What does Philippians 2:12 mean?
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,
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,
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 own salvation with fear and trembling;
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.
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.
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.
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.
Philippians 2:12–18 explains how Christians ought to live, considering all that Christ was willing to do for them. The command to ''work out'' salvation is a directive to let the new birth in Christ translate into actions. As a part of this, believers should serve God without griping or complaining. Paul knows that his service to God has been hard, but this is simply another form of offering. All Christians are invited to serve in the same selfless way.
Paul describes Jesus Christ as one willing to be humble, in obedience to God the Father. For this, God will exalt Jesus' name above all others. Someday, one way or another, all people will admit that Jesus Christ is Lord, and submit to Him. Paul wants the Philippian believers to live with contentment and unity, without complaining. Instructions are given regarding two visitors. The first is actually the one delivering this letter, Epaphroditus. The other is Timothy, Paul's trusted friend, who hopefully will be visiting soon.
Philippians 1 focused on the importance of perspective. A Christian's life, lived for Christ, may be hard or easy, but all things can give God glory. Chapter 2 frames this concept through the humility shown by Jesus Christ. His willingness to obey God the Father, even being crucified, is the ultimate example of humble service. In return, His name will be honored more than any other. Paul's instructions regarding Timothy and Epaphroditus also form a bridge to chapter 3, where Paul will contrast these good men with the dangers of false teachers.
Philippians is Paul's discussion of living the Christian life. In this letter to the church of Philippi, Paul highlights themes such as joy and glory. He also puts great emphasis on how a Christian's thinking—their attitude—affects the way they live out their faith. Paul is very thankful for the support of the Philippian church, but is also concerned about the influence of various false teachers. This letter is less theological than most of his other writings, and more practical.
Accessed 11/30/2023 6:59:01 AM
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