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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