Chapter two contains the clearest teaching on what happened to Jesus in the incarnation than anywhere else in Scripture. Paul opened the chapter by insisting that the believers work to foster unity amongst themselves (Philippians 2:1-4). This unity is to be based on the truth of what occurs in us at salvation and what the Holy Spirit is working in us. This should lead us to “have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:5-11).
What is this attitude or mindset we should have? Specifically, rather than clinging to his rights as Jehovah, Jesus voluntarily set aside the independent use of his divine rights in order to take on a fully human nature and live as a human. Not only did he humble himself on our behalf by becoming human, his humility took him all the way through a crucifixion-type death. Because of this perfect example of humility and obedience, he will one day receive everything that is due him, including finally true worship from everything in creation. Although we are not divine like Jesus, we, too, can voluntarily lay aside the things we cling to for the spiritual growth of others.
The command for believers to “continue working out [our] salvation” refers to the practical aspects of what the Holy Spirit is growing in us (Philippians 2:12-18). Like Jesus, we should strive to “be blameless and pure…in a crooked and perverse society, in which [we] shine as lights in the world.” Paul said that by their obedience and humility, they would mutually increase his joy, and him theirs.
Paul concluded this chapter with a note about each of their two mutual friends. He wanted to send Timothy to them soon, in order to bring back news from them (Philippians 2:19-24). His comments about Timothy reflected the love of a father for his son and the concern of the son for his father’s work. Epaphroditus was a Philippian that had come from the church, carrying aid and help for the apostle (Philippians 2::25-30). Unfortunately, he became sick and almost died, meaning that Paul ministered to him more than he to Paul. The apostle looked forward to returning Epaphroditus to Philippi to rejoin his family there.