An ancient papyrus tells of a certain rich man who was stripped of all his sordid possessions. In a similar vein Josephus wrote of a protest by Herod the Great that Jerusalem must not be pillaged or totally emptied of all its men and money. In both these places the Greek word for empty (kenoo – keh NOH oh) was used. Before we look at an important use of this word in the New Testament, we should look also at the way the word was used in the Old Testament. Jeremiah described how the gates of Jerusalem would be laid waste (Jer 14:2) and a mother would be disgraced and humiliated when her sons were killed (Jer 15:9). In the Greek translation of Jeremiah the word used both .times was keno -- emptied.
With this background in mind, what are we to make of the statement in Philippians 2:7 that Jesus emptied himself? Prior to this emptying he existed in the very nature of his Father and was equal to him. But then Jesus emptied himself. Did he striphimself of his divine privileges? Was there a voluntary but violent pillaging of his powers? Perhaps we have accepted too lightly the kind of sacrifice made by the one who was rich, but became poor for our sakes (2 Cor 8:9). While Jesus still existed in the form of God he was all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. But when he came to experience manhood he was limited in his physical body, and had access to a limited store of knowledge (Matt 24:36). He could do nothing of himself (John 5:30) and sought only to do his Father’s will. In obedience to the divine mission he now tasted humanity. He could experience hunger and fatigue, he could suffer injuries, and he could die.
But though he was disgraced and humiliated in his death, he was exalted in his resurrection! Restored to his former glory, the one who emptied himself is Lord of all!