“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 salvation with fear and trembling…” – Philippians 2:12
A misunderstanding and misuse of this verse has brought many people into feeling like they are supposed to be afraid of God and that it’s up to ourselves to “work out” or work for our salvation.The word translated as “work out” in the Greek is KATERGAZOMAI. According to the Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, it means “‘to carry to its ultimate conclusion”. Understand and bring this great salvation to it’s ultimate conclusion!
Fully engage with what happened on the cross and see it play out in it’s full reality! This is the point…not your working for it..
When we read the rest of the sentence in verse 13 we see that “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” He even makes this come to pass, from beginning to end.
Yes, Tony, but what about the ‘fear and trembling’ part?
The Amplified Bible translates ‘fear and trembling’ as ‘reverence and awe’. It is also translated as “awe and self-distrust”, don’t trust in your own ability to save yourself, trust that he already did! God has saved us singlehandedly, we should be in awe of such a great salvation, not in fear that we may lose it if we don’t do enough stuff. We must remember, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18) Many have used this verse to make people fear if they are really even saved and then put it on the people’s shoulders to make sure they work it out themselves, and that they should fear not being saved. This is nonsense.
Jesus is the savior of the world, carry out this fact to it’s ultimate conclusion, and let it inspire awe and wonder in your heart!
By Tony Seigh