I was thinking of which had the better translation of the Greek “kenow” from Phil 2:7, the NASB or ESV, “emptied himself” or “made himself nothing”…
NASB – but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
ESV – but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
But then I starting to question if either translation was better than the KJV/NKJV of “made himself of no reputation”…
KJV – But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Regarding this translation, B.B. Warfield said in “Bible Doctrines” –
“And here it is important to observe that the whole of the action adduced is thrown up thus against this background — not only its negative description to the effect that Our Lord (although all that God is) did not look greedily on His (consequent) being on an equality with God; but is positive description as well, introduced by the ‘but…’ and that in both of its elements, not merely that to the effect ( ver. 7 ) that ‘he took no account of himself’ (rendered not badly by the Authorized Version, He ‘made himself of no reputation’; but quite misleading by the Revised Version, He ’emptied himself’), but equally that to the effect ( ver. 8 ) that ‘he humbled himself’… In other words, Paul does not teach that Our Lord was once God but had become instead man; he teaches that though He was God, He had become also man.”
“The verb here rendered ’emptied’ is in constant use in a metaphorical sense ( so only in the New Testament: Romans. iv.14; I Corinthians i.17; ix.15; II Corinthians ix.3 ) and cannot here be taken literally. This is already apparent from the definition of the manner in which the ’emptying’ is said to have been accomplished, supplied by the modal clause which is at once attached: by ‘taking the form of a servant.’ You cannot ’empty’ by ‘taking’ — adding. It is equally apparent, however, from the strength of the emphasis which, by its position, is thrown upon the ‘himself’. We may speak of Our Lord as ’emptying Himself’ of something else, but scarcely, with this strength of emphasis, of His ’emptying Himself’ of something else. This emphatic ‘Himself’, interposed between the preceding clause and the verb rendered ’emptied’, builds a barrier over which we cannot climb backward in search of that of which Our Lord emptied Himself… ‘He made no account of Himself’, we may fairly paraphrase the clause; and thus all question of what He emptied Himself of falls away. What Our Lord actually did, according to Paul, is expressed in the following clauses; those not before us express more the moral character of His act. He took ‘the form of a servant’, and so was ‘made in the likeness of men’.”
“…The term ‘form’ here, of course, bears the same full meaning as in the preceding instance of its occurrence in the phrase ‘the form of God’. It imparts the specific quality, the whole body of characteristics, by which a servant is made what we know as a servant. Our Lord assumed, then, according to Paul, not the mere state or condition or outward appearance of a servant, but the reality; He became an actual ‘servant’ in the world. The act by which He did this is described as a ‘taking’, or, as it has become customary from this description of it to phrase it, as an ‘assumption’. What is meant is that Our Lord took up into His personality a human nature; and therefore it is immediately explained that He took the form of a servant by ‘being made in the likeness of men’.”