel in reverence every time somebody says ‘Jesus’? That might mean we have to kneel several times a day, especially on Sundays. The name alone has no power – we’re not to worship the name, but to worship the One who has that name in the Bible. It is not because of the name that Jesus is worshiped but it is because of Jesus that the name is celebrated. And when we pray in His name, because’s it’s him, there is power – not because of the name itself. This concept is not hard to understand, but what about the kneeling?
every knee should bow – which basically means, every being should revere the Lord, whether you have a knee or not. I’m not much of a kneeling person, being brought up in a church with no kneeling culture. In my society we don’t kneel or even bow a tenth the times that the Japanese or the Koreans do. Some years ago a Korean pastor joined my church, and he delivered a message during a small, 30 person prayer meeting while kneeling for 45 minutes, I remember being impressed, but at the same time very distracted – as he spoke, I kept thinking “when is he going to stop kneeling?” I’ve no excuse for myself – but it was a culture shock. Kneeling is, in most cultures at least, the highest form of reverence that one can express to another. It is a humbling act, an act that recognizes the other as greater, as superior, as worthy of being submitted to.
Whether you kneel or not, whether you stop for a moment to revere Jesus or not every time you hear his name, I think that’s not the point of this verse. When Paul spoke to the Philippians – in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! [Phil 2:5-8] – to have the same mindset as Christ, it is the mindset of humility. We’re never too good for anything.
And we’re certainly not too good to kneel down before Christ.
One thing that is desperately needed in the body of Christ is sound teaching and doctrine. It doesn’t matter to me whether someone goes to a Baptist church, a Methodist church, or a Pentecostal church, or whatever. What matters is there sound teaching and doctrine based on the word of God, and not on one’s opinions.
Whenever I visit your site, I am always, always blessed to read solid biblical teaching. You don’t present your theories and opinions. You simply teach, straight from the word, and I truly appreciate that. Today, in this teaching, you took one of my favorite scripture passages, one that I’ve taught on many times, and you delved into it beautifully, bringing forth a glorious study on humility and the importance of us revering Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Thank you for the time you spend each day, studying God’s word, and then sharing it with us so humbly and simply. I don’t know if you’re aware of it or not, but each month, I do a post called “Share the Love,” in which I highlight another blogger’s site. I always listen and wait for the Lord to show me who to highlight, and with your permission, I would like to “Share the Love” with your blog in April, and encourage people to check your site out and read it. You have so much godly wisdom to share, and I want to be obedient to the Lord as I share the love with you. My email address is email@example.com, and all I need from you is to know which, of all of the posts you’ve done, is your favorite, as well as anything else you would like me to share about you or your blog site.
Many blessings to you, my friend, and please, continue to do what you are doing, because even though there are more bibles being printed than at any other time in history, as the Lord said in Amos, “The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine on the land — not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 People will stagger everywhere from sea to sea, searching for the word of the LORD, running here and going there, but they will not find it. 13 Beautiful girls and fine young men will grow faint and weary, thirsting for the LORD’s word.” (Amos 8:11-13 NLT)
Much love to you,
Thank you for taking the time to write at length to me even though I kinda remember having ignored some of your comments in the past – for that I apologize – I don’t always have the time to respond, and half the time I don’t know what to say, but know that I appreciate all the encouragement that you’ve given me. This I can do – but give me a couple of days.
And much as I’m not really inclined to study verses from the prophets because they require so much more time and effort, I’m so desperate for inspiration and so tight on time these days that I won’t let a verse that has fallen on my doorstep just pass me by. You’ll probably see Amos 8:11 here soon.
Thank you, but above all, thank God for you. I’ll get back to you via email after Monday.