Philippians 2:6-11: Pre-Existence or Second Adam Christology? A Comparison of the Exegeses of Three Modern Scholars with that of St. John Chrysostom
Seminary/School of Divinity
Date of Paper/Work
Master of Arts in Theology (M.A.)
Type of Paper/Work
Catherine Cory; David Penchansky; J. Michael Byron
At least two major Christologies have been found in Philippians 2:6-11, which is otherwise known as the Philippians hymn. One group of biblical scholars argues for a Christology of a pre-existent, divine being who had full equality with God from eternity. This is often referred to as "pre-existence" Christology. Under this Christology, the pre-existent Christ did not need to grasp at full equality with God because he already had it. Instead, he chose to "empty himself," becoming a human being (a "slave") and to "humble himself" by being obedient to death. After his death and resurrection, God exalted him back to the status that he had in his pre-existence: full equality with God.
A second group of biblical scholars argues that in Phil 2:6-11 Paul (or whoever authored the hymn) was not describing a pre-existent, divine being but rather the earthly Jesus of Nazareth. These scholars generally interpret the periscope as exhibiting a "Second Adam" Christology. According to this Christology, the earthly Jesus described in the hymn did not have equality with God. Christ made a choice - unlike the Adam of Genesis - not to grasp at equality with God, but to be obedient to God by accepting death.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Capes, Nelson Raymond, "Philippians 2:6-11: Pre-Existence or Second Adam Christology? A Comparison of the Exegeses of Three Modern Scholars with that of St. John Chrysostom" (2012). School of Divinity Master’s Theses and Projects. 6.
Biblical Studies Commons, History of Christianity Commons, Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion Commons