Work out your salvation with "fear and trembling"


What do you guys think this means?
Phil 2:12


I’m more familiar with "work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

In my opinion it means we have free will.

In my opinion, it means once saved not necessarily always saved.



The whole passage:


I see it as a refutation of OSAS - but I knew that’s what you were looking for.


Really I am trying to see what you guys think the specific words…
FEAR AND TREMBLING mean, in this or any time they are used in the bible.

Should you be scared and shaking that you’ll end up in hell?
How does it make you feel?


I used to be an Evangelical fundamentalist and believed the once saved always saved doctrine but in time I realized it just was not what Jesus taught. Jesus taught that endurance is necessary for salvation Mt 10:22, 24:13 and a number of other truths are also necessary. If the once saved always saved doctrine was what Jesus taught then where are the Christian writings pre-reformation post Apostolic period who taught it?


Feel? We don’t just follow our feelings, we follow truth, right?
What is of disagreement isn’t fear and trembling so much as “work out your salvation” that’s the phrase we point to in Phil 2:12.


Okay what do you make of the part
"work out your salvation" what did Paul mean by “work out”



I think Paul is stressing how important it is that we take seriously what is required on our part if we are to be saved - a part so critical that if we are failing to do it, we ought to be trembling in fear of losing our salvation. The chapter describes what we need to do.

What do you think it means.



To me it speaks of developed conscience.

To know God is to love God. To love God is to hate sin.

I read Butler’s Lives of the Saints before joining the Church, and what struck me was how many of these absolute moral paragons wrestled with sins I personally found to be so minor as to be inconsequential.

They were not wrong—I was. If I were a better man, my conscience would already be sensitive enough to see sin the way they did, and to repent, fearful and trembling, not because God is not merciful, but because we are so sinful.

Thus I think this passage is a good bellwhether of the development of your own conscience. I can only glimpse it obliquely, because I am not yet good enough to feel it in my bones the way the apostles did.


It doesn’t say working on achieving salvation, it states working out…
unwrapping, mining. You’ve been given a silver mine, now start digging it out,


Here is a verse that gives us a clue of the fear and trembling part…
I’d say squished down it sounds like “incredibly intense awe” a shaking awesomeness.

2 Corinthians 7:14-16 In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. 15And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. 16I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.

So for now I’ll give you this…The Lord of my life gave me salvation by putting my trust in HIM, I should with great awe and excitement unwrap it more or frantically dig out the treasure that is already given in the GREATEST gift of love by JESUS CHRIST.


I’m not a scripture scholar like many here. But here’s what this means to me.

As I get older, and older, and…I realize more and more the meaning of sin, contrition, and perfect contrition. I also realize that someday I will stand before God in judgment - the almighty, all-powerful, all-loving, all-beautiful, infinitely just God. And whatever I’m expecting this to be like, I’m sure that the reality of seeing God is beyond anything I can anticipate or imagine. This I fear.

I expect to see all my sins, and the havoc they wreaked not just on myself but on others, and then the domino effect they had to cause pain and suffering on even more people. I expect to see my soul as God sees it - and the shame will be unbearable, especially with the all-good God standing before me to compare it to. I fear seeing the effect of my sins, and the state of my soul.

So I fear death. Because I realize that no matter how much time God gives me on this earth, there is nothing that I can do to make myself totally right with God. I will try to love God, to follow his commandments, and to “lift up my heart” to the Lord such that he can conform it to his will. But I’m a stubborn, stiff-necked, hard hearted SOB. Sins of omission, especially. I can always do more, but usually don’t.

Given so many opportunities to practice being “in the image and likeness of God”, I often turn the other way. God, of course, knows this. I fear that God will ask me why I didn’t do more, and I won’t have a good answer. I will tremble before God’s infinite goodness, and fear that I have not met God’s expectations for me.


It means that we are not to assume that we KNOW for sure what will happen to us just because we are followers of Christ. We can fall. Only he (and us) knows what is in our hearts.
Sorry if I came off as sarcastic.


Mt 7:21-29
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Those who kept on saying ‘Lord, Lord’ are believers.
They probably thought “once saved always saved”.
But the Lord told them to depart from Him and call them evildoers.
In other words, they had faith but no good work.
Satan has faith in God too, strong faith.
Satan knows God is God and believe all the things we Christians believe.
Satan’s faith without good work cannot save him.

continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling

It is straightforward. It means continue to work our our salvation and not treat the necessary work lightly - with fear and trembling.

Sometimes I feel “once saved always saved” is being used as an excuse of not working on virtues and not doing good work.



Philippians 2:12 NKJV 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you 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;

2:12 obeyed. Their faithful response to the divine commands Paul had taught them (cf. Rom. 1:5; 15:18; 2 Cor. 10:5, 6). work out your own salvation. The Gr. verb rendered “work out” means “to continually work to bring something to fulfillment or completion.” It cannot refer to salvation by works (cf. Rom. 3:21–24; Eph. 2:8, 9), but it does refer to the believer’s responsibility for active pursuit of obedience in the process of sanctification (see notes on 3:13, 14; Rom. 6:19; cf. 1 Cor. 9:24–27; 15:58; 2 Cor. 7:1; Gal. 6:7–9; Eph. 4:1; Col. 3:1–17; Heb. 6:10, 11; 12:1, 2; 2 Pet. 1:5–11). fear and trembling. **The attitude with which Christians are to pursue their sanctification. It involves a healthy fear of offending God and a righteous awe and respect for Him **(cf. Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Is. 66:1, 2).

MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Php 2:12


Its like you read my mind, man.


Sigh—same old, same old.

Do you not see how to continually work to bring your salvation to fulfillment and completion aligns with repentance in the Catholic view?

Baptism, then a life of constantly striving against sin, repenting when we do, then judgment, and hopefully, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

It isn’t that hard to comprehend, nor was it intended to be.

I can honestly see where the notion of predestination came from, and it was an honest enough failure to understand the gift of free will and God’s eternal nature.

If we love Scripture, why must we torture it so?


May I accuse you of the same thing…have you visited the Challenge - The Golden Chain of Salvation thread? Many Catholics were quite enlightened in that thread.


You may accuse me of anything you like as it is a function of your free will. Or your predestiny, as you prefer.

Thankfully, to the extent that I torture Scripture I have the great solace that it is not the only wellspring of my faith and that I have my Catholic brothers and sisters to correct me.

What have you?

I have not read this particular thread, but then I don’t read all threads either. If your posting here is any indication, I would presume it consists of a hodgepodge of Bible verse bingo where the plain text in fact undermines your interpretation where it does not at least admit others.

As for enlightening Catholics, you have much work to do among your fellow Protestants on this score for your interpretation to hold sway universally, my friend.

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