What is the Meaning of Philippians 2.9-11

“God Exalts the Humble”

Philippians 2:9-11

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Philippians 2.9-11

Phil. 2. The Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry ministered among proud, honor-seeking Pharisees.

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On one occasion in the life of the Lord Jesus, He, along with some Pharisees, was invited to a religious leader’s house for a meal. After healing a man from the dropsy, edema…He began to notice how the other invited guests had been choosing the places of honor at the table….

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Then Jesus said to these Pharisees, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor … because someone more distinguished than you may have been invited and then he who invited you will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you’ll have to to take the last place.

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“Instead when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all the other guests.

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Then Jesus gives this principle…“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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And that principle doesn’t just apply to where to sit at a wedding dinner. But to all of life, yes, to eternal life or eternal death. But Jesus’ principle here is also no less true for Himself. He humbled Himself and was exalted. In fact, no one humbled Himself more than Jesus Christ.

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The Scripture tells us that in glory, remember He is the One whose train of His robe fills the temple. Girded across his chest is a golden sash, his head and his hair like white wool like snow, His eyes like a flame of fire, His feet like burnished bronze and His voice like the sound of many waters.

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He sits on a throne lofty and exalted, a throne ablaze with flames, its wheels are like burning fire and there is a river of fire flowing, coming out from before Him.

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To Him has been given all dominion glory and the kingdom… That all the peoples nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.

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The angels in glory cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” But He didn’t regard any of that to be used for His own advantage nor even something to cling to.

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And so He emptied Himself into a self-made slave, slave of God and man … so much so, He didn’t have a home in which to lay his head, He was poor…He even went so far as to wash the disciples feet … the King of glory washing sinners’ dirty smelly feet.

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And then He humbled Himself to the point of death, to that state of weakness, subjecting Himself to the torture of others … willingly dying there for you.

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Death of a cross. The soldiers twisting together a crown of thorns and piercing His head…hitting him and spitting on him, and then bowing to their knees mockingly honoring Him, crying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Slapping Him in the face.

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Christ, the King of the Ages, willingly humbled Himself. Why? To take on the wrath of God that was due against your sin. You have sinned against God every day of your life. God’s wrath, His anger is real. He loves you but He is also angry. And if the penalty that is due against your sin wasn’t paid for, you would have no hope in light of God’s justice. God must punish your sin against Him.

And your conscience and God’s word tells you that.

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Christ’s death satisfies the wrath of God and only those who trust in Jesus Christ are safe from God’s wrath. That’s God’s design. Simply trust Him now and tell Him you want to trust Him now! He is Lord!

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But praise the Lord, Jesus didn’t stay dead. To show that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and that justice had been served, God highly exalted Him. Let’s read Phil. 2…

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Philippians 2:9–11 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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Now, let’s keep in mind, Paul in this passage is not just blessing us with deep theological truth. Like all theology, this is meant to be practical. He says back in

Philippians 2:5 5 Have this attitude [this attitude of humility from the previous verses…have this attitude of humility] in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

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And humility, remember, is not thinking of yourself at all and it results in sacrificial service to others. We see that in Christ. The King of the ages became a self-made slave to God and man. That’s humility.

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And Christ’s humility is an example for all of us. So, Paul seeks to humble us. When you realize what Christ gave up and to what extent He humbled Himself, Christ is the most humble of all, the best example of all.

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But we also know that Christ’ death wasn’t the end. God exalted Him. And the implication throughout the passage is that if we humble ourselves God will also exalt us.

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“Whoever exalts himself, will be humbled. But he who humbles himself, will be exalted.”

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This is the exaltation of Christ. Christ humbled Himself to depths unknown and now exalted to heights beyond. His exaltation occurs in 3 stages … simply past, present, and future.

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  1. Past exaltation

    Christ’s past exaltation is expressed in

Philippians 2:9 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

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Resurrection

From the depths of humiliation, soldiers mocking, disciples fleeing, and the Father turning His face away … now, exaltation!

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Justice demanded that Christ be raised from the dead … for “the wages of sin is death,” but the sinless one has died. Therefore, God’s justice demands that Christ be raised from the dead. And indeed He is risen!

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In the New Testament, we have multiple individuals, small groups, and large groups experiencing appearances of Jesus after his death. We have multiple, independent testimony regarding these experiences.

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Very early in the morning on that first day of the week, we could go with a group of several women who observe the empty tomb, and see a brilliant angel and run to tell the disciples. On the way, see the risen Lord. Bow with them, take hold of His feet and worship Him. And tell Peter and John, “We’ve seen the Lord!” Peter and John sprint to the tomb and discover it empty.

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Or, while those run off, linger with Mary at the tomb, weeping and afraid. Peer in the tomb and see the two angels questioning, “Why do you weep?” And then the mysterious man appears, looking like the gardener, but then calls out “Mary!”

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Or walk with the two disciples on their way to Emmaus and listen to the mysterious man break open the Scriptures about how the Christ must die and rise again. And watch as Jesus breaks the bread and as the bread opens, all eyes are opened as to who this man is…and Jesus vanishes.

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Or behind closed doors, Jesus again appears and shows His hands and feet. But do you still doubt? “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

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The doors having been shut again, with Thomas, Jesus comes and stands, “Peace be with you.” Bow and say, “My Lord and my God!”

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Ascension

But the resurrection isn’t the end either. 40 days later, Jesus, having given promise of the Holy Spirit telling them to remain in Jerusalem until that time, and as he was giving them a blessing, He begins to ascend up into the sky as a cloud received Him out of their sight. As He was raised in body, He ascended in body.

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Jesus passed through the sky, far above all of space and time, and into heaven itself, into glory at the right hand of the Majesty on high, seated far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And the Father has put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

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From unimaginable depths of pain and separation from the Father to resurrection and a glorious return to heaven. He left the poverty, the physical pain and emotional distress of rejection from us rebellious sinners He came to save…. The hatred…He left it all behind and now it has all been replaced once again by the praise of the angels….

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In our sight, He reenters into His glory … and there He is crowned Lord of all seated at the right hand of God … You can hear the myriads and myriads and thousands upon thousands of heavenly creatures saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

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And at this point, the Father has glorified the Son Jesus with Himself and with the glory which He had before the world was.

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TRANS: Now, what is the reason for all of this?

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  1. The reason for the exaltation

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Philippians 2:9 9 “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him.” For what reason? God highly exalted Jesus because Jesus greatly humbled Himself.

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Philippians 2:8 8…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. …For that very reason, God highly exalted Him. Because Jesus humbled Himself, God exalted Him.

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“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” There is a grand union between the humility, the shame and the torture and rejection on one hand and the glory at the Father’s right hand on the other.

There is a wonderful connection between the pain of the cross and the pleasures of glory… Between the slander of the soldiers and the songs of the seraphs! One gives way to the other. The seed of humility gives rise to the glorious flower of exaltation.[1]

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  1. The name of the exaltation

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At that time when God exalted Jesus, He also bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

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And everybody wants to know, “what is that name?” At the time when God highly exalted Jesus God bestowed on Him a name that is above every name! What is it?

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“Name” for these ancient peoples does not refer to the letters that we attach to somebody’s person. “That’s Bob or that’s Mary.” “Name” in the Bible refers most often to a person’s character or position or office.

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So the character, position, or office of Jesus is above that of everyone else. It is His name…His person and office at which every knee will bow, and tongue confess.

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We may technically not know the name … because Revelation 19:12 says that “He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.”

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But the position or character that best characterizes this in this passage is office of “Lord” in verse 11.

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Philippians 2:9–11 9 God bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, verse 10… so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess [what?] that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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Everyone one day will confess Jesus’ Lordship!

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EXP: He is the Lord of all! He is God, master, ruler of the universe and of everyone’s life. That is the reality we live in; it’s the reality your neighbors live in. And if you would but confess it too …. of a truth, you would be saved.

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Romans 10:9 9 if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

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Jesus’ lordship is something to confess, to agree with, to submit to. You don’t make a judgment call as to your opinion, nor can you make Him Lord; He is Lord … will you confess that and submit to Him as such or refuse to?

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APP: If you do submit and humble yourself, you too will be exalted. One day all of Christ’s humble followers will be raised from the dead. You literally will follow Christ in His resurrection, ascension, and exaltation.

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John 6:37–39 37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but will raise him up on the last day.

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As the Lord ascended into the clouds, you too will ascend into the clouds,

1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

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Just as the Lord was exalted to the Father’s throne, all who trust Christ will also be exalted to the Father’s throne…

Revelation 3:21 21 ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

2 Timothy 2:12 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him

Revelation 2:26–27 26 …

‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; 27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father;

Revelation 20:4 4 Those who endure will come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years.

So why not humble yourself? If you exalt yourself, you give evidence you don’t know nor believe God’s promises! Why exalt myself here in this life, when on that day Jesus will exalt me if I humble myself here.

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  1. Present exaltation

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    But when Jesus was exalted, He didn’t just receive back the same glory He had before the world was, no He was highly exalted. Not just exalted, but highly exalted. And that is because at the incarnation, Jesus humbly took on a full human nature. And now for almost 2000 years Jesus has been highly exalted having taken on a full human nature.

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    And during this time, because He is human, He can sympathetize with our weaknesses…and He has been expressing that sympathy in part by interceding on our behalf. In other words, Jesus talks to the Father about us. Not just talks about us, but pleads with the Father for our relationship with Him. Jesus is your advocate. He is our mediator, the “go-between” for us and the Father. 1 Ti. 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

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    Jesus, in glorified humanity, acts as our mediator and His mediation plays an active role in our salvation. Hebrews 7:25 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

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    God has highly exalted Him with even more glory than He had before the incarnation.

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    TRANS: And as wonderful as his past and present exaltation is, the future is all the more glorious.

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  2. Future exaltation

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    What will happen in the future is that…

Philippians 2:10–11 10 at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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This will happen in the future. Paul is pondering what was written in Isaiah 45. You can see that in your own NASB Bibles, where we have some capitalized words, “every knee will bow.” You can make a note of Isaiah 45 and then keep a hand here and turn back to Isaiah 45…

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[2]Throughout Isaiah 45, the Lord says three times, “I am the LORD, I am Yahweh/Jehovah, and there is no other.” And He says, “I am God and there is no other.”

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Isaiah 45:22–23 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. “I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.”

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Don’t make any mistake about it Jesus is Yahweh, God of Israel and the church. Isaiah 45, “at the name of Yahweh every knee will bow.” Phil. 2, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow.

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Jehovah’s witnesses today who deny it, don’t have an answer. It’s clear: Jesus is the Lord!

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Every knee and tongue:

Back to Phil. 2 …. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And it does not matter the location of those knees or of those tongues, whether they are in heaven or on earth or under the earth… they all will confess.

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Some will bow the knee to the King of all the Ages with joy because they were prepared for His coming… Others will bow after they have looked upon him whom they have pierced and will weep and will wail with shame.

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Demons, Satan, and all of creation will give this testimony in that day, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

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Every rebellious sinner, idolator … “Bow the knee” … everyone who loves and makes lies, though your part will be outside the great city in that day … “Bow the knee”…every adulterer, every thief, drunkard, and covetous … “Bow the knee.”

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ILL: Voltaire, a French infidel who died in 1778, said that by 1878 Christianity would be swept from existence. Ironically, 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society used his printing press in his own house in order to produce the very book he tried to eliminate.

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Voltaire…bow the knee. Adolf Hitler…

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ILL: In World War II, Adolf Hitler constructed a structure in Monte Carlo, France, that was to be a radio station to broadcast Nazi propaganda into North Africa. Today, from that very building, Trans World Radio beams the Gospel of Christ’s redeeming love all across Europe and into Russia and Africa.[3]

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Adolf Hitler…bow the knee.

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APP: Either bow today joyfully or bow when Christ returns mournfully. And there will be those who can say with their mouth “Lord Jesus” and think they are Christians, but in their life they deny Him. We’re not to be deceived about this, “You’ll know them by their fruits.”

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Their life’s message will testify where their allegiance is…they happily get drunk every Saturday night and get religion every Sunday. They live in an immoral relationship through the week and think if they go to church, everything is fine. “I’m just a bad Christian, it’s okay” … No it’s not okay! You need religion, you need Christ!

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You will confess that Jesus is Lord and it will all be to the glory of God. All creation will bow the knee … when? At the second coming.

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Revelation 19 John sees heaven opened and a white horse and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

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14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean … which are those whom Jesus has cleansed from their sin … John sees them following Jesus on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

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At that time for those who confess that Jesus is Lord with lips and life… Jesus will sit down upon his throne and He will give to us to sit upon his throne. He will have a crown and will give to us as well to have crowns…

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So be happy today to live unseen, unknown, and unheard… As but for a little while… Do you feel yourself to be but a worm as you sojourn on the earth, in pain or poverty, trial or struggle…in that day, you will reign with Christ … “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”[4]

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all hail the power. 38

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Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page from What is the Meaning of Philippians 2.9-11

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Go to Philippians Main Page

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  1. Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Philippians, ed. Elliot Ritzema, Spurgeon Commentary Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), 58–59.

  2. Hughes.

  3. ODB on this passage.

  4. Spurgeon

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