Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Open Wide Your Heart

 


II Corinthians 6:1-13 is the end of the Apostle Paul's defense of his ministry, which began back in chapter 2.  Now Paul is listing what he has in mind when he says that "as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way."  Indeed, every way is listed! This text requires some finesse from the preacher because it can be conceived of as a text of self-commendation.  That, clearly, would not be an option for a preaching strategy!  Rather, when we hear Paul's pleading, we hear it as a call to obedience from our Lord.

(The following questions are not meant to be exhaustive, but are best used with other fine sets of questions available to exegetes. These questions facilitate discovery of the function of the Word in a text, a central concern of Law and Gospel preachers.  For more on this method and on Law and Gospel preaching in general, see my brief guide, Afflicting the Comfortable, Comforting the Afflicted, available from wipfandstock.com and amazon.)

1.  How does the Word function in the text?  The opening verse and the closing verse show us clearly how the Word functions here:  as a call to obedience.  In verse 1, Paul says, in effect, "Do not be recipients of God's grace in vain."  In verse 13, he says, "Open wide your hearts [to us, as we have to you]."  Paul is lifting up his own life, to be sure, but only to say, "Be as Christ."

2.  How is the Word not functioning in the text?  A word of Gospel, where the Word proclaims what God has done in Christ, immediately precedes this text:  "For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (5:21).  A word of Law, where the Word functions to lift up our need for Christ is also not present here, except in the idea that we can receive the grace of God in vain.  Even that is far from a call to repentance.

3.  With whom are you identifying in the text?  We are clearly those whom Paul is addressing.  Our hearts are not open wide.  Our propensity to neglect the day of deliverance is ongoing.  Our need to live out the grace given to us in Christ is ever before us.

4.  What Law/Gospel couplet is suggested by this text?  We can employ some of the vocabulary in this text to create couplets:  closed/open; restricted/free; vain reception of God's grace/fruitful faith.

5.  Exegetical work:  Ernest Best, in his commentary, notes the presence of four specific sections in Paul's strategy of self-defense:  1) (vs. 4b-5)  "through great endurance"; 2) (vs.6-7a)  "inward motivations"; 3)  (vs. 7b-8a)  "weapons"; and 4) (vs. 8b-10)  "contrasts". (Interpretation series, Second Corinthians, p. 60-63).  Best also notes that this list fills out Paul's definition of being a good ambassador for Christ (5:20).  Paul is concerned that the Corinthians understand that he has rigorously eliminated any stumbling blocks to their faith.  "The whole intent of the passage is to demonstrate that any supposed obstacles are unreal.  The good ambassador smooths away obstacles.  If they are  still there, then Paul has failed in his ministry of reconciliation and has not brought his coverts to God." (Ibid., p. 60).  Fourth century bishop, John Chrysostom, in preaching on this text highlighted the love Paul has for the Corinthians:  "[Paul] holds nothing back and suppresses nothing.  Nothing is wider than Paul's heart, which loved all the believers with all the passion which one might have toward the object of one's affection."  (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, Vol. VII, p. 260).

6.  Consider the insights of the pioneers of the New Homiletic?  As usual, this non-narrative text will offer challenges to the preacher.  Fred Craddock would ask, "What is the experience of the text?"  The preacher seeks to capture that.

Blessings on your proclamation!


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Resurrection and Renewal

 


The Second Reading for the Second Sunday after Pentecost in the Year of Mark is II Corinthians 4:13-5:1.  This text comes amidst St. Paul's eloquent argument that the gospel is contained in "clay jars", (i.e. fragile, breakable, ordinary vessels).  Yet, he argues that finally this is irrelevant because "we walk by faith, not by sight." (5:7).  So this text is the bridge from fragility to faith.  It is a gospel text, one which the preacher is privileged to proclaim.

(The following questions are not meant to be exhaustive, but are best used in conjunction with other fine sets of questions available to exegetes. These questions are meant to highlight the way the Word functions in the text, a central concern of Law and Gospel preachers.  For more on this method and on Law and Gospel preaching in general, see my brief guide, Afflicting the Comfortable, Comforting the Afflicted, available from wipfandstock.com or amazon.)

1.  How does the Word function in the text?  The Word here is pure witness:  "So we do not lose heart" (4:16a).  The writer is acknowledging his mortal nature with all of its weaknesses, but looks to "what cannot be seen" and rejoices.  As such, the Word functions first as Law, reminding us of our "outer nature" which is "wasting away", but then as Gospel, proclaiming the promise that God has prepared for us "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."(5:1c).

2.  With whom are you identifying in the text?  Even though we may not be enduring the kind of persecution that Paul may be referring to here, each of us experiences the steady drum beat of mortality - the outer self wasting away.  We are also people of faith, looking to the promises of eternal life, whatever that may be.  So we can identify with those to whom Paul is writing.

3.  What, if any, call to obedience is there in this text?  The call to obedience, the Word functioning to invite us to live in a certain way in response to God's work, is not present in this text.  The implicit command:  "Don't lose heart" is not a call to obedience, but a call to faith.

4.  What Law/Gospel couplet is suggested by this text?  The couplets are easy to spot here, and they may be expanded upon.  Here are a few:  wasting away/being renewed day by day; momentary affliction/eternal glory; things seen/things unseen.

5.  Exegetical work:  In this text, Paul uses a rather rare term, anakainos, which means 'renewal'.  In Kittel's discussion of this term, he points out that the root word, kainos, is distinct from the common word for newness, veos, because veos means merely "what was not there before."  Kainos, on the other hand, "is what is new in nature, different from the usual, impressive, better than the old, superior in value or attraction."  (Theological Dictionary of the NT, vol. III, p. 447).  Renewal, in this text, then means something more than "what was not there before."  It follows then, that what Paul is saying here is that our "inner nature" is being made into something completely new.  This is resurrection and rebirth, not revival or restoration.  Kittel goes on:   [Theologically], "Kainos is the epitome of the wholly different and miraculous thing which is brought by the time of salvation." (Ibid., p. 449)  Ernest Best, in his commentary, argues that "'our outer nature' is the life we live among other people in which we may be persecuted or suffer in other ways (see 4:8-11).'Our inner nature' is the new life that comes into being with our relationship to Christ when we become new beings (5:17).  Our inner nature is not yet perfect or complete; it will be hereafter; meanwhile it is being renewed and is growing every day." (Interpretation series, Second Corinthians, p. 45).  Augustine would seem to agree with Best, noting that this renewal begins at baptism:  "The renewal of humankind, begun in the sacred bath of baptism, proceeds gradually and is accomplished more quickly in some individuals and more slowly in others." (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, vol. VII, p. 236).  In essence, what Paul seems to be saying is that our renewal begins in our life with Christ.

6.  Consider the insights of the pioneers of the New Homiletic?  Charles Rice wanted preachers to continually strive to help listeners recognize their own story in a text. This non-narrative text will present a challenge in this regard, all the more reason to pay attention to the needs of the listener here.

Blessings on your proclamation!


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Imitating the Incarnation

 


I John 4:7-21, the Second Reading appointed for the 5th Sunday of Easter in the Year of Mark, continues our reading through John's First Epistle in this Easter season.  As has been present in previous sections, the call to love one another, is once again, front and center.  There are, however, in this text, several important differences from what has been said previously.  Knowing God, it turns out, is all wrapped up in loving God and neighbor.  This text challenges any view of faith which claims that we can know God apart from loving God and neighbor. This message will be the challenge for the preacher.

(The following questions have been developed to explore the function of the Word, a central concern of Law and Gospel preachers.  These questions are best used in conjunction with other fine sets of questions available to exegetes.  For more on this method and on Law and Gospel preaching in general, see my brief guide, Afflicting the Comfortable, Comforting the Afflicted, available from wipfandstock.com or amazon.)

1.  How does the Word function in the text?  There are certainly explicit statements of Gospel in this text: "God's love was revealed among us in this way:  God sent his only Son into the world..." (vs.9)  Yet the tone of this text does not seem to be proclamation of God's love, but rather a reminder "that those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also." (vs.21).  Also there is an explicit word of Law here: "Those who say, 'I love God,' and hate their brothers and sisters, are liars..." (vs. 20).  This is the Word functioning as Law, for it casts light on our tendency to claim a cerebral 'faith', while ignoring "the weightier matters of the Law." The tone is accusatory.

2.  How is the Word not functioning in the text?  As noted above, though statements of Gospel are present, the tone is not comforting.  Rather, these descriptions of God's love are used as launching pads for reminding us of our responsibilities, and casting light on our hypocrisy.  In this way, this text lacks a Gospel function, even though the Gospel claims are made.

3.  With whom are you identifying in the text?  We readers are the ones brought up short, shown our sins and failings, by these words.  We are those who, though knowing of God's love, do not love others.  We are those whom have known God's love, yet cannot seem to extend that to others.  We are those who lack the perfect love that casts out fear, for we see fear ever-present in our lives.  In short, we are the ones called to repentance by this text.

4.  What, if any, call to obedience is there in this text?  In some ways this whole passage is a classic call to obedience.  Indeed verse 11 is a classic model of a call to obedience:  "Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another." Yet, because the statements explaining God's love seem to function as a call to repentance, they do not lead us in the usual manner, inviting us to joyfully respond to God's work by living in a certain way.  It is almost as if the writer is saying, "After all that God has done for you, the least you can do is to love one another."

5.  What Law/Gospel couplet is suggested by this text?  There are a number of couplets right in the text that could serve us well:  hate/love; fear/boldness; sins/atonement for sins.

6.  Exegetical work:  It is noteworthy that the conditional phrase in vs. 12 is a condition of uncertainty:  "No one has ever seen God; if we love one another [and we might or might not], God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us."  Because of this condition of uncertainty, another way to translate this verse might be:  "No one has ever seen God; whenever we love one another, God lives in us and his love is perfected in us."  This way of understanding this phrase seems to be faithful to the tone of this text, and yet more hopeful.  Commenting on this verse and the verse that precedes it, George Parsenios writes this:  "Since verses 9-10 define God's love in the incarnation and crucifixion, events wherein Jesus embodied God's love on earth, so also the followers of Christ continue to embody this love if they are bound to one another by love.  If in their lives in the flesh the believers also embody God's love on earth, then their union and love represent an imitation of the incarnation..." (Paideia Commentaries on the NT, First, Second, and Third John, p. 115).  I like this phrase - an imitation of the incarnation.

7.  How does the Crossings Community model work with this text?  Steven Kuhl sees in this text the complete story of salvation:  Christ's atoning act (vs. 10), our willful hatred of the neighbor which shows our hearts for what they are (vs. 20), and God's call to love (vs. 21).  This analysis is a fine way of getting a handle on this whole text.  See all of it archived under its reference at crossings.org/text-study.

Blessings on your proclamation!


Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Call to Love

 


I John 3:16-24, the Second Reading appointed for the 4th Sunday in Easter in the Year of Mark, is well matched with the gospel lesson from John 10 for in both passages we hear the phrase, "to lay down one's life."  In John's gospel, the message is about the Good Shepherd laying down his life for the sheep.  In the epistle, the message is about the followers of the Good Shepherd laying down their lives for one another.  It is a classic call to obedience, a call that it will be the preacher's task to proclaim.

(The following questions are not meant to be exhaustive, but seek to explore a central concern of Law and Gospel preachers, the function of the Word in the text.  These questions are best used in conjunction with other methods and fine sets of questions available to exegetes.  For more on this method and on Law and Gospel preaching in general, see my brief guide, Afflicting the Comfortable, Comforting the Afflicted, available from wipfandstock.com or amazon.)

1.  How does the Word function in the text?  There can be little doubt that the primary function of the Word here is to call us to lay down our life for others, in response to Christ's laying down his life for  us.  This is precisely what a call to obedience does: it invites us to live in a certain way in response to the Gospel.  This particular text goes on to spell out what this means in some detail:  help a brother or sister in need, love in truth and action, obeying his commandments.

2.  How is the Word not functioning in the text?  The Word functioning as either Law or Gospel is barely present here.  In the opening verse we hear the good news that Christ lay down his life for us, but this is simply a  reminder of what motivates our own behavior.  Also there are several verses that hint at our potential hard heartedness (vs. 17), and our self-condemnation (vs. 20), but again, they are not central to the message.

3.  With whom are you identifying in the text?  We are those to whom this text is addressed.  We need reminding that our call is to emulate Christ.  We need reminding that loving only in word and speech is not enough, but we need to love in deed and truth.  We are also those who experience self-condemnation and we need God's assurance.

4.  What Law/Gospel couplet is suggested by this text?  Since the Word does not function in this text primarily as Law or Gospel, we shall have to use our imaginations to come up with couplets to illuminate this text. Using some of the language in the text, here are some suggestions: condemned/forgiven; doubting/assured.

5.  Exegetical work:  I like what the 7th century monk, Bede the Venerable, says in his commentary on this text.  Stating things most succinctly he says, "Love is the great divide between the children of God and the children of the devil.  Those who have love are children of God, and those who do not are children of the devil.  Have anything else you like, but if you lack this one thing, then all the rest is of no use to you whatsoever. On the other hand, you may lack almost anything else, but if you have this one thing, you have fulfilled the law."  (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, Vol XI, p. 201).  In speaking of the relationship between faith and love, Clement of Alexandria says, "Christ lives in a believing mind." (Ibid., p. 202).   Raymond Brown also comments on the connection between our relationship with God and with the neighbor:  "[Abide]...communicates two important points: that the Christian's relationship with God is not just a series of encounters but a stable way of life; second, that the stability does not imply inertia but a vitality visible in the way one walks."  (George Paresenios, Paideia series, First, Second, and Third John, p. 107).  

6.  How does the Crossings Community model work with this text?  Lori Cornell does a fine job of picking up on the few pieces of Law and Gospel in this text, and developing a nice analysis of what is at stake. Using the words from the Lenten hymn, "My Song Is Love Unknown," she shows how these verses illustrate a "love to the loveless shown."  We are those who have the world's goods and yet fail to share them.  Miraculously, we loveless ones are the ones Christ loves.  See this fine analysis archived under its reference at crossings.org/text-study.

Blessings on your proclamation!


Saturday, April 3, 2021

What is Heard and Seen and Touched

 


The Second Reading for the Second Sunday of Easter in the Year of Mark is I John 1:1-2:2.  This text matches well with the classic "Doubting Thomas" text of John 20 because of its emphasis on what is "seen and heard and touched."  It is also a wonderful text that includes both Law and Gospel.  It will be the preacher's task to proclaim both.

(The following questions attempt to bring to light a fundamental concern of Law and Gospel preachers:  How does the Word function in the text?  This is crucial since how the Word functions will inform, to a large degree, how the sermon will function.  For more on this method and on Law and Gospel preaching in general, see my brief guide, Afflicting the Comfortable, Comforting the Afflicted, available from wipfandstock.com or amazon.)

1.  How does the Word function in the text?  The opening verses and the closing verses of this text function purely as Gospel.  They announce the presence of "the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed" to the world in Christ, who is "the atoning sacrifice for our sins."  The middle verses (5-10) are a different story.  With their repeated use of the conditional phrase, they reveal to us our need of a Savior:  "walking in darkness" (vs. 6), "we deceive ourselves" (vs. 8), "his word is not in us" (vs. 10).  These are all sure signs of our need for repentance.

2.  With whom are you identifying in the text?  We can certainly see ourselves among those whom are addressed by this text.  We receive this good news of the Word of life that can be seen, touched and heard.  We are also those who are tempted to deceive ourselves and walk in ignorance and falsehood.

3.  What, if any, call to obedience is there in this text?  The call to "walk in the light" certainly could be understood to be a call to obedience, although in this text, this seems to function more as a call to faith.  Later in this letter, the writer will exhort readers to live in love, for God is love. This is much more the classic call to obedience.

4.  What Law/Gospel couplet is suggested by this text?  There are a host of couplets right in this text, and we could imagine any number of others. The obvious ones are: darkness/light; lies/truth; walking in the darkness/walking in the light; sinful/forgiven.

5.  Exegetical work:  The consensus amongst scholars is that the writer of I John has one primary concern:  koinonia (fellowship).  John Kysar believes that even the opening phrase contributes to this: "Only in clinging to 'that which was from the beginning' can the community survive the crisis brought on by the recent schism." (Augsburg Commentary on the NT, I, II, III John, p. 34).  The schism that later verses witness to (2:18-19) has been written much about, but George Parsenios believes that speculation regarding this schism is an error.  He advises us to stick closely to the textual evidence, which seems wise. He agrees that "communal coherence is a major concern", and he concurs with many scholars who understand that, in contrast to John's gospel, the concern here is not that is Jesus is the Son of God, but that Jesus is the Son of God. (Brown) (Paideia Commentaries on the NT, First, Second, and Third John, p. 21-22).  Parsenios goes on to argue that understanding the incarnation rightly is the key to fellowship with God and other believers:  "The point is clear: fellowship with God is possible through the incarnation and only through the incarnation." (Ibid., p. 46).  He sees this emphasis on 'flesh and blood' even in the discussion about sin:  "The use of the  plural [of sins in 1:8] shows that what is in view is not some abstract concept of sinfulness, but concrete actions that require actions in return.  The commission of sins in real acts is corrected by the confession of sins in a real act." (Ibid., p. 61).  He seems to argue that without acknowledging the flesh and blood reality of the Christ, we cannot fully experience koinoia with either God or our fellow believers.  Incarnation matters!

6.  How does the Crossings Community model work with this text?  The analysis by Norbert Kabelitz is a classic example of a Law/Gospel analysis of this text.  In the Diagnosis, Kabelitz centers on our willful denial - our bondage to dishonesty.  In the Prognosis, he centers on "divine advocacy" (vs. 2:1), showing how Christ is the solution to our bondage.  To see the whole analysis, go to crossing.org/text-study and search under the reference.

Blessings on your proclamation!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

A Feast Based on a Promise


 The account of  the first Passover in Exodus 12:1-14 is unusual in that it is a feast based on an historical event that hasn't yet happened.  Immediately prior to this reading is the promise of God's judgment on Egypt:  the Final Plague.  This reading then, appointed as the First Reading for Maundy Thursday, is perfectly matched with a service centered on the Eucharist, since that meal is also a feast based on an event (the Crucifixion) that has not yet happened when the Last Supper took place.  The preacher will do well to announce the word of liberation in this text as akin to the liberation we have in Christ.

(The following questions have been developed to reflect on a central concern of Law and Gospel preachers: the function of the Word in the text.  This is essential since the function of the Word will, in many ways, guide the function of the sermon.  For more on this method or on Law and Gospel preaching in general, see my brief guide, Afflicting the Comfortable, Comforting the Afflicted, available from wipfandstock.com or amazon.)

1.  How does the Word function in the text?  From the opening announcement the reader has the sense that something new is happening.  All of life, even down to the remaking of the calendar, will result from what God is about to do.  The tone is one of palatable hope and by the end of the passage, we know why:  God is about to liberate the people! This is a Gospel function.

2.  How is the Word not functioning in the text?  The Word does not function as Law in this text, except in the sense that the power of God is obvious:  "I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments:  I am the Lord."

3.  With whom are you identifying in the text?  We identify with the "whole congregation of Israel", to whom these words are spoken.  Our liberation is at hand.  The commands and promises are coming to us.  This shall be our festival.

4.  What, if any, call to obedience is there in this text?  One could understand this entire text as a call to obedience if all that was here was instruction.  That, however, is clearly not the case.  Promises abound.  Also, the commands here are more rubrics than calls to live in a certain way in response to God's work in the world.  

5.  What Law/Gospel couplet is suggested by this text?  Couplets are not present in the text, but using some of the vocabulary, we can imagine several:  judgment/salvation; destroyed/saved.

6.  Exegetical work:  Scholar Nahum Sarna notes that "the impending Exodus is visualized as the start of a wholly new order of life that is to be dominated by the consciousness of God's active presence in history." (The JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus, p. 54).  Terence Fretheim speaks of a a new order of life as well, but one begun in the feast itself.  He says, "The reenactment is as much salvific event as the original enactment. The memory language... is not a 'soft' matter, recalling to mind some story of the past.  It is an entering into the reality of that event in such a way as to be reconstituted as the people of God thereby."  (Interpretation series, Exodus, p. 139).  He goes on:  "The Jewish liturgy of passover (Passover Haggadah) stresses that worshippers in every celebration are actual participants in God's saving deeds:  God brought us out of Egypt."  (Ibid.).  Another important point that Fretheim makes is in regards to the blood which is put on the doorposts and lintel of the house.  He says, "What is important is the word, the promise associated with the sign, not the sign in and of itself, (12:13).  The blood is a sign 'for you' (i.e. for Israel), not for God!  that is, it is a sign of the divine promise:  God commits himself to passover the blood-marked houses.  Israel can rely on God's being faithful to this commitment." (Ibid., p. 138).  Sarna also makes an interesting point in regards to this sign and the meaning of the verb 'passover'.  He says, "Three traditions about the meaning of the stem p-s-h have survived.  The oldest, and apparently the most reliable, is 'to have compassion,' another is 'to protect,' and a third [the least likely] is 'to skip over'." (JPS, Exodus, p. 56).  Knowing this and re-reading verse 13, we can hear God say, "When I see the blood, I will have compassion," or "When I see the blood, I will protect you."  These give some understanding to this text that keep us from having a merely wooden transactional understanding of God's actions in the Exodus.

7.  Consider the insights of the pioneers of the New Homiletic?  Fred Craddock famously exhorted preachers to bring the experience of the text to the listeners, not just the content.  It would be a great sermon that achieved that with this text: the anticipation, the promise, and the hope.  There is a goal.

Blessings on your proclamation!


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Every Knee Shall Bow

 


Philippians 2:5-11,the Second Reading for Palm Sunday, is read every year as an announcement of the Lordship of Christ, and what an announcement it is.  At the Name of Jesus, not only will the crowds in Jerusalem praise him, but every knee shall bend and every tongue confess that he is Lord of all.  It will be the preacher's great privilege to make this announcement to the world.

(The following questions are not meant to be exhaustive, but are best used in conjunction with other methods of inquiry with different concerns. The main concern behind these questions is how the Word is functioning in the text, a primary consideration for Law and Gospel preachers.  For more on this method and on Law and Gospel preaching in general, see my brief guide, Afflicting the Comfortable, Comforting the Afflicted, available from wipfandstock.com or amazon.)

1.  How does the Word function in the text?  The Word starts off in the same manner of the preceding four verses - concerned with the communal life of the Philippians.  Very quickly, however, the Word turns to one of proclamation and what we have is pure Gospel, the center of which is verse 7:  "he emptied himself."  The whole passage is a celebration of the miracle of grace.

2.  How is the Word not functioning in the text?  The Word functioning as Law, (i.e. exposing our need for a Savior) is hard to find in this text.  Perhaps the announcement that Christ is Lord of all could be seen as the Word reminding us that we are not lord of our life, but that is anything but explicit.

3.  With whom are you identifying in the text?  We are those being exhorted here to have the mind of Christ.  We are those standing before this proclamation, in awe of Christ's sacrifice and glory.

4.  What, if any, call to obedience is there in this text?  As pointed to above, the first line is exactly that, a call to obedience:  "Let the same mind be in you (all)..."  It is the call to live in love, to forego quarreling, to live humbly, as Christ did.

5.  What Law/Gospel couplet is suggested by this text?  Couplets are not present, but using some of the language of the text, we can imagine several.  Some suggestions:  slaves/free; dying/alive; humbled/exalted.

6.  Exegetical work:  Fred Craddock, in his commentary, notes that "Philippians 2:6-11 is a rehearsal of the Christ story in three movements:  pre-existence, existence, post-existence." (Interpretation series, Philippians, p. 40).  This is a helpful observation in that it could give the preacher a plot for a sermon on a text that is thoroughly theological.  The lack of narrative flow in a theological text causes many a sermon to wander into theological ponderings or worse, thereby losing the listener completely.  Perhaps  by following this Christological chronology, one can fashion a narrative sermon from this text.  Gerhard Kittel's work continues to provide treasures of insight around key terms in this text.  In his discussion of arpagmos, translated  "something to be exploited" (NRSV), in verse 6, Kittel explains, "He did not regard equality with God as gain, either in the sense of something not to be let slip, or in the sense of something not to be left unutilized." (Theological Dictionary of the NT, vol. I, p. 472f).  Also, concerning the word kenoo, translated "emptied" (NRSV), in verse 7, Kittel says, "What is meant is that the heavenly Christ did not selfishly exploit his divine form and mode of being, but by his own decision emptied Himself of it or laid it by, taking the form of a servant by becoming man." (Ibid., vol. III, p. 659f).  Another possible translation for this term is "divested", echoed in Rienecker's commentary:  "The word is a graphic expression of the completeness of His self-renunciation and His refusal to use what He had to His own advantage." (Linguistic Key to the Greek NT, p. 550).  

7.  How does the Crossings Community model work with this text?  Steve Kuhl does a nice job of lifting up the competitive nature of human beings, vis-a-vis the Lordship of Christ, in his analysis.  He sees how this text does undercut our penchant to be our own lord.  Well worth exploring, you can see the entire analysis at crossing.org/text-study.

Blessings on your proclamation!