Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 2

Work out your salvation

Philippians 2:12

Salvation is God’s great work to save (rescue) a person from sin (the person’s evil deeds), the devil and hell. That work begins in the person’s life when that person first puts their trust in Christ (1:6). At that time, the Holy Spirit enters the person’s life as the guarantee (proof) that God will complete that work (2 Corinthians 1:22). So, that work must continue through the person’s whole life on earth (3:12-14).

Paul urges Christians to work out, or complete, their salvation with an attitude of fear. In other words, they need to understand how serious is the matter of their personal relationship with God. If they could achieve salvation by their own efforts, that would be a reason for pride and not fear (Romans 4:2). However, as only God can complete it, they must respect him deeply. They need to understand their own weakness, and to depend completely on God. That is the right sense of fear to which Paul refers here. It is like the attitude of someone in great danger, who must depend completely on another person to rescue him. However, this must not be the kind of fear that makes us too afraid to do anything. Rather, this sense of fear should give us a strong desire to support everything that God is doing in our lives.

Therefore, there is no proper place for proud or selfish attitudes in the Christian life (2:1-4). Even Christ, who is truly great, was not proud (2:5-8). He needed nobody to save him, but still he gave his life to help other people. So of course Christians, who depend completely on God’s salvation, should use their lives in a similar way. It should be their constant desire to help other people, and so to please God.

Next part: God works in you (Philippians 2:13)


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© 2020, Keith Simons.