1. It is significant that it speaks of “equality with God” not “equality with the Father” in these two trinitarian Bibles. With their wordings of this verse one cannot even say that Jesus was equally God, although, somehow, subordinate to the Father, as some trinitarians attempt.
2. No less an authority than highly trinitarian NT Greek scholar Dr. A. T. Robertson has admitted that “the few examples of harpagmos ... allow it to be understood as equivalent to harpagma, like baptismos and baptisma.” - p. 444, vol. IV, Word Pictures.
Furthermore, the trinitarian The Expositor’s Greek Testament also admits that “It is generally admitted now that ἁρπαγμὸς [harpagmos] may be regarded as = ἁρπαγμa [harpagma, as often found in the Septuagint OT].”
If there should still be any question about the different endings here (harpagma / harpagmon) for the same basic word harpagmos, you can show the example of “blasphemous / blasphemer” as used in the New Testament Greek. Under the designation of blasphemos (#989 in Strong’s; Thayer’s; and the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible) we find this same NT Greek word has these endings: Blasphema (Acts 6:11) and Blasphemon (1 Tim. 1:13). Yes, like harpagmos: harpagma / harpagmon, the same basic NT word (blasphemos) is used as a noun at 1 Tim. 1:13 (blasphemon) and as an adjective at Acts 6:11 (blasphema). See Vine, p. 124; Thayer, p. 103; Strong’s, #989 in the “Greek Dictionary”; New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #989, p. 1639; and The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Zondervan 1986), vol. 3, p. 345. Another example is #1199 (desmos): Luke 8:29 (desma) and Mk. 7:35 (desmos). - See Thayer, Strong’s, etc. Also see Vine, p.88.
3. Robertson, desperately trying to maintain a trinitarian interpretation, goes on to ‘explain’ that at Phil. 2:6 Paul means “a prize [harpagmos interpreted as ‘a result’] to be held on to rather than something to be won [harpagmos interpreted as ‘an act’, e.g. ‘robbery,’ ‘seizure’]” - p. 444, vol. IV, Word Pictures.
But if we really take harpagmos at Phil. 2:6 “to be equivalent to harpagma,” as Robertson states, we find it probably should be interpreted as an act (Robertson himself also admits that words ending in -mos were originally so intended) rather than a result. For example, Ezekiel (as found in the Septuagint) uses forms of harpagmos (harpagma and harpagmata) more than any other OT writer. In Ezek. 18:7, 12, 16, and 18 he uses harpagma, whereas in Ezek. 19:3, 6; 22:25, 27, and 29 he uses harpagmata.
Each one of the 4 uses of harpagma in Ezek. 18 means an act of seizing by force. Each one of the 5 uses of harpagmata means a result: a “prize” or “spoil” or “prey” (all of which are the results of “taking by force”). So even if, as Robertson says, harpagmos is equivalent to harpagma, harpagmos still means an act of “taking by force”.
In addition, even when the “result” meaning is used (harpagmata in the above Septuagint references), it always has a verb with it (usually harpazo, “taken by force”) showing what was being done to the “spoil.” So even if the “result” meaning (“spoil,” “prey”) were intended, it would have a verb indicating its use: “taken” (or, perhaps, even “held on to” as trinitarians want at Phil. 2:6). But there is no such verb at Phil. 2:6. Even if there were such a verb there, it would still be saying: “He didn’t even consider [holding on to his] forcefully-seized spoil: to be equal to God.” This is an unacceptable interpretation due to the inherent meaning (“forcefully seized”) of harpagmos (or harpagma or harpagmata). The only proper understanding at Phil. 2:6 must be: Even though he was in a likeness (or ‘outward appearance’) of God, he never gave any consideration to trying by forceful seizure to be equal to God.” - Compare GNB.
4. The trinitarian Revised English Bible’s rendering of Phil. 2:6 is also a compromise, but still more honest than NASB: “Yet he laid no claim to equality with God” - REB. This compromise is a result of recognizing the significance of harpagmos but giving a rendering which only allows the possibility of its true meaning. The REB gave up the usual trinitarian insistence that, somehow, Jesus was equal with God. They managed to twist the meaning just enough to imply that he may or may not have actually been equal to God, whereas a totally honest translation of harpagmos reveals that he definitely was NOT equal to God!
5. A good example is the use of isa (“equal” at Isaiah 51:23) in the Septuagint: Here God is speaking about those oppressors who commanded Israelites to lie down flat on the ground so they could be walked upon, and the Israelites “made their bodies equal [isa] with the ground” so they could be walked upon. Obviously the Israelites did not make their bodies absolutely equal with the ground thereby making themselves literal ground [or having the ‘absolute sameness of nature’ as the ground as Walter Martin would have to say] also, but merely made them equal in the attributes (neuter) of the ground: flatness, lowness, destined to be walked upon, of little worth, etc.
6. As for the wishful thinking of a few trinitarian apologists that morphe had been used by the early pagan Greek philosophers with some kind of “essence” meaning and then slipped into the common language and then into the NT in this single verse: Most words used with different meanings by specialists (including philosophers) today do not slip into the common language, and they didn’t in the first centuries either. Morphe was no exception:
“Philosophical Use. morphe has no unequivocal sense in philosophy. .... The term never achieves any fixity that influences ordinary usage, and from Stoicism onward is rare in philosophy. Philo contrasts unformed matter with the creation, in which things have received their forms [appearances]. In general morphe in all its nuances represents what may be seen by the senses” - p. 608
“Phil. 2:6-7 speaks in hymnic style of the “form” of Christ. .... Prior to the incarnation he is in the form of God [Phil. 2:6], i.e., he bears the image of the divine majesty, and after the incarnation he is exalted again as the kyrios. In antithesis to the earlier and the later glory, his incarnation is a time of humble service when he bends his own will to that of others.” - p. 609, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (trinitarian) Abridged in One Volume (‘Little Kittel’), 1985, Eerdmans (trinitarian).
Phil. 2:6: [Trinitarian Dr. Adam Clarke agrees with the interpretation of trinitarians Dr. Macknight and Dr. Whitby. He quotes Dr. Macknight who says his] “interpretation is supported by the term μορφῇ [morphe], form, here used, which signifies a person’s external shape or appearance, and not his nature or essence. Thus we are told, Mark 16:12, that Jesus appeared to his disciples in another μορφῇ, shape, or form. And, Matthew 17:2, μετεμορφώθη, he was transfigured before them — his outward appearance or form was changed. .... this sense of μορφῇ [morphe] θεοῦ [theou], is confirmed by the meaning of μορφὴν δούλου [morphe doulou], Philippians 2:7; which evidently denotes the appearance and behavior of a servant or bondman, and not the essence of such a person. See Whitby and Macknight.” - Clarke’s Commentary, NT, pp. 1100-1101, vol. 6A, Ages Software, Version 2.0, 1997.
In a discussion concerning the definition of morphe, Paul R. wrote:
“…. those who advocated "form" as a definition of "morphe" simply stated that it means such, while those who advocated "external appearance" also provided support for their interpretation, such as 4 Macc. 15.3 (4), Mark 16:12, 1 Clement 39:3, Job 4:16 LXX, Xenophon, Philo, Lucian, and Libanius.
“Can one prove a theory without supporting evidence? I don't think so.”
7. However, even if we allowed the modern, forced “nature” meaning for morphe, we still wouldn’t necessarily have to understand Jesus as being equally God with the Father. As the trinitarian Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, 1982, Bethany House Publ., tells us:
“the name [‘angel’] does not denote their nature [just as the title ‘God’ or ‘god’ does not necessarily denote one’s nature], but their office as messengers” - p. 38. “As to their nature, they are spirits.” - p. 39.
Or, as the equally trinitarian New Bible Dictionary (2nd ed.), Tyndale House, 1982, tells us, angels are “uncorrupted spirit in original essence.” - p. 36.
Today’s Dictionary of the Bible also tells us that this nature (“spirit”) of angels is “the divine nature” - p. 593. And the New Bible Dictionary admits: “in his nature God is pure spirit.” - p. 427.
Therefore, God, Jesus, and the angels all have the “essence” or “nature” of spirit. This obviously does not make them all equally God! Man, mouse, and canary are certainly not all equally man simply because they all have the same “essence” or “nature” of flesh!
8. “General. The term schema [which includes its form of schemati] denotes the outward structure or form that may be known by the senses. .... Philo [contemporary with NT writings] makes rich use of the term with the primary sense of what may be known from outside, e.g, forms, artistic or mathematical figures, forms of speech, also human bearing, disposition, posture, or position. He also uses the word for ‘distinctive character.’ Thus at the Passover every house takes on the schema of a sanctuary. [In this example, then, we see that Kittel’s ‘distinctive character’ is something which is not the reality but resembles it in ‘character’ only!]” - pp. 1129, 1130, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Abridged in One Volume, (‘Little Kittel’).
9. “homoioma. This rare word means ‘what is similar,’ ‘copy,’ with a stress on the aspect of ‘similarity.’ .... In Rom. 8:3 and Phil 2:7 Paul uses [homoioma] with reference to Christ’s earthly life. In Rom. 8:3 he stresses the reality of Christ’s humanity by saying that he came in the ‘likeness’ of sinful flesh; he entered the nexus of human sin but without becoming subject to the power of sin, as would be implied if Paul had simply said ‘in sinful flesh.’ The homoioma denotes likeness in appearance but distinction in essence. .... The term homoioma is clearly an attempt to overcome the difficulty of having to say that the Christ in whom human sin is condemned is not himself a sinner. .... It is not implied that he has ceased to be God [or ‘divine’ for non-trinitarians]; even in his humanity Christ is at the same time a being of another kind. In the fathers Ignatius refers to the resurrection of believers corresponding to Christ’s ‘likeness’ (Trallians 9.2), and an early sacramentary calls the bread the ‘likeness’ of Christ’s body.” - pp. 685, 686, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume, (‘Little Kittel’). The scholarly acclaim for this work is great, but so is its trinitarian bent!
Yes, as even most trinitarian scholars will tell you, homoiomati means “a likeness” “that which is made like something, a resemblance”! - W. E. Vine. Even super-trinitarian Vine himself agrees that Paul intended that Jesus only resembled men in that he was “not simply and merely man ... but the Incarnate Son of God” - W. E. Vine, quoting Gifford, quoting Meyer).
It should be obvious that the trinitarian tactic of insisting that “likeness” here actually means the reality itself is unacceptable. But, to those who insist on such an interpretation, let’s look at James 3:9. Here James speaks of men “who have been made in the likeness of God” - NASB. Those trinitarians who insist that “likeness” at Phil. 2:7 provides a parallel with ‘morphe of God’ that makes Jesus God should, then, also insist that “likeness” at James 3:9 makes men God! (We might also examine “likeness” at Gen. 5:1. Here the Bible tells us that man was created “in the likeness of God”! - KJV; NKJV; NASB; ASV; NIV; RSV; NRSV; NAB; NJB; NEB; AT; MLB; etc. Again, then, trinitarian-type ‘evidence’ makes even men God!)
10. TEV (Today’s English Version, American Bible Society) reads at Phil. 2:6, “He always had [huparchon] the very nature [morphe] of God ...”
There is no honest justification for such a rendering of huparchon. It simply emphasizes the desperation of trinitarians to find (or invent) some scriptural justification for their very unscriptural belief. See the HIST study to see how and why the trinity doctrine was developed in the 4th century A.D.
Even trinitarian NT scholar W. E. Vine tells us:
“the present participle of huparcho, to exist, which always involves a pre-existent state, prior to the fact referred to, and a continuance of the state after the fact. Thus in Phil. 2:6, the phrase ‘who being (huparchon) in the form of God,’ implies His pre-existent Deity, previous to His Birth, and His continued Deity afterwards.” - p. 108, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Nelson, 1983 printing.
This is sheer poppycock, of course! There is no example to support objectively such a wishful interpretation and plenty to refute it! (See how huparchon is used at Ro 4:19, for example.)
11. The forms of the be verb (which include εἰ, ἐστὶν, ἦν,ἔσομαι, etc.) may or may not include the understanding of eternal existence. Therefore, they may be used to describe either God’s existence (eternal) or the existence of one of God’s transient creations. For example, Is. 46:9 says in the Greek of the Septuagint, ego eimi ho theos (ἐγὼ εἰμί ὁ θεὸς - ‘I am God’), and Peter said at Acts 10:26 “stand up; I myself also am (εἰμί) a man.” In the first example eimi may be understood as including the meaning of eternal existence. In the second example it surely does not include such a meaning.
12. Even the extremely trinitarian A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (BAGD) tells us: “ὑπάρχω [huparcho] impf. ὑπάρχων … the basic idea: came into being fr[om] an originating point and so to take place; gener. ‘inhere, be there’.” – p. 1029, University of Chicago Press, 2000. Unfortunately, the rest of the entry attempts to show that its use in the NT is to be simply understood as to exist or be (ignoring the literal meaning of the word and a proper analysis of the word as used in the NT.) This trinitarian lexicon lists the following as examples of Paul’s use of the word: Ro. 4:19; 1 Cor. 7:26; 11:7; 11:18; 12:22; 13:3; 2 Cor. 8:17; 12:16; Gal. 1:14; 2:14; Phil. 2:6; 3:20.
13. This is similar to the distinction between the use of kalos, the Greek NT word for “good” and agathos, another NT Greek word for “good.” One is never used for God, but only for His creations. The other may be used for God and his creations.
A man addressed Jesus as “Good [agathos] Teacher.” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good [agathos]? No one is good [agathos] except one, God.” - Mark 10:17,18. Jesus clearly states that only God should be called agathos and strongly indicates that he, Jesus, is not that one who is to be called agathos. (It would appear that Jesus meant that only God is agathos in the ultimate sense of the word.)
However, Jesus also calls himself “the good [kalos] Shepherd.” - Jn 10:11. Not only does this not use the NT word agathos, but we see that true Christians are also “good” [kalos] just like Jesus! They are “good [kalos] ministers” - 1 Tim. 4:6, ASV, and “good [kalos] stewards” - 1 Peter 4:10, ASV.
In fact, God Himself is described as “good” with agathos, but never with kalos in all the Greek Scriptures. The reason kalos is never (in its hundreds of uses in OT and NT) used for the person of God may be explained by the use of kalos at Gen. 1:4-31 in the Septuagint where each of God’s creations is called “good” [kalos]. Paul reinforces this usage at 1 Tim. 4:4 - “For every creature of God is good [kalos]”, ASV.
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology also admits that in the OT “kalos, as opposed to agathos, is what is pleasing to Yahweh, what he likes or what gives him joy, whereas agathos suggests more the application of an ethical standard.” - p. 103, vol. 2, Zondervan, 1986. And Thayer writes, “Thus even in the usage of the O.T. we are reminded of Christ’s words, Mk. x. 18, [‘no one is agathos except one, God’].” - p. 3, #18, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House, 1984 printing.
The fact that Christians are called kalos in Scripture proves they are not God who, for whatever reason, is never called kalos! It also proves Jesus is not God!
14. Early Christian writer Cyprian (ca. 250 A.D.) wrote of Phil. 2:6 that Paul wrote: “Who being established [translation of huparchon into Latin – constitutus(?)] in the form of God….” – p. 521; and “Who being appointed [another rendering of huparchon into the Latin used by Cyprian – constitutus (?)] in the figure of God….” – p. 545, vol. 5, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Eerdmans Publishing, 1990.
Even earlier, Tertullian quoted Phil. 2:6 in his 'On the Resurrection of the Flesh,' 6:4 (see ANF, vol. 3, p. 549, f.n. #14) by using the Latin constitutus in place of the Greek huparchon: "qui in effigie dei constitutus non rapinam existimavit pariari deo" ["who in image of god having been created (constitutus) ...."]. - http://tertullian.org/articles/evans_res/evans_res_03latin.htm
Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary:
"con-stituo , ui, ūtum, 3, v. a. [statuo] , to cause to stand, put or lay down, to set, put, place, fix, station, deposit a person or thing somewhere (esp. firmly or immovably), etc. (the act. corresponding to consistere; class.).
"B. With the access. idea of preparation, to set up, erect, establish, found, build, construct, prepare, make, create, constitute (class[ical] and very freq[uent])."
"constituo, constituere, constitui, constitutus V (3rd) [XXXAO] set up/in position, erect; place/dispose/locate; (call a) halt; plant (trees); decide/resolve; decree/ordain; appoint, post/station (troops); settle (colony); establish/create/institute; draw up, arrange/set in order; make up, form; fix" - William Whitaker's Words. - http://lysy2.archives.nd.edu/cgi-bin/words.exe?constituo
15. The knowledge of the intended meaning of huparchon helps correct the trinitarian mistranslation of the commentary on Gen. 49:21-26 by Hippolytus (ca. 160-235 A.D.) where he paraphrases Phil. 2:6 -
“For as the only begotten Word [Logos] of God, being God of God [theos huparchon ek theou], emptied himself, according to the Scriptures, humbling himself of his own will to that which he was not before, and took unto himself this vile flesh, and appeared in the ‘form of a servant,’ and ‘became obedient to God the Father, even unto death,’ so hereafter he is said to be ‘highly exalted’...” - p. 167, vol. 5, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, the Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D., and James Donaldson, LL.D., Eerdmans Publishing Co.
We can see that, with the honest meaning of huparchon, this trinitarian interpretation (like Phil. 2:6 itself) actually becomes anti-trinitarian: “The only-begotten Word of God, a god who came into being from [ek - "out of"] God....” (It was previously admitted, in effect, by the translation of Hippolytus’ words on Ch. xxix of 'The Refutation of All Heresies' that God had made the Word “a god” - p. 151, vol. 5, The Ante-Nicene Fathers.)
Respected trinitarian historian Williston Walker, in his acclaimed A History of the Christian Church, also admits that Hippolytus taught that the Logos (the Word) was “created by God for the carrying out of his will.” - p. 86, Fourth Edition, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1985. (Also see the LOGOS study.)
Equally trinitarian and highly respected The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, also admits that we cannot honestly say that Hippolytus definitely taught that the Logos (the pre-existent Christ) was even a person before being born on earth. This, of course, would mean that Hippolytus certainly did not teach that the Son was the always-existent, second person of the orthodox trinity doctrine. This trinitarian publication also tells us that Hippolytus did not even consider the Holy Spirit to be a person. (So much for the trinity doctrine being taught by “the most important 3rd century theologian of the Roman Church.”) - p. 652, F. L. Cross, Oxford University Press, 1990 reprint. - See the CREEDS study.