What is the Form of God?

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Philippians 2:6 KJV)

The form of God, as used by Paul in Phil. 2:6,  is the essence of God expressed in the Person of Jesus. This devotional will examine the two key terms “essence” and expressed” to unveil the mysteries and beauties of who Jesus is. But first, let’s begin with the word “form” and a tempting misinterpretation we must avoid.

The term “form”  is from the Greek “morphe,” from which we get such words as morphology, metamorphosis, etc. Morphe typically means the form or outward shape of something. Therefore it might be tempting to think of the “form of God” as God’s physical shape. Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament states, “we must here dismiss from our minds the idea of shape.” This comment is explicit and clear:  the form of God does not refer to the shape of God; God does not have a physical body with characteristics such as shape, weight, skin color, or size.

The ESV Bible notes states that the term “form” here “means the true and exact nature of something, possessing all the characteristics and qualities of something.” Therefore, the form of God is  God in the totality of His being, in all His qualities—His essence. In saying Jesus was in the form of God, Paul was simply saying Jesus was truly God. If the form of God is God in essence, why not use God directly instead of using the “form of God”? There is a reason; besides essence, the term form also carries the connotation of expression.

As the Eternal Creator, God cannot be seen by His creation in His essence. For God to be seen or known, He has to reveal Himself to creation. God reveals Himself as His Word; God the Word is the God that is known or seen. Jesus, as the form of God, is the essence of God revealed to us in the language human beings understand best—as a human being perceptible by the physical senses. Humans are a form of expression. In fact, in the next verse, we are told Jesus, the form of God, took upon Him the form of man( Phil. 4:7), which is flesh(John 1:14). Bullinger summarizes this idea in his Companion Bible comment on Phil. 2:6, saying the form of God is  “ the essential form, including all the qualities which can be made visible to the eye.” 

Jesus was the totality of God as a Human Being living amongst people and revealing the Father. Those who saw Jesus did not know they were seeing God the Father living amongst them; this had been the heart cry of many prophets to see God( Matt. 13:17). Their eyes were opened to know Jesus only after He resurrected and the Holy Spirit was given. 

Jesus, the form of God in the flesh, is no longer here on earth. However, Jesus as God the Word is still here with us. As you look into the Word and see Jesus, you are beholding the form of God in the Word, and beholding Him transforms you from one degree of glory to another! ( 2. Cor. 3:18)

What do “essence” and “expression” mean as used above?

Seek to grow in your revelation of who Jesus is—full Christianity begins with the revelation of Jesus.

Ask the Spirit to open the eyes to know Jesus as the form of God.

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