Calvary Road Baptist Church

Sermon preached at The Baptist Church on Kensington Place, W8 7PP, during the 11:00 AM worship service.


Philippians 2.9-11

I bring you greetings this morning from Calvary Road Baptist Church in Monrovia, California to our sister church on Kensington Place, and to the pastor and his wife.

Turn in your Bible to Proverbs 15.33: “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” Now turn to Proverbs 18.12: “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.” Never has this immutable principle of God’s dealings with men been more in evidence than in God the Father’s dealings with His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ. In our consideration of Philippians 2.5-8, we saw explained to us the voluntary abasement and humiliation of the Savior, beginning in the throne room of the eternal council chambers of heaven and ending in His death as a sinner among sinners hanging on a cruel Roman cross.[1]

Think of it, beloved. The Lord high and lifted up, the Pearl of Great Price, the Lamb of God, the Messiah of Israel, the Son of David, the Son of Man, the Son of God, that Prophet promised afore, the Water of Life, the Bread of Life, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Kinsman Redeemer, the great I AM, the sinless Savior, poured Himself out by leaving heaven’s glory and becoming a man, and once here He humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross. His body was then buried in a rich man’s tomb, the Romans and several of His own followers certain He was dead, where His body remained for three days and three nights.[2] Where was His spirit while His body was buried? A question that deserves our consideration.

Let me read the first statement of the Apostle’s Creed that is usually recited in our day: “I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”[3] The Apostle’s Creed asserts that after His death and burial and before His resurrection on the third day. Thus, while His body remained in the tomb, Jesus Christ descended into Hell. This seems to reflect First Peter 3.18-20. Please turn to that passage:

18     For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

19     By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

20     Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

One of the things the Lord Jesus Christ did, after He died and before His spirit was returned to His body in resurrection, is seen in verse 19. He preached to imprisoned fallen angels, demons identified as the sons of God in Genesis 6.2-4, when their efforts to contaminate the human race were terminated by the Flood and by their confinement from then on in the prison of Hell. The other thing the Lord Jesus Christ did during that same three days was to visit the spirits of just men who had died and were in Abraham’s bosom, the abode of dead believers before Jesus Christ made it possible for them to go to heaven, as is the case at present. “Jesus descended into Hades/Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-31), transferring Old Testament saints up into the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-4).”[4]

My message from God’s Word this evening deals with a text that comprises the second half of the passage we considered last week, which was Philippians 2.5-8, with three significant differences from that passage: First, last week’s text focuses on what the Lord Jesus Christ did. Second, last week’s text unfolds the sequential steps the Lord Jesus Christ took. Third, last week’s text was given by the Apostle Paul to his readers to serve as a kind of example for them to follow, one of humility and personal sacrifice. Whereas last week’s text follows the pre-incarnate Christ from the throne room of heaven to the cross of Calvary, tonight’s text deals with the exaltation of the Son of God from death to great glory and highest honor. However, tonight’s text is no sequential review of the steps that were taken to accomplish Christ’s exaltation, neither is it a statement of anything the Lord Jesus Christ said or did that would serve as any kind of example to believers. Philippians 2.9-11 is a single sentence in which we are told what God the Father did, what He accomplished by what He did, and what are some of the implications of what He did. I will rely on W. Graham Scroggie’s outline of the passage we are about to read, with the actual message that I will hang on Scroggie’s outline being my own.[5]

Trusting you have already made your way to Philippians 2.9, stand at this time for the reading of God’s Word:

9      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.

Three perspectives can be seen in God the Father’s exaltation of His beloved Son:


Verse 9a:    “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.”

There are two features of God’s work mentioned here on behalf of His Son, Jesus Christ:

The first feature has to do with the nature of His exaltation of His Son. The nature of Christ’s exaltation incorporates what seems so often to us to be two very distinct events, but which in Paul’s account here is treated as being one. The word translated “highly exalted,” uperuyow, refers to raising someone to the loftiest height.[6] Where was the Lord Jesus Christ at His lowest? He was an accursed dead man, His body hanging on a Roman cross between two convicted thieves, the object of ridicule and scorn. Where He was resulted from what He had done. He emptied Himself, then humbled Himself, and finally submitted Himself to the death of the cross. Then His Father reached down from the throne room in heaven to that rich man’s tomb and proceeded to highly exalt Him. What was entailed in this single enterprise of God highly exalting His Son? Two things: First, God raised Him from the dead, what the Bible terms the resurrection. Then, God enthroned Him on high. A word about the resurrection. The Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection is of a completely different type than the raising of Jairus’ daughter or the raising of Lazarus, in that they and all others raised from the dead like them had restored to them their normal and natural lives. However, the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection, though His resurrection body is physical and obviously touchable, resulted in His being a glorious, spiritual, and heavenly body that is not corruptible and is suited for eternity rather than being suited to the present life on this earth.[7] As well, a word about Christ’s enthronement, perhaps the most overlooked truth in Christianity despite the multiplicity of passages declaring it.[8] Psalm 110.1 both predicts our Lord’s enthronement and one of the primary reasons for it: “A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Therefore, one thing God the Father is presently accomplishing while His Son, Jesus Christ, sits at His right hand on high is the subduing of His Son’s enemies, those who will not respond to the gospel and embrace Him as Savior and Lord.

Then, there is the feature of the significance of His exaltation of His Son. Subduing Christ’s enemies by making them His footstool, evoking the imagery of those utterly defeated by conquest and bowing before their conqueror in abject humiliation, is only part of Christ’s exaltation. A more encompassing significance of Christ’s exaltation by God is in recognition of our Lord’s emptying of Himself. It is not God the Father rewarding the Lord Jesus Christ for what He did. Neither should Christ’s exaltation be seen merely as a victory, though it certainly was that. Rather, what God the Father did when He exalted His Son, Jesus Christ, was to vindicate His Son for emptying Himself and humbling Himself in obedience by dying on the cross. Did Jesus Christ, being in the form of God, think it not robbery to be equal with God? The Father’s response in exalting His Son showed that He was in full agreement with that notion.[9]


Verse 9b:   “and given him a name which is above every name”

Before addressing the nature of the honor that was conferred upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and also the significance of it, I need to draw your attention to a single word. Notice, the phrase begins, “and given him a name.” I do not know why the King James Version translators chose to do so, but they did not reflect that in the Greek New Testament it is most assuredly “and given him the name,” since the definite article is unquestionably present.[10] Please read the phrase “and given him the name which is above every name.”

Consider the nature of the honor that was conferred upon the Lord Jesus Christ when He was exalted by His heavenly Father, in two related aspects: First, and obviously, the Lord Jesus Christ was elevated, not only from earth to heaven, from physically low to physically higher than the highest heights, but more importantly elevated from the lowest of ranks to the rank of highest preeminence. Notice the connection Paul makes between Christ’s resurrection and His preeminence in Colossians 1.18, where he writes, “who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme illustration of the principle stated in Proverbs 15.33 and Proverbs 18.12, that “before honour is humility.” Jesus Christ humbled Himself, God then honored Him. Next, God presented to Jesus Christ the name which is above every name. “Christ’s new name which further describes His essential nature and places Him above and beyond all comparison is ‘Lord.’ This name is the NT synonym for OT descriptions of God as sovereign ruler. Both before (Is. 45:21-23; Mark 15:2; Luke 2:11; John 13:13; 18:37: 20:28) and after (Acts 2:36; 10:36; Rom. 14:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:57; Rev. 17:14; 19:16) the exaltation, Scripture affirms that this was Jesus’ rightful title as the God-Man.”[11] “We should note finally that this declaration of Jesus as ‘Lord’ would probably not be lost on believers in a city whose inhabitants are Roman citizens and who are devotees of ‘lords many,’ including ‘lord Caesar.’ Paul well knows to whom he is writing these words, especially since he is now one of the emperor’s prisoners and the Philippians are suffering at the hands of Roman citizens as well.”[12]

Then, of course, there is the significance of the honor God conferred upon the Lord Jesus Christ. You would do well to reflect on these two things: First, as a result of the singular honor conferred upon the Lord Jesus Christ, there is now a Man on the Throne of the Universe. Shall we let that sink in for a moment? The Second Person of the Triune Godhead emptied Himself to become a man, humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross, for the purpose of bearing our sins and paying our debt in an astonishing display of grace and power. Then the First Person of the Triune Godhead exalted the eternal Son of God from the lowest depths of degradation to the highest place of exaltation and honor by giving Him the name that is above every name and seating Him upon the Throne of the Universe. What an utterly mind boggling display of not only grace and power, but also wisdom. No wonder both ancient Job and the Apostle Paul wrote that His deeds and ways “are past finding out.”[13] If you think you have God figured out, you are mistaken. Next, also as a result of the singular honor conferred upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the worship due to God the Father is due also to His Son, Jesus Christ, the Lord. Does this mean the Christian is to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ as he prays to God the Father? No. The Savior Himself encouraged His apostles to pray to the Father rather than to Himself.[14] Our worship of Him is reflected by our awareness that He is at God’s right hand exalted, that He has received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit to give to us, that He is far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, that He is crowned with glory and honor, and that we are to look to Him as the Author and Finisher of our faith.[15] We worship Him by seeking to bring men to Him. Let me read to you what someone else wrote about what is due the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of worship:

This bestowal by God is the rarest of all honours, in view of his assertion in Is. 42:8: ‘I am the LORD (kurioV), that is my name’, that is, mine and no one else’s. Further, in the light of the above remarks God not only gave Jesus ‘a designation which distinguished him from all other beings, a title which outranked all other titles’. He also conferred on him all that ‘coincided with that title giving substance and meaning to it’. In his exalted state Jesus has a new rank involving the exercise of universal lordship. This gain was in official, not essential, glory since Jesus did not become divine through exaltation. All authority in heaven and on earth were his by nature as well as by gift (Mt. 28:18; cf. Eph. 1:20-21).[16]

Also Simultaneously, AN END WAS DECREED

Verses 10-11:  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.

First, the nature of God’s decree. God’s decree accomplishes two things: First, the universal acknowledgment of Jesus Christ’s lordship. In Isaiah 45.23, Jehovah declares, “I have sworn by myself . . . That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” In Philippians 2.10, the Apostle Paul informs us that God has replaced “unto me” with “at the name of Jesus.” Thus, the whole created order shall give to Jesus Christ the obeisance that is due God the Father.[17] However, that is not all of it. Additionally, verse 11 shows that God’s decree also guarantees that the tongue of every intelligent creature will admit that Jesus Christ is Lord. At present, only Christians are engaged in these two activities, though in time these things will be acknowledged by all without exception, both saved and lost, in heaven and in the lake of fire. Then, the glorification of the Father in the acknowledgment of Jesus Christ’s lordship. Verse 11 ends, “to the glory of God the Father.” You understand that everything that is and that will be is for the purpose of bringing glory to God the Father. We know from Revelation 4.11 that God’s glory is the reason for our existence. As well, understand this: The worship, adoration, and praise of Jesus Christ not only by believers in Jesus Christ, but also eventually by everyone else as well, is an eventual certainty. God will be glorified, and He has chosen to be glorified in the exaltation and the acknowledgment of His Son’s lordship. Start bowing down to Him and confessing that He is Lord now, because one way or the other you will be doing the same throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity, either in heaven or in the lake of fire.

Finally, the significance of God’s decree. The Father’s decree that obeisance be paid to His Son and confession be made concerning Christ’s lordship is significant in two ways: First, it establishes for us the ultimate overthrow of evil. Pagan philosophers have wrongly concluded that there is an eternal ying and yang, a perpetual conflict between two equal but opposite moral forces. They are wrong. Evil had an origin. Sin had a beginning. However, God, who is holy and good, is without beginning and without end. For His own reasons, God allowed Lucifer to sin and also to introduce sin into the human realm by tempting Eve, leading to the Fall of Adam and death passing to all men. When the Lord Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross, He not only defeated the Devil, but He also established the ground for the ultimate defeat of evil. Therefore, when all is said and done, evil and those who cling to their evil will be eternally and perpetually incarcerated in the lake of fire, where they will suffer the endless torment of the damned. Evil will, finally, have been defeated. As well, grace will ultimately triumph. Did God allow Lucifer to sin and to then introduce sin into the human realm as a prelude to putting on display His marvelous grace? We will never know for certain this side of eternity. However, we can be sure that grace, God’s undeserved favor in the form of mercy and salvation, resulted in the outworking of God’s undeserved plan of salvation. Jesus Christ did not have to empty Himself and be born of a virgin. Neither did He have to humble Himself unto the death of the cross. God does not have to draw sinners to Christ and the Spirit does not have to convince of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. However, God has graciously done each of these things and so many more to accomplish the triumph of grace over evil and to fulfill the Savior’s pronouncement that “the meek shall inherit the earth.”[18]

Do we not usually think of Christianity in terms of sinners trusting Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and little more than that? However, though Christianity is about sinners trusting Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, we recognize that it does not end with that. It only begins with that. Perhaps the Philippians has lost sight of the breadth and the depth of God’s dealings with His children through His Son, Jesus Christ. Or perhaps they never initially knew, since you do not need to know all that much to become a Christian. Either way, there comes a time when the child of God needs to open his eyes and take in the reality surrounding his relationship with Jesus Christ, and just who this Jesus Christ he claims he has trusted really is.

Can you think of any issues that you are allowing to interfere with your relationships with brothers and sisters in this church? Do you allow rough spots here and there to affect your faithful involvement in real ministry? What we learned last week from Philippians 2.5-8 is that you need to have the mind of Christ, to follow the example of Christ’s humility and sacrificial commitment to please His heavenly Father. You can do that. You can follow Christ’s example of emptying Himself and humbling Himself, to a degree.

What you most certainly cannot do is related to what we have seen in Philippians 2.9-11, because there is nothing God the Father is shown to have done here that you can imitate. However, there is a great deal to be learned and applied to your life and mine from what is before us this evening. We learn from tonight’s text that Jesus Christ is highly exalted, that He has been given a name that is above every name, and that He is to be both worshiped and confessed by everyone. That Christ and His cause are infinitely more important than your issues and mine, and that we simply need to get on with what only we can do, which is to worship and serve Christ, is also more than obvious.

At present, we who are Christians are the only ones who will worship and confess Christ’s lordship, by speaking of it and by showing it with our lives and service. However, there is coming a day when even the lost of this world will stand before Him when He is seated on the Great White Throne with bended knees, with bowed heads, and with tongues confessing Jesus Christ to be their lord. When that happens (and that will happen), you and I will be vindicated. Until then, we seek the salvation of the lost. We extoll the virtues of our Savior. We brag on Him, worship Him, serve Him, show faithfulness to Him by our faithfulness to His church, and pray to the Father in Jesus’ name for the wisdom, for the courage, for the strength, and for the fruit that we know He wants us to bear in our service to the cause of Christ.

If your God is big enough, and if your Savior is exalted highly enough, you will discover that the only thing that will stop you from faithfully serving, faithfully worshiping, and faithfully bearing fruit that brings Him glory, is your death.

[1] Let me hasten to add that Jesus died as a sinner, though He was without sin, Hebrews 4.15

[2] Matthew 27.57-60; 12.40

[3] 5/30/13

[4] See footnote for Ephesians 4.19 from Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000), page 1265.

[5] W. Graham Scroggie, The Unfolding Drama Of Redemption: The Bible As A Whole (Three volumes in one), (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970), Volume III, pages 209-210.

[6] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 1034.

[7] 1 Corinthians 15.42-50; Revelation 1.13-16

[8] Psalm 16.11; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 14.2-4; Acts 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

[9] Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter To The Philippians - NICNT, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), page 220.

[10] Peter T. O’Brian, The Epistle To The Philippians - NIGTC, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), page 238.

[11] See footnote for Philippians 2.9 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1823.

[12] Fee, pages 222-223.

[13] Job 9.10; Romans 11.33

[14] Matthew 6.9

[15] Acts 2.33; Ephesus 1:20-21; Hebrews 2.9; 12.2

[16] O’Brian, page 238.

[17] Fee, pages 223-224.

[18] Matthew 5.5

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