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.
a. NLT: Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
b. NIV: Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
c. YLT: So that, my beloved, as ye always obey, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, with fear and trembling your own salvation work out,
d. Amplified Bible Classic: Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).
e. Worrell Translation: So then, 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.
f. Wuest Translation: Wherefore, my beloved ones, as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling.
1. “Wherefore my beloved…”
a. Wherefore [Strong: 5620 hoste hoce'-teh from 5613 and 5037; so too, i.e. thus therefore (in various relations of consecution, as follow):--(insomuch) as, so that (then), (insomuch) that, therefore, to, wherefore.]
1). Wherefore is a conjunction and means ‘because of which’. It is linking what he’s going to say with what he’s already said. What he already said in verses 10 and 11 refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ by quoting Isaiah 45:23. We are accountable to God, to Jesus and in light of that, he continues.
b. my [Strong: 3450 mou moo the simpler form of 1700; of me:--I, me, mine (own), my.]
c. beloved [Strong: 27 agapetos ag-ap-ay-tos' from 25; beloved:--(dearly, well) beloved, dear.]
2. “…as ye have always obeyed…”
a. as [Strong: 2531 kathos kath-oce' from 2596 and 5613; just (or inasmuch) as, that:--according to, (according, even) as, how, when.]
b. ye have…obeyed [Strong: 5219 hupakouo hoop-ak-oo'-o from 5259 and 191; to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority:--hearken, be obedient to, obey.]
c. always [Strong: 3842 pantote pan’-tot-eh from 3956 and 3753; every when, i.e. at all times:--alway(-s), ever(-more).]
1). He is referring to obedience to the word of God, not as the Amplified says, Paul’s “suggestions”. Obedience is for our own good.
a). Jeremiah 7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
2). Obedience is presenting my self to God, or on the flip side, my obedience to the devil is presenting myself a servant to him.
a). Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
3). As we obey, we are fashioning or conforming ourselves to his written word that says to be holy.
a). 1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
3. “…not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,…”
a. not 3361 me may a primary particle of qualified negation (whereas 3756 expresses an absolute denial); (adverb) not, (conjunction) lest; also (as an interrogative implying a negative answer (whereas 3756 expects an affirmative one)) whether:--any but (that), X forbear, + God forbid, + lack, lest, neither, never, no (X wise in), none, nor, (can-)not, nothing, that not, un(-taken), without. Often used in compounds in substantially the same relations.
b. as [Strong: 5613 hos hoce probably adverb of comparative from 3739; which how, i.e. in that manner (very variously used, as follows):--about, after (that), (according) as (it had been, it were), as soon (as), even as (like), for, how (greatly), like (as, unto), since, so (that), that, to wit, unto, when(-soever), while, X with all speed.]
c. in [1722 * en] [Strong: a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), i.e. a relation of rest (intermediate between 1519 and 1537); "in," at, (up-)on, by, etc.:--about, after, against, + almost, X altogether, among, X as, at, before, between, (here-)by (+ all means), for (... sake of), + give self wholly to, (here-)in(-to, -wardly), X mightily, (because) of, (up-)on, (open-)ly, X outwardly, one, X quickly, X shortly, (speedi-)ly, X that, X there(-in, -on), through(-out), (un-)to(-ward), under, when, where(-with), while, with(-in). Often used in compounds, with substantially the same import; rarely with verbs of motion, and then not to indicate direction, except (elliptically) by a separate (and different) preposition.]
d. my [Strong: 3450 mou moo the simpler form of 1700; of me:--I, me, mine (own), my.]
e. presence [Strong: 3952 parousia par-oo-see'-ah from the present participle of 3918; a being near, i.e. advent (often, return; specially, of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked); (by implication) physically, aspect:--coming, presence.]
f. only [Strong: 3440 monon mon'-on neuter of 3441 as adverb; merely:--alone, but, only.]
g. but [Strong: 235 alla al-lah' neuter plural of 243; properly, other things, i.e. (adverbially) contrariwise (in many relations):--and, but (even), howbeit, indeed, nay, nevertheless, no, notwithstanding, save, therefore, yea, yet.]
h. now [Strong: 3568 nun noon a primary particle of present time; "now" (as adverb of date, a transition or emphasis); also as noun or adjective present or immediate:--henceforth, + hereafter, of late, soon, present, this (time).]
i. much [Strong: 4183 polus pol-oos' including the forms from the alternate pollos; (singular) much (in any respect) or (plural) many; neuter (singular) as adverbial, largely; neuter (plural) as adverb or noun often, mostly, largely:--abundant, + altogether, common, + far (passed, spent), (+ be of a) great (age, deal, -ly, while), long, many, much, oft(-en (-times)), plenteous, sore, straitly.]
j. more [Strong: 3123 [Strong: mallon mal'-lon neuter of the comparative of the same as 3122; (adverbially) more (in a greater degree)) or rather:--+ better, X far, (the) more (and more), (so) much (the more), rather.]
k. in [1722 * en] [Strong: a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), i.e. a relation of rest (intermediate between 1519 and 1537); "in," at, (up-)on, by, etc.:--about, after, against, + almost, X altogether, among, X as, at, before, between, (here-)by (+ all means), for (... sake of), + give self wholly to, (here-)in(-to, -wardly), X mightily, (because) of, (up-)on, (open-)ly, X outwardly, one, X quickly, X shortly, (speedi-)ly, X that, X there(-in, -on), through(-out), (un-)to(-ward), under, when, where(-with), while, with(-in). Often used in compounds, with substantially the same import; rarely with verbs of motion, and then not to indicate direction, except (elliptically) by a separate (and different) preposition.]
l. my [Strong: 3450 mou moo the simpler form of 1700; of me:--I, me, mine (own), my.]
m. absence [Strong: 666 apousia ap-oo-see'-ah from the participle of 548; a being away:--absence.]
4. “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
a. work out [Strong: 2716 katergazomai kat-er-gad'-zom-ahee from 2596 and 2038; to work fully, i.e. accomplish; by implication, to finish, fashion:--cause, to (deed), perform, work (out).]
b. your own [Strong: 1438 heautou heh-ow-too' from a reflexive pronoun otherwise obsolete and the genitive case (dative case or accusative case) of 846; him- (her-, it-, them-, also (in conjunction with the personal pronoun of the other persons) my-, thy-, our-, your-) self (selves), etc.:--alone, her (own, -self), (he) himself, his (own), itself, one (to) another, our (thine) own(-selves), + that she had, their (own, own selves), (of) them(-selves), they, thyself, you, your (own, own conceits, own selves, -selves).]
c. salvation [Strong: 4991 soteria so-tay-ree'-ah feminine of a derivative of 4990 as (properly, abstract) noun; rescue or safety (physically or morally):--deliver, health, salvation, save, saving.]
d. with [Strong: 3326 meta met-ah' a primary preposition (often used adverbially); properly, denoting accompaniment; "amid" (local or causal); modified variously according to the case (genitive association, or accusative succession) with which it is joined; occupying an intermediate position between 575 or 1537 and 1519 or 4314; less intimate than 1722 and less close than 4862):--after(-ward), X that he again, against, among, X and, + follow, hence, hereafter, in, of, (up-)on, + our, X and setting, since, (un-)to, + together, when, with (+ -out). Often used in composition, in substantially the same relations of participation or proximity, and transfer or sequence.]
e. fear (5401 [Strong: phobos fob'-os from a primary phebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright:--be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.] [Vines: “a reverential fear of God, as a controlling motive of the life, in matters spiritual and moral, not a mere fear of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing him.” (Note: Here we are told by Paul to “fear”/phobos; and in Revelation 1:17, we are told by Jesus to “Fear not”/phobeo; different Greek words.) This definition easily complements the verses in the Old Testament that define the fear of the Lord, such as Proverbs 8:13 “…to hate evil”, or Proverbs 16:6, and by the fear of the Lord men, “depart from evil.”]
f. and [Strong: 2532 kai kahee apparently, a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words:--and, also, both, but, even, for, if, or, so, that, then, therefore, when, yet.]
g. trembling [Strong: 5156 tromos trom'-os from 5141; a "trembling", i.e. quaking with fear:--+ tremble(-ing).]
1). This phrase has to be read in light of verse 13, that our work or labor is in response to God’s working, enabled by God’s grace/working to do what he has told us to do. For instance, Colossians 1:29, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” Paul is not referring to our working our way to heaven or going it alone so to speak, but co-laboring with God. “We then, as workers together with him,…” 2 Corinthians 6:1. In that line of reasoning there is a definite link between obedience and “salvation”, in the total definition of the word, safety, deliverance, preservation, healing and soundness. There are countless examples that could be given where salvation- safety, deliverance, preservation, healing and soundness would be given through simple obedience. Obedience is an essential component to faith. James 2:18, “…shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
2). An interesting passage to throw into the mix is John 6:27-29. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” In light of this verse, what Paul is saying in Philippians 2:12 is, “Believe God for your safety. Believe God for your deliverance. Believe God for your preservation. Believe God for your healing. Believe God for your soundness, faith your way through it.”