The word “therefore” in verse 12 bids the readers bear in mind the argument already presented in the description
of the example of humility in Jesus Christ.
2:12–13 Working out your salvation
To work out your own salvation does not mean striving to earn salvation, for that is
the gift of God. Rather it means to endure to the end through difficulties. It also means healing the divisions
in the church, for while there is a definite personal salvation there is a sense in which the whole church is being saved.
Internal rivalries and divisions deny and hinder this corporate activity of God. The Philippians are to endure and work
for harmony as people who reverence God, who recognize in him holy love and purity. This very God is the one who is
at work in and through them.
2:14–18 Shining in a dark world
Those who have been forgiven and reconciled to God through Christ are the adopted children of God (cf. Romans 8:12–16).
This new privilege and status requires that Christians live in such a manner that they are seen to be God’s children.
They live in a world which is alienated from God, a society organized and ordered in hostility to God’s law and
love. This means there is moral and spiritual darkness, and so the children of God, in whom there is the light of the
gospel, are to shine as lights. Jesus himself described the disciples of the kingdom as the light of the world (Matthew
Verse 16: The “word of life” is the good news of God’s love for men in Jesus Christ and his gift
of eternal life to repentant believers. The “day of Christ” is the time of the second coming of Christ when
all will confess to God’s glory that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Verse 17: The libation was an offering to God made in liquid form – e.g. wine, the fruit of the vine. Thus
it was poured over the altar. Paul was willing to offer his life as a libation to God. He was ready for the sake
of all Christians who were committed to the Lord to add to their sacrificial living (Romans 12:1–2) his own sacrifice,
a libation, a pouring out of his life as a martyr of Christ.
Verse 18: To be able to serve Christ the Lord in the difficulties of life, or
in the act of martyrdom, is a cause not for sadness but for joy. This is the message of Christ himself in the sermon
on the mount – see Matthew 5:11–12.
1. What can we do now to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?
2. When there is so much enlightened humanitarian concern in western society, how accurate is it to call this world
3. What does it mean to be the light of the world today? What should be the main features of Christian living
and witness today which function as light in the moral and spiritual darkness?
4. What does it mean to rejoice as a Christian?