Q. Can you help me to understand what the Lord is saying to us in Phil 2:6? The ESV renders it: “Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” yet the KJV renders it: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”
To me, the KJV rendering seems to suggest that Jesus had no problem with considering Himself (while as a man) to be equal with God. All the other versions I’ve read are similar to the ESV rendering in that He didn’t regard Himself that highly out of humility. Am I misreading something here? I honestly don’t know if He did or didn’t think this way of Himself. Thank you for your help. I am very thankful for the edifying ministry of this website!
A. In Phil. 2:6 the critical Greek phrase is “ou harpagmos”. “Ou” attaches a negative meaning and harpagmos can mean either the act of seizing or the thing to be seized. The King James translators chose the first definition and translated the phrase as “not seizing (robbery)”. Other translations have used the second meaning and translate it “not a thing to be seized (grasped)”.
Both renderings are correct. Jesus was equal to God but He didn’t act like He was. Adding Phil. 2:7 completes the sentence and resolves the apparent conflict. It says He made Himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.