“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”
This text demonstrates the divinity of Christ by stating that He was in the form of God. This proves that Jesus is equal to His Father by nature. The remainder of the text is used by some in an attempt to prove that Jesus is exactly equal to His Father in every respect. Yet, the following verses show that He is not exactly equal in every respect. Two verses later we read, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Here we learn that Jesus died, but if He was exactly equal to His Father in every respect this couldn’t happen, because the Father cannot die (1 Timothy 6:16). This shows an inequality of the Son to the Father.
The next verse says, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). Here the Father highly exalted His Son and gave Him an excellent name, something that could not happen if they were equal in every respect. (For a more detailed explanation of this, please read the answer to John 5:17, 18.)
So what does it mean when it says that Jesus “thought it not robbery to be equal with God”? The English Standard Version reads, “…did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Jesus did not seek to become equal with His Father. He did not desire a higher position, but instead humbled Himself to become a man and die for the sins of us all. Satan has the opposite desire. He said, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14).
Philippians 2:6 shows the humility of Christ and His contentment to accept the position given to Him by His Father. Jesus Christ is equal by nature to His Father, but He is not absolutely equal in authority. Jesus said, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).