Re: The semantics of morphe in Phil 2:6

From: Edgar Gerard Foster (
Date: Thu Mar 06 1997 - 12:08:41 EST

At 10:08 PM 3/6/97 +1300, Timothy Mora wrote:

>I'm looking for clarification on the meaning of morphe in Phil 2:6. I have
>understood it of late to refer to the essential essence or nature of
>something as opposed to Schema which is concerned more with outward
>appearances. Is this so and does it have ramifications for our understanding
>of the incarnation?

>I'm doing a bible study on this next week so thought I would just ask to try
>out the waters of this forum.

>Tim Mora
>1/9 Houghton St
>New Zealand

>Ph 649 528-6824
>Fx 649 528-6824

Charles Ryrie defines HN MORPHE QEOU as "the essential form including the
whole nature and essence of Deity." (Basic Theology, p. 261) He also quotes
J.B. Lightfoot, who concluded that MORPHE connoted that which is "intrinsic
and essential to the thing." From my study of the word MORPHE, I would
strongly disagree with such a definition. I see adequate evidence for
viewing MORPHE as an "external appearance," or an "external expression."
Therefore Jesus would exist HN MORPHE QEOU, in the sense that in his
pre-existent state he externally reflected the Father's appearance. On
earth, he *appeared* as a man, but was in fact MORE than an ordinary man.
[This does not mean that I subscribe to the incarnation] (Cf. John 13:13-15)

Edgar G. Foster
Liberal Arts Major

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