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“Jesus as Lordly Example”

July 15, 2010

With the kind permission of Wilfrid Laurier University Press, I have put a PDF of my essay, “Jesus as Lordly Example”, on the “Essays, etc.” page of this site.  In this essay (published in 1984), I sought to correct the then-popular view that Philippians 2:6-11 had no intended role in ethical exhortation, but instead should be read in isolation from its context.

It’s been cited a lot in commentaries on Philippians since its appearance.  But it’s sometimes hard to get your hands on (I’m told), because it was published in Canada and by a university press.  It’s an oldy, but (so numerous other scholars have told me), a goody.

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  1. Pär Stenberg permalink

    Mr. Carr

    I’m no Hurtado but I’d like to give this a shot if I may.

    What name Jesus is given is a matter of dispute. The most commonly argued options for what name Paul had in mind, at least as far as I have understood it, would be: “Jesus”, “YHWH” or “Lord” (the substitute name/title for Yahweh). I think the latter is the more favorable option in light of v. 11.

    A good case could be made for the name being “Jesus”, especially since v. 9 reads that every knee will bow at the name of Jesus, but I myself am not convinced. Gordon D. Fee argues in his book “Pauline Christology” that the phrase “at the name of Jesus” should be understood as “at the name which has been given to Jesus” every knee will bow etc. Also, the name “Jesus” does not seem to be directly connected with the exaltation of Christ (but rather be associated with his emptying); however, there does seems to be a connection to be made with “Lord” and the resurrection of Jesus. “The Name above ever other name” for a Jew would without a doubt be the name of YHWH, and Jesus is given that name in the form of the LXX substitute kurios.

    Hebr 1:4-5 is another parallel passage to consider. I would argue that the name that Jesus is given in this text is the name “Son” (see v. 5), but there are other options, e.g that the Son has in his exaltation inherited the name of his Father viz. Lord. I think Bauckham argues for the latter if I’m not mistaken.

    Interesting connection with the use of the name of Jesus in baptism. I have never considered that and it might be a possible link to be made. But if the name Jesus is given is “Lord” that would perhaps downplay the connection since Christians were not baptized in the name of the Lord but rather in the name of Jesus. Also since there is no mention or allusion to baptism in the surrounding context I wonder if I could draw a straight line from this text alone to baptism in Jesus name. But then again, I’m no scholar so I’ll be quite. 😉

    Oh well…
    *goes back into the shadows*

  2. Mr. Carr’s question (what is “the name above every name” given to Jesus in Philip. 2:9-11) is one that every commentator on the passage engages, and there are several proposals. In the main, however, scholars judge that the title given is specifically “Kyrios” (in ordinary Greek: “lord/master”), particularly because the acclamation in v. 11 is “Kyrios Iesous Christos” (“Lord Jesus Christ”, or perhaps “Jesus Christ [is] Lord”).

    A slightly variant form of the acclamation (“Kyrios Iesous”) is reflected elsewhere (Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor 12:3). Moreover, most judge that the Aramaic liturgical formula in 1 Cor 16:22 (“Maran atha” = “O/our Lord, come!”) is an artifact of Aramaic-speaking Jewish circles of believers in which Jesus was acclaimed and/or invoked as “Lord”.

    It is widely held that “Kyrios Iesous (Christos)” may represent the earliest identifiably Christian confession/creed. Note that in 1 Cor 1:2 Paul refers to believers universally in the simple descriptive as “all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”, alluding to the ritual practice of collective “confession/invocation” of Jesus, which was done as part of the rite of baptism, and likely also collectively to constitute the worship circle.

    The “calling upon” Jesus’ name in baptism seems to have been a response to what earliest believers believed was God’s action in installing Jesus as “Kyrios”, the one in whom now salvation is bestowed. Considerable research on the rite in its ancient Roman setting suggests that it included the idea of the baptized being now made the religious property of Jesus.

    Hebrews 1:1-4 refers also to Jesus “having inherited a name superior (to the angels)”, and in this passage too commentators explore what the author meant. For in Heb 1 there is a strong emphasis on Jesus’ divine sonship, leading some to wonder if “Son” is the name/title here. My own educated guess is that the author (writing as he/she was to fellow long-time Christians) alludes to the established view of Jesus as given the “Kyrios/Maryah” title at his resurrection/exaltation.

    The further question is what the title connoted. That too is a subject of considerable discussion/investigation. I have learned from modern semantics theory that words are to be understood *in sentences*, which means that the meaning of “kyrios” should be decided on a sentence-by-sentence basis. I see varying connotations in varying sentences in the NT. In some cases, Philip 2:9-11 one of them, “Kyrios” seems to = the divine name (“the name above every name”), in this passage Jesus made to share in it (with God “the Father”).

  3. Steven Carr permalink

    A very excellent article it is too.

    I have a short question about that passage.

    Philippians 2
    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
    that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

    Is this why Christians were required to be baptised ‘in the name of Jesus’?

    What name was given to Jesus when he was exalted to the highest place and given the name that is above every name?

  4. Bob Kuo permalink

    Larry, thanks for posting your publications! It is hard for a layperson and sometimes even seminary students to get a hold of publications.

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