Philippians 2 is about the humility and exaltation of Jesus Christ. It says that He went from the highest place (equality with God the Father), to the lowest place (death as a criminal) and back to the highest place (the right hand of God the Father). After describing Christ’s incarnation and death, Paul writes,
“Therefore God exalted Him [Jesus] to the highest place
and gave Him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11NIV).
The word “every” occurs three times in this passage.
- Every name
Because of Christ’s incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension, God “exalted Him [Jesus] to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name”. This exaltation was predicted in the Old Testament (Isa. 52:13; 53:12; Dan. 7:14) and confirmed in the New Testament (Acts 2:33; Heb. 2:9; Eph. 1:20-21). The word “name” is equivalent to character. Christ’s character is above that of all others. Above all people and all angels. His character is unique. Jesus is supreme. According to the book of Hebrews, He is superior to the angels, to Moses and the law, to the Jewish priesthood, and to the Jewish sacrificial system. He’s the ultimate hero. The One above all others.
- Every knee
God exalted Jesus so that “every knee should bow” before Him. This means to “bow down in worship” (Ps. 95:6). In the future all creatures will be compelled to worship Him – people and angels and demons. This was not a new idea because it was known about 750 years earlier (Isa. 45:22-24).
This will happen when He will be revealed in great power and glory at the second coming of Christ and into His following Millennial reign. Although submission to God is optional now, it will be mandatory then.
Christ’s the one to be praised and worshipped. True worship needs content. Emotion alone is not sufficient. We need to worship the Lord for Christ’s sacrificial death for us.
- Every tongue
And God exalted Jesus so that “every tongue (will) acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord”. Paul repeats this in Romans (Rom. 14:11). This is public acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord of all. When we acknowledge the lordship of Christ, we glorify God the Father because it was His plan to save us from sin. And it means that Jesus has the right to absolute rule over our lives.
If we acknowledge it now while we are still alive, then there is salvation from our sin (Rom. 10:9-10). But if we die or Christ returns before we do, then we will be forced to do so when we are judged by God for our sins (Rev. 20:11-15). So timing is important. Don’t delay!
So let‘s choose now to bow our knees (or hearts) in worship and engage our tongues in praise to acknowledge the name above all names before everyone will be compelled to do this.