Did Jesus Always Exist in the form of God?
Philippians 2:6 "Who, although He existed (HUPARCHO = “To Begin under”, or to “come into existence) in the form of God, did not regard EQUALITY (isos) with God a thing to be grasped …”
HUPARCHO (hoop-ar'-kho)– TRANSLATED AS “EXISTED” in Philippians 2:6
Some Trinitarians have alleged that the Greek word “huparcho” in Philippians 2:6 means “eternally existing.”
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance - EXIST "Huparcho"
"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", "TO COME INTO EXISTENCE."
Wherefore, Greek scholars could have translated Philippians 2:6 to read, "although he began existing in the form of God." Such a translations disproves Trinitarian theology but perfectly agrees with Oneness theology. I ask our Trinitarian friends to show how the word "huparcho" has anything to do with "eternally existing?" Such a view is only in Trinitarian wishful thinking.
Thayer's Greek Lexicon
STRONGS NT 5225: ὑπάρχω ὑπάρχω; 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
HUPARCHO is never used for God anywhere in the Bible.
W. E. Vine's An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 390. "to make a beginning (hupo, `under'; arche, `a beginning')" –
The Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell and Scott (Trinitarians) says,
"[huparcho] ... 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 “huparcho” can be translated as “existed”, the full nuance of meaning is that huparcho means something that has come into existence at some point in time.
The Trinitarian NT Greek expert 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...."
p. 106, New Testament Greek Primer, Zondervan Publishing House, 1978 printing.
Luke 16:23 - "he lifted up his eyes, being [huparcho] in torment," NASB.
The rich man could not have always eternally existed in the state of torment because “huparcho” proves that the rich man had “come to be” in torment at a point in time.
In like manner, Christ Jesus “huparcho” “began to exist” or “came to be” in existence in Philippians 2:6. Thus proving that the Son could not have always existed in the form of God throughout eternity past!
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: James 2:15 says, "If a brother or sister be [huparcho] naked [`without clothes'] …" Obviously a brother or sister could not have always eternally existed in a naked condition throughout eternity past. This proves that the Greek verb “huparcho” means that a person has “began” or “came into” a particular condition rather than always having been in that condition.
Trinitarian Bible scholar Dr. Robert Young noted the correct, complete meaning for uparcho in this verse: "BEGIN to be [uparcho] naked" - Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Baker Book House, 1977 ed.)
Therefore, huparcho does not mean "eternal pre-existence" as claimed by some Trinitarians.
ISOS – EQUAL WITH GOD MEANS TO BE IDENTICAL WITH GOD
Philippians 2:6 "Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard EQUALITY (isos) with God a thing to be grasped …”
The true identity of the Son is equal with the omnipresent Father in the same sense that the Greek word "isos" in Acts 11:17 means "identical" or the "same as."
"If God gave to them (the Gentiles) THE SAME (ISOS) GIFT as He gave to us (the Jews) also after believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"
Just as the gift of the Holy Spirit that was poured out on the Gentile believers is “identical” (or “the same”) as the gift of the Holy Spirit that was poured out on the Jews, so the deity of the Son is identical (or “the same”) as the deity of the Father.
The same Greek word "isos" is used in Philippians 2:6 which can be translated as "equal, identical, or same." Therefore the man Christ Jesus did not regard being "equal", "identical", or being the "same" as God a thing to be gasped (Philippians 2:6). Hence the deity of the Son is the same identical deity of God the Father via incarnation (as a true man) just as the gift of the Spirit that was poured out on the Gentiles is the same identical Spirit that was poured out on the Jewish brethren. Paul wrote, “he existed in the form of God” (past tense) because the man Christ Jesus began to exist “in the form of God” on earth as a man before his death.
The word “form,” in the original Greek is “morphe,” which means “form” or “outward appearance.” Hence, Philippians 2:5-9 is not speaking about an unseen spiritual form existing with God prior to the incarnation, but rather, a physical and tangible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) that was made visible for all to see after he was “made of a woman (Galatians 4:4/Luke 1:35/Hebrews 2:9/Romans 1:3-4).”
Hence, the "form" (morphe) of God in Philippians 2:6-7 must be an "outward form" or physical "image" (Colossians 1:15) as "the word made flesh" (John 1:14) rather than an alleged invisible unseen image before the incarnation.
Mark 16:12 is the only other place in the Greek NT that uses the Greek word "morphe.” The text says that "Jesus appeared in a different form (a resurrected morphe)." We know that Jesus could not have appeared in an invisible form after his resurrection or Docetism would be true. Therefore the meaning of the Greek word “morphe,” translated as “form” in Philippians 2:6, proves that a visible and tangible form or image of the invisible God was already made flesh rather than an alleged pre-incarnate form or image.
Ignatius of Antioch who lived in the first century and was taught by the apostles, wrote to Polycarp 3:2,
"Look for Him who is above time - the Timeless, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible, the Impassible, who became subject to suffering on our account and for our sake endured everything."
Notice that Ignatius wrote that the God who became visible in the incarnation was first “invisible” before his birth. This sheds light on Paul’s meaning of Christ Jesus existing in the form of God in Philippians 2:6. Jesus had existed in the visible form of God on the earth, but before becoming visible, He was first invisible. Thus proving that Jesus could not have eternally existed in an alleged visible form of God before his birth.
Trinitarians do greatly err by alleging that the Son could be seen in the Hebrew Bible while the Father could not be seen. Yet Ignatius of Antioch wrote that the God who became incarnate was first “INVISIBLE, who for our sake became VISIBLE.” Therefore Ignatius believed that the only invisible Father became the visible Son who was “subject to suffering on our account.”
Likewise, Mathetes who was also taught by the apostles in the first century, wrote in his Epistle to Diognetus Chapter 11, “He who is from everlasting, IS TODAY CALLED THE SON.”
Since the earliest Christians of the first century taught that the Son is “today called the Son,” we know that the Son was not actually called a Son before his birth at Bethlehem.
When we compare Colossians 1:15 with Philippians 2:6, we find that Jesus is also spoken of as “The image OF THE INVISIBLE GOD.” We know that Jesus actually existed in the form or image of the invisible God when He was born at Bethlehem. For it would have been impossible for Jesus to have existed in the form or “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) if that form or image was also invisible.
It would be nonsensical if Colossians 1:15 read, “Who is the (invisible) image of the invisible God” with the word “invisible” being interpolated before the words “image of the invisible God?” Jesus could not have always existed in an invisible image of the invisible God and still be that image. So if Philippians 2:6 is speaking about an invisible form or image of the invisible God, then Colossians 1:15 should read something like this, “who is the (invisible) image of the invisible God …” Since an invisible image of the invisible God is nonsensical and contradictory, we must rightly divine the word of truth by believing that Jesus existed in the physical form or image of the invisible God by being born via incarnation through the virgin on earth.
Although Jesus is spoken of as the visible “form of God” (“the image of the invisible God” - Colossians 1:15), he “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” The words, “DID NOT REGARD EQUALITY WITH GOD A THING TO BE GRASPED,” prove that Philippians 2:6 is not speaking about an alleged non-incarnate Second Divine God Person up in heaven (prior to the incarnation), who would have already been fully God with God the Father in the first place.
Since the text says, “did not regard equality with GOD,” and not, “did not regard equality with” God the Father, it is apparent that the person who had the capacity to do the regarding, could not have had the capacity to think as another coequal God Person beside God the Father in heaven. For it is nonsensical to believe that an alleged non-incarnate coequal God Person who was not human, could have thought about being equal with another coequal true God Person if that God Person was already a true God Person to begin with.
Verses 7-8 “… but emptied Himself, taking the form [morphe = “outward appearance”] of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
The conservative Lockman Foundation’s Apostolic Bible Polyglot Interlinear (by Charles Van Der Pool) translated Philippians 2:7-8 from the Greek text as follows:
“But emptied himself, having taken the form of a servant, having been made in the likeness of men. And having been found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself …”
The literal Interlinear translation from the Greek text indicates that Jesus “emptied himself,” “having taken the form of a servant.” In other words, he emptied himself after he took “the form of a servant because he had “been made in the likeness of men.” Therefore he was already a man when he emptied himself of his divine rights and privileges as “God with us” as a man.
Furthermore, an alleged pre-incarnate Yahweh God the Son could not have emptied Himself of His divine attributes without violating Malachi 3:6 which says, “I am YAHWEH, I CHANGE NOT.” If Jesus did not empty Himself of his divine attributes, then what exactly did he empty himself of in Philippians 2:7?
Philippians 2:8 provides us with the answer.
“Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Although Jesus knew His true identity as God with us as a true man, he did not use his divine prerogatives as God, but humbled himself by continually laying aside his divine rights and privileges in his earthly ministry. It is in this sense that Jesus continually emptied himself of His divine rights while on the earth as a man! As a true man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”