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“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” ~Phil 2:5-10

The word “grasped” is translated from the Greek word “harpagmos” which means the act of plundering or robbing. The King James Version translates Philippians 2:6 as “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” while other versions such as the NIV and NASB translate it as “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (NASB).” In comparison, the latter translation is easier to understand. It tells us that although our Lord Jesus Christ is also the Most High God, He did not cling on to His glorious status nor consider the forgoing of His status something that could not be compromised.

The KJV’s translation of the word “robbery,” does cause some difficulty in understanding the meaning of the verse. On the surface, this translation may even be considered inferior to other bible translations. However, if we were to probe deeper, the word “robbery” would be a more appropriate and accurate expression of the original writings. This is because, for the Lord to forgo His status, it is akin to robbing Him — our Lord has the right to use all His ability to defend and protect His status, and not to allow it to be taken away. By looking through history, we can understand why this is so. Since ancient times, man has used all ways and means, even to the extent of killing their own father and siblings, to ascend the throne and become the king. Hence for them to give up their throne and status is something impossible. They did this because in becoming the king, it equates to holding supreme sovereignty, majesty and wealth, and the authority over life and death of his people. The status of a human king is great, but compares to the most high God who surpasses all creation and reigns over the whole universe, who would be able to give up such a status? This is something that no one would ever let go!

But thanks be to God! Thanks to Jesus Christ our Lord! For He has laid it all down for us! For our redemption and salvation, He humbled Himself to take on the form of a man born in a manger, endured great humiliations and sufferings, and finally nailed to the cross as a criminal.

The King James Version has been able to accurately express the strength and intensity of the verse with the closest meaning to the original writings. By studying it together with other bible translations, these various versions are able to complement the King James Version and help to explain the meaning of the word “robbery” more clearly. Not only would we not find it difficult to understand the KJV’s translation of this verse, on the contrary, we would be able to gain a deeper insight into the original meaning of the verse.