Philippians 2

Philippians 2:2 be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind

"Whereas the spirit of the world divides, the Spirit of God unites. Whereas the spirit of the world encourages divisive competition, the Spirit of God prompts us to look to the needs of others and to cooperate. In short, whereas the spirit of the world celebrates diversity as an end in itself, the Spirit of God calls us to unity in all our diversity." (Robert L. Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 124-125.)

Wilford Woodruff

With all the divisions, and all the discontent, and the quarrelings and opposition among the powers on earth, or that have been revealed from heaven, I have never heard that it has ever been revealed to the children of men that there was any division between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. They are one. They always have been one. They always will be one, from eternity unto eternity. (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 127.)

Joseph F. Smith

Whatever creates a discord in the spirit and unity of the Saints is of evil origin. The Spirit of God never begets strife, nor does it set up and insist on distinctions among those who have been its recipients. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 115.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

The Lord said, Except ye are one, ye are not mine. (See D&C 38:27.) This great unity is the hallmark of the true church of Christ. It is felt among our people throughout the world. As we are one, we are his. ("Except Ye Are One," Ensign, November 1983, p. 5.)

Stephen L. Richards

Our unanimity of thought and action does not arise, as some suppose, from duress or compulsion in any form. Our accord comes from universal agreement with righteous principles and common response to the operation of the Spirit of our Father. It is actuated by no fear except one. That is the fear of offending God, the Author of our work. (Conference Report, October 1938, p. 116.)

Philippians 2:3-4 let each esteem other better than themselves

George Q. Cannon

Wealth is a blessing when properly used... When people set their affections upon it, are made vain and proud by it, think themselves a little better than their neighbor because of it, then it becomes a curse. When men and women and their children can dress better than their neighbors, can live in finer and more elegantly furnished houses, can have better education and finer horses and carriages and, because of their advantages, look down upon others who do not have them, they are in an unfortunate position and are to be pitied. With such feelings wealth does not bring happiness. (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 524.)

Brigham Young

"There are hundreds of people in these valleys, who never owned a cow in the world, until they came here, but now they have got a few cows and sheep around them, a yoke of oxen, and a horse to ride upon, they feel to be personages of far greater importance than Jesus Christ was, when he rode into Jerusalem upon an ass's colt. They become puffed up in pride, and selfishness, and their minds become attached to the things of this world. They become covetous, which makes them idolators. Their substance engrosses so much of their attention, they forget their prayers, and forget to attend the assemblies of the Saints, for they must see to their land, or to their crops that are suffering, until by and by the grasshoppers come like a cloud, and cut away the bread from their mouth, introducing famine and distress, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God." (1853, Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 267)

Philippians 2:5-6 Jesus...being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God

Paul uses curious language to describe the divinity of Jesus Christ. "Jesus...being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Why would Paul use such language? Is he afraid to say that Jesus of Nazareth and Jehovah, the God of Abraham, are indeed the same individual? From our perspective, equating Jesus with God is not difficult. However, in Paul's day, such a belief was blasphemy. Indeed, the ancient Jews did think it was robbery, even highway robbery, for Jesus to make himself equal with God. The orthodoxy of the day made no room for God taking upon himself the form of a man.

What had happened to the writings of Zenock, Neum, and Zenos (1 Ne. 19:10)? What happened to the understanding of Nephi who knew that "the Son of the everlasting God was [to be] judged of the world,... lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world" (1 Ne. 11:32)? That the Jews would "crucify the God of Israel" (1 Ne. 19:13) was prophesied, but Satan would not allow such plain and precious truths to survive. And so the divinity of Jesus was a great stumbling block. But it wasn't the Son who was making himself equal with the Father. Rather it was the Father making the Son equal by virtue of his obedience to the cross. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name." (v. 9)

Another note is Paul's reference to Christ "being in the form of God." To support Christ's divinity, Paul references that Jesus was created in the image of the Father. Hereby, Paul alludes to Christ's divine nature and also Man's divine potential. Today, the cycle repeats itself. Like the faithless and uninspired of Paul's day, modern Christianity fails to recognize the inheritance of the saints. As the Jews cried blasphemy at the notion that Christ was divine, they cry, "Blasphemy!" at the Latter-day Saint notion of Man's divine potential. In Paul's curious language, the Mormons contend that the saints of God, "being in the form of God, think it not robbery to be made equal with God." (Rom. 8:17; 1 John 3:2)

Lorenzo Snow

We may look forward far away into the spirit-land, with full assurance that when reaching that happy clime, we shall be crowned with the sons and daughters of God, and possess the wealth and glory of a Celestial kingdom.

Apostle Paul in his time, taught the Saints to have the same mind in them as was in Christ Jesus, who, finding Himself in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Apostle John, on the same subject says, "When Jesus appears we shall be like Him." "Every one that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as God is pure."

As man is, God once was-even the babe of Bethlehem, advancing to childhood-thence to boyhood, manhood, then to the Godhood, this, then, is the "mark of the prize of man's high calling in Christ Jesus."

We are the offspring of God, begotten by Him in the spirit world, where we partook of His nature as children here partake of the likeness of their parents. Our trials and sufferings give us experience, and establish within us principles of godliness. ("The Atoning Sacrifice: Modern Prophets Testify," Ensign, Apr. 1974, insert)

Lorenzo Snow

The boy, like to his father grown,
Has but attained unto his own;
To grow to sire from state of son,
Is not 'gainst Nature's course to run.
A son of God, like God to be,
Would not be robbing Deity;
And he who has this hope within,

Will purify himself from sin.

(Improvement Era, vol. 22, June 1919, pp. 660-661)

Philippians 2:7 Jesus made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant

Gerald N. Lund

The New Testament scholar M. R. Vincent, in his New Testament Word Studies... explained the significance of verse 7, in which Paul used a phrase from the Greek that is translated "made himself of no reputation." Again Vincent indicated that this Greek phrase literally means "emptied Himself." Vincent then added: "The general sense is that He divested Himself of that peculiar mode of existence which was proper and peculiar to Him as one with God. He laid aside the form of God. In so doing, He did not divest Himself of His divine nature. The change was a change of state: the form of a servant for the form of God."

...In short, Paul reminded us that though Christ had incomprehensible stature, majesty, power and position in the premortal existence, he... allowed himself to be taken from that high and holy position and placed into the body of a man with all of its consequent weaknesses and limitations.

This concept deserves examination in more detail. If we are to more fully comprehend the idea of God's condescension, we must first understand who he was before coming to the earth. As we look at Christ as the Creator, we are told in latter-day revelation that the extent of his creations is so vast that they cannot be numbered unto man (Moses 1:33, 35, 37).

...Now we begin to sense the incredible scope of the condescension of Christ in leaving that position, that majesty, that power, and taking upon himself mortality-becoming an infant totally dependent on others, requiring daily nourishment, being subject to the weaknesses of the flesh, feeling pain when he slipped in the carpenter's shop and hit his finger, being vulnerable to suffering and sickness. Imagine the God of the universe being subject to the common cold! But, as Paul said, Christ thought it not robbery that he should leave that position, but rather, he emptied himself of that glorious power and took upon himself all that mortality implies. That is one sense of the condescension of God. (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 162.)

Neal A. Maxwell

Periodically, we too will experience a measure of irony, that hard crust on the bread of adversity. Jesus met irony constantly... Bearer of the only salvational name, yet the Lord of the Universe lived modestly as a person "of no reputation" (Philip. 2:7; see also Acts 4:12; 2 Ne. 25:20; Abr. 3:27). Christ "constructed" the universe, yet in little Galilee He was known merely as "the carpenter's son" (Matt. 13:55).

You and I, when impacted by lesser irony, are so much more brittle, often forgetting that some tests by their very nature are unfair, especially when crusty irony is present. ("Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ," Ensign, Nov. 1997, 23)

Philippians 2:9 God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name

In the pre-mortal councils on high, "there stood one among them that was like unto God." (Abr. 3:24) In contrast to Lucifer, whose plan boasted "surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor," the "Beloved and Chosen" One said, "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." (Moses 4:1-2)

We often teach that Lucifer wanted the power and glory, while Jehovah gave the glory to the Father. What we sometimes fail to realize is that the Father had no intention of gobbling up all the glory. He never intended to be the only focus of worship. He had no agenda to take all the credit. Rather, He would exalt the Son for his humility and obedience. We appropriately give glory to the Son because the Father has "highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name." It is important to understand that the Son said "the glory be thine," but that the Father reciprocated saying, "[I will give you] a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The Son says, "Father glorify thy name." (John 12:28) The Father replies, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again...[by] my Beloved Son...I have glorified my name." (John 12:28; 3 Ne. 11:7)

Philippians 2:10-11 at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...And...every tongue should confess

Neal A. Maxwell

Jesus Christ is the Jehovah of the Red Sea and of Sinai, the resurrected Lord!

One day, however, all flesh shall see him together. All knees shall bow in his presence, and all tongues confess his name. (See D&C 76:110-111; Philip. 2:10-11.) Knees which never before have assumed that posture for that purpose will do so then-promptly. Tongues which have never before spoken his name, except in gross profanity, will do so then-worshipfully. ("Our Acceptance of Christ," Ensign, June 1984, 74)

Robert D. Hales

Every person in the world at some point in his eternal progression is one day going to have to come to the moment of truth when he must answer the question, "What think ye of Christ?" (Matt. 22:42). Think of that. At one point in our eternal progression, each one of us is going to have to answer the question, Who is Jesus Christ? We are told that every eye shall see, every ear shall hear, and every knee shall bow, every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (see Philip. 2:10-11; D&C 88:104; 3 Ne. 17:16); "When all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God" (Mosiah 27:31; see also Rom. 14:11 and D&C 76:110). ("What Think Ye of Christ?" New Era, Apr. 1987, 4)

Philippians 2:12 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling

In the long debate between Mormons and Protestants, the issue of salvation by grace versus works has been perhaps the point of greatest debate. The Mormon position has depended on passages from James and this passage from Paul. Salvation by "works" as some have taught it, required an individual to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" as if salvation was ours for taking-as if works performed with "fear and trembling" could bring salvation in and of themselves. In our fervor to explain the necessity of works, we have at times distorted the reality that salvation is dependent on the grace of God, after all we can do, in spite of all we can do, regardless of all we can do. (2 Ne. 25:23)

Indeed, we are to work out our own salvation-living and striving as if everything depends on us, but praying and worshipping as if everything depends on the Lord. Working out our salvation separate from the mercy and grace of Christ is an empty exercise. It is a tiring and exhausting work-out, increasing neither strength nor endurance. Paul never meant us to work out our own salvation separate from Christ. Rather, he reminded us that even our good works are graced by divine influence, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (v. 13)

Dallin H. Oaks

Are Latter-day Saints susceptible to such heresies? The Apostle Paul wrote that we should "work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philip. 2:12.) Could that familiar expression mean that the sum total of our own righteousness will win us salvation and exaltation? Could some of us believe that our heavenly parentage and our divine destiny allow us to pass through mortality and attain eternal life solely on our own merits?

On the basis of what I have heard, I believe that some of us, some of the time, say things that can create that impression. We can forget that keeping the commandments, which is necessary, is not sufficient. As Nephi said, we must labor diligently to persuade everyone "to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (2 Ne. 25:23.)

In his famous poem "Invictus," William Ernest Henley hurled man's challenge against Fate. With head "bloody, but unbowed," determined man is unconquerable. The last verse reads:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate.

I am the captain of my soul.

(Out of the Best Books, 5 vols., ed. Bruce B. Clark and Robert K. Thomas, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1968, 4:93.)

...Man unquestionably has impressive powers and can bring to pass great things by tireless efforts and indomitable will. But after all our obedience and good works, we cannot be saved from the effect of our sins without the grace extended by the atonement of Jesus Christ. ("What Think Ye of Christ?" Ensign, Nov. 1988, 66-67)

Philippians 2:15 in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation...shine as lights in the world

Neal A. Maxwell

Afflicted with anguish, some wander to and fro upon the earth in search of truth without knowing where to find it....

Such is the scene, therefore, of which we are a part. Many reject the scriptures, the moral memory of mankind, and then declare absolutely the absence of absolutes. Others reject the light of the gospel and then grump over the growing darkness. Still others cut themselves off from God and lament the loneliness of the universe. Some pursue the paths of him who openly desires mankind's misery (see 2 Ne. 2:27), and then bemoan their discontent.

...With ultimate hope, however, we can live cheerfully amid proximate insecurity. Life is a test in which man must overcome by faith, walking on the strait and narrow path-which is surely no escalator-but the path is there!... We are custodians and possessors of a gospel of bright and realistic hope. It is a hope for which many hunger more deeply than we can possibly imagine.

...God bless you faithful brothers and sisters for shining "as lights in the world" (Philip. 2:15), as beacons to dispel despair. To a world spiritually illiterate, you give great lessons in the grammar of the gospel. ("Shine As Lights in the World," Ensign, May 1983, 11)

Neal A. Maxwell

In such a climactic time as the last days, we shall see things both wonderful and awful. Joel and Zephaniah prophesied that the last times would be a "day of gloominess" (Joel 2:2; Zeph. 1:15). Even so, this is all the more reason for us to "shine as lights in the world" (Philip. 2:15). So illuminated, we can better help to gather the Lord's flock in "the last days" from wherever they have been scattered in the "cloudy and dark day" (Ezek. 30:3; 34:12).

Yet even as some things clearly worsen in the world, the true Saints will simply get better. (One More Strain of Praise [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 18.)

Neal A. Maxwell

When we learn to "shine as lights in the world" (Philip. 2:15) there is no need to seek to be in the spotlight. Such lesser incandescence is of no interest. (Men and Women of Christ, p. 28.)

Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's

Ezra Taft Benson

Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God's. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of "my will and not thine be done." As Paul said, they "seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." (Philip. 2:21.)

Our will in competition to God's will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled. (See Alma 38:12; 3 Ne. 12:30.)

The proud cannot accept the authority of God giving direction to their lives. (See Hel. 12:6.) They pit their perceptions of truth against God's great knowledge, their abilities versus God's priesthood power, their accomplishments against His mighty works.

Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren't interested in changing their opinions to agree with God's. ("Beware of Pride," Ensign, May 1989, 4)

Philippians 2:25-30 I... send to you Epaphroditus...he that ministered to my wants

"The Philippian saints had sent Epaphroditus to Rome to take gifts to Paul (Philip. 4:18) and to minister to his needs (Philip. 2:25). Paul sensed the longing of Epaphroditus to return home after a near-fatal illness and decided to send him back. This decision furnished an occasion for the letter." (J. Lewis Taylor, "New Testament Backgrounds: Philippians," Ensign, Mar. 1976, 38)

"Paul wrote to the Philippians near the end of his two-year imprisonment (Acts 28:30), for he had a specific expectation of release instead of general faith that it would happen: with the Lord's blessing he would 'come shortly' (Philip. 2:24)... After all their prior help, they had sent Epaphroditus to Rome with things to support the chained apostle (Philip. 4:18). Paul was grateful and recounted their relationship of more than a decade by sending thanks 'for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now' (Philip. 1:5). Support for a messenger on the long journey to Rome probably took some organizing, which is evidently reflected in the opening recognition of the bishops and deacons, unprecedented in the other letters that have survived. With the letter Paul was sending back the messenger. Epaphroditus was appreciated as a 'brother and fellow-laborer' (Philip. 2:25, literal trans.). This man had longed for his Philippian friends; he was discouraged at being sick but was also discouraged because word came back from Philippi that they knew he 'had been sick' (Philip. 2:26). In fact, Epaphroditus had been critically ill, for Paul makes the point that this messenger risked his life to help Paul-'for the work of Christ he came close to death' (Philip. 2:30, NKJB). The devotion of Epaphroditus is a symbol of the solid faith and works of the Philippians. Far on the road of progression, they received a letter underlining how much diligence is required for the prize of exaltation with God." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 295)

Philippians 2:30 to supply your lack of service toward me

In modern English, this sounds like a reproof. However, there is nothing else in this epistle which suggests that Paul is upset with the Philippians. Rather, he rejoices in their faithfulness. "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity." (Philip. 4:10) Paul is saying, "On your behalf, Epaphroditus provided that service which you could not," but he is not condemning the Philippians for neglecting him. Rather, he is emphasizing the great lengths to which Epaphroditus had gone to help him, as if to remind the saints that their ambassador had served well and at great personal risk.