Philippians 2:12
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.
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[5.Exhortation and Commendation (Philippians 2:12-30).

(1) EXHORTATION TO WORK OUT THEIR SALVATION through the in working of God, and so to be lights in the world, and the glory of the Apostle, even in the hour of martyrdom (Philippians 2:12-18).


(3) PRESENT MISSION OF EPAPHRODITUS, now recovered from his late sickness, and strong commendation of his zeal (Philippians 2:25-30).]

(12-18) By the word “wherefore” St. Paul connects this exhortation with the great passage above. For the main idea is here of the presence of God in them, working out glory through a condition of humiliation, on condition of their fellow-working with Him; so that they shall appear as the “sons of God” and as “lights in the world.” In all this there is clearly the imperfect but true likeness of the indwelling of Godhead in our Lord’s humanity, exalting it through the two-fold humiliation to the unspeakable glory.

(12) As ye have always obeyed.—It is notable that this Epistle is the only one which contains no direct rebuke. The Philippian Church has the glory of having “always obeyed,” not (like the Galatian Church) “as in his presence only, but now much more in his absence.” This “obedience” was to the will of God as set forth by him. In referring to it, there is an allusion to the “obedience” of Christ (in Philippians 2:8); hence their obedience includes also that willingness to suffer which He Himself has shown. (See Philippians 1:29-30.) To this, perhaps, there is a further allusion in the “fear and trembling” spoken of below. (See 2Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5.)

Work out your own salvation.—To “work out” is (as in Ephesians 6:13) to carry out to completion what is begun. This is the function of man, as fellow-worker with God, first in his own soul, and then among his brethren. God is the “beginner and perfecter” of every “good work” (see Philippians 1:6); man’s co-operation is secondary and intermediate.



Php 2:12-13.

‘What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder!’ Here are, joined together, in the compass of one practical exhortation, the truths which, put asunder, have been the war-cries and shibboleths of contending sects ever since. Faith in a finished salvation, and yet work ; God working all in me, and yet I able and bound to work likewise; God upholding and sustaining His child to the very end; ‘perfecting that which concerns him,’ making his salvation certain and sure, and yet the Christian working ‘with fear and trembling,’ lest he should be a castaway and come short of the grace of God;--who does not recognise in these phrases the mottoes that have been written on the opposing banners in many a fierce theological battle, waged with much harm to both sides, and ending in no clear victory for either? Yet here they are blended in the words of one who was no less profound a thinker than any that have come after, and who had the gift of a divine inspiration to boot.

Not less remarkable than the fusion here of apparent antagonisms, the harmonising of apparent opposites, is the intensely practical character of the purpose for which they are adduced at all. Paul has no idea of giving his disciples a lesson in abstract theology, or laying for them a foundation of a philosophy of free will and divine sovereignty; he is not merely communicating to these Philippians truths for their creed, but precepts for their deeds. The Bible knows nothing of an unpractical theology, but, on the other hand, the Bible knows still less of an untheological morality. It digs deep, bottoming the simplest right action upon right thinking, and going down to the mountain bases on which the very pillars of the universe rest, in order to lay there, firm and immovable, the courses of the temple of a holy life. Just as little as Scripture gives countenance to the error that makes religion theology rather than life, just so little does it give countenance to the far more contemptible and shallower error common in our day, which says , Religion is not theology, but life; and means , ‘Therefore, it does not matter what theology you have, you can work a good life out with any creed!’ The Bible never teaches unpractical speculations, and the Bible never gives precepts which do not rest on the profoundest truths. Would God, brethren, that we all had souls as wide as would take in the whole of the many-sided scriptural representation of the truths of the Gospel, and so avoid the narrowness of petty, partial views of God’s infinite counsel; and that we had as close, direct, and as free communication between head, and heart, and hand, as the Scripture has between precept and practice!

But in reference more especially to my text. Keeping in view these two points I have already suggested, namely,--that it is the reconciling of apparent opposites, and that it is intensely practical, I find in it these three thoughts;--First, a Christian has his whole salvation accomplished for him, and yet he is to work it out. Secondly, a Christian has everything done in him by God, and yet he is to work. Lastly, a Christian has his salvation certainly secured, and yet he is to fear and tremble.

I. In the first place, A Christian man has his whole salvation already accomplished for him in Christ, and yet he is to work it out.

There are two points absolutely necessary to be kept in view in order to a right understanding of the words before us, for the want of noticing which it has become the occasion of terrible mistakes. These are--the persons to whom it is addressed, and the force of the scriptural expression ‘salvation.’ As to the first, this exhortation has been misapplied by being addressed to those who have no claim to be Christians, and by having such teaching deduced from it as, You do your part, and God will do His; You work, and God will certainly help you; You co-operate in the great work of your salvation, and you will get grace and pardon through Jesus Christ. Now let us remember the very simple thing, but very important to the right understanding of these words, that none but Christian people have anything to do with them. To all others, to all who are not already resting on the finished salvation of Jesus Christ, this injunction is utterly inapplicable. It is addressed to the ‘beloved, who have always obeyed’; to the ‘saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi.’ The whole Epistle is addressed, and this injunction with the rest, to Christian men. That is the first thing to be remembered. If there be any of you, who have thought that these words of Paul’s to those who had believed on Christ contained a rule of action for you, though you have not rested your souls on Him, and exhorted you to try to win salvation by your own doings, let me remind you of what Christ said when the Jews came to Him in a similar spirit and asked Him, ‘What shall we do that we may work the works of God?’ His answer to them was, and His answer to you, my brother, is, ‘ This is the work of God, that ye should believe in Him whom He hath sent.’ That is the first lesson: Not work , but faith ; unless there be faith, no work. Unless you are a Christian, the passage has nothing to do with you.

But now, if this injunction be addressed to those who are looking for their salvation only to the perfect work of Christ, how can they be exhorted to work it out themselves? Is not the oft-recurring burden of Paul’s teaching ‘not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but by His mercy He saved us’? How does this text harmonise with these constantly repeated assertions that Christ has done all for us, and that we have nothing to do, and can do nothing? To answer this question, we have to remember that that scriptural expression, ‘salvation,’ is used with considerable width and complexity of signification. It sometimes means the whole of the process, from the beginning to the end, by which we are delivered from sin in all its aspects, and are set safe and stable at the right hand of God. It sometimes means one or other of three different parts of that process--either deliverance from the guilt, punishment, condemnation of sin; or secondly, the gradual process of deliverance from its power in our own hearts; or thirdly, the completion of that process by the final and perfect deliverance from sin and sorrow, from death and the body, from earth and all its weariness and troubles, which is achieved when we are landed on the other side of the river. Salvation, in one aspect, is a thing past to the Christian; in another, it is a thing present ; in a third, it is a thing future . But all these three are one; all are elements of the one deliverance--the one mighty and perfect act which includes them all.

These three all come equally from Christ Himself. These three all depend equally on His work and His power. These three are all given to a Christian man in the first act of faith. But the attitude in which he stands in reference to that accomplished salvation which means deliverance from sin as a penalty and a curse, and that in which he stands to the continuing and progressive salvation which means deliverance from the power of evil in his own heart, are somewhat different. In regard to the one, he has only to take the finished blessing. He has to exercise faith and faith alone. He has nothing to do, nothing to add, in order to fit himself for it, but simply to receive the gift of God, and to believe on Him whom He hath sent. But then, though that reception involves what shall come after it, and though every one who has and holds the first thing, the pardon of his transgression, has and holds thereby and therein his growing sanctifying and his final glory, yet the salvation which means our being delivered from the evil that is in our hearts, and having our souls made like unto Christ, is one which--free gift though it be--is not ours on the sole condition of an initial act of faith, but is ours on the condition of continuous faithful reception and daily effort, not in our own strength, but in God’s strength, to become like Him, and to make our own that which God has given us, and which Christ is continually bestowing upon us.

The two things, then, are not inconsistent--an accomplished salvation, a full, free, perfect redemption, with which a man has nothing to do at all, but to take it;--and, on the other hand, the injunction to them who have received this divine gift: ‘Work out your own salvation.’ Work, as well as believe, and in the daily practice of faithful obedience, in the daily subjugation of your own spirits to His divine power, in the daily crucifixion of your flesh with its affections and lusts, in the daily straining after loftier heights of godliness and purer atmospheres of devotion and love--make more thoroughly your own that which you possess. Work into the substance of your souls that which you have . Apprehend that for which you are apprehended of Christ. ‘Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure’; and remember that not a past act of faith, but a present and continuous life of loving, faithful work in Christ, which is His and yet yours, is the ‘holding fast the beginning of your confidence firm unto the end.’

II. In the second place, God works all in us, and yet we have to work.

There can be no mistake about the good faith and firm emphasis--as of a man who knows his own mind, and knows that his word is true--with which the Apostle holds up here the two sides of what I venture to call the one truth; ‘Work out your own salvation--for God works in you.’ Command implies power. Command and power involve duty. The freedom of the Christian’s action, the responsibility of the believer for his Christian growth in grace, the committal to the Christian man’s own hands of the means of sanctifying, lie in that injunction, ‘Work out your own salvation.’ Is there any faltering, any paring down or cautious guarding of the words, in order that they may not seem to clash with the other side of the truth? No: Paul does not say, ‘Work it out; yet it is God that worketh in you’; not ‘Work it out although it is God that worketh in you’; not ‘Work it out, but then it must always be remembered and taken as a caution that it is God that worketh in you!’ He blends the two things together in an altogether different connection, and sees--strangely to some people, no contradiction, nor limitation, nor puzzle, but a ground of encouragement to cheerful obedience. Do you work, ‘ for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.’ And does the Apostle limit the divine operation? Notice how his words seem picked out on purpose to express most emphatically its all-pervading energy. Look how his words seem picked out on purpose to express with the utmost possible emphasis that all which a good man is, and does, is its fruit. It is God that worketh in you. That expresses more than bringing outward means to bear upon heart and will. It speaks of an inward, real, and efficacious operation of the Indwelling Spirit of all energy on the spirit in which He dwells. ‘Worketh in you to will ‘; this expresses more than the presentation of motives from without, it points to a direct action on the will, by which impulses are originated within. God puts in you the first faint motions of a better will. ‘Worketh in you, doing as well as willing’; this points to all practical obedience, to all external acts as flowing from His grace in us, no less than all inward good thoughts and holy desires.

It is not that God gives men the power, and then leaves them to make the use of it. It is not that the desire and purpose come forth from Him, and that then we are left to ourselves to be faithful or unfaithful stewards in carrying it out. The whole process, from the first sowing of the seed until its last blossoming and fruiting, in the shape of an accomplished act, of which God shall bless the springing--it is all God’s together! There is a thorough-going, absolute attribution of every power, every action, all the thoughts words, and deeds of a Christian soul, to God. No words could be selected which would more thoroughly cut away the ground from every half-and-half system which attempts to deal them out in two portions, part God’s and part mine. With all emphasis Paul attributes all to God.

And none the less strongly does he teach, by the implication contained in his earnest injunction, that human responsibility, that human control over the human will, and that reality of human agency which are often thought to be annihilated by these broad views of God as originating all good in the soul and life. The Apostle thought that this doctrine did not absorb all our individuality in one great divine Cause which made men mere tools and puppets. He did not believe that the inference from it was, ‘Therefore do you sit still, and feel yourselves the cyphers that you are.’ His practical conclusion is the very opposite. It is--God does all, therefore do you work. His belief in the power of God’s grace was the foundation of the most intense conviction of the reality and indispensableness of his own power, and was the motive which stimulated him to vigorous action. Work, for God works in you.

Each of these truths rests firmly on its own appropriate evidence. My own consciousness tells me that I am free, that I have power, that I am therefore responsible and exposed to punishment for neglect of duty. I know what I mean when I speak of the will of God, because I myself am conscious of a will. The power of God is an object of intelligent thought to me, because I myself am conscious of power. And on the other hand, that belief in a God which is one of the deep and universal beliefs of men contains in it, when it comes to be thought about, the belief in Him as the source of all power, as the great cause of all. If I believe in a God at all, I must believe that He whom I so call, worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. These two convictions are both given to us in the primitive beliefs which belong to us all. The one rests on consciousness, and underlies all our moral judgments. The other rests on an original belief, which belongs to man as such. These two mighty pillars on which all morality and all religion repose have their foundations down deep in our nature, and tower up beyond our sight. They seem to stand opposite to each other, but it is only as the strong piers of some tall arch are opposed. Beneath they repose on one foundation, above they join together in the completing keystone and bear the whole steady structure.

Wise and good men have toiled to harmonise them, in vain. The task transcends the limits of human faculties, as exercised here, at all events. Perhaps the time may come when we shall be lifted high enough to see the binding arch, but here on earth we can only behold the shafts on either side. The history of controversy on the matter surely proves abundantly what a hopeless task they undertake who attempt to reconcile these truths. The attempt has usually consisted in speaking the one loudly and the other in a whisper, and then the opposite side has thundered what had been whispered, and has whispered very softly what had been shouted very loudly. One party lays hold of the one pole of the ark, and the other lays hold of that on the other side. The fancied reconciliation consists in paring down one half of the full-orbed truth to nothing, or in admitting it in words while every principle of the reconciler’s system demands its denial. Each antagonist is strong in his assertions, and weak in his denials, victorious when he establishes his half of the whole, easily defeated when he tries to overthrow his opponent’s.

This apparent incompatibility is no reason for rejecting truths each commended to our acceptance on its own proper grounds. It may be a reason for not attempting to dogmatise about them. It may be a warning to us that we are on ground where our limited understandings have no firm footing, but it is no ground for suspecting the evidence which certifies the truths. The Bible admits and enforces them both. It never tones down the emphasis of its statement of the one for fear of clashing against the other, but points to us the true path for thought, in a firm grasp of both, in the abandonment of all attempts to reconcile them, and for practical conduct, in the peaceful trust in God who hath wrought all our works in us, and in strenuous working out of our own salvation. Let us, as we look back on that battlefield where much wiser men than we have fought in vain, doing little but raising up ‘a little dust that is lightly laid again,’ and building trophies that are soon struck down, learn the lesson it teaches, and be contented to say, The short cord of my plummet does not quite go down to the bottom of the bottomless, and I do not profess either to understand God or to understand man, both of which I should want to do before I understood the mystery of their conjoint action. Enough for me to believe that,

‘If any force we have, it is to ill, And all the power is God’s, to do and eke to will.’

Enough for me to know that I have solemn duties laid upon me, a life’s task to be done, my deliverance from mine own evil to work out, and that I shall only accomplish that work when I can say with the Apostle, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’

God is all, but thou canst work! My brother, take this belief, that God worketh all in you, for the ground of your confidence, and feel that unless He do all, you can do nothing. Take this conviction, that thou canst work, for the spur and stimulus of thy life, and think, These desires in my soul come from a far deeper source than the little cistern of my own individual life. They are God’s gift. Let me cherish them with the awful carefulness which their origin requires, lest I should seem to have received the grace of God in vain. These two streams of truth are like the rain-shower that falls upon the watershed of a country. The one half flows down the one side of the everlasting hills, and the other down the other. Falling into rivers that water different continents, they at length find the sea, separated by the distance of half the globe. But the sea into which they fall is one, in every creek and channel. And so, the truth into which these two apparent opposites converge, is ‘the depth of the wisdom and the knowledge of God,’ whose ways are past finding out--the Author of all goodness, who, if we have any holy thought, has given it us; if we have any true desire, has implanted it; has given us the strength to do the right and to live in His fear; and who yet, doing all the willing and the doing, says to us, ‘Because I do everything, therefore let not thy will be paralysed, or thy hand palsied; but because I do everything, therefore will thou according to My will, and do thou according to My commandments!’

III. Lastly: The Christian has his salvation secured, and yet he is to fear and tremble.

‘Fear and trembling.’ ‘But,’ you may say, ‘perfect love casts out fear.’ So it does. The fear which has torment it casts out. But there is another fear in which there is no torment, brethren; a fear and trembling which is but another shape of confidence and calm hope! Scripture does tell us that the believing man’s salvation is certain. Scripture tells us it is certain since he believes. And your faith can be worth nothing unless it have, bedded deep in it, that trembling distrust of your own power which is the pre-requisite and the companion of all thankful and faithful reception of God’s infinite mercy. Your horizon ought to be full of fear, if your gaze be limited to yourself; but oh! above our earthly horizon with its fogs, God’s infinite blue stretches untroubled by the mist and cloud which are earth-born. I, as working, have need to tremble and to fear, but I, as wrought upon, have a right to confidence and hope, a hope that is full of immortality, and an assurance which is the pledge of its own fulfilment. The worker is nothing, the Worker in him is all. Fear and trembling, when the thoughts turn to mine own sins and weaknesses, hope and confidence when they turn to the happier vision of God! ‘Not I’--there is the tremulous self-distrust; ‘the grace of God in me’--there is the calm assurance of victory. Forasmuch, then, as God worketh all things, be you diligent, faithful, prayerful, confident. Forasmuch as Christ has perfected the work for you, do you ‘go on unto perfection.’ Let all fear and trembling be yours, as a man; let all confidence and calm trust be yours as a child of God. Turn your confidence and your fears alike into prayer. ‘Perfect, O Lord, that which concerneth me; forsake not the work of Thine own hands!’--and the prayer will evoke the merciful answer, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee God is faithful, who hath called you unto the Gospel of His Son; and will keep you unto His everlasting kingdom of glory.’

2:12-18 We must be diligent in the use of all the means which lead to our salvation, persevering therein to the end. With great care, lest, with all our advantages, we should come short. Work out your salvation, for it is God who worketh in you. This encourages us to do our utmost, because our labour shall not be in vain: we must still depend on the grace of God. The working of God's grace in us, is to quicken and engage our endeavours. God's good-will to us, is the cause of his good work in us. Do your duty without murmurings. Do it, and do not find fault with it. Mind your work, and do not quarrel with it. By peaceableness; give no just occasion of offence. The children of God should differ from the sons of men. The more perverse others are, the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless. The doctrine and example of consistent believers will enlighten others, and direct their way to Christ and holiness, even as the light-house warns mariners to avoid rocks, and directs their course into the harbour. Let us try thus to shine. The gospel is the word of life, it makes known to us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Running, denotes earnestness and vigour, continual pressing forward; labouring, denotes constancy, and close application. It is the will of God that believers should be much in rejoicing; and those who are so happy as to have good ministers, have great reason to rejoice with them.Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed - The Philippians had from the beginning manifested a remarkable readiness to show respect to the apostle, and to listen to his teaching. This readiness he more than once refers to and commends. He still appeals to them, and urges them to follow his counsels, that they might secure their salvation.

Now much more in my absence - Though they had been obedient when he was with them, yet circumstances had occurred in his absence which made their obedience more remarkable, and more worthy of special commendation.

Work out your own salvation - This important command was first addressed to Christians, but there is no reason why the same command should not be regarded as addressed to all - for it is equally applicable to all. The duty of doing this is enjoined here; the reason for making the effort, or the encouragement for the effort, is stated in the next verse. In regard to the command here, it is natural to inquire why it is a duty; and what is necessary to be done in order to comply with it? On the first of these inquiries, it may be observed that it is a duty to make a personal effort to secure salvation, or to work out our salvation:

(1) Because God commands it. There is no command more frequently repeated in the Scriptures, than the command to make to ourselves a new heart; to strive to enter in at the strait gate; to break off from sin, and to repent.

(2) it is a duty because it is our own personal interest that is at stake. No one else has, or can have, as much interest in our salvation as we have. It is every person's duty to be as happy as possible here, and to be prepared for eternal happiness in the future world. No person has a right either to throw away his life or his soul. He has no more right to do the one than the other; and if it is a person's duty to endeavor to save his life when in danger of drowning, it is no less his duty to endeavor to save his soul when in danger of hell.

(3) our earthly friends cannot save us. No effort of theirs can deliver us from eternal death without our own exertion. Great as may be their solicitude for us, and much as they may do, there is a point where their efforts must stop - and that point is always short of our salvation, unless we are roused to seek salvation. They may pray, and weep, and plead, but they cannot save us. There is a work to be done on our own hearts which they cannot do.

(4) it is a duty, because the salvation of the soul will not take care of itself without an effort on our part. There is no more reason to suppose this than that health and life will take care of themselves without our own exertion. And yet many live as if they supposed that somehow all would yet be well; that the matter of salvation need not give them any concern, for that things will so arrange themselves that they will be saved. Why should they suppose this anymore in regard to religion than in regard to anything else?

(5) it is a duty, because there is no reason to expect the divine interposition without our own effort. No such interposition is promised to any man, and why should he expect it? In the case of all who have been saved, they have made an effort - and why should we expect that God will favor us more than he did them? "God helps them who help themselves;" and what reason has any man to suppose that he will interfere in his case and save him, if he will put forth no effort to "work out his own salvation?" In regard to the other inquiry - What does the command imply; or what is necessary to be done in order to comply with it? We may observe, that it does not mean:

(a) that we are to attempt to deserve salvation on the ground of merit. That is out of the question; for what can man do that shall be an equivalent for eternal happiness in heaven? Nor,

(b) does it mean that we are to endeavor to make atonement for past sins. That would be equally impossible, and it is, besides, unnecessary. That work has been done by the great Redeemer. But it means:

(i) that we are to make an honest effort to be saved in the way which God has appointed;

(ii) that we are to break off from our sins by true repentance;

(iii) that we are to believe in the Saviour, and honestly to put our trust in him;

(iv) that we are to give up all that we have to God;


12. Wherefore—Seeing that we have in Christ such a specimen of glory resulting from "obedience" (Php 2:8) and humiliation, see that ye also be "obedient," and so "your salvation" shall follow your obedience.

as ye have … obeyed—"even as ye have been obedient," namely, to God, as Jesus was "obedient" unto God (see on [2386]Php 2:8).

not as, &c.—"not as if" it were a matter to be done "in my presence only, but now (as things are) much more (with more earnestness) in my absence (because my help is withdrawn from you)" [Alford].

work out—carry out to its full perfection. "Salvation" is "worked in" (Php 2:13; Eph 1:11) believers by the Spirit, who enables them through faith to be justified once for all; but it needs, as a progressive work, to be "worked out" by obedience, through the help of the same Spirit, unto perfection (2Pe 1:5-8). The sound Christian neither, like the formalist, rests in the means, without looking to the end, and to the Holy Spirit who alone can make the means effectual; nor, like the fanatic, hopes to attain the end without the means.

your own—The emphasis is on this. Now that I am not present to further the work of your salvation, "work out your own salvation" yourselves the more carefully. Do not think this work cannot go on because I am absent; "for (Php 2:13) it is God that worketh in you," &c. In this case adopt a rule different from the former (Php 2:4), but resting on the same principle of "lowliness of mind" (Php 2:3), namely, "look each on his own things," instead of "disputings" with others (Php 2:14).

salvation—which is in "Jesus" (Php 2:10), as His name (meaning God-Saviour) implies.

with fear and trembling—the very feeling enjoined on "servants," as to what ought to accompany their "obedience" (Eph 6:5). So here: See that, as "servants" to God, after the example of Christ, ye be so "with the fear and trembling" which becomes servants; not slavish fear, but trembling anxiety not to fall short of the goal (1Co 9:26, 27; Heb 4:1, "Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any should come short of it"), resulting from a sense of our human insufficiency, and from the consciousness that all depends on the power of God, "who worketh both to will and to do" (Ro 11:20). "Paul, though joyous, writes seriously" [J. J. Wolf].

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed: having confirmed the example of Christ’s admirable condescension and affection from the glorious issue of it, he doth here reassume his exhortation, with a friendly compellation, commending their former sincere endeavours to obey the gospel (so Philippians 1:5, and Philippians 2:15) in following Christ, Matthew 11:28, and moving them to persevere in obedience and love to God and man.

Not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence; that it might be evident, whether the eye of their pastor were upon them or not, a prevailing love to Christ, and their own souls’ welfare, was prevalent with them; but especially, being he was now detained from them, and might be jealous of some defects in them, Jam 3:2 1Jo 1:8, did engage them more than any thing to embrace his exhortation, which he enlargeth in other words.

Work out your own salvation: he moves them as saints, Philippians 1:1, in whom God would perfect his work begun, Philippians 2:6, having given them to believe and suffer, Philippians 2:29, that they would seriously and earnestly busy themselves in those things, which on their parts are necessary to salvation, as John 6:27 Hebrews 6:9, and without which it cannot be had, as Philippians 1:10 Matthew 24:13 Colossians 3:10,12, &c.; 1 Timothy 1:18,19 6:19 2 Timothy 2:5 4:7,8 2 Peter 3:17; yea, press on in the way to their own salvation, as he moved, 1 Timothy 4:16, not that they should not be solicitous about others, for that mutual care is implied, as elsewhere required, Hebrews 3:13 10:24; but that every one should strenuously go on towards the mark with a special regard to himself, and the temptations he may meet with, knowing he must bear his own burden, Galatians 6:1,5, and therefore should take heed lest he fall. The papists’ arguings hence that our actions are sufficient and meritorious causes of salvation, are altogether inconsequent. For the apostle doth not say our actions work out salvation, but:

Work out your own salvation, which is much different. It were absurd to say, because the Jews were enjoined to eat the passover with loins girt, that loins girt were eating of the passover. Indeed, what the papists urge is contrary to this doctrine of Paul, who doth elsewhere place blessedness in remission of sins, and shows eternal life is the gift of God, Romans 4:6,7 6:23; and we are saved by grace, not of works, Romans 3:20,24,25 4:16 Ephesians 2:8 Titus 3:5 and contrary to the main scope of the apostle, which is to beat down pride and conceit of deserving, and persuade to humility. He drives at this, that we should not be idle or lazy in the business of salvation, but work together with God, (yet as instruments, in whom there is no strength which is not derived from him), that we may evidence we do not receive his grace in vain, 2 Corinthians 6:1,2. But this co-operation doth not respect the acquiring or meriting of salvation, which is proper to Christ alone, and incommunicable to any others, Acts 4:12, who cannot be said to be their own saviours: this co-operation, or working out, respects only the application, not the performing of the payment, which Christ hath abundantly perfected: but the embracing of the perfect payment, is not that which can be the cause and foundation of right for which it is deservedly conferred; but only the way and means by which we come to partake of salvation.

With fear and trembling; i.e. with a holy care to do all acceptably: he doth by these two words mean not any servile fear and slavish despondency, arising from doubting, Philippians 4:4, but only a serious, filial fear, implying a deep humility and submissiveness of mind, with a reverential awe of the Divine Majesty, and a solicitude to avoid that evil which is offensive to him and separates from him. We find these words used to the like import, Psalm 2:11 Daniel 5:19 Daniel 6:26 Romans 11:20 with 1 Corinthians 2:3 2 Corinthians 7:5 Ephesians 6:5; connoting that, after the example of Christ, we should be humble, and though we distrust ourselves, yet we are to trust solely to God, (as an infant may be afraid, and yet cling fast to and depend upon, begging help of, the parent, going over a dangerous precipice), for the accomplishment of our salvation.

Wherefore, my beloved,.... This is an inference from the instance and example of Christ; that since he, who was God over all, blessed for ever, made himself so low in human nature, in which he is now so highly exalted, having done the work and business he came about with such condescension, humility, and meekness; therefore it becomes those who profess to be his followers, to do all their affairs as men and Christians, with, and among one another, in all lowliness of mind. The apostle calls the saints here, "my beloved", he having a strong affection for them, which he frequently expresses in this epistle; and he chooses to make use of such an endearing appellation, that it might be observed, that what he was about to say to them sprung from pure love to them, and a hearty desire for their welfare, and from no other end, and with no other view; and to encourage them to go on in a course of humble duty, he commends them for their former obedience,

as ye have always obeyed; not "me", as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions supply; but either God, acting according to his revealed will, they had knowledge of; or Christ, by receiving him as prophet, priest, and King, by submitting to his righteousness, and the sceptre of his grace; or the Gospel, by embracing the truths of it, professing them, and abiding in them, and by subjecting to the ordinances of it, and doing all things whatsoever Christ has commanded: and this they did "always"; they were always abounding in the works of the Lord, doing his will; they abode by Christ, and continued steadfastly in his doctrines, and kept the ordinances as they were delivered to them, and walked in all the commandments of the Lord blameless,

Not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence; which clause may either be referred to the foregoing, which expresses their obedience; and so signifies that that was carefully and cheerfully performed, not only while the apostle was with them, but now when he was absent from them, and much more when absent than present:, which shows, that they were not eye servants, and menpleasers, but what they did they did sincerely and heartily, as to the Lord: or to the following exhortation, that they would attend to it; not only as they had done when he was among them, of which he was witness, but that they would much more do so now he was absent from them, namely,

work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; which is to be understood not in such a sense as though men could obtain and procure for themselves spiritual and eternal salvation by their own works and doings; for such a sense is contrary to the Scriptures, which deny any part of salvation, as election, justification, and calling, and the whole of it to be of works, but ascribe it to the free grace of God; and is also repugnant to the perfections of God, as his wisdom, grace, and righteousness; for where are the wisdom and love of God, in forming a scheme of salvation, and sending his Son to effect it, and after all it is left to men to work it out for themselves? and where is the justice of God in admitting of an imperfect righteousness in the room of a perfect one, which must be the case, if salvation is obtained by men's works? for these are imperfect, even the best of them; and is another reason against this sense of the passage; and were they perfect, they could not be meritorious of salvation, for the requisites of merits are wanting in them. Moreover, was salvation to be obtained by the works of men, these consequences would follow; the death of Christ would be in vain, boasting would be encouraged in men, they would have whereof to glory, and their obligations to obedience taken from the love of God, and redemption by Christ, would be weakened and destroyed: add to all this, that the Scriptures assure us, that salvation is alone by Christ; and that it is already finished by him, and not to be wrought out now by him, or any other; and that such is the weakness and impotence of men, even of believers, to whom this exhortation is directed, that it is impossible for them ever to affect it; therefore, whatever sense these words have, we may be sure that this can never possibly be the sense of them. The words may be rendered, "work about your salvation"; employ yourselves in things which accompany salvation, and to be performed by all those that expect it, though not to be expected for the performance of them; such as hearing of the word, submission to Gospel ordinances, and a discharge of every branch of moral, spiritual, and evangelical obedience for which the apostle before commends them, and now exhorts them to continue in; to go on in a course of cheerful obedience to the close of their days, believing in Christ, obeying his Gospel, attending constantly to his word and ordinances, and discharging every duty in faith and fear, until at last they should receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls: agreeably the Syriac version renders the words, , "do the work", or "business of your lives"; the work you are to do in your generation, which God has prescribed and directed you to, which the grace of God teaches, and the love of Christ constrains to. Do all that "with fear and trembling"; not with a slavish fear of hell and damnation, or lest they should fall away, or finally miscarry of heaven and happiness; since this would be a distrust of the power and faithfulness of God, and so criminal in them; nor is it reasonable to suppose, that the apostle would exhort to such a fear, when he himself was so confidently assured, that the good work begun in them would be performed; and besides, the exhortation would be very oddly formed, if this was the sense, "work out your salvation with fear" of damnation: but this fear and trembling spoken of, is such as is consistent with the highest acts of faith, trust, confidence, and joy, and is opposed to pride and vain glory; see Psalm 2:11; and intends modesty and humility, which is what the apostle is pressing for throughout the whole context; and here urges to a cheerful and constant obedience to Christ, with all humility of soul, without dependence on it, or vain glorying in it, but ascribing it wholly to the grace of God, for the following reason.

{4} Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, {m} work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

(4) The conclusion: we must go on to salvation with humility and submission by the way of our vocation.

(m) He is said to make an end of his salvation who runs in the race of righteousness.

Php 2:12. [123] To this great example of Jesus Paul now annexes another general admonition, which essentially corresponds with that given in Php 1:27, with which he began all this hortatory portion of the epistle (Php 1:27 to Php 2:18).

ὥστε] itaque, draws an inference from the example of Christ (Php 2:6-11), who by the path of self-renunciation attained to so glorious a recompense. Following this example, the readers are, just as they had always been obedient, etc., to work out their own salvation with the utmost solicitude. ὑπηκούσατε is not, indeed, correlative with γενόμ. ὑπήκοος in Php 2:8 (Theophylact, Calovius, Bengel, and others), as the latter was in what preceded only an accessory definition; but the σωτηρία is correlative with the exaltation of Christ described in Php 2:9, of which the future salvation of Christians is the analogue, and, in fact, the joint participation (Romans 8:17; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12 f., Php 3:3 f.). Since, therefore, ὥστε has its logical basis in what immediately precedes, it must not be looked upon as an inference from all the previous admonitions, Php 1:26 ff., from which it draws the general result (de Wette). It certainly introduces the recapitulation of all the previous exhortations, and winds them up (on account of the new exhortation which follows, see on Php 2:14) as in Php 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; Romans 7:12; 1 Corinthians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Corinthians 11:33; 1 Corinthians 14:39; 1 Corinthians 15:58, but in such a way that it joins on to what was last discussed. It is least of all admissible to make, with Hofmann, ὥστε point backwards to πληρώσατέ μου τ. χαράν in Php 2:2, so that this prayer “is repeated in a definitive manner” by the exhortation introduced with ὥστε. In that case the apostle, in order to be understood, must at least have inserted a resumptive οὖν after ὥστε, and in the following exhortation must have again indicated, in some way or other, the element of the making joy.

καθὼς πάντοτε ὑπηκούσατε] whom? is neither a question to be left unanswered (Matthies), nor one which does not require an answer (Hofmann). The context yields the supplement here, as well as in Romans 6:16, Philemon 1:21, 1 Peter 1:14; and the right supplement is the usual one, viz. mihi, or, more definitely, meo evangelio, as is plain, both from the words which follow μὴ ὡςἀπουσίᾳ μου, and also from the whole close personal relation, in which Paul brings home to the hearts of his readers his admonitions (from Php 1:27 down till Php 2:18) as their teacher and friend. On πάντοτε, comp. ἀπὸ πρώτης ἡμέρας ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν (Php 1:5). We cannot infer from it a reference to earlier epistles which have been lost (Ewald).

μὴ ὡςἀπουσίᾳ μου] belongs not to ὑπηκούσατε (Luther, Wolf, Heumann, Heinrichs, and others), as is evident from μὴ ὡς and νῦν, but to κατεργάζεσθε, so that the comma before μετὰ φόβου is, with Lachmann, to be deleted. Comp. Grotius.

ὡς had to be inserted, because Paul would not and could not give an admonition for a time when he would be present. Not perceiving this, B, min., vss., and Fathers have omitted it. If ὡς were not inserted, Paul would say: that they should not merely in his presence work out their salvation. But with ὡς he says: that they are not to work out their own salvation in such a way as if they were doing it in His presence [124] merely (neglecting it, therefore, in His absence); nay, much more now, during His absence from them, they are to work it out with fear and trembling. There is nothing to be supplied along with ὡς, which is the simple modal as, since μὴ ὡς is connected with the governing verb that follows in the antithesis (Τ. ἙΑΥΤ. ΣΩΤ. ΚΑΤΕΡΓΆΖΕΣΘΕ) as its prefixed negative modal definition: not as in my presence only (not as limiting it to this only) work out your salvation. And the ἀλλά is the antithetic much more, on the contrary, nay. Erasmus, Estius, Hoelemann, Weiss, Hofmann, and others, incorrectly join μόνον with ΜΉ, and take Ὡς in the sense of the degree: not merely so, as ye have done it, or would do it, in my absence; comp. de Wette, who assumes a blending of two comparisons, as does also J. B. Lightfoot. It is arbitrary not to make μόνον belong to ἘΝ Τ. ΠΑΡ. ΜΟΥ, beside which it stands; comp. also Romans 4:16 (where Τῷ ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ΝΌΜΟΥ forms one idea), Php 4:23; 1 Thessalonians 1:5. Still more arbitrary is it to hamper the flow of the whole, and to break it up in such a way as to insert the imperative ὑπακούετε after ὙΠΗΚΟΎΣΑΤΕ, and then to make ΜΕΤᾺ ΦΌΒΟΥ Κ.Τ.Λ. a sentence by itself (Hofmann). Moreover, in such a case the arrangement of the words in the alleged apodosis would be illogical; ΝῦΝ (or, more clearly, ΚΑῚ ΝῦΝ) must have begun it, and ΜΌΝΟΝ must have stood immediately after ΜΉ.

] than if I were present; for now (ΝῦΝ), when they were deprived of the personal teaching, stimulus, guidance, and guardianship of the apostle, moral diligence and zealous solicitude were necessary for them in a far higher measure, in order to fulfil the great personal duty of working out their own salvation. That ἑαυτῶν, therefore, cannot be equivalent to ἉΛΛΉΛΩΝ (Flatt, Matthies, and older expositors), is self-evident.

ΜΕΤᾺ ΦΌΒΟΥ Κ. ΤΡΌΜΟΥ] that is, with such earnest solicitude, that ye shall have a lively fear of not doing enough in the matter. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5. ΔΕῖ ΓᾺΡ ΦΟΒΕῖΣΘΑΙ Κ. ΤΡΈΜΕΙΝ ἘΝ Τῷ ἘΡΓΆΖΕΣΘΑΙ ΤῊΝ ἸΔΊΑΝ ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑΝ ἝΚΑΣΤΟΝ, ΜΉ ΠΟΤΕ ὙΠΟΣΚΕΛΙΣΘΕῚς ἘΚΠΈΣῌ ΤΑΎΤΗς, Oecumenius. Awe before the presence of God (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Oecumenius), before the future Judge (Weiss), the feeling of dependence on God (de Wette), a reverential devotion to God (Matthies, comp. van Hengel), and similar ideas, must be implied in the case, but do not constitute the sense of the expression, in which also, according to the context, we are not to seek a contrast to spiritual pride (Schinz, Rilliet, Hoelemann, Wiesinger), as Augustine, Calvin, Bengel, and others have done.

κατεργάζεσθε] bring about, peragite (Grotius), “usque ad metam” (Bengel), expressing, therefore, more than the simple verb (comp. Ephesians 6:13; Dem. 1121. 19; Plat. Legg. vii. p. 791 A; Eur. Heracl. 1046: πόλει σωτηρίαν κατεργάσασθαι; and see on Romans 1:26). The summons itself is not at variance with the principle that salvation is God’s gift of grace, and is prepared for, predestined, and certain to believers; but it justly claims the exercise of the new moral power bestowed on the regenerate man, without the exertion of which he would fall away again from the state of grace to which he had attained in faith, and would not actually become partaker of the salvation appropriated to him by faith, so that the final reception of salvation is so far the result of his moral activity of faith in the καινότης ζωῆς. See especially Romans 6:8; Romans 6:12 ff., and 2 Corinthians 6:1. Our passage stands in contrast, not to the certitudo salutis, but to the moral securitas, into which the converted person might relapse, if he do not stand fast (Php 4:1; 1 Corinthians 10:12), and labour at his sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Php 2:12-16. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE TO BE LED IN A SPIRIT OF AWE AND WATCHFULNESS, AS IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD’S WORKING. On Php 2:12-13 see two important discussions, Schaeder, Greifswalder Studien, pp. 231–260, and Kühl, SK[2]., 1898, pp. 557–580. Php 2:12. ὥστε. With what does it link the following verses? Paul has returned to practical exhortation. So we should naturally expect him to take up the thread which he dropped at Php 2:6 on turning to the example of Jesus Christ. At that point he had been urging them to be of one mind. But with what aim? Especially in order that they might present an unbroken front in their conflict for the faith. But that brings us back to Php 1:27 ff. And that the connexion of our passage with the earlier paragraph is not arbitrary we may gather from the occurrence of the same idea in both, viz., that of his own presence and absence. Cf. Php 1:27 b with Php 2:12 b. At the same time there is also a link between Php 2:12-13 and the passage immediately preceding. He introduces his admonition with obedience (ὑπηκούσατε). But Christ’s lowliness consisted precisely in His ὑπακοή (Php 2:8, ὑπήκοος). Christ has been exalted as the result (διό, Php 2:9) of humble obedience. Corresponding to His exaltation will be their σωτηρία.—ὑπηκούσατε. We believe that this means obedience to God. See on ὥστε supr.κατεργάζ. Cf. Galatians 4:18.—μετὰ φ. κ. τρ. Cf. Ephesians 6:5, οἱ δοῦλοι, ὑπακούετε τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα κυρίοις μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου. In both passages the phrase expresses the solemn responsibility to God which is always felt by those conscious of the Divine Presence, whether they are occupied with common tasks or the concerns of their spiritual life. Nihil enim est quod magis ad modestiam et timorem erudire nos debeat quam dum audimus nos sola Dei gratia stare (Calvin). Gunkel (Wirkungen2, etc., p. 70) well contrasts the fear with which the Jew looked upon the Divine Presence with the calm joy which the Christian feels in such an experience.—τὴν ἑαυτ. σωτ. Such a use of ἑαυτῶν for ὑμῶν αὐτῶν is much more common in N.T. than in classical Greek. But cf. Demos., Olynth., i., § 2, εἴπερ σωτηρίας αὑτῶν φροντίζετε. The emphasis is on ἐαυτῶν. Each of them is responsible for his own salvation before God. They must not lean on the Apostle. His absence must make no difference. “For the race is run by one and one and never by two and two” (R. Kipling).—σωτ. This is the end and aim of their faith. See 1 Peter 1:9, τὸ τέλος τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν σωτηρίαν ψυχῶν.—κατεργ. The best comment on the distinctive force of κατεργ. is 2 Corinthians 7:10, ἡ γὰρ κατὰ Θεὸν λύπη μετάνοιαν εἰς σωτηρίανἐργάζεται· ἡ δὲ τοῦ κόσμου λύπη θάνατον κατεργάζεται, where ἐργ. refers to a process in its mediate workings, while κατεργ. looks solely at the final result. So here almost = “make sure of your salvation,” “carry it into effect”. Cf. 2 Peter 1:10. As Kühl (op. cit., p. 560 ff.) points out, the Apostle does not think here so much of the moral effort, their deliberate conduct as such (so Schaeder). This, as the presupposition of salvation, would be alien to the Pauline point of view. Lowliness and obedience (the ὑπακοὴ πίστεως) are needful, that they may look away from themselves to Jesus Christ, who is the “author and finisher of their faith”.

[2] Studien und Kritiken.

12–18. Inferences from the foregoing passages: the Greatness of the methods of Salvation: the consequent Call to a Life reverent, self-forgetful, fruitful, joyful

12. Wherefore] The Apostle has now pressed on them the duty and blessing of self-forgetting sympathy and love, above all by this supreme Example. He here returns to the exhortation, in a measure, but now only subordinately; his mind is chiefly now possessed with the greatness of salvation, and it is through this, as it were, that he views the duty and joy of Christian humility and harmony.

my beloved] So again Php 4:1. Cp. 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Corinthians 12:19; where this tender word similarly introduces earnest practical appeals. See too Hebrews 6:9; James 1:16; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 4:12; 2 Peter 3:1; 2 Peter 3:8; 2 Peter 3:14; 2 Peter 3:17; 1 John 3:2; 1 John 3:21; 1 John 4:1; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:11; Judges 3, 17, 20.

ye have always obeyed] So too R.V. Lit., ye did always obey; the aorist. And so better here. The Apostle views as one past experience his personal intercourse with them of old at Philippi. See the next words, where such a retrospect is implied.

not as in my presence only &c.] The Greek shews that these words are to be joined with what follows; “work out your own salvation, now in my absence, not only in my presence.”

“As in my presence”:—“as” suggests the thought, or point of view, of the agent; “influenced by the fact of my presence.”

work out your own salvation] “Your own” is strongly emphatic. The Apostle is in fact bidding them “learn to walk alone,” instead of leaning too much on his presence and personal influence. “Do not make me your proxy in spiritual duties which must be your own.” Hence the “much more” of the previous clause; his absence was to be the occasion for a far fuller realization of their own personal obligations and resources in the spiritual life.

“Salvation”:—see above on Php 1:19. The main reference here is to final glory (see remarks just below). But as life eternal is continuous and one, here and hereafter, a side-reference may well be recognized to present preservation from falling and sinning. “In this way of diligence we receive daily more and more of ‘salvation’ itself, by liberty from sin, victory over it, peace and communion with God, and the earnests of heavenly felicity” (Scott).

“Work out”:—the verb is that used also e.g. Romans 4:5 (“the law worketh wrath”); 2 Corinthians 4:17, a close and instructive parallel. As there the saint’s “light affliction” “works out for him a weight of glory,” so here his watchful, loving, reverent consistency, for his Lord’s sake, “works out,” issues in the result of, his “salvation.” There is not the slightest contradiction here to the profound truth of Justification by Faith only, that is to say, only for the merit’s sake of the Redeemer, appropriated by submissive trust; that justification whose sure issue is “glorification” (Romans 8:30). It is an instance of independent lines of truth converging on one goal. From one point of view, that of justifying merit, man is glorified because of Christ’s work alone, applied to his case through faith alone. From another point, that of qualifying capacity, and of preparation for the Lord’s individual welcome (Matthew 25:21; Romans 2:7), man is glorified as the issue of a process of work and training, in which in a true sense he is himself operant, though grace lies below the whole operation.

with fear and trembling] not of tormenting misgiving (cp. 1 John 4:18), but of profound reverence and wakeful conscience. So 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5. Chrysostom quotes Psalm 2:11, “Serve the Lord in fear, and exult unto Him in trembling.”—The Douay (Romanist) Bible here has a note:—“This is against the false faith and presumptuous confidence of modern sectaries”; a reference to the doctrine of a personal assurance of present Divine favour and coming glory. But this is both to mistake the meaning of St Paul’s phrase “fear and trembling,” and to forget such passages as e.g. Romans 5:1-2; Romans 5:9; Romans 8:28-39.—It is the formulated tenet of the Church of Rome that “no man can know, with a certainty under which nothing false can lurk, that he has attained the grace of God” (Canones Concil. Trident., Sess. vi. cap. ix.). See further just below.

Php 2:12. Ὥστε, therefore) He sets Christ before us as an example, and infers, that we should maintain the salvation which Christ has procured for us.—ὑπηκούσατε, ye have obeyed) me, exhorting you to salvation, and have obeyed God Himself; comp. obedient, Php 2:8.—μετὰ φοβοῦ καὶ τρόμου, with fear and trembling) You ought to be ‘servants,’ according to the example of Christ; Php 2:8 : moreover fear and trembling become a servant; Ephesians 6:5, i.e. humility; comp. Romans 11:20. Joh. Jac. Wolfius has observed, in his MS. exegesis of the Ep. to the Phil., Paul, though filled with joy, still writes seriously.—ἐαυτῶν, your own) In this department, indeed, look each of you at his own things; comp. Php 2:4, your own, he says; because I cannot be present with you, be you therefore the more careful of yourselves.—σωτηρίαν, salvation) that which is in Jesus.—κατεργάζεσθε, work out) even to the end.

Verse 12. - Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence. St. Paul passes to exhortation grounded on the Lord's perfect example. "Ye obeyed" (ὑπηκούσατε) answers to the γενόμενος ὑπήκοος of Ver. 8, and τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν corresponds with the Savior's exaltation described in vers. 9-11. He encourages them by acknowledging their past obedience; he urges them to work, not for the sake of approving themselves to their earthly teacher, but to think of their unseen Lord, and to realize his presence all the more in St. Paul's absence. Work out your own salvation. Complete it; God has begun the work; carry it out unto the end. Comp. the same word in Ephesians 6:13, "having done all." Christ's work of atonement is finished: work from the cross: carry out the great work of sanctification by the help of the Holy Spirit. Your own: it is each man's own work; no human friend, no pastor, not even an apostle, can work it for him. With fear and trembling (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:15 and Ephesians 6:5). "Servi esse debetis exemplo Christi" (Bengel). Have an eager, trembling anxiety to obey God in all things, considering the tremendous sacrifice of Christ, the unspeakable depth and tenderness of his love, the immense importance of a present salvation from sin, the momentous preciousness of a future salvation from death. Philippians 2:12Not as in my presence only

Connect with work out, not with obeyed. Do not work out your salvation as though impelled to action by my presence merely.

Much more

Than if I were present; for in my absence even greater zeal and care are necessary.

Work out your own salvation (τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζασθε).

Carry out "to the goal" (Bengel). Complete. See on Romans 7:8. Your own salvation. There is a saving work which God only can do for you; but there is also a work which you must do for yourselves. The work of your salvation is not completed in God's work in you. God's work must be carried out by yourselves. "Whatever rest is provided by Christianity for the children of God, it is certainly never contemplated that it should supersede personal effort. And any rest which ministers to indifference is immoral and unreal - it makes parasites and not men. Just because God worketh in him, as the evidence and triumph of it, the true child of God works out his own salvation - works it out having really received it - not as a light thing, a superfluous labor, but with fear and trembling as a reasonable and indispensable service" (Drummond, "Natural Law in the Spiritual World," p. 335). Human agency is included in God's completed work. In the saving work of grace God imparts a new moral power to work. Compare Romans 6:8-13; 2 Corinthians 6:1. Believe as if you had no power. Work as if you had no God.

Fear and trembling

Compare 2 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5. Not slavish terror, but wholesome, serious caution. "This fear is self-distrust; it is tenderness of conscience; it is vigilance against temptation; it is the fear which inspiration opposes to high-mindedness in the admonition 'be not highminded but fear.' It is taking heed lest we fall; it is a constant apprehension of the deceitfulness of the heart, and of the insidiousness and power of inward corruption. It is the caution and circumspection which timidly shrinks from whatever would offend and dishonor God and the Savior. And these the child of God will feel and exercise the more he rises above the enfeebling, disheartening, distressing influence of the fear which hath torment. Well might Solomon say of such fear, 'happy is the man that feareth alway'" (Wardlaw "On Proverbs," xxviii., 14). Compare 1 Peter 1:17.

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