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Word Study

Exercise:
Philippians 2:12
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always
obeyed not only in my presence, but now much
more in my absence continue to work out your
salvation with fear and trembling,

Section-Unit
Philippians 1:3-2:30
Rejoice with me even in my imprisonment or possible execution. And
make my joy complete by pursuing unity in the midst of your
persecution and suffering.
UNITS

UNIT MAIN POINTS

1:3-11

I pray that your love may abound in real knowledge so


that you may approve the things that are excellent

1:12-18

Rejoice despite my imprisonment, because what has


happened serve to advance the gospel in prison and out
of prison

1:19-26

(Rejoice) because I am confident that I will be released in


prison to remain with youalthough dying inside is also
gain, because I will be with Christ

1:27-2:13

Make my joy complete by striving for your faith or


salvation through your unity in the midst of
persecution and suffering

2:14-18

I rejoice even if I am being poured out as a sacrifice for


your faith, so be blameless and hold fast the word of life

2:19-24

I hope to send Timothy shortly so that I may be


encouraged when I learn of your condition

22:25-30

Finally, rejoice because I am also sending Epaphroditus to


you

Interpretation

Using the theme of rejoicing Paul writes


with two major concerns in mind.
He wants the Philippians to rejoice and not

be worried about his imprisonment and


possible execution
He also wants them to make his joy
complete by pursuing unity in the midst of
their experience of persecution and
suffering
Philippians 2:12 falls under Pauls 2nd

The passage we are trying to interpret


falls in unit 1:27-2:13. The section (1:32:30) and unit (1:27-2:13) is quite long.
Thus in order to understand our passage,
we may need to study in detail unit 1:272:13 and break it down into smaller subunits.

Contextual Study of 2
Philippians 2:13
Unit 1:27-2:13
The main consideration for finding the
unit is determining the shift of the
subject that is being discussed
In Philippians 1:12-25 Paul talks mainly

about himself
1:12-20 about his imprisonment and the
good things happening outside the prison
walls despite his imprisonment

1:21-26 about his desire both to be with

the Lord (i.e. if he will be executed in


prison) and to stay alive for more fruitful
labor.

In Philippians 1:27-2:13, Pauls subject


changes
The focus is not more on himself but to the

Philippians (conduct yourselves)


Also a new subject is introduced: unity
(1:27 one spirit, one mind, striving
together; 2:2)

Finally, in Philippians 2:14-48, Paul


starts encouraging the Philippians on
more general issues (do all things
without grumbling-2:14; holding fast
the word of life 2:16)
The word so then in 2:12 also signals the

conclusion of the section


There is also a literary marker (inclusio)
which will help us confirm our section
context (1:27-2:13)

The inclusio in 1:27-30 and 2:12-13


1:27-30

2:12-13

Conduct yourselves worthy of


the Gospel (1:27)

Just as you have always


obeyed (i.e. so obey also
now2:12)

Whether I come and see you


or remain absent (1:27)

Not as in my presence only,


but now much more in my
absence (2:12)

Salvation (1:28)

Salvation (2:12)

Salvation for youfrom God


(1:28)

God is at work in you (2:13)

Unit Main Point


The unit main point in Philippians 2:12
is
make my joy complete by pursuing
unity in the midst of your
persecution and suffering

Unit main point (1:27-2:13)


Make my joy complete by striving for your faith or salvation
through your unity in the midst of persecution and suffering.
Sub-units of 1:272:13

Sub-unit Main Points

1:27-30

Standing firm in unity, establishes your faith or


salvation and destroys your opponents, who
make you suffer

2:1-4

The way to unity is by regarding others more


important than yourself and by looking for the
interests of others

2:5-11

To achieve unity, have attitude of Christ who


although he is God did not grasp to be equal with
God, but emptied himself and looked for the
interest of others by dying on the cross for them

2:12-13

So then, work out your salvation (or strive for


your faith) by pursuing unity among yourselves
in fear and tremblingfor God himself is at work
in you to make you will and work out unity.

Interpretation of 2:12

The clause in Philippians 2:13 (continue to work


out your salvation) is part of unit 1:27-2:13 and
sub-unit 2:12-13 that exhorts the Philippians to
strive or defend their faith or salvation from their
opponents by working out unity among
themselves.

They are to work out unity by looking on the


interests of others and not merely their own. Unity
among themselves will preserve their faith and
salvation in the midst of suffering and persecution
caused by their opponents.

Thus the phrase, work out your salvation in its


context means to work out unity by regarding
others more important than yourselves so as to
preserve your faith or salvation in the midst of
persecution and suffering.
They must work out unity among themselves in
fear and trembling, because God Himself is at
work in them to make them will and work out
this unity.

Remember:

Background:
There was a threat of Judaizers
Judaizers may cause the believers to lose

their salvation
In their being united, it is equivalent to
Paul being there to fight off the opponents
The unity Paul asks of them has a goal:
Unity in the teachings of Paul

Principles:
1.

The faith or salvation of a group of believers,


who are threatened by external opposition
and suffering from persecutors, is further
secured and established by maintaining unity
among themselves.

2.

The way to maintain unity is by regarding


others more important than ourselves and by
looking for the interests of others. Selfish
interests or lack of interest is a sure way of
spawning divisions.

Application:

How to divide a Church:


Paul

gave
an
important
formula
for
maintaining unity in the church.
Doing the opposite is a sure way of promoting
disunity and division in the church.
One of the most common causes of division is
not doctrinal but personal in nature.
Let us preserve unity in the church at all
cost by looking in the needs and interests
of others and not merely our own

How to Divide a Church

Consider yourself better all the time


Look at your own interest all the time
Be arrogant (opposite of Christs
humility)
Do not acknowledge Gods presence in
our lives and our relationships

WORD STUDY 1
(using an English Concordance and Greek
Dictionaries/Lexicons)
1.
2.

3.

Identify the word to be studied (ex: fear


and trembling)
Locate
the
word
in
an
English
Concordance (number at the right of the
text)
Use the number of the word in the
English Concordance to look for the
Greek equivalent of the English word in
the Greek to English Index-Lexicon of the
New Testament.

4. Look for the meaning of the word


in a Greek Dictionary/Lexicon

In this example, we will only look for


the meaning of (fear) when
connected to the word (trembling)

Walter Bauers Lexicon (p. 863-864)


Philippians 2:13 the word (phobos) with

the word (tromos), would mean


reverence, respect toward God and Christ in
Philippians 2:12

Ephesians 6:5 In this verse, the word

(phobos) with the word


(tromos), toward men means respect
that is due officials.

Bromileys Lexicon (p.1276)


Philippians 2:12 Bromiley has this to say

concerning the word with the word


in Philippians 2:12 the selfsacrifice of Christ makes possible only an
attitude of humble acceptance of Gods
will.

5. Study the Context of the


word

The phrase work out your salvation in


its context means to work out unity by
regarding others more important than
yourselves so as to preserve your faith or
salvation in the midst of persecution and
suffering.
They must work out unity among
themselves in fear and in trembling,
because God Himself is at work in them
to make them will and work out this unity.

6. Choose the meaning that


best fits the context

Bauers meaning (b) does not fit the


context, because it concerns men while
the context is about God.
Bauers meaning (a) does not seem to
violate the sense of the context in
Philippians 2:12. If this meaning is
adopted and substituted to the phrase
in Philippians 2:12, the paraphrase will
be:

work out your salvation with respect and


reverence toward God, for it is God who
is at work in you, both to will and to work
for his good pleasure

Bromileys sense of humble acceptance


of Gods will also does not seem to
violate the overall sense of the context.
Thus, the paraphrase will look this way:
work out your salvation with humble
acceptance of Gods will, for it is God
who is at work both to will and to work
for his good pleasure.

However, the reason for working out our


salvation with humble acceptance of
Gods will is not because of self-sacrifice
but because it is God Himself who is at
work in you.

7. Interpret the meaning of


the word

According to a word study of the word


(phobos) in connection to the
word (tromos) both meaning
(a) of Bauer and Bromileys fits the
context of Philippians 1:27-2:13.
Thus, fear and trembling can either
mean respect and reverence toward
God (Bauerb) or in humble
acceptance of Gods will (Bromiley).

In other words, the Philippians must work


out unity among themselves in respect
and reverence toward God (Bauerb) or
in humble acceptance of Gods will,
because it is no less than God who is at
work among them to help maintain that
unity.

Word Study II:


Using Greek interlinear and Greek
Concordance
1.
2.
3.

Identify the word


Know the Greek word using interlinear
List the verses found in a Greek
Concordance

A Greek Concordance is like an ordinary


English dictionary that usually lists only
the root word and not the derivatives (ex.
The word love will be listed, but
probably not loveliness, lovable,
loved, etc

For example:
The root word of is . You can

get the Greek root word of any English


word through the Greek dictionary at the
back of an English Concordance (Steps 2 &
3 of Word Study using Theological
Dictionaries and Lexicons).
The verses in the Englishmans Greek
Concordance that has the phrase
(fear and trembling) are the
following:

1 Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in


weakness and in fear and in much
trembling
Paul did not come preaching to the

Corinthians with a superior and dominant


aura, but with weakness and with much
fear and tremblingso that focus will be
on Christ alone. Fear and Trembling is
probably used with the meaning of
weakness, inferiority, humility in contrast
to a superior way of speaking.

2 Corinthians 7:15 And his affection


abounds all the more toward you, as he
remembers the obedience of you all,
how you received him with fear and
trembling
Paul is telling the Corinthians how Titus

was blessed when he saw their submission


to him and to Pauls instructions written in
the letter that he brought. Fear and
Trembling, here probably pertains to the
intensive or complete submission and
repentance that the Corinthians displayed
before Titus.

Ephesians 6:5 Slaves be obedient to


those who are your masters according
to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in
the sincerity of your heart, as to
Christ;
Slaves are to be submissive to their human

masters with sincerity as if they are doing


it to the Lord himself. Again, the meaning
of fear and trembling is sincere, intensive,
and complete submission.

Philippians 2:12-13
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; for it is God who is at work in
you, both to will and to work for His good
pleasure
Among the passages that used
, what is the usage that fits the
context of Philippians 2:12?

4. Study the context of the word


(see previous slide on context of
Philippians 2:12)
5. Choose the meaning that best fits the
context.

The meaning of in 1
Corinthians 2:3 weakness and
inferiority does not seem to fit
Philippians 2:12-13.

Probably the meaning of


in 2 Corinthians 7:15 and
Ephesians 6:5 is closest to the context
of Philippians 2:12-13.

The meaning of obedience or


sincere obedience as fear and
trembling is probably the most
sensible choice.

6. Interpret the passage using


the results of the word study

Paul wants the Philippians to work out


unity in sincere obedience (fear and
trembling ) to God.
This is because God will personally be
in their midst to help them will and
work out this unity.

Example:
Bible Verse used to support Same-Sex Marriage:
Genesis 2:24
Ruth 1:14
Cleave = Dabaq
Because both verses uses the Hebrew word,
Dabaq, does that mean that cleaving between
woman to woman and man to man correct?

Harris Theological
Workbook
dbaq also carries the sense of clinging to
someone in affection and loyalty. For example:
Man is to cleave to his wife (Gen 2:24).
Ruth clave to Naomi (Ruth 1:14).
The men of Judah clave to David their king
during Sheba's rebellion (2Sam 20:2).
Shechem loved Dinah and clave to her (Gen
34:3) and
Solomon clave in love to his wives (1Kings
11:2).

IMPORTANT
Determine the meaning of the word in
context of the passage.