Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Something had already happened in Philippi before 2:12

Philippians 2:12 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; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for [His] good pleasure.

If God hadn't worked in the Philippians before (2:13 says He is at work in them), Paul could be telling them to work out many things, but how could he be telling them to work out their salvation? "Your salvation," that is, "your own salvation" (RV et al), is  την εαυτων σωτηριαν.  Let's recognize the plurals, including  "your (pl) salvation."  "Ye have always obeyed," says the AV/RV/ASV/YLT, which keeps the "ye" form, reflecting the plural address.  So they were being told by Paul to work out their salvation.  All those other translations, plus the RSV/ESV, from our times, shows the emphatically placed εαυτων adjective as present, by translating "your own salvation."  Poetically sounding English, reflecting even more the Greek would say "the you-folks'-own salvation," the salvation that is you-folks' own!

What does this rule out?  Acquisition!  If their salvation is their own, it is not something they are to acquire.  This simple Greek word εαυτων here has a Protestantism built right into it, we could say! ... at least, a Protestantism as it had started, which Trent remonstrated against back in 1546, against which the natural man rails, saying, how dare God presume to give me that great sine qua non, which I cannot say I must do some one good thing to obtain (Mt 19:16), or even possibly many things, to inherit (Mk 10:17; Lk 18:18) and establish (Rm 10:3)? How dare Paul tell them that something, salvation no less, is already their own.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Forest and trees in Philippians 2:12ff.

What if Philippians 2:12-13 weren't there?  What would be lost?

Likely nothing, if the meaning is being shoved into the verses from some other presupposition.  The presupposition would likely show up, as an affliction upon other verses that are called upon to bear it.

If Philippians 2:12-13 were not there, where would there be as sweet an example-from-success, that would help us understand the Christian life as these two verses do, which build upon the success of "just as you have always obeyed..."?

We're not as familiar with success-driven tasks, as problem-driven ones.  Think of the beginning of Romans, the universal indictment from Rm 1:18 through 3:20.  Or 1 Corinthians, "now concerning the things about which you wrote," Paul says in 7:1, namely questions and problems.

Therefore wouldn't it be wrong to put a problem-fixing presupposition onto these two verses here?  "Just as you have always obeyed ..." is not even the greatest positive example in the passage!  Certainly it is this: "it is God who is at work in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure."  This positive is not a "conditional promise."  What condition is Paul making for it?

So, if Paul were writing a "study Bible" version of his letter, what would the section heading be here?  Isn't "it is God who is at work in you" a section-heading-level statement?

For the logician, we can merely ask what the possible implications are, of "it is God who is at work in you."  One of them, Paul says, is "work out your salvation with fear and trembling."  Fear and trembling, as a positive?  Yes!  He is not discussing any kind of "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" besides the kind that is an inference from "it is God who is at work in you," and in light of their past obedience already.


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