The believers in the church of Philippi already have salvation and are children of God headed to heaven, but Paul tells them to “continue to work out your salvation.” This is not a works based salvation, but is instead a striving for maturity and production in this life.
Notice what Paul says concerning right now in time, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” God desires to manifest his life, his light, his truth, his character, his will, his way, etc. in the lives of these Philippian believers.
Salvation gives the Philippians access to eternal life and it gives God access to their souls through the Holy Spirit and the Word. Now, in time, Paul says they are to “continue” the process of salvation by manifesting it in their daily lives. Paul tells them to “work out your salvation.” This phrase is the present tense, imperative mood of the Greek word kaergazomai. The present tense conveys continuous or habitual action. The imperative mood is the mood of command. In other words, Paul is giving the Philippians a command to habitually be working out their salvation. The Greek word kaergazomai means “to work out,” “to work on to the finish.” The Lingusitic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament says, “Preposition in compound is perfective and views the linear progress down to the goal: ‘work on to the finish.’ ” So, the goal of the Christian life is to progressively work the eternal salvation that you have been given through faith in Jesus Christ into your daily life. This is spiritual growth that results in phases of maturity in the believer.
Paul advises the Philippians on a couple of things that will help/hinder them in their pursuit of this spiritual growth and maturity:
- Grumbling or Not Grumbling
- Arguing or Not Arguing
‘Not grumbling’ and ‘not arguing’ seems fairly simple, and not necessarily overly spiritual, but if they can rise above this pagan style of interaction with others in their daily lives the Philippian believers will be on their way to becoming, “blameless and pure children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”
Paul says the Philippian believers should shine among the people of their generation like stars in the sky while they continue to hold onto the Word of God for their own selves and for their generation.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
Paul hopes that they will mature and produce in life so that the Philippian believers, and Paul himself, will be rewarded and commended by Jesus Christ on the day of the bema seat judgment.
“Then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”
The Philippians eternal salvation was important to Paul, but it was also foremost in Paul’s mind and a focal point of his ministry that once the Philippians became believers in Jesus Christ they were assisted in reaching maturity and were enabled to live in their generation as stars shining in the sky.