Original Research

The concept of Κένωσις in Philippians 2:6–7 and its contextual application in Africa

John A. Ottuh
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a2081 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.2081 | © 2020 John A. Ottuh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 January 2020 | Published: 15 December 2020

About the author(s)

John A. Ottuh, Department of Christian Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Obong University, Obong Ntak, Nigeria


The interpretation of the concept of κένωσις in Philippians 2:6–7 has been widely approached using the historical critical method, which is mostly western oriented, but a contextual approach of κένωσις in Philippians 2:6–7 from the perspective of African Christology in relation to African leadership style is lacking. Therefore, using the African biblical contextual approach, the article reinterprets the term κένωσις based on African christology with the aim of reinterpreting κένωσις in Philippians 2:6–7 in the context of African leadership style, and also with intension to critique the African model of leadership. It argues that Jesus as a leader figure as represented in the concept of κένωσις in Philippians 2:6–7 is a model of selfless leadership which is lacking in African leadership figures. The article also intends to show how the description of Jesus’ attitude in Philippians 2:6–7 reflects humility, selflessness and servant-leadership as against African leadership style, which is characterised by self-conceit, selfishness, ostentations, splendour and bossiness.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This essay reinterprets the concept of kenosis in Philippians 2:6–7 in the context of African Christology and how it resonates with selfless leadership as exemplified in Pauline description of Jesus Christ in the text. From observation, leadership in various spheres of the society in Africa, such as ecclesiastical, political and traditional, lack selflessness as indicated in this article. This article, therefore, cuts across the field of biblical theology, historical theology, political science and African cultural studies.


concept of Kenosis; Philippians 2:6–7; African Christology; contextualisation; African leadership style


Total abstract views: 2663
Total article views: 3423


Crossref Citations

1. Enhancing youth involvement in community development: A pragmatic strategy for local churches
Mawethu Msebi, Jacques W. Beukes
Verbum et Ecclesia  vol: 45  issue: 1  year: 2024  
doi: 10.4102/ve.v45i1.2956