World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
Shining as Lights in the World
12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
12 Therefore, etc. He concludes the whole of the preceding exhortation with a general statement — that they should humble themselves under the Lord’s hand, for that will very readily secure, that, laying aside all arrogance, they will be gentle and indulgent to each other. This is the only befitting way in which the mind of man may learn gentleness, when one who, while viewing himself apart, pleased himself in his hiding-places, comes to examine himself as compared with God.
As ye have always obeyed. He commends their previous obedience, that he may encourage them the more to persevere. As, however, it is the part of hypocrites to approve themselves before others, but so soon as they have withdrawn from public view, to indulge themselves more freely, as if every occasion of reverence and fear were removed, he admonishes them not to shew themselves obedient in his presence merely, but also, and even much more, in his absence. For if he were present, he could stimulate and urge them on by continued admonitions. Now, therefore, when their monitor is at a distance from them, 118118 “Maintenant donc qu’il est loin d’eux, et qu’il ne les pent plus admonester en presence;” — “Now, therefore, when he is at a distance from them, and can no longer admonish them when present.” there is need that they should stir up themselves.
With fear and trembling. In this way he would have the Philippians testify and approve their obedience — by being submissive and humble. Now the source of humility is this — acknowledging how miserable we are, and devoid of all good. To this he calls them in this statement. For whence comes pride, but from the assurance which blind confidence produces, when we please ourselves, and are more puffed up with confidence in our own virtue, than prepared to rest upon the grace of God. In contrast with this vice is that fear to which he exhorts. Now, although exhortation comes before doctrine, in the connection of the passage, it is in reality after it, in point of arrangement, inasmuch as it is derived from it. I shall begin, accordingly, with doctrine.