Philippians 2:1-11 – The Mind of Christ


Text: Philippians 2:1-11
Title: The Mind of Christ
Date: December 18th, 2022
Location: Christ Covenant Church – Centralia, Washington

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Father, we thank you for this promise that one day every tongue shall confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We ask that you would hasten that day, and cause it to be so even now in our church and in this region. For we ask this in Jesus name, Amen.


This morning we come to what is one of the most important Bible passages in all of church history. Philippians 2:1-11 contains both the fundamental Christian confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” and also one of the most explicit declarations of Christ’s true divinity, and true humanity.

  • Here in these verses are the essentials of the gospel. These doctrines are what separate the Christian faith from every other belief system. You cannot really call yourself a Christian unless you genuinely believe these things.
    • Namely that: the eternal Son who is equal with God took on a true human nature, and that the singular person of the Son, who is fully good and fully man, humbled himself unto death, died on the cross for sinners, was resurrected and exalted above all. And because of this work, all are commanded to repent and believe and confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. This is the gospel message.
  • And so it is fitting that we arrive at these verses during this season of Advent, as we remember the first coming of Christ in his humble birth, and also look forward to when He comes again in glory.
  • My plan is to preach two sermons on this text, this morning we’ll focus on verses 1-5 as we consider The Mind of Christ, and then on Christmas next Sunday, we’ll focus on verses 6-11 in answer to the question Why God Became Man. So that’s where we are going.
  • Well let’s start as usual by setting the context for these verses.

Context of verses 1-11

  • Paul is in prison in Rome, and he is writing Philippians as a thank you letter for their financial support.
    • In chapter 1, Paul expresses his deep love for and joy in the Philippians.
      • The Philippian church is a shining example of what a faithful, healthy church should look like, and so Paul wants them to work hard to be unified in love and truth and ministry of the gospel.
    • This call for unity is especially important because persecution is coming; there are adversaries in Philippi.
      • And if they are going to face down their opponents without fear, the Philippians need to be united in their belief that, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” They need to be united in their belief that faith is a gift from God, and so is suffering. Paul wants them to be united in their belief that it is a great honor to suffer for the name of Jesus.
  • So that is what we have seen so far in this letter, and now Paul is getting into the particulars of what their conduct should look like in the meantime. What does it look like to be a citizen of heaven that is living on earth?
  • Well he begins in chapter 2, verses 1-2 by saying this…

Verses 1-2

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

  • Here Paul begins with a fourfold appeal. He essentially asks 4 rhetorical questions in which the implied (hoped for) answer to all of them is “Yes.”
    • 1. Is there among you any consolation (encouragement) in Christ? Yes.
    • 2. Is there among you any comfort of love? Yes.
    • 3. Is there among you any fellowship of the Spirit? Yes.
    • 4. Is there among you any bowels (σπλάγχνα) and mercies? Yes.
  • Paul is saying, if there is in the church real love and fellowship in the Holy Spirit, that is to say, if you are actually a genuine believer, then the same Holy Spirit, who is One, (One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, Eph. 4:5) should cause you also to be united other areas. What are those other places where unity is called for?
  • Verse 2 gives us four places to strive for unity and this will fulfill Paul’s joy. If there is anything that a pastor wants for his people, it is that they be unified. And so Paul says, “Fulfil ye my joy that ye be…
    • 1. Likeminded
    • 2. Having the same love
    • 3. Being of one accord
    • 4. Of one mind
      • Let’s look at each of these.
  • 1. What does it mean to be likeminded (φρονῆτε)?
    • Likeminded here refers to the way the Philippians think. They are to have the same mindset and one that is characterized by humility. They must not think of themselves more highly than they ought.
    • This is how likemindedness is used elsewhere in Paul’s letters (Rom. 12:16, Rom 15:5, 2 Cor. 13:11), and this emphasis on humility is the focus here, as the following verses will confirm.
    • We see also that this same idea appears at the end of Philippians, where Paul says, “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2). So whatever the disagreement was between those two women, Paul entreats them to be humble in the Lord, to have the mind of Christ.
      • This is important because humility of mind, is the only way that the church can be united despite having many other minor (and major) disagreements.
        • That is to say, like-mindedness refers not to all of us agreeing that pineapple on pizza is a great idea, or that summer is better than winter, or that hot pink would be the best color to paint the church.
        • We can all think differently about those things, and even have strong opinions about them. What violates this command to be likeminded, is not merely the content of your viewpoint, but the spirit in which you hold that opinion.
        • To give you a more realistic example of how we will need to apply this, consider any of the more controversial doctrines that Christians like to argue about. Maybe it’s election and predestination, maybe it’s eschatology or baptism. Every church should have some conviction about what the Bible says about those things. We certainly do.
        • And yet the different churches in Centralia/Chehalis can disagree on all of those things, and still be likeminded if we hold them with humility. If we refuse to make our doctrinal distinctives the thing we boast in, rather than boasting only in the Lord.
      • And so to be likeminded is to have this same spirit of humility in our thinking. It is to recognize that we know a lot less than we think we do. Even the wisest pagans recognized this. Socrates famously said, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
      • Or to put it more biblically, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:2, “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.”
      • There are many things that we are over-confident about. And one of the marks of genuine wisdom and of genuine knowledge, is not that you have no convictions, but rather that you hold those convictions with what the Bible calls, “the meekness of wisdom.”
      • Listen how the Apostle James describes this in his letter (James 3:13-18).
      • 13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
      • What are the marks of heavenly wisdom? Purity, peace, gentleness, you are easy to be entreated (is that true of us?), are you full of mercy and good fruits, is your conviction impartial and without hypocrisy? If these qualities are not present in us, there’s a good chance it’s not actually heavenly wisdom that we possess, it might be from the devil.
      • And so likemindedness does not require uniformity of thought (where we all believe exactly the same things about everything), but it does require that whatever we believe is tested by this heavenly rubric. So humility is essential to likemindedness in the church.
  • 2. Second, Paul says he wants the Philippians to have the same love (τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην).
    • There should be unity in our affections for another. As we saw back in chapter 1, love should be abounding in us with all knowledge and judgment, and this is because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Ghost.
    • If we don’t love one another, we might not be Christians. If we don’t feel affection for another, it is possible that the Holy Spirit, who is love, is not in us.
    • So do we have that same love in God together?
  • 3. Third, Paul wants the Philippians to be of one accord(σύμψυχοι), this is literally to have the same soul/heart together, and the emphasis is a unity of purpose. We get along together. We can walk side by side, we can stand together and fight against our common adversaries.
  • 4. Fourth, Paul says again, to be of one mind. This is a reinforcement of that likeminded humility we just talked, and he elaborates on this in the following verses.

Verses 3-5

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

  • What are the chief enemies of unity that the church must guard against? There are two enemies that Paul mentions here, both are different species of Pride:
    • 1. Strife
    • 2. Vainglory
  • If you remember in chapter 1, there were preachers going around, preaching the true gospel, but doing so Paul says, “out of envy and strife,” those were the motives behind their actions. But what exactly is strife?
    • Strife (ἐριθεία) is what we would call selfish ambition. It is the result of treating other Christians as rivals instead of as brothers. Strife turns people who should be your friends into enemies and opponents. And this is rampant in the church today.
      • If you are a Christian living in America today, the odds are that your fiercest opponents and critics are going to be other people who profess to be Christians.
      • The great miracle of church history is that we’re still here despite all of the infighting amongst us.
    • No we have to make an important distinction here because a lot of people see fighting and conflict in the church and assume that is always a bad thing. But that is not how fighting and conflict is presented in the Bible.
      • If you read the book of Acts, conflict and fighting is a constant with the apostles. Either a riot or a revival or both would break out.
        • Paul says he fought with beasts at Ephesus (whether actual lions or false teachers, or both).
      • Jesus is constantly getting into fights arguing with people who do not yet know as they ought to know. And so fighting can be good or bad depending on the situation.
    • Fighting is bad when selfish ambition is involved.
    • But fighting is good and even commanded by God, in the sense that we are to, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
    • There is a reason the church on earth is called the church militant.
    • Yes, we are the Bride of Christ, we are feminine towards God. But we are also the Body of Christ, and masculine warriors towards the world.
    • One of the reasons we include our children in the worship service, is because Psalm 8 says that out of the mouths of babies and nursing infants, God has ordained strength (and Why?), “because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”
      • Children are sharp arrows in the hand of a warrior, and so when you hear a baby cry in the service, you should think: war song. This is how God defeats His enemies.
      • So we are all called to fight, including the little ones with their cries of praise.
      • Fighting is essential to protect the unity of the church, but we must do this out of strife or vainglory.
  • So we have to be able to do two things (that might seem opposed) at once: We have to be humble and meek, and also ready to fight for the truth.
    • Like-mindedness, humility, and love, should not make us naïve about wolves.It does not mean we never call out the errors of other churches, or downplay the importance of good doctrine. The difference is the spirit in which we fight. What motivates us? Do we fight to defend our ego? Or do we fight because we love the people we are talking to? Do we fight because we want people to think highly of us, or highly of God?
  • This is not easy to do. And there will be times when we get this wrong. But that should not stop us from seeking like-mindedness with one another, and with other churches. This is how the body of Christ builds itself up in love.

Now what are some ways we can practically do this?

  • In verse 4, Paul says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
    • One of the best ways to cultivate likemindedness, is by serving one another, looking out for the interests of others.
  • The world thinks that more for you, means less for me, that this is a closed system and a zero-sum game. But that is not the real world. This is God’s World, and in God’s world, you put one seed in the ground, and more than one comes back up. You plant a bunch of seeds in a field, and by God’s grace, you get 30, 60, 100-fold.
    • This is why God says in Ecclesiastes 11, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.”
    • If it is more blessed to give than to receive, then we will look out for one another. This church and the school that meets here, would not exist without Christians who believe this.
    • It is risky to start a church. It is risky to start a school. It is risky to care about other people’s interests and not just your own. But it’s only as risky as putting seeds in the soil.
      • If all you ever do is sow to your self, then the Bible says you will reap corruption. But if you have generous eyes, and sow into other people by faith, the Spirit will give a great harvest.
  • So one of the ways we can practice like-mindedness, is by being generous to one another. Casting our bread upon the waters, planting seeds wherever we go. This is what Christ did. This is what the mind of Christ does.


  • Jesus says in John 12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
    • Christ planted himself in the heart of the earth. He willingly went to the cross, not for anything he did, but for what you and I did and still do, sinning against God.
    • Jesus did not look only to his own well-being (his own interests), he looked upon the eternal well-being of us.
    • And if we would acquire that same mind of Christ for one another, we must first know the mind that Christ has for us.
    • And so I close by asking:
      • Have you beheld the king in his beauty?
      • Have you smelled the fragrance of Christ’s anointing oil, the aroma of life within him?
      • Have you tasted and seen the goodness of God?
      • Have you stretched out your hand towards his garment and touched him by faith?
    • If not, Christ invites you to do so today. Turn to him and be healed all the ends of the earth.