1. Robert, I confess, I’m one who has often been troubled with this phrase–not because I think it supplants the free gift idea so clearly taught in Scripture, but because I don’t see how it fits. And I haven’t been won over by the explanations I’ve heard, so I’m eager to see where you’re going.

    Not to mention that you titled it Perseverance and connected it with speculative fiction.

    This run-up to those conclusions is really good in it’s own right. Your explanations and examples are clear. I’ve never been a big fan of Greek exposition, but you made this really interesting.

    Thanks for all the hard work.


  2. I think the Amplified takes all of the above meanings quite nicely. And the following verse helps explain it a bit more, too.
    Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).
    [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
    From this, I thought it meant living the Christian life in God’s strength. Salvation being a calling, not a one-time event.

  3. First, my congratulations to Robert for pioneering two firsts, I’m sure, on Speculative Faith: a) first in-depth Greek word study, b) first use of HTML tables. (Applauds)

    I think I know where Robert might be going with this, so now I look forward to being proven right (or wrong!). Hint: It may have something to do with how the stories we enjoy can become, or should become, fruits of our God’s work/our work holiness.

    As for the verse’s potential controversy, for a while I’ve seen it as a surefire corrective to both potential fatalism (sit back, God does it all!) or the opposite (it’s all up to you).

    Maybe I’m missing something, but the meaning seems clear and non-confusing: God has begun the work of salvation in His people, already in time past finished it in Christ. Now as a result we also work to fulfill what He will already have fulfilled — the perfect combination of God’s predestination and our meaningful choice.

    It may help that for a while I’ve been using a philosophy device popularized by the best time-travel stories: you can’t change history, only choose to go along with it!

    (In best evangelical radio-announcer voice): Here’s Pastor John MacArthur.

  4. This discussion is wonderful. Thank you.

  5. Kessie,
    The Amplified Bible gets as close as I’ve ever seen … thanks for sharing! You’ll see in part two, however, that my take on this is a nuanced, more careful form of just one of those choices the Amplified Bible gives … the others of which I disagree with.  Very interesting!

    Stephen … that’s awesome that John MacArthur has Q&A on specific scriptural questions like that.  However, he gives the standard answer to this verse and makes the assumption that the translation found in our Bibles is the best one.  I like his application, but think he should dig a little deeper. I rarely disagree with him, so that was a surprise, actually. 

    Wait for the part 2! 

    Once you read the verse in the *entire* context of the book of Philippians, it almost hits you over the head … “how could I have thought Paul was talking about Salvation as if it was some ‘thing’ inside of me that needed to be worked out?” Hmmm … anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself!

    Becky … thanks for the encouragement … I wasn’t sure if I should have submitted an article like this, but thought if I approached it carefully I could keep it interesting.  It even  helps us understand some English words a bit better!

    And Lelia … thanks for stopping by!

  6. […] in Part 1: So what does Philippians 2:12-13 have to say about perseverance?  And how does that fit in with […]

What do you think?