Philippians 2:12-18

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

We are in the process of looking at -


We have already seen -

A. Paul's Exhortation to Unity in View of Difficulties from Unbelievers - 1:27-30

We have also seen -

B. Paul's Exhortation to Unity In View of Difficulties from Believers - 2:1-4

And we have seen -

C. Paul's Exhortation to Unity in View of Christ's Example - 2:5-11

We continue with -

D. Paul's Exhortation to Unity in View of Paul's Own Example - 2:12-18

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.

Wherefore introduces an inference drawn from the fact that the Philippian believers should have the same mindset that the Lord Jesus had Who looked out for the things of others rather than just for Himself and is understood in the sense of for this reason, therefore, or so.

Paul addresses the saints in Philippi as my beloved, i.e. my dear ones or my dear friends.

As ye (i.e. just as you Philippian believers) have always (i.e. have at all times) obeyed (i.e. have at all times listened to me or have at all times done what I said).

Not as in my presence only indicates that the Philippian believers had obeyed Paul when he was present with them; whereas, but now much more in my absence indicates that he wanted them also to be obedient to him even when he was not with them and able to observe their obedience.

But introduces a strong contrast. It is not always possible for Paul to be with everybody, and it is important that each believer come to a full maturity in Christ so that his obedience is a matter of habit and not just something that is done to impress the Apostle Paul. Similarly, believers need to obey the Lord whether the pastor, missionary, or other Christian worker is present or absent. In the same way, children need to obey their parents whether the parents are present or absent.

Work out implies that they were to continue to work at something they already had and is understood as be working out, continue working out, or keep on working out.

What these believers were to continue working out is your own salvation. This applies, not only to the Philippian believers, but also to all other readers of this epistle.

God has already provided salvation for them, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling is saying that they ought to be developing their Christian lives in accordance with Biblical truths. There is no hint here of one's being able to earn his salvation.

Salvation in this passage is not used in the sense of the past tense of their salvation, i.e. of the salvation of their souls when they placed their trust in Christ as their Savior, but is used of the present tense of salvation or deliverance of these believers from the things which were upsetting their church, i.e. from disunity in their thinking, from their lack of love for each other, from their lack of harmony, from their squabbling, from their vainglory, from their pride, from their self-centeredness, and from their resultant murmurings and disputings.

It is their progressive sanctification rather than their initial or past sanctification when they were set apart in Christ. As believers they are presently being set apart in Christ and are being made more and more Christlike as the fruit of the Spirit is produced in them.

Inasmuch as work out is an imperative or command, it leaves the believers with no choice but to obey.

Work out your own salvation indicates that believers are personally responsible for doing the things that will bring about their progressive sanctification.

For example, although they cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, they are responsible to be doing the things that will result in the fruit of the Spirit being produced in their lives.

They are responsible to study their Bibles and to submit their hearts and minds to its teachings. When they take this step of obedience, the Holy Spirit will produce the fruit of the Spirit in them.

Similarly, believers are responsible to stop making provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts of it (Romans 13:14 ), i.e. they are to stop feeding their old sin natures. Instead, they are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14 ).

Believers should not be taking this salvation God has given them lightly, but they should be taking it very seriously and doing everything they possibly can to remove every hindrance from their Christian lives so that even in this life they might experience the greatest possible victory over sin and the greatest possible separation from all that is contrary to God.

By contrast, believers often seem to take sin as well as spiritual growth and maturity in Christ lightly.

The fear and trembling are before God, both in the sense of a fear of failing Him and of a reverential awe of Him.

In addition, the fear and trembling are before men in the sense of a respect and proper treatment of them, which would result in the believers being godly examples of what the Lord Jesus Christ desires them to be before unbelievers.

The Scriptures play an important role in the progressive sanctification of believers. The Word of God, when hidden in the heart, will aid the believer in being victorious over sin.

Psalms 119:9 - Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalms 119:11 - Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

II Timothy 3:15-17 - (15) And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

II Corinthians 3:18 - (18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This means that as believers look at the Lord's glory in the mirror of the Word of God (i.e. by studying the Scriptures), God the Holy Spirit will make them more and more Christlike.

Romans 12:1-2 - (1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (emphasis added).

In verse 1 Paul calls upon believers to surrender their lives completely to the Lord. This is a one-time act of giving themselves to the Lord. According to verse 2, inasmuch as, prior to their salvation, believers were in complete conformity to the world, Paul urges them to stop (or discontinue) their conformity to the world and to be in the process of being transformed by renewing their minds (i.e. by reprogramming their thinking or mindsets). This is accomplished individually as a believer submits his thinking to the teaching of the Scriptures by studying the Bible and seeking to obey it. Whereas surrendering one's life to the Lord is a one-time act, stopping his conformity to the world and being transformed in his thinking are lifetime processes which go hand in hand with each other.

Their goal is complete Christlikeness. Although believers will never obtain perfect Christlikeness in this life because they still have their old sin natures, they need to approach it as closely as they can. The Holy Spirit will produce Christlikeness in their lives as they submit their hearts and minds to the teachings of the Scriptures.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

For introduces the reason believers should work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. It is understood in the sense of because.

It is God which worketh is simply God is the One Who works (i.e. God is the One Who produces or God is the One Who effects).

In you means in you Philippian believers and by extension in all you believers everywhere and indicates where God works.

What God works, produces, or effects in all believers is both to will, which is both to resolve or both to determine. It is more than merely to wish or desire.

God not only works, produces, or effects in all believers to will, but also to do, which suggests to be at work.

Of his good pleasure indicates that God gives believers the desire and determination to live for Him, and He also enables them to do those things which constitute living for Him. This is in accordance with the will of God, i.e. the good pleasure or desire God has for believers. Of his good pleasure implies that God the Father has a desire or will for each believer.

God is always working (or operating) in believers in order that they be willing, wishing, desiring, determining, or resolving and also in order that they be doing, working (or operating) of His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings.

Do implies that activity already in progress must be continued in the sense of continue doing or keep on doing. There is a hint here that the Philippian believers as a whole were already doing these things; whereas, those who were not already doing these things should be doing them.

All things refers to everything within their Christian lives and has been placed in a position of emphasis in the Greek text, which reads literally, All things be doing.

Without murmurings and disputings tells how the Philippian believers were to be doing all things.

Without is apart from or independently of.

Murmurings is complaints or displeasures, which evidence discontent and dissatisfaction.

Disputings are arguments.

Paul does not want them to imitate the conduct or attitude of the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings following their exodus from Egypt. He does not want their conduct to be characterized by grumbling or arguing.

Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.

Verse 15 provides the reason the Philippian believers were to be doing (or to continue doing) all things without murmurings and disputings.

If showing purpose, that is understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that. If showing result or intended result, that is understood in the sense of so that or with the result that.

Ye refers to the Philippian believers as well as to all other believers who read this letter.

Ye may be means you may become or you may come to be. Sometimes it indicates that a condition is not what it should be and needs to be changed. At other times it merely indicates the existence of a condition. Paul has wisely chosen to use this word because those who are not already this way need to become this way and those who already are this way are to continue to be this way. Neither group is going to find his statement offensive.

Blameless is faultless.

And harmless is and pure or and innocent.

The sons of God is simply children of God or God's children.

Without rebuke means blameless or unblemished. They were to be blameless children.

In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation tells where they were to be blameless and harmless and particularly where they were to be without rebuke.

Crooked is unscrupulous or dishonest.

Perverse means perverted.

Nation is generation and refers to those living at the same time or (the) contemporaries. In the midst of a group of unscrupulous and perverted contemporaries.

The Philippian believers were living in the middle of a group of unsaved people who were anything but godly. As a consequence, they needed to be a good testimony before these unsaved people of what Christ had already done in their lives and of what He can also do in the lives of others.

Just as good parents want their children to be what they should be, i.e. blameless, harmless, and without rebuke, wherever they go or live, so God wants His children to be blameless, harmless, and without rebuke wherever they go or live. They need to be all that they should be and innocent of all wrong in their lives regardless of where life takes them.

Among whom ye shine as lights in the world implies that these Philippian believers as well as all other believers shine forth (or flash) as light-giving bodies in the world, especially as stars.

There needs to be something that is different about the way a saved person lives his life so that his life in itself will be a testimony of what Christ can do. Of course, it will not do the unbelievers any good if the believers do not also explain to them what the gospel is all about; but a lifestyle that does not back up what the believer claims with his mouth is also of little or no use.

Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Holding forth is holding fast or while you hold fast.

The word of life is the life-giving word or the word which produces life. It is the gospel message. Holding forth the word of life is what the Philippian believers are to be doing while they are living the way they should be living as Christians. It is not enough to have a good lifestyle before the unsaved; the verbal witness is also important.

There has been considerable discussion regarding lifestyle evangelism as if some are claiming that a person should just be a silent witness.

There actually may be times when all a person can do is be a silent witness (Note I Peter 3:1 where the wives with unsaved husbands are told to be submissive to their husbands in order that, without a word, that their husbands may be won to Christ by their wives' good conduct).

One realizes, however, that a silent witness does not actually tell anybody how to be saved.

It is important that both the silent and the spoken witness are present and that they work together to convey the same message. The silent witness backs up the spoken witness; and the spoken witness explains the silent witness.

Which witness is more important, the silent one or the spoken one? Both are important. One without the other will not do. Which wing of an airplane is more important? The right one or the left one? Most people would prefer to fly in an airplane with both wings intact and functioning properly. Similarly, both the good testimony and the good witness are equally important.

That I may rejoice is for the purpose that I might rejoice or in order that I might rejoice.

In the day of Christ indicates the time of Paul's rejoicing. It will be when the Lord Jesus Christ returns for believers at the rapture.

At the rapture it will be wonderful for Paul and other Christian workers to see the visible results of their labors for Christ.

That I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain indicates the content of Paul's rejoicing: he will know that he has not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. He wishes to be able to see these believers in the presence of Christ as genuinely saved persons who have lived for the Lord and who are going to be appropriately rewarded. He does not wish to see them as pretenders who will lose all rewards or to learn that some will be absent from the body of believers at the rapture because they were never genuinely born again.

Both uses of in vain in this verse mean without result, without profit, without reaching its effect, without reaching its goal, to no purpose, or to no avail.

Have not run is literally did not run and has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Neither laboured in vain (i.e. nor worked hard in vain, nor toiled in vain, nor strived in vain, or nor struggled in vain). It has likewise been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Philippians 2:17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

Yea is emphatic. It introduces a strong contrast and is ordinarily translated but, and it is understood in this sense here.

And if suggests even if. Even if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith is a simple condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. Since he does not yet know whether it will actually prove to be true, if should be understood as assuming that.

I be offered is I am offered as a libation or I am offered as a drink offering, and it is used in the sense I am offered up. It speaks of his possible execution and is a worst case scenario. Even if he is executed, Paul will still rejoice in what the Philippian believers have done for him.

Upon the sacrifice and service of your faith indicates where Paul would be offered up as a drink offering.

The sacrifice is the offering, and the service is a term referring to a service performed by someone. It is almost always used with some sort of religious connotation.

Of your faith indicates which your faith has produced, and it is understood both with sacrifice and with service. When one is genuinely saved, his salvation and his faith in Christ will result in his doing good works. Here, Paul is speaking of the Philippian saints' faith producing their sacrifice and their service in sending Epaphroditus with their gift to him. This implies that if Paul is executed rather than released, his life would be pictured as being poured out as a drink offering upon their sacrifice and their service toward him. His is a small sacrifice in comparison with their large sacrifice.

The conclusion of the condition is I joy and rejoice with you all.

I joy is I am joying or I am rejoicing.

And (I) rejoice with you all, meaning I rejoice together with you Philippian believers or I am rejoicing with you Philippian believers.

Philippians 2:18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

Verse 18 says the same thing that has been said in verse 17 except that in verse 17 Paul was doing the joying and rejoicing, and he was doing this with the Philippian believers; whereas, in verse 18, it is the Philippian believers who are doing the joying and rejoicing, and they are doing this with Paul. The terminology is the same.