How is Phil. 2:6 Meant to Be Understood?
To begin with, the context of Phil. 2:3-9 indicates how Phil. 2:6 should be understood. The context stresses the concept of humility and obedience, and Phil. 2:6 itself is clearly meant as the prime example of this for all Christians. Even The Amplified Bible, for example, translates Phil. 2:3, 5 this way:
"Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself.... Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. - Let Him be your example in humility."
Then that very example of Jesus (Phil. 2:6-8) is given. - Cf. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 1, p. 547.
Most trinitarian interpretations of Phil. 2:6, however, do not show Jesus as regarding God as "better than and superior to himself" in the beginning (as the context demands for this example). Most of them, instead, twist that proper example of humility into just the opposite: an example of a person who regards himself already as equal to the Most High, Almighty God ("thought it not robbery to be equal to God"). Such an interpretation destroys the very purpose (Phil. 2:3) of Jesus' "example in humility" here.
Paul is not telling us to regard ourselves as equal to others. He is clearly using Jesus as his example to teach that each Christian must, as the very trinitarian Amplified Bible above puts it, "regard others as better than and superior to himself". And yet most trinitarian translations show Jesus doing the very opposite in this "example in humility" for all Christians.
Something, then, is very wrong with the translation of Phil. 2:6 in most trinitarian Bibles. Consider the following:
CONCERNING THE WORD "FORM" [morphe]:
Many trinitarian Bible scholars attempt to force an interpretation of "form" [morphe] that includes the idea of "essence" or "nature." However, even many trinitarian Bible scholars admit:
"Morphe is instanced from Homer onwards and means form in the sense of outward appearance." - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Zondervan, p. 705, vol. 1.
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.
If Paul had intended `nature,' `very essence,' etc., he certainly would not have used a word which means only external appearance (morphe). He would have used one of the words which really mean absolute nature.
CONCERNING THE WORD "HARPAGMOS":
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance (by trinitarian writer and trinitarian publisher) tells us that harpagmos means "plunder" and that it comes from the source word harpazo which means: "to seize ... catch away, pluck, take (by force)." - #725; 726, Abingdon Press, 1974 printing.
And the New American Standard Concordance of the Bible (also by trinitarians) tells us: "harpagmos; from [harpazo]; the act of seizing or the thing seized." And, "harpazo ... to seize, catch up, snatch away." Notice that all have to do with taking something away by force. - # 725; #726, Holman Bible Publ., 1981.
But, in spite of some trinitarians' reasonings and euphemistic renderings, it is clear from the way it was always used in Scripture that harpagmos means either taking something away by force (a verb), or something which has been taken by force (a noun).
Paul certainly wouldn't destroy this example of humility for fellow Christians by saying that Jesus is thinking that it isn't "robbery" (KJV) for him to be equal with the Most High. Besides being a nonsensical statement, it is just the opposite of humility. Instead, to be in harmony with the purpose of Paul's example, we must find a Jesus who regards God as superior to himself and won't give even a moment's thought about attempting to take that most high position himself, but, instead, humbles himself even further.
When even a number of the best trinitarian scholars are willing to admit the actual meaning (or even an equivalent compromise) of harpagmos at Phil. 2:6, it becomes necessary for honest-hearted, truth-seeking individuals to admit that Phil. 2:6 not only does not identify Jesus as God, but that it clearly shows Jesus is not God.
Philippians 2:5, 6 (rs p. 405-p. 426; Watchtower Online Library)
PHIL 2:6; Part 2 - Notes (Examining the Trinity)
New World Translation and Philippians 2:6 (IN Defense of the NWT)
What does it mean when Phil. 2:6 says that Jesus was in God's form? (Search For Bible Truths)
Huparchon (or `Uparchon') - Does the word `being' in Philippians 2:6 [KJV], really literally mean `remaining or not ceasing to be'? (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)
"[Other]" and Phil. 2:6 (Defending the NWT)