By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:9-11
This passage of scripture in Philippians initially makes a contrast between the Jesus who humbled himself to die on a cross and the Jesus whose name is exalted above every other name. What a stunning disparity between the suffering Christ and the exalted Lord. One day every knee on earth and in heaven will bow to Jesus!
As you consider these verses a little closer, a question arises that's worth exploring: why do Christians look forward to the day when every knee will bow? A day or a moment as important as this is definitely worth investigating.
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Who Will Bow?
In short, everyone. Every knee, every tongue. It's important that no one is excluded. Every person who has ever lived and even Satan himself and all his fallen angels will all one day bow before Jesus Christ and acknowledge him as Lord?
When Will Every Knee Bow?
The Bible isn't clear in mentioning one specific moment in time when every single person who has ever lived will be gathered in the same place declaring that Jesus is Lord. According to Scripture, we just know that every knee will bow, it just doesn’t seem to be happening all at the same time.
How Do You Want to Bow Your Knee?
There is another question connected to the bowing of the knee. How do you want to bow your knee? You might be thinking...isn’t there only one way to bow your knee? Not exactly. There are two ways a person will bow and acknowledge Jesus as Lord. One is by the willingness to surrender, the other is by the wonder of his presence. One is by choice, the other is not.
When a person truly encounters Jesus in all his glory, their only response will be to bow and acknowledge he is Lord. Whether they want to or not—even if they had previously said they would never bow to Jesus. The magnitude of God’s presence will overwhelm them and they will have no choice.
I recall a moment when I was younger and I was praying with my mom and sister in our kitchen and God’s presence came and invaded our kitchen. The presence of God was so strong I could not stand up and I fell to my knees. Even if I wanted to stand up, I couldn’t. When Jesus is revealed in all his glory, the only response will be to fall to your knees. The magnitude of who he is and the glory of his presence will cause it to happen. In that moment, your opinion won’t matter because his presence will be too great.
It’s important then to recognize the bowing of your knee can take place now by acknowledging Jesus as Savior and Lord over your life. The alternative is, it will take place at another time when you must face this Jesus in judgment. You will either bow to Jesus as Savior, or bow before him as judge. Unfortunately, if you are bowing before him as your judge then acknowledging him as Lord at that point may be too late.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:11-15
I don’t know how often you think about the fate of those who choose to reject Christ, but this is the reality of their eternity. This is very sobering. That’s why more than ever we need to preach the gospel. The world needs to know Jesus now before it’s too late.
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2 Reasons Christians Anticipate Every Knee Bowing
As you can see there are two sides of this experience. Let’s look at the other side of this experience to understand why Christians look forward to when every knee will bow. Here are two reasons
1. Victory – One of the great reasons for serving Jesus is you are on the winning side. I was having a conversation recently with my pastor about end-times events and what is happening in our society. I concluded the conversation with this question: "Aren’t you glad you know whose side you are on?"
It is so wonderful to know that you are on the side of the one who will reign forever as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Each day we live we move closer to that glorious day when he will return and establish his kingdom forever. What a day that will be and that should encourage you. Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to encourage each other all the more as we see the day approaching.
2. Validation – Another reason why Christians look forward to when every knee will bow is validation. The truth is that sometimes being a Christian in this world is hard. Jesus said it would be. You may be mistreated, misunderstood, misrepresented, hated for standing for the truth of God’s word. People may call you narrow-minded because you declare Jesus is Lord and the only way to heaven and God the Father. Some people are persecuted in our world for their faith, even to the point of death.
These are just the outward struggles. Let’s not forget the fight with your flesh which is the inward struggle. Why do you endure all of this? Because you believe that Jesus is Lord. The truth is everyone will not believe, nor will you be able to convince everyone.
However, the day Jesus returns or you go home to be with him, it will be validation that the fight and the struggle was all worth it. Is there any wonder why Christians look forward to the day when every knee will bow?
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. – 1 Corinthians 13:12
What Is Our Responsibility?
I think Jude gives us a great answer:
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. – Jude 1:3
Let’s contend for the faith. We know for certain the day will come when Jesus will be acknowledged as Lord. And in case you were wondering, he is Lord right now—it’s just that everyone has not acknowledged it yet. Until that day, let’s all stand strong and contend for the faith knowing that our redemption is nearer now than when we first believed. When Jesus ascended into heaven in the book of Acts, he left us here to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8) in Jerusalem and ultimately to the ends of the earth. Let’s go forth proclaiming Jesus as Savior and Lord because here is what we know for sure:
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. – Acts 4:12
Not only is he Lord alone, he is Savior alone...a Savior our world desperately needs.
Let's Bow United under Christ
I hope you are excited and looking forward to the return of our Savior. Ultimately what this passage in Philippians reminds me is that we have much work to do. Let’s as Christians stand united or rather bow united under the banner of Jesus Christ, the name above every other name.
More than ever, the world needs to see a united church, as one body, proclaiming Jesus as the true hope for this world. I pray you would join me with bowed knees and bowed hearts doing what Jesus would want us to do before he comes.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.