Philippians 2:12

Philippians 2:12  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Without attempting an accurate solution of this much-controverted text, I submit to the consideration of others what has appeared to me the line of thought in the Apostle's mind. The Apostle appears to contrast his own personal presence with the constant presence of God: "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, for it is God (not Paul) which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." That this is the leading thought will appear more plainly by contrasting the conduct of the Galatians with that of the Philippians: "But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you (Gal. 4:18)." The presence of the Apostle prevented the Judaizing teachers from fascinating the Galatian converts; but the moment his back is turned, they listen to them, and give up their zeal for the doctrines of grace.
Not so the Philippians. The Apostle had to thank his God "for their fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now." In his absence they had been cast upon God, and it is this which the Apostle sought to rivet on them -they needed not Paul but God to work in them. It was God "who had begun a good work in them, and would perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). It was not what Paul, but what God had to do with them and they with God. It was a personal concern between God and themselves -"their own salvation." The Apostle was sensitively jealous of taking the place of a mediating priest. He labored to keep the souls of his converts in close contact with God, so that in his presence they might learn all their need of Christ: this was the object of his ministry. (See Acts 20:32.)
Presbutes The Christian Annotator 3:130 (1856).
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