WHAT KIND of fulfillment of Philippians 2:10-11 may be expected
according to the Scriptures?
The usual interpretation given to this important passage of Holy Writ--to which I held
for many years myself--runs like this: "Yes, it is true that in the end all
will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. But here is the
difference: Some will confess willingly and joyfully; others (the great
majority) will confess because they must."
Let us see by the help of God and in the light of His own Word if such a contention
will stand the test. There are various reasons that speak against it.
1. The above given interpretation contradicts every known linguistic law. There
isn't any language in the world in which by one and the same word two ideas may be
expressed which are directly opposed to each other. Supposing I had two horses
before me, the one white, the other black. Suppose a child, pointing to the white horse,
would ask me, "Uncle, what's the color of this horse?" I would naturally say,
"It's white!" But if the child asked me about the color of the other
horse, I would not use the same word "white" to designate its color.
And yet such an absurdity is forced upon the Holy Spirit, the real Author of the
Scriptures when it comes to the interpretation of our passage. It is assumed that the Holy
Spirit used one and the same word to designate a willing, joyous confession
on the one hand and a forced, unwilling confession on the other hand. Is it possible? Are
these not two contrasts as great as, for instance, light and darkness, or life and death?
I, for my part, cannot concede that the Holy Spirit can ever make such a blunder.
If--as is stated here--every tongue will acclaim Christ as Lord and as Such every
knee bow before Him for God the Father's glory--that certainly includes the
confession of all true believers. Now, if there were such an essential difference
between those who confessed out of faith and with a willing heart and those who confessed
merely because they were forced to do so, not one and the same word could be used
to designate these two kinds of confessions of which one is just the opposite of the
other. The word used here in the original is exomologeeseestai. The Greek language
is not so deficient in words and forms that it could not clearly set forth such a vital
2. In 1 Corinthians 12:3 Paul declares definitely that no one is able to say
"Lord Jesus" except by (the) Holy Spirit. In His discussion with the Samaritan
woman at Jacob's well, the Lord Jesus maintains that the Father wishes to have such
worshipers only as worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23). And we may be sure that such
worshipers only will be the ripe fruitage of the redemptive and conciliatory work of God's
Beloved Son who "tasted death for every man."
3. When it was announced to Joseph to whom Mary was betrothed, that she should give
birth to a Son, he was told "And thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save
His people from their sins" (Matt.1:21). That had already been proclaimed by the name
of one of the personal types of our blessed Saviour, for "Jesus" is the Greek of
the Hebrew "Jeschua" (Joshua) which signifies "Jehovah is salvation."
Therefore, if Paul by inspiration says that in the name of Jesus every tongue will
confess and every knee bow, it is self-evident that all of these thus bowing before Him,
have recognized and experienced Him as their personal Saviour and confess Him as such.
4. All of us know that God, the Holy One of Israel, always looketh at the heart and
that mere formal lip-service ever has been an abomination before Him (Amos 5:21-23). Can
we imagine that He would ever favorably accept a confession and make it redound to His glory,
if the confessors only by force reluctantly confessed Christ as Lord with their
lips, while inwardly their hearts were foaming in venomous hatred against Him?
When Christ walked on the earth in the flesh, the demons openly confessed Him as the
Holy One of God (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34). But the Lord Jesus rebuked them and did not allow
them to speak. At that time He refused recognition out of such an unclean source. Would it
ever be acceptable to Him?
5. But the strongest reason for the conviction that the confession announced in our
passage as coming, to pass, will be a joyous willing and God-pleasing one,
is found in this fact: This verb "Confess homologeoo occurs in many other
passages of the Scriptures. From these it may be ascertained beyond the shadow of a doubt
what kind of confession this will be.
In Matthew 10:32 and Luke 12:8 the Lord Jesus promises: "Whosoever therefore shall
confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father Who is in
heaven." No one will be in doubt as to the nature of such confession.
In John 1:20 John the Baptist "confessed and denied not, but confessed,
`I am not the Christ.'" Not a trace of reluctance or coercion is to be noted.
In John 9:22 we are told that "the Jews had agreed already that if any man did
confess that He (the Lord Jesus) was Christ, he should be put out of the
synagogue." Most assuredly, if anyone under such circumstances dared to confess
Christ, he was not forced to do so, unless compelled by the inner urge of God's spirit
In Acts 24:14 Paul confesses before Felix, the Roman governor, his unwavering
faith in "Christ and the hope of a future resurrection of the dead, both of the just
and the unjust." And he so confessed with great boldness and without fear of
Romans 10:9,10 speaks twice of confessing with the mouth that Jesus is the
Lord (similar phraseology as in Philippians 2). And it is added that such confession
is made unto salvation. A confession that brings salvation can certainly not
be a forced one nor one reluctantly given.
In Acts 23:8 it is stated of the Pharisees in contrast to the Sadducees, that they confessed
both: a resurrection and also the existence of angels and spirits. I do not see any reason
why we should not believe that they did so out of conviction.
In 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul asserts of his (spiritual) son Timothy that he had "confessed
a good confession before many witnesses." Could Paul, the great champion of the
cross, have called Timothy's confession "good" if it had been given reluctantly
or under compulsion?
Not to become wearisome in our presentation--you may also compare the other passages
for yourself: Matt.7:23; 14:7 (where homologeoo is rendered "promised");
John 12:42; Heb.11:13; 13:15 ("giving thanks"); 1 John 1:9; 2:23; 4:2,3,15; 2
John 7; Rev.3:5.
As to the noun "confession" homologia the following passages are to
the point: 2Cor. 9:13; 1 Tim.6:12,13; Heb.3:1; 4:14; 10:23.
For the sake of the ordinary reader who has not access to the Greek original, be it
noted that the verb homologeoo is composed of two words. The first one is the
adjective homos which means "alike." The second one is the verb legeoo,
"say" or "speak." Thus results the significance: "to speak alike"
(in harmony with another) therefore "to confess."
By studying all the passages cited, you, dear reader, are in a position to convince
yourself that in all of these cases, the word is used of a willing, obedient and
From this rule I can find only one exception, and that is Titus 1:16. Here Paul
says of some Jewish Cretians: "They profess (confess) that they know God; but in
works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work
reprobate." Their confession evidently was a feigned one only.
I am quite sure that now some one will be ready to jump at me and sneeringly retort
"that this one exception is sufficient to knock out your whole argument." It at
least admits the possibility that the confession of some of those in Philippians 2:10,11
may not be genuine.
To this I reply: It does not state in Titus 1:16 that those Cretians confessed
"that Jesus Christ be the Lord" but that they "knew God." And they
certainly were not forced to make such a confession, which is the point so strongly
stressed in the usual interpretation of our passage. It is true that there is plenty of feigned
worship in our days and there may be some even in the next eon under the rulership of the
Son of Man. But forced worship has never been one of God's methods and the
thought is foreign to Scripture.
But so far we have been dealing with the simple form only of the verb homologeoo.
The fact is that this verb (confess) appears frequently in a "strengthened"
form in the New Testament. In all these cases a so-called prefix precedes the verb
in its simple form. That prefix is the preposition ex, "out" or
"out of." Thus we have exomologeoo in the active and exomologeomai
in the middle voice (of which a little more, later).
In the strengthened form the little prefix ex denotes the fact that the
confession came out of the innermost (heart). And that's the form used in our
passage and it is never used of any feigned, or reluctant or forced confession.
Can that leave any doubt as to the nature of the confession here?
We find this form in passages that deal with confessions of sins. So in Matthew 3:6;
Mark 1:5; Acts 19:18 and James 5:16. Here the usual form homologeoo is preceded by
the prefix ex to emphasize the fact that these confessions came out of the heart.
Twice the Lord Jesus Himself makes use of this verb (Matt.11: 25; Luke 10:21), and in
the latter passage it is preceded by the assertion, "In that hour Jesus rejoiced
in spirit and said..." Accordingly in these two passages exomologeoo has been
rendered "I thank or praise Thee, O Father that..."
This same jubilant, rejoicing note is sounded by this strengthened form in Romans 14:11
(where we have the same phraseology as in Philippians 2) and in Romans 15:9. Can there be
any doubt as to the nature of the confession in our passage?
And last--but not least--it must not be overlooked that in our passage the verb exomologeoo
appears in the so-called "middle voice" exomologeomai. In modern
languages we have the active and the passive voices only. But in the Greek there is a third--an
intermediate between the active and the passive. Winer in his grammar says that the Greek
used this middle voice, when they wanted to convey the thought that a person did something
by himself, out of his own volition. And that's the form used in our
We have cited every verse in the New Testament where this verb is used and we have
found but one instance where in its simple form it is used of a feigned
confession and that in an altogether different environment. In all other cases--even in
its simple form it denotes a willing, obedient and joyful confession.
And the strengthened form of homologeoo clinches our argument, for it is never
used of any feigned or forced or reluctant confession.
When by God's grace this blessed truth dawned upon me, a sense of deep gratitude welled
up in my heart. Methinks, by this chain of positive evidence, the Holy Spirit wants to
remove the last particle of doubt as to the nature of the future confession of "those
in heaven and of those on earth and of those beneath" (under the earth).
How glorious that we have a God Who, through His only beloved Son, is more than able to
deal in grace and judgment with all of His creatures so long, until the will
of every creature belongs to Him. And He can and will reach His goal through His
Son, according "to the energy by which He is able even to subject all things to
In the light of these facts you learn to understand Romans 11:32-36, and all you can do
is to fall down on your knees and worship Him and glory in His Name!