Philippians 2:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Philippians 2:12, NIV: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,"

Philippians 2:12, ESV: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,"

Philippians 2:12, KJV: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Philippians 2:12, NASB: "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;"

Philippians 2:12, NLT: "Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear."

Philippians 2:12, CSB: "Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

What does Philippians 2:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse transitions from Paul's focus on Christ's humility in to the need for Christians to live out their faith for the world to see. He notes his transition by the use of "therefore," referring to his readers as "my beloved" or loved ones. Paul will also use this reference to the Philippian Christians in Philippians 4:1. In both contexts, his focus is to emphasize his love for his readers while also giving them a command to obey.

Paul notes the Philippians have faithfully followed his teachings whether he was with them, or not. Following a teacher's instruction when they are not present is the ultimate test of loyalty, and the Philippian Christians have done exactly that. During their years apart, Paul kept in contact with this group of believers. Chapter 4 discusses several times they had sent him financial contributions to assist him in his ministry.

Paul also gives a command using a strange and often misunderstood phrase: "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." This unique remark speaks of ongoing obedience for those already saved. It's crucial to note that Paul is not telling them to work for their salvation. This statement implies a need to live out—to practice, demonstrate, and exhibit—the salvation which believers have in Christ.

The concept of "fear and trembling" addresses worshipful respect for God. This echoes back to the context of every knee bowing before the Lord mentioned in verse 11.