Source of Unity pt.2
Put into practice
Put into practice
This verse summarizes the various calls to action that Paul has given the Philippians: to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel (1:27), to be like-minded (2:2), and to consider others more important (2:3). Verse 12 focuses on the manner in which these actions should be implemented: with fear and trembling. Working out salvation here is referring to the practical matters of following the Lord and allowing Him to work through you. This is stressed in the very next verse, which answers why we should do this with fear and trembling: because God is the one working in us, not we ourselves (see Eph 2:10).
All believers are called on to live out the salvation God has worked in them—to progress in their spiritual maturity.
Work in verse 13 is ἐνεργέω = "energizes."
These verses actually argue the same point: apart from God working in us, we cannot accomplish anything of lasting value. This doesn’t mean we should treat God like a power source or means of inspiration; God needs to be the one working in us. When He is, all things are indeed possible, but only because of His involvement.
When things get out of whack, how do I regain an accurate understanding of who God is and who I am? The best place to start is reading Scripture. It renews our understanding of who He is and what He has done. Although we were once God’s enemies, He has delivered us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9). Here’s the key to making a change: restore a right view of God and who you are in light of Christ’s work.
Personal Edification ()
When the suffering that Paul tells us to expect comes along, we shouldn’t play the victim decrying the lack of fairness. If God sets something before us, we’re expected to do it without talking back or drawing attention to the downsides. Why give such a command? There is no greater joy-robber than grumbling and complaining. Remember the Israelites in the wilderness and all their grumbling? It coincided with stubborn rejection of God’s provision for them. Rejoicing and working without grumble or complaint are inextricably related.
In Paul’s mind, these calls to specific behavior are about shining God’s light in a dark and dying world. Not only will obedience draw us closer to God and help us experience His blessing, it also accomplishes God’s larger purpose.
The Greek word epechontes, hold out (v. 16) means either “hold forth” or “hold firmly.” The former fits better here. It was used in secular Greek of offering wine to a guest at a banquet.
Profound Joy and fulfillment (Phil 2:17-18)
Examples of the believer’s life
Although it might seem at this point that we’re reading someone else’s private correspondence, Paul accomplishes much more here than updating the Philippians on his plans. Paul begins by praising Timothy for the qualities that have made him an invaluable member of his team. But more than just giving Timothy a well-deserved pat on the back, Paul accomplishes something in addition: holding up Timothy as a model for other believers.
As Paul reiterates his main goal of sending Timothy after a series of supporting statements, he phrases it in such a way that the readers would have known from the beginning of the verse that some other related element was coming. It would be just like me saying, “While I think you’re a nice person.…” Adding “while” signals that some related element will follow, with the added notion in English that the other thing is negative. There is no negative overtone in Greek. What is the second thing that Paul builds anticipation for? His conviction that he too will be coming to the Philippians soon. It is difficult to maintain in translation the anticipation that was intended in the Greek. One could capture the sense by saying, “While/although I hope to send him soon, I am convinced in the Lord that I too will arrive shortly.”