Philippians 2:12-18, Salvation and Joy

This Tuesday, we will be discussing Philippians 2:12-30. In the first half of the reading, Paul wraps up his argument regarding humility and the example of Jesus Christ. Paul’s argument that began in Philippians 1:27 about our manner of life in Christ, will end with gladness and rejoicing.

Christ’s Work (vv.12-13)

Paul has been exploring what life in Christ looks like, and in the Christological Hymn of verses 5-11, Paul holds up the example of Christ’s humility and obedience. In verses 12-13, Paul harkens back to his introductory statement that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” Phil. 1:6. Paul writes in these verses that “[You] are to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for God is at work in you.” The ”you” in these verses is plural. Paul is not talking to individuals in the Philippian church but to the church as a whole.

Salvation is God’s work within the body of the church from start to finish. Paul wants the Philippians to see the very present reality of God working within their midst. To be in the presence of God invokes “fear and trembling” or rather “reverence and awe.” Therefore, the Philippians (and us) are to work out what this God-given salvation looks like in practice within the body of Christ and in imitation of Christ’s own humility and obedience.

Christ’s Light: (vv.14-16)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that we “are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matt. 5:14. Paul echoes Jesus teaching here. Paul’s argument (his thesis statement) is that his audience “live as citizens worthy of the good news of Christ.” Phil. 1:27. The result of this life, and a primary purpose of living this life, is so that they (or we), the church, will be a light in the world. v.15.

Paul began his argument by saying that the Philippians should be of one spirit and one mind, and be encouraging and loving towards one another. In v. 14, Paul looks at this issue from the other side and tells them to be without grumbling or disputing with each other. If the Philippians can do this – be of one with each other, imitate Christ’s humility, and avoid disputes – then they will be a light into the world. Then they will be ready for Christ’s return.

Christ’s Joy: (vv.17-18)

Paul ends this section of his letter with joy and rejoicing. From Jesus’s parables through the end of Revelation, we read that a life in Christ should be one of rejoicing. Our manner of life should bring us joy. Paul writes, therefore, that even if he is sacrificed (i.e. killed by the Romans) he is glad and rejoices with the Philippians. His joy is in Christ, and not in this world, so that if he lives or if he dies, he rejoices. Phil. 1:19-20. And he instructs the Philippians, that regardless of what happens to him, they too must be glad and rejoice.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is Chinese chicken salad. Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here!

All these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

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