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Exegetical on Christ Hymn - Term Paper Example

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Exegetical on Christ Hymn

The Christ Hymn and the Early Christian Community In the opinion of Robert J. Karris, there are many possible backgrounds of the hymn as the large number of studies into the New Testament put forth. Some of them are Christ as the Gnostic redeemer, the Suffering Righteous, and finally, the ruler-worship that existed during the Greco-Roman period1. According to Martin and Martin, the early Christian message about Jesus should be considered in the political context of that time. According to the scholars, the teaching had to confront two political ideologies at the same time; the Roman and the Jewish2. An example is the imperial cult of Rome. According to the cult, emperors enjoyed divine sanction of authority. According to Christian apologists and martyrologists, the imperial cult was nothing other than an instrument of pagan impiety. Thus, it is clear that at the time the hymn was composed, Christians were already aware about their association with a godly kingdom when all other groups were in search of a new kingdom that would replace the naked power of Roman kingdom. However, it is rather surprising to note that despite Jesus’ trial, the persecutors are not mentioned in the hymn. The reason for this hiding, according to Martin and Martin is that identifying the persecutors would have resulted in a lot of trouble for the church. If the Jews were blamed, it would diminish all chances of persuading more Jews to join the church, and blaming the Romans would only result in more atrocities3. As R. P. Martin rightly points out, the hymn may have had one meaning in its original form and a totally different meaning in the context of Paul’s letter. For example, there were the Jewish-Christians who possessed over-realised, triumphalistic eschatology. In order to oppose these ‘enemies of cross’, Paul intentionally stresses on the death on a cross. To counter them, Paul put forward the theory of Jesus who took the form of a servant and who emptied himself and humbled himself4. This Jesus, according to the hymn, did not take advantage of the equality with God. Instead, He took the appearance of a man and was obedient till death. The second point that attracts the readers is the claim that ‘every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord’. To explain why Paul wanted to give Jesus such a cosmic leadership that placed Him above all others, R. P Martin points out the fact that since the time of Second Isaiah, it was common for various sectors of Judaism to consider various figures as closely related to, and sometimes equal to, God. Such figures were often considered as divine attributes, patriarchs or angels. Thus, the Christ hymn went one step ahead of them by giving Christ such a cosmic leadership that is above and beyond all other figures. As already said ‘every knee should bow and every tongue should acknowledge tat Jess is the Lord’. According to R. P Martin, it is this need that made the composers of the hymn switch from the monotheistic God of Isaiah to Jesus. Another explanation is that the hymn was very vital for the early Christians to stay firm on their belief under the raw power of the Roman empires. In order to show how tolerant Jesus was, the hymn introduced a Jesus who decided to take the nature of a servant and humbled him by being ...Show more


Exegetical paper on the christ hymn (college) Introduction Philippians 2:5-11 has been viewed as being of extreme doctrinal significance for the Philippians and early Christians as well for all Christians today. The Christ Hymn contains within it a clear lyrical message to all Christians which calls us to imitate Christ’s humility in order to live in harmony…
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