Philippians 2:12-18

Philippians 2:12-18

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.


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.

Join me next week in a study of Philippians 2:19-24.

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About Chip Tudor:

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

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A Christian disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. Someone who embraces His teachings and imitates His life.

But what does that actually look like in today’s world?

Although not a complete list, here are five distinctions in a Christian disciple of Jesus.

A Christian Disciple Pursues a Growing Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ

Discipleship is not static. Accept Jesus Christ as Savior and join the heavenly “in” crowd. Rather, it’s growing and dynamic. And actively pursues an ongoing, deepening relationship with Christ.

A disciple’s life visibly displays the presence of Jesus. 

Although they aren’t perfect and still fail sinfully at times. But they press forward through repentance on a spiritual journey of transformation. 

They favor relationships over religious practices. And in those relationships, the fruit of God’s Spirit is evident in their lives.

A Christian Disciple is Devoted to Prayer and Studying God’s Word Personally and in Community

A disciple desires to know God, understand His word and enjoys hanging out with His people.

They invest time in prayer, studying God’s Word and building mutually accountable, supportive relationships with other Christ followers. Not have to. Want to.

As a result, disciples grow in personal convictions that govern a Godly life more than religious rules.

A Christian Disciple Regularly Worships with Other Followers of Jesus Christ

Disciples approach worship as a delight, not a duty. A family celebration as children of God.

Because through worship, disciples are spiritually energized as they express praise to God as a community of faith.

For in Christ, disciples find their true identity, purpose and meaning. They acknowledge their human weakness, dependence on God and one another.

And in so doing, form a resilient network through the power of God’s Spirit and a vibrant community of faith.

A Christian Disciple Embraces a Lifestyle of Serving

Jesus personally demonstrated to his disciples what it means to serve by washing their feet during the last supper. And then offered His life as the ultimate sacrifice.

His words and example were consistent. His expectations clear. Jesus calls disciples to serve others. Both individually and corporately as Christ-followers.

Therefore, disciples serve willingly, joyfully and indiscriminately. Without expecting gratitude. As an expression of their love for Christ. Knowing that to serve others is to serve Jesus.

A Christian Disciple Engages in Making Other Disciples

It was Jesus’ last instruction to his disciples—Go and make disciples. In other words, disciples are to engage others in following Jesus. In discipleship.

It’s not an option. It’s a divine mission.

Therefore, disciples make their faith public rather than private. They use their abilities and influence to advance God’s Kingdom.

And they understand that discipleship is a process. Often messy, with everyone on a different journey.

But they invite all to join. And speak into their lives through prayer, encouragement, insights from scripture and personal stories.

Since Christian disciples follow Biblical teachings, they live contrary to modern culture. And yet, paradoxically, by refreshing others, they in turn, are refreshed.


Chip Tudor is a freelance copywriter, published author, playwright and pastor. He publishes drama at, books on, and articles on his blog.

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