Robert C. Swift
Flower Mound, TX
One of the distinguishing marks of the Free Grace movement is that it often challenges traditional understandings of certain Biblical passages. Of course, some maintain that such “novel” interpretations cannot be correct. The question is often why past interpreters have not understood these passages in a Free Grace framework. Free Grace proponents respond by saying there have been those in the past who held these views, but were often a minority. And more importantly, the final determination of the Bible’s meaning is the Bible itself, not long-held traditions.
Such is the case with the meaning of the word “salvation” in the book of Philippians, particularly in 2:12. In this verse, Paul says:
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.
It is extremely common for commentaries to say that “salvation” (sōtēria) in this verse refers to eternal salvation, that is, salvation from hell. Even though there are some minor differences in detail, most commentators believe that works are necessary for entrance into the eternal Kingdom of God, as a scan of Evangelical writings bears out.1
In the book of Philippians, this view of salvation is said to find support in Phil 1:6. The Apostle Paul states,
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
This verse is also often held to refer to eternal salvation.2 When these two verses are combined, it is said that Philippians teaches that works are necessary for eternal life, and that God will empower genuine believers to do them. God begins the work of eternal salvation and will bring it to its successful completion by accomplishing godly deeds in the life of the believer.
Zane C. Hodges, on the other hand, gives a Free Grace perspective on these verses. He points out that Phil 1:6 is not talking about the good work of eternal salvation, but the good work the Philippians did in monetarily helping Paul in his missionary work.3 In Phil 2:12, the salvation spoken of refers to exemplifying Christ-likeness with one’s life, especially in the midst of a corrupt, perverted world (2:15). This is not automatic, but requires works. These works achieve and maintain unity, the overarching subject of chapter two. And in Phil 3:20-21 the achievement of steadfastness (the subject of Phil 3:1-4:1) is enabled and sustained by walking in undistracted pursuit of an undistorted, distinctively Christian, perfection. The eager expectation (apekdechometha) of Christ’s transformative coming in glory (3:17-21) is the key to such a walk. The destruction (apōleia) of 3:19 clearly recalls and gives definitive resolution to the endeixis apōleias that the reader’s opponents are assured of in 1:28. Notice that both sōtēria and sōtēr are precisely fitted into their local contexts and bear meanings crafted to fit the specific deliverance (unity or steadfastness) in view in each place.
In this article, I would like to consider the meaning of sōtēria in Philippians. When one looks at the occurrences of the theme of salvation in the book at least two things stand out. The first is that it always points to the future. That is, it is a salvation not yet accomplished. Neither Paul nor the Philippians possess it. At the time of writing, they were all “unsaved” in the sense of the salvation being spoken of.
This leads to the second point. In every occurrence of “salvation” in the book, its exact and specific meaning must be determined in close connection with the specific context in which it occurs. The violation of this principle seems to be the chief reason for most of the confusion about the term. In fact, a main contention of this study will be that no two occurrences of the term “salvation” bear quite the same meaning in the letter. Each occurrence bears a meaning unique to its context that is singularly appropriate to the spot in which it is used. If the meaning of “salvation” has the general sense of “deliverance,” the precise form, meaning, and nature of that deliverance is a bit different in each of the contexts in the Epistle.
In determining the meaning of “salvation” in Philippians, then, we must look at the context. A major part of doing so is to consider the theme and structure of the book as a whole.
II. THE THEME AND STRUCTURE OF PHILIPPIANS
As is the case with the meaning of the word “salvation” in the book of Philippians, there is also, to a large degree, much agreement about the theme and structure of the book.4
The consensus of the majority is that no such theme or structure exists.5
While there are a few exceptions, most commentators feel that it is difficult to find a main theme. In broad terms, there have been three responses to the problem. Some have maintained that Philippians is an emotional letter in which Paul quickly moves from one subject to another and therefore has no central idea or structure.6
Others take a redactional approach. They say no central theme or structure appears because Philippians is not a single book. Instead, it consists of two or more separate letters that have been put together in an attempt to appear as one.7
Some attack the issue from a form critical viewpoint. Philippians is indeed a unity, but it has the structural elements of a Pauline letter form. While this view does see unity in the letter, it denies any development of a central theme or line of argument. Instead the letter is forced to adhere to a specific form.8
All three of these views of Philippians attempt to find a structure of the book based on criteria other than the development of a central theme by using a point-by-point argument of the book itself. It is my contention that Philippians does indeed have a central theme, and that Paul’s development of this theme generates an epistolary structure that is logical, systematic, and obvious.9
A. The Overall Structure of Philippians
Philippians begins with a salutation in 1:1-2, followed by the prologue in 1:3-11, which is the first major division of the book. In the prologue Paul sets forth the central theme of the letter and introduces other motifs he will develop later.
In 1:12-26, we find what can be called a biographical prologue. It is both biographical and a prologue because it deals with Paul’s own circumstances and is closely tied with the prologue of 1:3-11. It forms a bridge between the prologue and the main body of the epistle.
The main body runs from 1:27–4:9. This is followed by an epilogue (4:10-20). This epilogue balances the prologue. Philippians then closes with another salutation and blessing in 4:21-23.10
B. The Prologue And Introduction of Theme
The prologue, as is the case with other Pauline letters, contains a thanksgiving (1:3-6). Others have recognized that in his thanksgivings Paul gives the reason why he writes the letter as well as introduces the contents of the letter. Indeed, the Apostle can use this portion of the letter to introduce the main theme of the book.11 This is what we find in Philippians.
In vv 3-4, Paul says he thanks God for the Philippian believers. In v 5, however, he emphasizes one thing for which he is particularly thankful, i.e., the Philippians’s partnership in the gospel. Paul will develop this later and it is the major theme of the letter.
Only by understanding this can 1:6 be properly understood. Verse 6 does not guarantee that genuine believers will continue in good works. It does, however, provide a summary statement of the whole letter.12
The Philippians have been a partner with Paul in the gospel. Paul is confident that God will continue this work in them so that they may be even more effective partners in the gospel. This work would bear fruit from the time of Paul writing the letter to them until the Day of Christ. With its connection with v 5, v 6 refers to the perfecting of the Philippians’ “partnership” (koinōnia) since they are “partners” (koinōnoi) in the gospel.
This explains the “good work” of v 6. It is not the good work of giving each individual believer at Philippi eternal salvation. Neither is v 6 to be understood in some general sense of doing good works. It specifically refers to the perfecting of the Philippians as workers for the gospel and the perfecting of their works in the cause of the gospel. The reference to the “Day of Christ Jesus” is a reference to the outcome of this work at the Judgment Seat of Christ, which is a judgment that deals with rewards, not the issue of whether a person has eternal life or not. Paul repeats this eschatological reference in v 10.13
The thanksgiving of vv 3-6 introduces the main theme of Philippians. It is their partnership in the gospel, and the letter develops this theme by discussing God’s perfecting them and their work for the gospel. This discussion will deal with their development as “partners” in the gospel. This development will result in temporal fruitfulness as well as eternal rewards.
If the main theme of the book is introduced in the prologue, it would not be surprising if other motifs in the book are found there as well. In vv 7-8 Paul connects what he says with the main theme of the book. He calls himself a “fellow partner” with the Philippians (sugkoinōnous, v 7). Both Paul and believers at Philippi are recipients of the enabling grace and power that God gives to those who confirm, defend and even suffer for the gospel.14 This idea of being a fellow partner with the Philippians in this work is brought out in the biographical prologue that follows the prologue.
Other motifs in the prologue that are found in the rest of the book include the idea contained in the verb “to think” (phroneō, v 7). It is found in 2:1-5; 3:15, 19; 4:2, 10 and refers to a mind-set that expresses itself in right action. This is necessary for those who want to progress toward perfection in the cause of the gospel.
In v 7 Paul also makes the point that when working for the gospel one can expect hardships. He is experiencing them and so are they (2:30). The phrase “the defense and confirmation of the gospel” also suggests hardship especially in light of the discussion in chapter three, where Paul experiences hardships as they relate to defending both the gospel and the appropriate lifestyle against false teachers.
In v 8, Paul longs for them. This implies not only a desire for them but also a joy at their progress. The theme of joy runs throughout the letter (1:9-11, 25, 27f; 2:2, 12-18; 3:16f; 4:17).
In vv 9-11, Paul prays for them. But this prayer is related to the theme. He wants them to have an intelligent and discerning love. If they are going to be effective “partners” with God in the gospel they must be motivated by love, unlike the self-seeking believers in 1:15-18. It is to be a love that grows in the knowledge of practical wisdom. This kind of love will be able to “discern what is best” in that it will be able to understand the best things to do to advance the gospel in different circumstances. It is this loving and wise discernment that Paul himself models in vv 12-26, the biographical prologue. First, he displays it in discerning his present circumstances. They have advanced the gospel and emboldened the saints sympathetic to him (vv 12-18a). Second, in vv 18b-26 he discerns his best future orientation: What is best for Christ; what is best for himself; and what is best for the Philippians.
This kind of lifestyle and motivation will render one “without offence.” This is best taken in the sense of not causing others to stumble.15 If so, it teaches the necessity of Christian unity in the work of the gospel. This will become especially important in Paul’s discussion in chapter two.
Verse 11 ends with an eschatological statement. If the Philippians are perfected in their work in the gospel, they will be filled with the fruit of righteousness. This will result in glory to God. Even today, the work of the Philippians and Paul, “fellow partners” in the gospel, is bearing fruit. Paul’s point is that their work will continue to bear fruit until the Day of Christ.
C. The Biographical Prologue (1:12-26)
In this section, Paul uses his own experiences as an example of the theme of the book of Philippians. He shows how the principles for effective partnership in the gospel are working out in his difficult circumstances. Therefore, this section is closely related to the prologue.
We read, for example, of the advancement of the gospel (cf. vv 12, 25). Paul also exhibited the virtues he mentions in the prologue (vv 9-11) in the circumstances of his imprisonment (v 13).
In vv 12-18, Paul “discerned what is best” as it relates to the advancement of the gospel (v 10). His imprisonment has furthered the spread of the good news (vv 13-14). Even in the midst of opposition, Paul has the wisdom (c.f. v 9) to discern what was the most important thing (v 18). Paul was also able to discern what was best in regards to his own desires and that of the Philippians’ progress in the faith.
In v 19, we encounter the first occurrence of the word “salvation” in the book. In light of the prologue, as well as the next verse, the salvation spoken of is that Christ might be magnified and greatly exalted in Paul’s body, whether by life or death. This is Paul’s desire, whether he dies in prison or is released.16 This would happen through the power of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the Philippians, who were fellow partners with Paul in the work of the gospel (v 7).
Paul was able to “discern what was best” by putting his desire to go be with the Lord aside, realizing that he would have more fruit in his ministry if he remained alive. He put his desires aside in the interest of others (v 10).
This biographical prologue not only continues the main theme as presented in the prologue. It also points forward to the rest of the letter. In furthering the work of the gospel (vv 23-26) Paul is following the example of Christ, as he will set forth in 2:5-11. He lays aside his privileges in order to serve others in this work.
D. The Body of the Letter (1:27–4:9)
In the body of letter to the Philippians, Paul expands on the theme. There is an introductory paragraph (1:27-30), the central section (2:1– 4:1), and a concluding paragraph (4:2-9). In each of these sections, Paul discusses two subjects—unity and steadfastness. These two things are necessary if they are going to successfully further the work of the gospel.
1. The introductory paragraph.
This section starts off with Paul’s desire that the Philippian believers conduct themselves in a “manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”17 To do so they will need unity and steadfastness. They are to strive together to advance the gospel. God gives the grace to do so, even in the midst of difficulties. If they did so, like Paul, they could experience “salvation.” This is the second occurrence of the word and must be understood in the same general sense as the salvation Paul confidently expects in v 19.18 The gospel would advance and Christ could be relied upon to provide grace in the midst of persecution by opponents. Since the destruction of their enemies is signified here, this probably anticipates the full and final deliverance described in 3:20-21.
Their suffering in v 30 is suffering they encounter as partners in the work of the gospel. This is exactly the reason Paul was suffering. They are indeed “fellow partners” in this work.
2. The central section.
Chapter two discusses unity. Steadfastness is dealt with in 3:1–4:1. The readers are to be unified based upon an attitude of humility (2:1-4). This humility is based upon looking out for the interests of others, an idea Paul discussed in 1:22-26.
In the famous kenosis passage of 2:5-11, Christ is presented as the example for the believer to follow. He was humble and met the needs of others by sacrificing himself. The Philippians will succeed as fellow partners in the gospel if they adopt the same mind-set.
In 2:12-18 we find the third occurrence of the word “salvation.” The Philippians are to “work out” their “salvation.” Verse 13 tells us that God is the One who enables this to happen. But what does “salvation” mean?
Salvation here means achieving a unity based on the example of Christ (vv 1-11). Negatively, it means doing “all things without murmuring and disputing” (v 13), which Paul has implied in 2:3. If they will do these things they will be pure and spotless and their witness will shine forth in a dark world (2:15). The idea of holding fast the Word of Life (v 16), is related to walking worthily of the gospel. Disunity will extinguish the testimony of a church. A true gospel witness demands a true gospel lifestyle. This wins approval in the Day of Christ (v 16). This view of salvation here fits perfectly with the other two occurrences of the word in the book of Philippians.
In 2:17-30, Paul gives three examples of those who have that attitude. He gives himself as such an example, as well as Timothy and Epaphroditus. All three are working out their salvation in the work of the gospel based on service to the Lord and concern for others. Epaphroditus is called a “fellow worker” and “fellow soldier” in the work of the gospel (v 25).
Chapter 3 takes up the issue of steadfastness in the midst of difficulties. This is a topic Paul has already introduced in 1:7, 28-30. Specifically, chapter three deals with steadfastness against false teaching. It will be achieved by the undistracted pursuit of undistorted, truly Christian, perfection (3:12-16). In 3:1, Paul speaks of joy. The idea of joy and standing against opposition to the gospel go hand in hand. We saw these ideas earlier in the book (1:19, 28-30; 2:17f).
3. The concluding paragraph.
Paul instructs two particular women at Philippi to have unity (4:2f). The theme of the epistle—partnership in the gospel—is mentioned in 4:3. The Philippians are to have peace and freedom from anxiety (4:4-9), not in a general sense but in the midst of the difficulties they face in their work in furthering the gospel.19
The Philippians, as partners in the gospel, can have joy (4:4) in the midst of those who oppose the gospel. The Lord is near (v 5) and this is a source of comfort. With His coming there will be relief and the reception of benefits (3:20-21). In addition, the prospect of “salvation” should be a source of joy. As a result of all these things, they can be steadfast in their work for the gospel.
In this concluding paragraph we see the same theme as in the other sections of the main body of the letter of Philippians. If the Christians at Philippi were to be perfected in their partnership for the gospel, they needed to conduct themselves worthy of the gospel. They need to have unity and be steadfast in the face of opponents of the gospel.
It appears that those who maintain there is no structure in the letter are mistaken.20 There is a central theme and a clear systematic structure throughout. The meaning of “salvation” in Philippians can only be understood in light of these things. Each occurrence of the term is uniquely nuanced to fit its specific place in each context where it occurs. The article to follow this one will demonstrate this claim by a more detailed analysis of the conclusions stated here in a more summary form.
E. The Epilogue (4:10-20)
The epilogue of Philippians supports the idea of an intentional epistolary structure to the book as a whole. It balances the prologue of 1:3-10. The prologue spoke of the sharing of the Philippians in the work of the gospel. Here, Paul gives a specific example—their most recent financial gift to Paul.
The prologue and epilogue contain four elements that bind the book together. The first is the idea of partnership (koinōnia; 1:5; 4:15), which refers to the given of money by the Philippians for Paul’s missionary endeavors. The second is the Philippians are fellow sharers in this work (1:7; 4:13). The third idea is that they have been a part of this work since the beginning (1:5; 4:15). The final idea is that Paul and the Philippians feel the same way towards each other (1:7; 4:10).21 The idea of partnership in the gospel dominates both the prologue and epilogue, as well as the whole book.
With the above structure, it seems evident that Philippians has a message. That message is that Christians should walk worthy of the gospel if they expect to further the work of the gospel. The power of such a walk, combined with such a message, can make an immeasurable impact in the world.22 It also challenges a common way of looking at the word “salvation,” especially in Phil 2:12.
III. THE THREE OCCURRENCES OF “SALVATION”
As the above discussion points out, the word “salvation” occurs three times in the book of Philippians (1:19, 28; 2:12). In view of the theme and structure of the book, it is difficult to understand how one could conclude that the word means salvation from hell. The same could be said about the “good work” that God has done through the believers at Philippi in Phil 1:6. With the close connection between the prologue and the epilogue of the book, including the repetition of words and themes, the good work refers to their participation in the advancement of the gospel.
It appears that the first occurrence of the word “salvation” does not present a problem (1:19). It is clear that Paul is not referring to salvation from hell in this verse since his “salvation” depends upon the prayers of others. It is for this reason that some English translations translate the word “deliverance.” Even those who understand “salvation” as referring to eternal salvation in the other instances often recognize it does not in the case of Paul’s personal circumstances.23
If one did not consider the structure and theme of the book, the second occurrence of “salvation” could possibly refer to eternal salvation (1:28). One could say that when a believer faithfully suffers for Christ and endures such suffering, it is an indication of their future, eternal salvation. The world sees the power of Christ to bring them through their suffering. That same power will save them eternally. However, this interpretation ignores the close connection between the “salvation” of the Philippians and the “salvation/deliverance” of Paul in 1:19. In light of this close connection and the theme of the book, the salvation in both cases refers to advancing the gospel in the midst of the similar, but not exact, circumstances Paul and the Philippians find themselves in. In Paul’s case, God will enable him to magnify Christ whether he lives or dies. In the case of the Philippians, God will grant whatever grace is necessary to allow them to triumphantly endure whatever persecution opponents throw their way. As Paul counts on a “deliverance” appropriate to his sufferings for the gospel, so the readers can with equal confidence and assurance count on a gracious “salvation” in whatever circumstances arise as they, like Paul, strive together to advance the gospel. The salvation spoken of here is circumstantial and situational, clearly and without doubt having nothing to do with Paul’s or the reader’s eternal destinies. In fact, if their eternal destinies were not already secure, Paul could not be confident of either his or their circumstantial salvation. Paul’s assessment of his options in 1:21-23 makes this absolutely clear. Any doubts Paul may have are about his short term circumstances, not about his eternal future. The same is true of the Philippians in 1:28. A circumstantial salvation assumes the already existing reality of a secure eternal salvation. The eternal salvation must predate and underlie the circumstantial and situational one. As Paul discerns his options, he is confident that they who share the same outlook as he does will also “discern what is best” among the options facing them.
Of course, the third occurrence of the word “salvation” in Philippians is the one most often believed to refer to eternal salvation (2:12). Paul tells the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Just a moment’s reflection should prohibit us from understanding the word in this way. Our eternal salvation does not depend upon our work. The child of God has assurance of salvation from the moment of faith based upon the sure promises of Christ. There is nothing there to “fear and tremble” about.
The answer, of course, is to understand the word “salvation” in a similar, but not exact, way as it is understood in the other two instances in the book. If the Philippians were unified in their advancement of the gospel and walking in a worthy manner, they would experience “salvation” in the sense that the gospel would go forth, in the midst of trying circumstances and Christ would be effectively testified to by unified, loving Christians.
All of this fits well with the theme of the book. But more can be said about “working out” one’s salvation.
IV. THE MEANING OF “WORKING OUT”
One of the corollaries of the view that “salvation” means eternal salvation from hell in 2:12 is that the verb “work out” means that a believer will act in a way that reflects that he is eternally saved. They live in such a way that they demonstrate that they have this salvation.24 The consensus translation of the verb seems to indicate this. It is translated as “working out” in all the major translations (e.g., NIV, NASB, NAS, ASV, NET, KJV, and HCSB). With this translation one gets the impression that believers are to show or work out what they already have. The New Living Translation reflects this understanding by translating it, “show the results of your salvation.”
The verb in question is katergadzomai. To translate it as “working out” probably suggests a meaning to the English reader that is not accurate. BDAG lists four meanings of the verb.25 Two of the meanings are rare and do not relate to any view of how it is used in Phil 2:12. The other two are very relevant.
One major use of the verb means to “bring about a result by doing something.” It means to achieve something. BDAG lists twelve examples in the New Testament. The second major meaning is similar and means “to cause a state or condition” or to produce something. BDAG lists nine examples of this usage in the New Testament.
These usages do not indicate that one works “out” what is already there, in order to reveal it. Instead they mean to work “for” something, that is, to create it or bring it about. One does not produce or create his eternal salvation. But one does, working jointly with God (2:13), achieve the salvation spoken of here!
Paul simply cannot be talking about our eternal salvation here. Instead, he is saying that if the Philippians want to be fellow partners in the work of the gospel it will take work. They must be unified in the work of the gospel. They must do all things without grumbling and arguing (2:14). They must work “for” these things else the veracity of their testimony to the truth of the gospel is compromised.
These are all difficult things to do. This is especially the case when believers, like those at Philippi, were experiencing various difficulties. But with the power that God supplies, He would “save” them through these things so that the gospel would go forth and Christ would be proclaimed. The church would escape the ravages of disunity and remain “lights in the world.” Paul has deliberately nuanced sōtēria to precisely fit the subject he is discussing—unity. That certainly fits both the theme and structure of Philippians. He does this not only here, but in each place the term occurs in the book.
Our traditions can be a good thing. However, beliefs based upon our traditions can be a negative thing if we do not allow the Bible to challenge what they say. Such is the case with the meaning of “salvation” in the book of Philippians.
Many have become accustomed to believe that when Paul says that God has begun a good work in us and will complete it he is speaking about our eternal salvation. Then, when he says that we are to “work” out (or for) our salvation he is referring to the same thing. Such an understanding often springs from a view that either does not believe Philippians has a theme or structure or ignores the possibility that it does.
From at the least the days of J. B. Lightfoot, most commentators do not see any significant exegetical problems in the passages that deal with “salvation” in the book of Philippians. Lightfoot called the readings in these passages as obvious.26
The “obvious” meaning of salvation in the Epistle—that it means salvation from hell—ignores the context of each occurrence and the book as a whole. Peter Phillips points out the danger of such an approach. He says that commentators are too eager to leave the text in front of them and to look for interpretive help from definitions and meanings gathered from other texts or from elsewhere in the same text before such a step is justified in the process. This is a subtle form of eisegesis.27 I suggest this is a major problem in the interpretive tradition of Philippians. Tradition tells us that “salvation” means something somewhere else, so it must mean that in Philippians. Also, it must bear this single meaning at every place in Philippians. This can lead to interpretive errors of major consequence.
Related to this are two linguistic traps about which James Barr warns interpreters. The first is “illegitimate identity transfer.” To explain this trap, Barr says that an object may be signified by word “a” or by word “b.” This does not mean that a means b. The identity of the object to which different designations are given does not imply that these designations have the same semantic value.28
This fallacy can also occur when a word, like “salvation,” has a wide range of meanings. To assume that one meaning fits all occurrences of the word is to commit illegitimate identity transfer. This appears to be what has happened in the traditional understanding of “salvation” in the commentary tradition of Philippians.
A second fallacy is one Barr calls “illegitimate totality transfer.” This occurs when the dictionary definition of a term, which is derived from a study of all of its usages, is without flexibility read into a particular and singular occurrence of the term. This may not convey the precise meaning of the term in that context.29 This also is a common problem with the word “salvation” in Philippians.
When we take a close look at structure and context in Philippians we find that the theme of the book is the advancement of the gospel. Paul wants the believers at Philippi to work for the advancement of the gospel. There is a “salvation” or deliverance that comes with that. This salvation will result in a church that is unified and living in such a way that enables the good news to be advanced despite any and all opposition. In a similar but slightly different context, this is the “salvation” Paul wanted for himself. He also wants the Philippians to experience “salvation” in this sense when it comes to those who oppose their work. In each occurrence of the theme, the basic meaning is deliverance, but the context determines the exact meaning. In every case it was a salvation that none of them possessed at the time Paul wrote the book and thus could not be eternal salvation from hell, which they already possessed.
1 Gordon D. Fee, Philippians, IVP Series (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1999), 104-105; R. Kent Hughes, Philippians: The Fellowship of the Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 98-99; Bonnie B. Thurston and Judith M. Ryan, Philippians and Philemon, Sacra Pagina Series (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005), 70, 94; Peter T. O’Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991), 278-79; John MacArthur, The Gospel According to the Apostles: The Role of Works in the Life of Faith (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 2000), 54, 182. Fee and Hughes do point out that this is a corporate salvation and not individualistic. They are an example of those who maintain that this verse is also speaking about the spiritual health of the church as a whole at Philippi. The fact remains, however, that faith in Christ, which brings eternal “salvation,” is expressed in obedience.
2 MacArthur, Gospel, 24; Hughes, Philippians, 98. Hughes specifically makes the connection between Phil 1:6 and 2:12.
3 Zane C. Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege: A Study of Faith and Works (Dallas, TX; Redencion Viva, 1981), 88-92. However, I do disagree with Hodges that the monetary gift to Paul is in view here. To me it seems more natural to regard the genitive in the phrase tē mneia hymōn in Phil 1:3 as objective, denoting Paul’s remembrance of them in prayer rather than the Philippians’ remembrance of Paul through the gift. Hodges did regard this as a legitimate free grace view as well.
4 I have written on this subject in the past. Much of the information that follows is found in previously published work. For those interested, an expanded discussion can be found in two such works. See, Robert C. Swift, “The Theme and Structure of Philippians,” Bibliotheca Sacra 141 (Jul-Sep 1984): 234-54; Robert C. Swift, “The Theme and Structure of Philippians,” in Vital New Testament Issues: Examining New Testament Passages and Problems, ed. Roy B. Zuck, vol. 8 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2006), 171-87.
5 Robert Jewett, “The Epistolary Thanksgiving and the Integrity of Philippians,” Novum Testamentum 12 (1970): 49.
6 John Eadie, A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1896), xxxi; William Hendriksen, Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1962), 37-38; Ralph P. Martin, The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1959), 43.
7 For discussions of this view, see Jewett, “Thanksgiving,” 40-49; Ralph P. Martin, Philippians, New Century Bible (London: Oliphants, 1976), 10-22.
8 Martin, Philippians (1976), 10-22; John Lee White, The Form and Function of the Body of the Greek Letter: A Study of the Letter-Body in the Non-Literary Papyri and in Paul the Apostle, Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1972); Robert W. Funk, “The Letter: Form and Function,” in Language, Hermeneutic, and the Word of God (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1966), 250-74.
9 Swift, “Theme,” BibSac, 236.
11 Paul Schubert, Form and Function of the Pauline Thanksgivings (Berlin: Topelmann, 1939), 24; Hans Conzelmann, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, s.v. “[eucharisteō], [eucharistia], [eucharistos],” 9 (1974): 412; Jewett, “Thanksgiving,” 53.
12 A recent convert to this view is Bonnie Thurston, Philippians, 52.
13 Swift, BibSac, 237-38.
14 H. A. W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistles to the Philippians and Colossians, and to Philemon, trans. John C. Moore, preface and supplementary notes by Timothy Dwight (New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls, 1889), 16.
15 Timothy Dwight, in Meyer, Philippians, 50.
16 Hodges, Gospel, 90-94. There are those who are not Free Grace proponents that have recognized that the meaning of “salvation” here is understood in light of v 20, or at least is compatible with it. It does not refer to eternal salvation. See, Meyer, Philippians, 58; William Hendrikson, Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1962), 74.
17 T. E. Pollard, “The Integrity of Philippians,” New Testament Studies 13 (1966): 65. Pollard sees this as the primary reason Paul writes the book.
18 Dwight, in Meyer, Philippians, 58; Martin, Philippians (1976), 85.
19 Martin (1976), Philippians, 154.
20 Eadie, Philippians, xxxi.
21 William J. Dalton, “The Integrity of Philippians,” Biblica 60 (1979): 101.
22 Swift, BibSac, 250.
23 Jacobus J. Müller, The Epistles of Paul to the Philippians and to Philemon (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955), 57; J. A. Motyer, The Message of Philippians: Jesus Our Joy (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1984), 84; R. Kent Hughes, Philippians: The Fellowship of the Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 57. Hughes and Motyer say the meaning is very broad and includes the trials believers goes through, although they do not clearly state their views. Müller is clearer and prefers the translation “deliverance.”
24 MacArthur, Gospel, 182; Müller, Philippians, 91; Motyer, Philippians, 128; Hughes, Philippians, 99; D. A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996), 62.
25 Walter Bauer, W. F. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, and F. W. Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), 531.
26 J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1953), vii-viii.
27 Peter M. Phillips, The Prologue of the Fourth Gospel: A Sequential Reading (London: T. & T. Clark, 2006), 27-28.
28 James Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 217-18.
29 Ibid., 218.