Question: "What is the meaning of Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"?"

Answer: In Philippians 2:5, Paul sets Jesus before us as the example of the type of attitude we should have: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (NKJV). Or, as the NIV has it, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

Paul writes his letter to the Philippians to encourage them to rejoice even in difficult circumstances. Paul was in prison, and he encourages the Philippians that, even though he was imprisoned, they should rejoice because God was still working (Philippians 1). The church at Philippi was commendable for several reasons; however, they were also dealing with some disunity (Philippians 4:2). Paul asks them to make his joy complete—to provide him joy even in his difficulty—by “being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Philippians 2:2). The Philippians could help Paul in his difficult time by simply showing the maturity that they should show in the first place. Paul explains how they can do that. They shouldn’t do anything out of selfishness or pride, but, instead, with humility in their thinking they should consider the other person as more important than themselves (Philippians 2:3). They shouldn’t be simply concerned about their own interests, but also the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). After these exhortations, Paul gives them a supreme example to consider: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

The idea of “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5) is to have the same mindset or thinking that Christ had. Specifically, Paul is talking about how Jesus as God was willing to give up His glory (Philippians 2:6) and to humble Himself to become a man and to die on a cross (Philippians 2:7–8). Jesus gave Himself up as an expression of love and was willing to lower Himself to express that love. He is the supreme example of love and humility—as Jesus Himself put it, no one has greater love than to give his life for another (John 15:13). Paul is challenging his readers to think like that—to be willing to lower themselves for the benefit of the other. That is how they could be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, and intent on one purpose (Philippians 2:2)—by being willing to make their own interests and purposes subservient for the good of the other person.

Humility is a basic and necessary aspect of the Christian life, and we have the perfect model of how to be humble in Jesus Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Further, as James recounted, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, ESV). God sees when people respond to Him and to each other with humility, and He is gracious. Peter adds that we should humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and at the right time He will exalt us (1 Peter 5:6). Any anxieties we might have about the implications of humility we can cast upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). This is one facet of God’s grace for the humble.

Paul challenged Euodia and Syntyche to live in harmony (Philippians 4:2), and that same challenge is applicable for us today. We need to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” and treat each other with humility and honor so that we are valuing each other as God values us and as He intends for us to value each other.