Did Jesus Always Exist in the Form of God? Philippians 2:5-6-7



The Mind of Christ Jesus

Prior to addressing Christ Jesus existing in “the form” (morphe) of God in Philippians 2:6, Paul first addressed Christ Jesus as a man in Philippians 2:5 when he exhorted the Philippians to follow the example of the mind of Christ Jesus.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5 BLB)

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus …” (1 Tim. 2:5 BLB)

The context of Philippians 2:5 is the same as the context of 1 Timothy 2:5 in which the words “Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5)” are the same as “the man Christ Jesus” in 1 Timothy 2:5. Thus it is ridiculous to assert that a pre-incarnate God the Christ Jesus (a God the anointed Christ Jesus) could be a pre-incarnate Almighty divine person. For how could the Philippians believers have possibly followed the example of an alleged Heavenly God the Christ Jesus who they knew nothing about? The Gospel narratives plainly declare to us the life and ministry of the mind of Christ Jesus, but nowhere do we find any example of an alleged mind of a God the Christ Jesus up in heaven before the incarnation.

Furthermore, the word “Christ” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah” (Hebrew – mashiach) which literally means the “anointed one.” If Philippians 2:5-6 is addressing an alleged pre-incarnate God the Christ Jesus, then how could a pre-incarnate Almighty Divine Person be said to have been anointed by his God if he was already a coequal Almighty divine person with his God in the first place? For God who anoints, is greater than he who is anointed by His God.

HUPARCHON TRANSLATED AS “EXISTED” IN PHILIPPIANS 2:6

Some Trinitarians have alleged that the Greek verb “huparchon” in Philippians 2:6 means that Jesus “eternally existed” in the form of God.

Philippians 2:6, “Who, although He EXISTED (HUPARCHON = “To Begin under”, or to “come into existence) in the form of God, did not regard EQUALITY (ISOS = "identical" or the "same as”) with God a thing to be grasped …”

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance - EXIST “Huparchon”: “From hupo and archomai; TO BEGIN UNDER (quietly), i.e. COME INTO EXISTENCE (be present or at hand); expletively, to exist (as copula or subordinate to an adjective, participle, adverb or preposition, or as an auxiliary to a principal (verb) -- after, behave, live.”

Notice the words, “TO BEGIN UNDER” and “TO COME INTO EXISTENCE.”

Greek scholars could have translated Philippians 2:6 to read, “… although he began existing in the form of God.” Such a translation would disprove Trinitarian theology but perfectly agrees with Oneness theology. I ask our Trinitarian friends to show how the word “huparchon”has anything to do with eternally existing in the “form of God?” Such a view is only in Trinitarian wishful thinking.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon correctly defines the meaning of “huparchon”: STRONGS NT 5225: ὑπάρχωὑπάρχω; imperfect ὑπῆρχον;

1. Properly, TO BEGIN below, to make A BEGINNING; universally, TO BEGIN; (Homer, Aeschylus, Herodotus, and following).

2. TO COME FORTH, hence, to be there, be ready, be at hand

W. E. Vine's, an Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 390 states that huparcho means “to make a beginning(hupo, ‘under'; arche, ‘a beginning.')

The Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell and Scott (Trinitarians) says,

“[huparchon] ... to begin, make a beginning ... 2. to make a beginning of ... 3. to begin doing ... 4. to begin [doing] kindness to one ... Pass. to be begun” (p. 831, Oxford University Press, 1994 printing).

Although the Greek verb “huparchon” can be translated as “existed”, sometimes the full nuance of meaning can imply that one has come into a particular state of existence at some point in time. Huparchon can denote that a person has come from one state of existence into a new state of existence. For example, Luke 16:23 (NASB) says, “he lifted up his eyes, being [hyparchon] in torment…” The rich man had lived a life of luxury during his short existence on earth, but after being cast into hell (Hades), he entered into a new state of existence in hell in which he found himself “being (hyparchon) in torment.” Wherefore, “huparchon” shows that the rich man had died and went into a new state of existence in hell in which he found himself “being (hyparchon) in torment.”

The rich man could not have always eternally existed in the state of torment because “huparchon” proves that the rich man had “come to be” in torment at a point in time. In like manner, Christ Jesus “huparchon” “began to exist” or “came to be” in existence in the form (morphe) of God in Philippians 2:6. Hence, the Son could not have always existed in the form of God throughout eternity past!

Oneness believers affirm that God the Father Himself was manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16) rather than an alleged timeless God the Son. Therefore, “huparchon” only shows that God Himself (the omnipresent Father) entered into a new state of existence when He became incarnate in “the form of God.”

Other examples where “huparcho” is used to prove that persons “began,” or “came to be” in a particular condition: Luke 16:23; Acts 2:30; Acts 7:55; Ro. 4:19; 2 Cor. 8:17; James 2:15 (plural form).

Another example is found in James 2:15 which says, “If a brother or sister be [hyparchosen] naked [‘without clothes’] …” Obviously a brother or sister could not have always existed in a naked condition. This proves that the Greek verb “hyparchosen” means that a person has “began” or “came into” a particular condition rather than having always been in that condition. While Jesus as a human son obviously pre-existed his virgin conception as God, he certainly came into a new state of existence in the form of God via his virgin conception and birth.

Trinitarian Bible scholar Dr Robert Young noted the correct, complete meaning for uparcho in James 2:15, “BEGIN to be [uparcho] naked” (Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Baker Book House, 1977 ed.)

Wherefore, if Trinitarians want to affirm that the context of huparchon used in Philippians 2:6 proves that Jesus pre-existed his virgin conception as God, then they must acknowledge that God also entered into a new state of existence “in the form (morphe) of God” via his virgin conception.

Dr David Jeremiah wrote, “If anyone had the right to be self-centered, it was Jesus Christ. He had existed throughout eternity. The word used here for ‘being’ (existed - huparchon) occurs fifty-nine times in the New Testament, and every time it has reference to prior existence.” (Source: Under Philippians 2:6 Commentary at http://www.preceptaustin.org/philippians_26_commentary)

In his book, “The Incarnation (published in 1896),” E H Gifford explained the incarnation within the context of Philippians 2:6 in a very modalistic fashion:

“Thus it is not the nature or essence … but the mode of existence that is described in this second clause [“did not consider it robbery to be equal with God”]; and one mode of existence may be changed for another, though the essential nature is immutable.(Source: Under Philippians 2:6 Commentary at http://www.preceptaustin.org/philippians_26_commentary)

If Mr Gifford was addressing a pre-incarnate coequal God the Son in Philippians 2:6, then why would Mr Gifford describe the second clause of Philippians 2:6b as “one mode of existence” that was “changed for another” mode of existence while “the essential nature” remained “immutable?” Since it is not reasonable or rational to affirm that a pre-incarnate second distinct true God Person could “not consider it robbery to be equal with” another true God Person, Mr Gifford affirmed that the mode of existence of God had already been “changed for another” “mode of existence” “in the form of God” (in Philippians 2:6A) while “the essential nature” of God remained “immutable.”

MY PAST MISTAKE ABOUT HUPARCHON

I had written an online article and published a YouTube video in which I cited a quote from Dr Alfred Marshall which contained erroneous information. Unfortunately, I also used this quote in one of my debates which has been posted on YouTube. The inaccuracy of this quote misled me into denying the full nuance of meaning of the word “huparchon” which can also deal with pre-existence.

I had found and used an online quote from Trinitarian scholar Dr Alfred Marshall which contains false information about “huparchon.” Dr Marshall allegedly wrote that “huparchon” is “not used for God” in scripture. Although this quote appears on several websites, it contains false information from Dr Marshall: http://searchforbibletruths.blogspot.com/2010/07/huparchon-or-uparchon-does-word-being.html http://aservantofjehovah.blogspot.com/2017/08/phillipians26-8-demystified.html

Dr Alfred Marshall wrote, “[Ginomai] denotes the coming into existence of what did not exist before.... This verb [just like huparchon] is therefore not used of God....”

Perhaps the words “[just like huparchon]” used in brackets were erroneously added to Dr Marshall’s original statement. If that is the case, I apologize to Dr Marshall for citing him incorrectly. Contrary to the quote I found from Trinitarian scholar, Dr Alfred Marshall, the Greek verb “huparchon” is used for God in Acts 17:24 and also in the Greek Septuagint.

Acts 17:24 uses “huparchon” for God becoming the “Lord of heaven and earth” after He had “made the world and all things therein.”

“God that made the world (past tense) and all things therein, seeing that he is (huparchon) Lord of heaven and earth.” Acts 17:24

After God had made the world and all things therein, He became its Lord via creation. Thus, if Trinitarians want to claim that huparchon shows pre-existence in Philippians 2:6, then it only proves that God entered into a new state of existence by becoming incarnate in “the form of God” as the man Christ Jesus.

Although we strongly disagree with Tertullian’s Semi-Arian theology, Tertullian was right when he wrote that God “became LORD by means of those things which He had made.”

“God is in like manner a Father, and He is also a Judge; but He has not always been Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. FOR HE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE FATHER PREVIOUS TO THE SON, nor a judge previous to sin. THERE WAS, HOWEVER, A TIME WHEN NEITHER SIN EXISTED WITH HIM, NOR THE SON; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the latter a Father. In this way He was not Lord previous to those things of which He was to be the Lord. But He was only to become Lord at some future time: just as HE BECAME THE FATHER BY THE SON, and a Judge by sin, so also did He become Lord by means of those things which He had made, in order that they might serve Him.” (Tertullian, Against Hermogenes, chapter 3)

Tertullian’s comments show why “huparchon” is used in Acts 17:24 to indicate that God became (huparchon) the Lord of all of His creation after He had “made the world and all things therein.” Hence, the context of some scriptures proves that huparchon can be used for someone moving from one condition (or state of being) to another new condition (or state of being). For example, Luke 16:23 (NASB) says, "he lifted up his eyes, being [huparchon] in torment." The rich man could not have always existed in the state of torment because “huparchon” proves that the rich man had “come to be” in torment at a point in time (Luke 16:23). In like manner, Christ Jesus “huparchon” “began to exist” or “came to be” in the existence in the form (morphe) of God in Philippians 2:6.

The fact that “hyparchon” is used in the same clause with “morphe” in Philippians 2:6A (hos en morphe theos hyparchon – “who in the form of God existing [hyparchon]”), proves that the true identity of Jesus Christ previously existed as God before “beginning to exist” (hyparchon) in a new mode of existence “in the form of God” as a man on the earth. Although many Trinitarian scholars claim that form/morphe means an eternal nature rather than a visible form (as cited by many Trinitarian scholars in various Commentaries and Lexicons), there is not a single scripture in the Greek NT or in the Greek Septuagint to show that "morphe" ever means an eternal nature.

Morphe is clearly used of Christ appearing in his resurrected body in Mark 16:12. The Septuagint also uses the word “morphe”, but never in the sense of a timeless spiritual nature. In fact, there is not a single verse of scripture to show that the Son of God always existed in the form (morphe) of God throughout eternity past!

Professor Barry Smith of Atlantic Baptist University wrote in his exegesis on the letter to the Hebrews 1:3,

“The Greek word (Charakter) can mean the literal imprint of something, that which corresponds to the die. Relatedly, it can refer to something as THE COPY OF AN ORIGINAL. This is confirmed by an inscription on a statue of Antiochus I of Commagene that reads: ‘exact image (charakter) of my form (morphe)’” (charaktêra morphês emês) (Dittenberger, Or. 383, 60).

The inscription on the statue of the Grecian King Antiochus plainly reads, the “exact image of my form (morphe).” Here we can see that the ancient Greeks thought of morphe as an “exact image” of a person’s visible form (morphe) rather than a person’s invisible nature. Therefore the Greek word “morphe” used in Philippians 2:6-7 as “the form (morphe) of God” and “the form (morphe) of a slave” must refer to Jesus as “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) as the exact image of the invisible Father’s Person as a visible human person.

Huparchon is used for God in Acts 17:24 because God entered into a new condition after He began His creation, “The God who made (past tense) the world and all things in it, since He is (huparchon) Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands ...”

The context proves that God did not always rule over the things he made before he made them. It is in this context that huparchon is used because the Lord began to rule over heaven and earth after he made all things in the heavens and the earth. For Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Could the Father have actually ruled over the heavens and the earth before he made them?

The context of Psalm 55:19 (with huparchon used in the Septuagint), also indicates that God began to rule over the heavens and the earth as “the one who sits enthroned from OF OLD (after he created all things).” The word “old” is translated from qedem (keh'dem)”which literally mean, from “afore time” or from “ancient time.” Therefore the word “qedem” strongly implies that the Reigning Throne of God had a beginning (“from ancient time”) when God first began to reign over His new creation.

The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Ephesians 1-3, page 111 states,