A Discussion Regarding Philippians 2:12
Part 1

Click or Tap Icons to Share! Thank you!
Copyright 1994 - 2022 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
May 28, 2022

Last Updated :
May 28, 2022


Be Spirit-Led In Understanding The Scriptures, Our Promised Teacher Is The Holy Spirit, Widespread Belief In A Doctrine Doesn't Make It True, Bereans Validated Paul's Teachings By Searching The Scriptures, Test All Doctrines Against God's Word, Divine Inspiration Of God's Word, Genesis: Satan Has Twisted And Perverted God's Word Since The Very Beginning, Apostles Engaged In Continual War Against False Doctrines And False Brethren, Philippians 2:12, Novices And Spiritual Babes, Jesus Withheld Difficult Things From The Apostles, Jesus Rebukes Peter, Some Things Are Not Meant For Babes In Christ, Babes Should Not Be Teaching Meatier Matters Which They Do Not Properly Understand, A Lot Of Misinterpretation And Deception On The Social Networks, Wresting The Scriptures To Their Own Destruction, Apostle Paul Believed In Salvation By Grace Alone Through Faith In Jesus Christ, We Are Sinners And Have No Righteousness Of Our Own, Works Cannot Save Us, Justified And Made Righteous Through Christ Alone, We Cannot Be Double-Minded When It Comes To The Issue Of Our Salvation, Salvation Through Our Own Works Is A Doctrine Of Devils, Any Seeming Contradiction In God's Word Results From Our Own Lack Of Proper Understanding, God Is Not The Author Of Confusion




If there is one important lesson which I have emphasized over and over again since I first began my online writing ministry so many years ago, it is that when it comes to the study of God's Word, we must not rely solely upon our own human wisdom and understanding in order to grasp its true meaning; because if we do, it's quite possible that we'll eventually fall into doctrinal error. Worse yet, we could even begin propagating those same doctrinal errors to other folks who are within our circle. Rather, we must ask God for His Wisdom, and be led by His Spirit in our understanding of His precious Word. In fact, if we delve into the Scriptures, we discover that this is one of the big reasons why the Holy Spirit was given to people in the first place. Consider the following group of verses:

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, HE SHALL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
John 14:26, KJV


"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
John 16:13, KJV


"For as many as are LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, they are the sons of God."
Romans 8:14, KJV


"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV


"If any of you lack wisdom, LET HIM ASK OF GOD, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
James 1:5, KJV


"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
Luke 11:13, KJV


"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
Psalm 119:18, KJV


You need to understand that just because a certain pastor or minister is teaching a particular doctrine, or just because an entire church or denomination believes a certain doctrine, does NOT necessarily make it true. That teaching could STILL be a doctrine of devils which does NOT align with the Word of God. So, as I have pointed out on many previous occasions, it is imperative that we look directly to God's Word in order to determine whether or not what we are being told or taught is indeed true, and validated by the Scriptures. As you may know, this is precisely what the wise people of Berea did when the Apostle Paul and Silas came preaching the Gospel to them in the Book of Acts, as we see by the following two verses:

"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:10-11, KJV


Think about that for a moment. As sadly occurs many times in our modern day to our own spiritual detriment, the people of Berea could have simply adopted a lackadaisical attitude and said to themselves, "Oh, this is the great Apostle Paul. He knows what he is talking about." But they did not do that, did they? Instead, they conferred with the Scriptures. They wanted to make certain that what Paul and Silas were telling them was Scripturally sound. Oh that more people today would do the very same thing, instead of being deceived by wolves in sheep's clothing! To reiterate, we must diligently study God's Word and search the Scriptures, and we must test, try or prove what we are being taught, to make certain that it is firmly based upon Biblical truth. Consider the following set of verses which likewise confirm this important point:

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV


"Prove [test, examine] all things; hold fast that which is good."
1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV


"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
John 5:39, KJV


"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1, KJV


Now, some foolish people who lack the Spirit of God may come to question my position, and ask why we should even do this. Why test against the Scriptures? Well, the answer is quite simple. Because the Scriptures are Divinely Inspired, as we can determine by these two verses:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
2 Timothy 3:16, KJV


"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
2 Peter 1:21, KJV


As I said a moment ago, it is because many modern Christians fail to do this, because they don't take the time to really examine what they are being taught by their church, minister or pastor, that they have fallen into some serious doctrinal errors, some of which I discuss in other Bill's Bible Basics articles. Of course, this is nothing new. The Devil has been doing all he can to pervert and corrupt God's Word since the very beginning in the Garden of Eden when he said "Hath God said," as we see by this well-known verse:

"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"
Genesis 3:1, KJV


As I have likewise discussed before, it was the same thing during the First Century. There is clear Scriptural evidence which indicates that the Apostles engaged in a continual war against the false doctrines and false brethren which crept into the Early Church, as we can easily determine by this group of verses:

"Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."
Matthew 16:12, KJV


"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:"
Ephesians 4:14-15, KJV


"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein."
Hebrews 13:9, KJV


"As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do."
1 Timothy 1:3-4, KJV


"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;"
1 Timothy 4:1-2, KJV


"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
1 Timothy 6:3-5, KJV


"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV


"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him . . . For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15, KJV


"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Galatians 1:6-9, KJV


"And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:"
Galatians 2:4, KJV


"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
Philippians 3:2, KJV


"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
Acts 20:28-30, KJV


"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
Romans 16:17, KJV


"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself."
Titus 3:9-11, KJV


"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
2 Peter 2:1-2, KJV


"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
1 John 2:18-19, KJV


"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
2 John 1:9-11, KJV


Having now established a clear Scriptural baseline for this article, let us get to the meat of the matter. There is a verse which has caused a considerable amount of trouble for some Christians. It is not that there is anything wrong with the verse itself. Rather, it is in the way that some people have chosen interpret it. That verse is the following:

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Philippians 2:12, KJV


Taken by itself, this verse from the Apostle Paul's Epistle to the brethren at Philippi can be dangerous in the hands of novices. That is to say, in the hands of babes in Christ who are not skilled with the Word of God. Again, this problem is evident in the writings of the Apostles, as we can see by the following set of verses:

"I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able."
1 Corinthians 3:2, KJV


"Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
Hebrews 5:11-14, KJV


"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:"
1 Peter 2:2, KJV


"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:16, KJV


In fact, there were some things which even Jesus purposely withheld from His followers, because He realized that they were not yet spiritually mature enough, and ready enough, to understand them, and much less to accept them. That is why on one occasion He said the following to them:

"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."
John 16:12, KJV


A good example of this is when Jesus and the Apostles were near Caesarea Philippi. As you may recall, it was at that time that Jesus began to inform His followers -- to their shock -- that they would go to Jerusalem, where He would be crucified. Of course, as we know from the following group of verses, the Apostle Peter was really taken back by this sad announcement. Thus, he protested strongly to the Lord, only to be rebuked by the same, as we see here:

"From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Matthew 16:21-23, KJV


As you can see, some things are simply not meant for babes in Christ. Not only can they not handle them sometimes, but there are occasions when they aren't even spiritually mature enough to properly understand them. And, of course, if they do not even properly understand such things themselves, then they most certainly should not be trying to teach them to other people, right? Yet sadly, that is EXACTLY what we see happening today in many instances; particularly in online discussions, such as on the social networks. The level of misinterpretation and deception amongst Christian Believers is astounding, shocking and sad. As I have mentioned before, it seems that everyone wants to be an Apostle or a Prophet.

So why do I say that Philippians 2:12 can be dangerous in the hands of novices? Quite simply, because if one doesn't take the time to compare this verse with other verses of Scripture, he could very easily arrive at the erroneous conclusion that Paul is saying that we must work for our Salvation, and merit it through our own good works. This is what the Apostle Peter is referring to when he states that some unlearned people wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. That word "wrest" is derived from the Koine Greek word "strebloo", which means to twist or to pervert. In other words, certain people intentionally or unintentionally twist or pervert the meaning of certain verses so that they support their particular doctrines.

But is that really what the Apostle Paul is stating in Philippians 2:12? Is he actually saying that we must work for our Salvation, and merit it through our own good works? If your answer is "Yes", well my friend, then you have just outright contradicted what Paul writes in other Epistles where he plainly states that we are NOT saved by our own works; that we are all sinners and have NO righteousness of our own; and that it is by God's Grace alone through faith in the atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we're granted Forgiveness, Remission of our sins, Redemption, Salvation and Eternal Life. Consider the following group of verses which clarify these various points:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV


"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
Titus 3:5, KJV


"And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:"
Philippians 3:9, KJV


"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
Romans 11:6, KJV


"And by him [Jesus] all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."
Acts 13:39, KJV


"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith."
Romans 3:19-27, KJV


"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
Romans 10:4, KJV


"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified . . . I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
Galatians 2:16, 21, KJV


"But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."
Galatians 3:11, KJV


"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."
Galatians 5:4, KJV


"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) . . . That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 5:17, 21, KJV


"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
Romans 7:4, KJV


"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."
Romans 8:10, KJV


So let me ask you something. Does it make any sense to you at all that in Philippians 2:12, the Apostle Paul would say that we must work for our Salvation, and then turn around and say the exact opposite in so many other verses? Is Paul just mixed up? Has he had a revelation and suddenly changed his mind about the issue? Is he just doctrinally confused and doesn't know what he is talking about? Is Paul losing it? Yes, I am purposely being a bit sarcastic. Actually, I don't believe any of that to be true. As the Apostle James wrote:

"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
James 1:8, KJV


So, no, the Apostle Paul is most certainly NOT being double minded. Neither is he confused about anything. Paul knows exactly what he is writing. The problem lies with certain people today who interpret the verse in such a way so that it will seem to support their wayward doctrine of Salvation through works, or else Salvation through a combination of Grace and works. Sadly, this doctrine of devils is really prevalent everywhere, and it is dead wrong. As Paul writes, it is either God's Grace, or works, but not both.

As I mention in my 1998 article entitled "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth", whenever there seems to be any kind of contradiction, it is usually not in the Word of God itself, but rather in our personal understanding of the same. The Lord does not contradict Himself. Neither does He purposely confuse us. In fact, we are specifically told by the Apostle Paul in his discussion concerning the Gift of Tongues, that God is not the author of confusion, as we see here:

"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."
1 Corinthians 14:33, KJV


Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .


Click or Tap Icons to Share! Thank you!

BBB Tools And Services


Please avail yourself of other areas of the Bill's Bible Basics website. There are many treasures for you to discover.