The exegsis will be provided from the hand and mind of John Eadie. I rely on the heavenly gifted and heavenly minded minds of such men. However I should make the reader aware that this is an very technical quote from Eadie. However, I will bold the portions that are less technical and more pastoral for the average reader. I do wish to point out a pertinent section where Eadie points out faulty understanding of working out to be in terms of only more fully realizing the that salvation is fully perfected in Christ (although it is true but not the point of this particular passage). Here is the place where I wish to draw attention- “He does not say He died for sin, or died for us. His reference is to the spirit of His death, and not to its character and results. It is true that His exaltation proved His mission divine, and His mediation effectual. But the apostle does not allude to this, nor does he in this paragraph in any way connect the glory of Jesus with a completed redemption. If he had said—He has died and risen again to save you, the connection could easily be—therefore salvation is perfect, and you are summoned either to receive it, or more fully to realize it. But it is simply of the fact that Christ denied Himself to benefit others that the apostle writes, and the Philippians are to do service to others, and thus evince that the same mind is truly in them which was also in Christ Jesus.”*
Here is the whole context and exegesis of Philippians 2:12-13:
(Ver. 12.) Ὥατε, ἀγαπητοί μου. The particle ὥστε introduces an inferential lesson. 1 Cor. 3:21, 4:5, 10:12; 1 Thess. 4:18, etc. Followed thus by the imperative, this particle which is so often followed by the infinitive, has the sense of itaque—ὡσ-τε. Tittmann, ii. 6; Winer, § 41, 5, 1; Klotz, Devarius, ii. p. 776. It does not reach back in its sweep to all the preceding statements. We cannot, with Wiesinger, give this as its ground—“Christ has attained to His glory only by the path of self-denial,—Wherefore.” We take in the whole picture from the 6th to the 11th verse—“wherefore,” or since such were Christ’s spirit and career, such His self-denial and reward, since such an example is set before you, you are bound by your very profession to “work out.” If He has set it, shall you hesitate to follow it? Will it not endear itself to your imitation as you look upon it—ἀφορῶντες τὸ παράδενγμα? The heart of the apostle warms towards them, his soul is bound up in them, and he calls them “my beloved,” adding a prefatory note—
καθὼς πάντοτε ὑπηκούσατε, μὴ ὡς ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ μου μόνον, ἀλλὰ νῦν πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἐν τῇ ἀπουσίᾳ μου—κατεργάζεσθε. The apostle appeals to their uniform obedience rendered in one sense to himself, but primarily to God, having the same object as ὑπήκοος applied to Christ in verse 8. There should be a comma after ὑπηκούσατε, for the next words belong to the concluding clauses, as the use of μή—νῦν seems to indicate. The construction of the verse is peculiar from its very compactness. Two comparisons are inwoven—my presence, my absence—or “not in my presence only, but much more in my absence;” and “as ye have always obeyed,” “so now carry out your salvation.” The fervid heart of the apostle was not fettered by the minutiæ of formal rhetoric; parallel thoughts are intertwined, and ideas that should follow in succession are blended in the familiar haste of epistolary composition. Παρουσία, in contrast with ἀπουσία, is not a future presence, as Wiesinger renders it. 2 Cor. 10:10. It is, indeed, applied especially to a future advent of Christ, a presence not now, but afterwards, to be enjoyed. The apostle uses in this epistle the words παρουσία πάλιν, 1:26. The adverb ὡς does not simply denote comparison, but it indicates a supposed or imagined quality which the apostle, indeed, warns against, and will not believe to exist. Rom. 9:32; 2 Cor. 2:17; Gal. 3:16. The claim of the injunction did not cease with his presence. His absence did not make the obligation less imperative, but it demanded more earnestness and vigilance from them in the discharge of the duty. His voice and person were a guide and stimulant, his addresses and conversations reproved their languor, and excited them to assiduous labour, so that His presence among them wrought like a charm. And now that he was not with them, and they were left to themselves, they were so much the more to double their diligence, and work out salvation. This was to be done μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου—“with fear and trembling.”—See under Eph. 6:5, where the phrase has been explained. 1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 7:15; Ps. 2:11. The phrase means something more than Jerome’s non cum negligentia. It restricts the feeling described too much to one aspect of it, to suppose it to be awe before an omnipresent God, as do the Greek expositors; or a sense of dependence on God, as does De Wette; or the apprehension that the work is not performed sufficiently, as do Meyer and Wiesinger. In fact, the phrase describes that state of mind which ought ever to characterize believers—distrust of themselves—earnest solicitude in every duty—humble reliance on divine aid, with the abiding consciousness that after all they do come far short of meeting obligation. There does not seem to be any reference, as some suppose, to the spirit of Christ’s δουλεία, but there may be a warning against that pride and vainglory already reprobated by the apostle. In this spirit they are enjoined—
τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζεσθε—“carry out your own salvation.” The compound verb here expresses the idea of carrying out, or making perfect. Fritzsche on Rom. 2:9; also Raphelius, vol. ii. p. 495. This sounder philology opposes the explanation of Chrysostom—οὐκ εἵπεν ἐργάζεσθε, ἀλλὰ κατεργάζεσθε, τουτέστι μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς σπουδῆς, μετὰ πολλῆς της ἐπιμελείας. The verb describes not the spirit in which the work is done, but the aim and issue—“carry through;” while the idea of the Greek Father is only inferential. In the translation—“work out one another’s salvation”—which is that of Pierce, Michaelis, Storr, Flatt, and Matthies, we should at once concur, but for a reason to be immediately stated. The reciprocal meaning given to ἑαυτῶν may be found in Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:16; 1 Pet. 4:8, 10. The context, as van Hengel admits, is in favour of the latter translation which we have given. De Wette contends that the reference in the verse is quite general—an idea which the inferential particle ὥστε does not sanction; and he carries the reference back to 1:27, without any warrant whatever. Rheinwald, Rilliet, and others, uphold the idea that the verse is an inference from the preceding exhibition of Christ’s example. We think that this cannot be doubted, so close and inseparable is the connection. But what is that example intended to illustrate? Might we not say the injunction—“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” If the career of our Lord be introduced to show us what mind was in Him, surely the lesson deduced will be in unison. If he bid them have the mind of Christ, and then go on to show what it is, surely his inference must be that they should, in their own sphere, exhibit the same mind. Now the great truth which the exhibition of Christ’s example illustrates is self-denying generosity—the very charge He has already given them, and the inference is expected to be in harmony with the starting lesson. The command—τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζεσθε—will therefore be synonymous in spirit with the previous one in verses 4, 5. In this way the ὥστε would connect homogeneous ideas. If the words be rendered, “work out your own salvation,” we do not see how it can with the same force be derived as a lesson. The connection brought out by Alford is—“considering the immense sacrifice which Christ has made for you, and the lofty eminence to which God has now raised Him, be ye more than ever earnest, that you miss not your own share in such salvation.” But there is no hint of this connection in the preceding verses: for, in referring to Christ, the apostle does not speak of Him as a Saviour, nor yet of the salvation which He has secured. He does not say He died for sin, or died for us. His reference is to the spirit of His death, and not to its character and results. It is true that His exaltation proved His mission divine, and His mediation effectual. But the apostle does not allude to this, nor does he in this paragraph in any way connect the glory of Jesus with a completed redemption. If he had said—He has died and risen again to save you, the connection could easily be—therefore salvation is perfect, and you are summoned either to receive it, or more fully to realize it. But it is simply of the fact that Christ denied Himself to benefit others that the apostle writes, and the Philippians are to do service to others, and thus evince that the same mind is truly in them which was also in Christ Jesus. Nay more, the connection usually brought out seems also to have this peculiarity, that it seems to make the apostle begin the paragraph with one injunction, and end it by enforcing its opposite. He commences formally—“Look not every man on his own things;” and he ends by saying virtually—“Look every man on his own things—work out your own salvation.” Is he to be understood as either modifying or withdrawing his first injunction, an injunction commended by the example of Christ Jesus.
The only difficulty in the way of this view is philological. The pronoun ἑαυτῶν is used in verse 4th, to signify one’s own things; and in verse 21st it is used with the same meaning, and how should the same word in the intervening verse 12th be used with precisely an opposite signification? We feel the difficulty to be insuperable, while the leading of the context is so decided. And perhaps this may be the idea—carry forward your own salvation with fear and trembling, for with such a work in progress, and such emotions within you, you will possess the mind of Christ; for he who thus carries out his own salvation will sympathize with the toils and labours of others, and look not alone at his own things. Their own salvation being secured and carried out, they would not be so selfish as to be wholly occupied with it, so unlike Him who made Himself of no reputation, as to creep up to heaven in selfish solitude. For the law of the kingdom is, that he who stoops the lowest shall rise the highest—Christ the first, and each after Him in order. This loving and lowly spirit God rejoices in—it is the heart of His Son, and the genius of His gospel. How this duty is to be discharged, the apostle does not say, but he adverts to its spirit—“in fear and trembling.”
(Ver. 13.) Ὁ Θεὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ἐνεργῶν ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ τὸ θέλειν καὶ τὸ ἐνεργεῖν, ὑπὲρ τῆς εὐδοκίας—“For God it is who worketh in you both to will and to work, in consequence of His own good pleasure.” The article of the Received Text before Θεός is omitted in A, B, C, D1, F, G, and K. Its absence fixes attention upon Divinity, as in contrast to that humanity in which He wills and works. The γάρ indicates the connection, not by assigning a reason in the strict sense of the term, but by introducing an explanatory statement:—Engage in this duty; the inducement and the ability to engage in it are inducement and ability alike from God. It is too much to infer that the Philippians were despondent, and that this verse is to be regarded as an encouragement. But that they needed excitement to duty is plain, however, from the statement—“and how much more in my absence”—though certainly Bengel’s filling up is far-fetched—Dcus prœsens vobis, etiam absente me. It is as if he had said—“Work out with fear and trembling, for God it is that worketh in you. Engage in the duty, for God prompts and enables you; engage in it with fear and trembling—emotions which the nature of the work and such a consciousness of the Divine presence and co-operation ought always to produce.” If the impulse sprang from themselves, and drew around it the ability to obey, there might be “strife and vainglory;” but surely if the motive and the strength came alike from God, then only in reliance on Him, and with special humility and self-subduing timidity, could they proceed, in reference to their own salvation, or in offering one another spiritual service.
The position of Θεός shows the emphasis placed upon it by the apostle. God it is who worketh in you—alluding to the inner operation of Divine grace—for ἐν ὑμῖν is not among you. There is special force in the form ἐστιν ὁ ἐνεργῶν. Winer, § 45, 5, note; Fritzsche, ad Roman. vol. ii. p. 212. And the result is twofold—καὶ τὸ θέλειν καὶ τὸ ἐνεργεῖν—“both to will and to work,” first and naturally volition, and then action. Rom. 7:18. The double καί is emphatic. Winer, § 53, 4. The apostle uses ἐνεργεῖν both of cause and effect—ἐνεργῶν—ἐνεργεῖν—whereas the verb denoting the ultimate form of action was κατεργάζεσθε. The difference is very apparent. The latter term, the one employed by the apostle in the exhortation of verse 12th, represents the full and final bringing of an enterprise to a successful issue; whereas ἐνεργεῖν describes action rather in reference to vital power or ability, than form or result. The will and the work are alike from God, or from the operation of His grace and Spirit; not the work without the will—an effect without its cause; not the will without the work—an idle and effortless volition.
The concluding words—ὑπὲρ τῆς εὐδοκίας—have given rise to a good deal of discussion. The phrase has no pronoun, and what then is its reference? The Syriac renders ܡܕܶܡ ܕܨܳܒܷܐ ܐܢ̱ܬܘܽܢ—that which you wish. And so Ambrosiaster, followed partly by Erasmus, Grotius, and Michaelis. But εὐδοκία, as is indicated by the article, belongs here to the subject of the verb. The preposition ὑπέρ is not “according to,” as it is rendered by Luther and Cameron, nor pro, as Beza and Bengel write it. It signifies “on account of.” John 11:4; Acts 5:41; Rom. 15:8; Winer, § 47, 1, (3). It is not very different in result from διʼ εὐδοκίαν—1:15—though the mode of representation somewhat varies—the ὑπέρ giving a reason, not in a logical, but rather in an ethical aspect. See under Eph. 1:5. The noun itself is defined by Suidas—τὸ ἀγαθὸν θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ. Suicer, 1:1241. Œcumenius gives the true meaning in his paraphrase—ὑπὲρ τοῦ πληρωθῆναι εἰς ὑμᾶς τὴν εὐδοκίαν καὶ τὴν βουλὴν αὐτοῦ. It is in consequence of, or to follow out His own good pleasure, that He works in believers both to will and to work. He is not an absolute or necessary, but a voluntary or spontaneous cause. He does it because He freely wills it, or because it seems good to Him. His efficacious grace is at His own sovereign disposal. Conybeare joins ὑπὲρ τῆς εὐδοκίας to the following verse, but the connection is neither natural nor warranted.
The sentiments of the preceding verses have been adduced as objections both to Pelagianism and Calvinism. Augustine made good use of them in his day, in defence of the doctrine of divine grace, and in overthrow of that meagre system which is based at once on shallow conceptions of man’s nature, and superficial expositions of Scripture, and which, in denuding the gospel of its mysteries, robs it of its reality and profound adaptations. In later times, commentators on this passage have attacked with it what is usually called Calvinism. “The Calvinistic writers,” says Bloomfield in his Recensio Synoptica, “are exceedingly embarrassed with it;” and after reprehending Doddridge for a paraphrase of the verses, not a whit worse or weaker than his ordinary dilutions, he adds, “When we see so sensible a writer, and so good a man, acting so disingenuous a part, we cannot but perceive the weakness of the system of doctrines he adopts, which drives him to such unwarrantable measures.” Now, if we understand Calvinism at all, these two verses express very definitely its spirit, belief, and practice. Divested of technical points, it is this—profound and unquestioning trust in God, united to the utmost spiritual activity and necessarily leading to it—acting because acted upon, as the apostle here describes. The terms employed by him exclude a vast amount of questions often raised upon the verses—as the injunction is addressed, not to the unbelieving and unregenerate, but “to saints in Christ Jesus,” to those who not only believed in Christ, but had suffered for Him. The allusion is not to man’s laying hold of salvation, or to his first reception of it, and the necessity of gratia prœveniens, and therefore queries as to free-will and grace—their existence or antagonism—are away from the point. The apostle writes to persons who have received salvation, and he bids them carry it out. And who doubts that man’s highest energies are called out in the work—that every faculty and feeling is thrown into earnest operation? What self-denial and vigilance—what wrestling with the Angel of the Covenant—what study of the Lord’s example—what busy and humble obedience—what struggles with temptation—what putting forth of all that is within us—what fervent improvement of all the means of grace—industry as eager and resolute as if no grace had been promised, but as if all depended on itself! The believer’s own conscious and continuous effort in the work of his sanctification, is a very prominent doctrine of Scripture, and the apostle often describes his own unrelaxing diligence. On the other hand, the doctrine of divine influence is caricatured by any such hypothesis as is implied in the phrase—homo convertitur nolens—or, when even under its “Dordracene” representation, it is styled, as by Ellicott, “all but compelling grace.” For in no sense can faith be forced; and the freest act of the human spirit is the surrender of itself under God’s grace to Himself. The rational nature is not violated, the mental mechanism is never shattered or dislocated, and the freedom essential to responsibility is not for a moment disturbed or suppressed. Though God work and work effectually in us “to will,” our will is not passively bent and broken, but it wills as God wills it; and though God work and work effectually in us “to do,” our doing is not a course of action to which we are helplessly driven; but we do, because we have resolved so to do, and because both resolve and action are prompted and shaped by His power that worketh in us—agimur ut agamus. This carrying out of our salvation is a willing action; but the will and the acts, though both of man and by him as agent, are not in their origin from him—the vis from which they spring being non nativa sed dativa. Lazarus came forth from the tomb by his own act, but his life had been already restored by Him in whom is life. The Hebrews walked every weary foot of the distance between Egypt and Canaan, yet to God is justly ascribed their exodus from the one country and their possession of the other. As man’s activities are prompted and developed by Him who works in us both to will and to do, so is it that so many calls and commands are issued, urging him to be laborious and indefatigable; for still he is dealt with as a creature that acts from motive, is deterred by warning, swayed by argument, and bound to obey divine precept. And what an inducement to work out our salvation—God Himself working in us—volition and action prompted and sustained by Him who “knoweth our frame.” It is wrong to say with Chrysostom—“If thou wilt, in that case, He will work in thee to will.” For the existence of such a previous will would imply that God had wrought already. The exposition of Pelagius was, that as there are three things in man, posse, velle, agere, and that as the first is from God, and the other two from ourselves, so the apostle here puts the effect for the cause—Deus operatur velle, id est, posse, quia dat mihi potentiam ut possim velle. Lex et doctrina are with him equivalent to, or are the explanation of, gratia divina. But law and revelation only tell what is to be done, and as Augustine says, qua gratia agitur, non solum ut facienda noverimus, verum etiam ut cognita faciamus.—Opera, vol. x. p. 538, ed. Paris, 1838. The command, “work out your own salvation,” is certainly not in itself opposed to what Ellicott calls the “Dordracene doctrine of irrevocable election;” for the divine purpose does not reduce man to a machine, but works itself out by means in perfect harmony with the freedom and responsibility of his moral nature; so that every action has a motive and character. Were this the place, one might raise other inferential questions—whether this divine operation in the saints can be finally resisted, and whether it may be finally withdrawn? or, in another aspect, whether a man whom God has justified can be at last condemned? or whether the divine life implanted by the Spirit of God may or can die out? But the discussion of such questions belongs not to our province, nor would the mere language of these verses warrant its introduction.”*
*Eadie, J. (1884). A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians. (W. Young, Ed.) (Second Edition., pp. 130–131). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
Eadie, J. (1884). A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians. (W. Young, Ed.) (Second Edition., pp. 127–136). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.