Last week, we began our consideration of the divine elevation of Jesus Christ through our exposition of Phil. 2:5-11. This text is one of the most important Christological passages in the New Testament. Phil. 2:5-8, also called the hymn of Christ, records a vital statement about the divine nature, redemptive work, and sovereign authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. It makes this statement about Jesus Christ in two parts: the Humiliation of Christ (Phil. 2:5-8) and the Exaltation of Christ (Phil. 2:9-11).
Having considered the first part of the hymn, namely, the humiliation of Christ (Phil. 2:5-8), we now turn to the second part of the hymn of Christ, namely, the Exaltation of Christ (Phil. 2:9-11). The two parts of this great hymn are connected by the first word of verse 9, that is, “therefore,” which signifies that what is about to be said is based on what has already been said. Verses 6-8 is a powerful description of how Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, humiliated himself when he came to earth as a man, lived as a servant, and died on a cross. But this second part describes God the Father’s sovereign response to the selfless humiliation of his only begotten Son. Verse 9 says, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” That phrase, “highly exalted,” is emphatic in the original. It is a compound term that could be translated, “God super-exalted him.” God lifted him above everything.
The humiliation of Christ was fully compensated by God. What, then, is the present reality of Christ’s Exaltation? Verse 9 says, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” Notice that God is the source of the exaltation of Christ. Christ did not exalt himself. And he was not and is not exalted by men. The exaltation of Christ is rooted in three real, concrete, and historic events. First, God exalted Christ through the resurrection (Acts 2:32-33). Likewise, God exalted Christ through the ascension (Acts 1:9-11). Finally, God exalted Christ through the coronation (Ephesians 1:20-22).
Finally, what is the future realization of Christ’s Exaltation? Philippians 2:10-11 explains the intended purpose and proper response to the exaltation of Christ: “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” One of the implications of this passage is that the lordship of Christ will not be denied (Verse 10). The second implication is that the lordship of Christ will not be debated (Verse 11). Verse 11 declares that there is coming a day when every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord but the text does not teach universalism. It does not teach that every person will be saved. We are called to evangelize the lost because every person will not automatically or inevitably be saved. Now, the primary message of this hymn is to the church: humble yourselves and God will exalt you.
But there is also a secondary message here for the lost: Humble yourselves and be saved. Have you ever asked the question: “What is the world coming to?” Philippians 2:9-11 answers that question. The world is coming to a day when every being in the created universe will recognize Jesus Christ as Lord. No tongue will be silent; no knee will be unbowed. But we are still in an age of grace. That means the promise of Romans 10:9 still stands: If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. To acknowledge him now is to receive his grace; to acknowledge him later is to suffer his judgment.