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The Relationship between GOD, JESUS CHRIST and MAN

3. Words related to morphē

[3A] G3444 - μορφή (morphē)

A. Thayer Definition

       1) the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision

       2) external appearance

B. Verses with this word


Mark 16:12 (some mss.); Philippians 2:6-7

C. Outline


       1.    Jesus' external appearance after the resurrection.

              a.    Mark 16:12 - Jesus appeared in a different form to two others. (This occurred after he appeared to Mary Magdalene.) [Note: Some mss. do not have this passage (Mark 16:9-20). What it says is compatible with the rest of Scripture, so one's conclusion (as to whether or not to include it) will have no significant effect on his understanding of the Word.]

              b.    NOTE: When it says "a different form," this wouldn't have to mean his body took on different appearances each time. More likely the difference would have been in something external, such as clothes or mannerisms. In that culture, the people didn't look directly at a stranger's face. Since they did not yet understand the resurrection (and all it meant), they had no reason to believe that the "stranger" who approached them was Jesus. (The last time they had seen him, he was quite disfigured, blood-covered and dead - and this would have been etched into the minds of any who had been there.) Other factors were also present: Mary initially thought he was a gardener and didn't look directly at him until she recognized his voice (John 20:14-16). The two on the road to Emmaus thought he was a visitor to Jerusalem (Luke 24:18), so they wouldn't have been inclined to look directly into his face. Also, they were kept from recognizing him (v. 16) until their eyes were opened at a later time (v. 31).


       2.    Jesus' appearance or nature as God and as man.

              a.    Philippians 2:6 - Jesus existed in the nature / form of God.

              b.    Philippians 2:7 - Jesus willingly took on the nature / form of a (human) servant.

[3A-1] Some comments about Philippians 2:6-8 (based on comments in Thayer's Lexicon):


1.    This whole passage is to be explained as follows: who, although (formerly when he was Word without flesh) he bore the form (in which he appeared to the inhabitants of heaven) of God (the sovereign, opposed to the form of a slave), yet did not think that this equality with God was to be eagerly clung to or retained, but emptied himself of it so as to assume the form of a servant, in that he became like unto men and was found in fashion as a man.


2.    For the exact quote, see Thayer, p. 418. The above is a simplified quote, with words that were originally in Greek either: a) translated into English (if needed for the quote), or b) omitted (if the English word was also included).

D. Summary


Jesus was deity, by nature/form. He did not cling to the "rights" he had, but gave them up and humbled himself - voluntarily taking on the nature/form of a slave. The one who was supposed to be served by all was now becoming a servant of all! The next part of the verse specifies the "human" aspect. Angels are also described as "slaves" (Revelation 19:10; 22:8+), but he did not come as one of them.


This does not mean he abandoned his nature as deity, but that he gave up his rights to be treated as deity. Today he is again gloriously honored, and will someday be openly honored by all.


Physically, after the resurrection (and before the people fully understood the significance of the resurrection), Jesus was mistakenly thought to be someone else. (In that culture, people did not normally look directly into a person's face, unless they knew the person.)

[3B] G3445 - μορφόω (morphoō)

A. Thayer Definition

       1) to form

B. Verses with this word


Galatians 4:19

C. Outline


       1.    "Christ formed in you" - Paul's goal.

              a.    Galatians 4:19 - I (Paul) am in the pain of childbirth, until Christ is formed in you (Galatians)! [Figurative for the greatness of his desire for their spiritual growth and maturity.]

D. Summary


Paul's (and our) desire should be the spiritual growth and maturity of those we influence.

[3C] G3446 - μόρφωσις (morphōsis)

A. Thayer Definition

       1) a forming, shaping

       2) form

              2a) the mere form, semblance

              2b) the form befitting a thing or truly expressing the fact, the very form

B. Verses with this word

       Romans 2:20; 2 Timothy 3:5

C. Outline


       1.    The form / embodiment of knowledge and truth - in the Law.

              a.    Romans 2:20 - You have in the Law the form / embodiment of knowledge and truth... but do you ignore what it says?


       2.    A form of godliness - but lacking its power - in the apostates of the last days.

              a.    2 Tim. 3:5 - They have a form of godliness, but in their actions, they deny its power. Avoid such people!

D. Summary


From cover to cover, Scripture condemns fakes and "pretenders." They follow the "externals" without allowing those things to have any impact on their hearts.

[3D] G3339 - μεταμορφόω (metamorphoō)

A. Thayer Definition


1) to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure

1a) Christ appearance was changed and was resplendent with divine brightness on the mount of transfiguration

B. Verses with this word


Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18

C. Outline


       1.    Jesus was visibly changed in front of the apostles (on the mountain).

              a.    Matthew 17:2 - He was transformed before them. (His appearance became gloriously bright.)

              b.    Mark 9:2 - He was transformed before them. (His clothes became dazzling bright.)


       2.    We are being changed, so that we become more like Christ.

              a.    Romans 12:2 - How? Be transformed / changed by the renewing of our minds - which will enable us to understand what God's will is...

              b.    2 Corinthians 3:18 - Into what? Be transformed / changed into the glorious image of our God. We are becoming more like him; "what he is" (his glory) is becoming more visible in us.

D. Summary


The apostles got a glimpse of Jesus' glory, when his appearance was temporarily changed on the mountain. (Perhaps this was a glimpse of what he looks like now - see Revelation 1!)


We are being changed so that we will be more like Christ / God. This will impact the way we live and think.

[3E] G4832 - συμμορφός (summorphos)

A. Thayer Definition


1) having the same form as another, similar, conformed to

B. Verses with this word


Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:21

C. Outline


       1.    We - being conformed to be like Christ.

              a.    To be like him.

                     i.     Romans 8:29 - God predestined us to become conformed to the image of his Son.

              b.    This includes a transformation of our bodies.

                     i.     Philippians 3:21 - Jesus will change our "lowly" bodies, so they will be conformed to / changed to be like his glorious body.

D. Summary


For us (followers of Jesus), a glorious change is in process that will someday even affect our bodies.

[3F] G4833 - συμμορφόω (summorphoō)

A. Thayer Definition


1) to be conformed to, receive the same form as


Note: According to the NAS concordance, this is a variant reading for: G4832a - συμμορφίζω (summorphizō), with the definition "to conform to."

B. Verses with this word


Philippians 3:10

C. Outline


       1.    Becoming like Christ in his death.

              a.    Philippians 3:10 - Paul: I want to know Christ and his power (etc.)... having first become like / conformed to him in his death... (and thus capable of experiencing resurrection, etc.).

D. Summary


The first part of this glorious change (see the previous word) involves becoming like him in his death. Only then can we begin to know Christ and his resurrection power.

Dennis Hinks © 1983, 2006



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