Philippians 2:12-18 discusses what it means to be a proactive disciple of Jesus Christ, what motivates disciples, and the key to faithful discipleship.
Philippians 2:12-18 Encourages Pro-Active Discipleship
Discipleship requires balance. Because on one side it invites God’s Spirit to work within you. And letting him transform you from the inside out. However, on the other, it’s engaging in spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible Study. And striving to apply God’s truth to your life. But leaning too much either way causes trouble.
REFLECT AND RECORD
Describe the discipleship balance in your spiritual life. What does out of balance look like? What does a healthy balance look like? How balanced are you at the moment?
V. 12 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
At the start of chapter one in Philippians, Paul calls his audience “saints.” Which means they have all responded to the Gospel and are followers of Jesus. And in many of his other writings, Paul teaches that salvation is by grace. It is not earned or deserved. Is he saying something different here?
No. The Greek word for “work out” is katergázomai and means to overcome, work at, prepare and equip. So Paul’s not saying work FOR your salvation. He’s telling the Philippians not to put their spiritual life on cruise control. Sit back, let the Holy Spirit guide you, and enjoy the ride. But that disciples should actively participate in their own spiritual growth.
Philippians 2:12-18 Discusses The Motivation That Promotes Discipleship
V. 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Even though discipleship involves a personal effort on your part, it shouldn’t be a drudgery. A list of religious duties you perform or else you feel guilty you’re not a “good Christian.” It’s focusing your activities on things that please God because you want to. Like a child doing things to please his parents. Or you wanting to please a spouse or other loved one.
Jesus did this too. In Matthew 3:17, following Jesus’ baptism, God spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
And the Greek word for “well pleased” is eudokéō–the same one used here for “good pleasure.” Did Jesus need to be baptized? No. Because he was without sin. But he did so as an act of obedience. In order to please his Heavenly father. It is this desire that should motivate Christ-followers today.
If following Jesus feels like a burden to you, perhaps you should ask yourself why?
Philippians 2:12-18 Reveals The Key To Faithful Discipleship
V. 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain
The Greek for “word” is lŏgŏs and generally indicates something said. In Jewish thought the sayings of God were of great importance. And in John 1:1, lŏgŏs is used to describe Jesus Christ as the living Word of God. Which represents the entire theme in the Gospel of John.
And while we absolutely should cling to Jesus as disciples, the context in this passage suggests Paul means the word relating to the truth of the gospel, rather than specifically Jesus. In other words, hold on to the words of the gospel as your source of truth and spiritual nourishment.
This encouragement is especially true for disciples of Jesus today. We are bombarded with competing voices, messages, and talking points from all directions. How do we identify what is false? By knowing and holding on to God’s truth revealed in scripture.
This is how you stay the course and run the race to the glory of God.