that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.—Philippians 2:10-11
How we see God and how we show Jesus to others can very much be reflected in how we present passages such as this. In the past, this passage reminded me of popular movie scenes where a person was dragged before a ruler, then forced to their knees against their will. Usually, the person was gut-punched, hit in the head, or otherwise forced to bow though they had no desire to whatsoever. Generally, this seems to be the type of imagery conjured by such verses.
But is that how our God of Love works? If we look at the meaning behind these words, we can see a different viewpoint.
The Greek word used here for “should bow” is kampsē, a derivative of kamto. Note that the extended definition states “in honor.” This seems to imply a willing bending, as opposed to another Greek word used in the Bible—sugkuptó—which implies a forced bending such as in Luke 13:11.
But perhaps everyone will willingly (honorably) bend in the end when they see Jesus face to face and realize their fault. This would be likely except for the rest of the verse—“that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Okay, so if they realize they were wrong, and then they willingly bend, wouldn’t they also willingly confess Jesus? This might be considered, but this is “to the glory of the Father.” Is it really glorifying Father if we only bow and confess because we have no other choice? Could there be another meaning?
Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.—1 Corinthians 12:3 (emphasis mine).
Here it seems Paul is giving clarification as to how anyone is ever able or confess Jesus is Lord—it is only by the Holy Spirit! It seems God’s plan is that at some point, every single person will willingly, honorably bow and confess Jesus is Lord, to the glory of Father, by the Holy Spirit!
Do we really dare to hope in such a loving God? Is God’s plan really to save everyone? Is he really that powerful? Would God allow someone the indwelling of the Holy Spirit just to bow and confess, then rip it away so they are lost for all eternity? Is our hope in God that eternally loves all—or only some?