Monday, October 05, 2009

The Beauty of Harpagmos

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (or harpagmos in Greek), but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Phillipians 2. 4-7

I've sometimes had trouble with this passage since I didn't understand exactly what was meant by the translated word "grasped". It almost sounds like Christ didn't consider being God as something that he should or could do or be.

Upon reviewing the Greek word "harpagmos", I found that this grasping was not a reaching toward divinity with the hopes that it might be grasped. On the contrary, it conveys that Christ considered his eternal divinity (already possessed) not something to be hoarded for his own good, but was willing, for a time, to humble himself that he might redeem us. In doing this, Jesus magnifies his name among his creation while at the same time sanctifying them.

Who knew such an ugly word could convey such a beautiful meaning.

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