Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
Fellowship of the Spirit. The original word for fellowship (koinonia) describes the spiritual union that all believers share with Christ.
Our fellowship is with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14, Php. 2:1, 1 John 4:13) and with God the Father (Eph. 2:18, 1 John 1:2-3, 2:15), and God the Son (1 Cor. 1:9, 10:16). It is also with the church or the body of Christ (1 John 1:7). Koinonia-fellowship is about living fully out of our connection with Christ and his body with our hearts “knit together in love” (Col. 2:2). See entry for Union.
but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Bond-servant; see entry for Romans 1:1.
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
(a) God highly exalted Him. Paul understood that the Son of Man was seated at God’s right hand in heaven (Eph. 1:20).
(b) The name which is above every name. The name of Jesus has been exalted by God above all other names, and this exaltation is seen in the title “Lord” which usually accompanies that name. Before the cross, Jesus was the Christ or anointed one. But after the cross, Jesus is the Lord or kyrios or “the One who is supreme above all.” Hence, Paul introduces the Lord Jesus Christ at the start of his letters (see Php. 1:2) while encouraging us to confess Jesus Christ as Lord in this one (Php. 2:11).
(c) Bestowed. The original word (charizomai) means to show favor or kindness. It’s closely related to the word that means grace (charis). God gifted Jesus with a name above all names.
(d) The name which is above every name is reflected in the title Lord. The original word (kurios) means the “the One who is supreme above all.”
When Jesus walked the earth he was known as Jesus of Nazareth or the Son of Man. But after he ascended to heaven he was given a new name above every name, and that name is Lord. Those who knew Joseph as the Nazarene or Joseph’s son will one day acknowledge that he is the Lord (see next verse).
so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(a) Every tongue will confess. This wonderful prophecy, which comes from Isaiah 45:23, and which Paul repeats in Romans 14:11, tells us that all will come to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. However, it would be stretching things to say that all will come to salvation. In Romans, Paul says “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13), and here he says all will confess (acknowledge is a better word) that Jesus is Lord. There is a difference. Further reading: “Was Paul a universalist?”
(b) To the glory of God the Father. One of clearest signs that a person has heard the gospel of Jesus, is they view Almighty God is their heavenly Father. Before Jesus came, few thought of God as a father. After Jesus, everyone did. Or at least the Christians did. Further reading: “Who’s your Daddy?”
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
(a) My beloved. The original word (agapetos) means dearly loved, esteemed, favorite and worthy of love. It is closely related to a verb (agapao) that means to be well pleased or fond of or contented. This word captures God’s heart for you. Your heavenly Father is fond of you. You are his esteemed favorite and he is well pleased with you. He looks at you with a feeling of deep contentment knowing that you are his dearly loved child.
All the epistle writers referred to believers as the beloved or dearly-loved children of God (see entry for Rom. 1:7).
(b) Work out your salvation. We don’t work for salvation but we do need to work out in our lives that which God has already provided.
Through his Son, God has already provided everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). Every blessing is ours in Christ (Eph. 1:3), but you may not be experiencing his blessings. The proper response is not to ask God to give what he’s already given, but to receive by faith and work out in your circumstances that which he has already made available.
The problem with asking God to do what he’s already done is that it makes us passive and requires no faith. Paul is not exhorting us to be idle but to work out in our own lives the implications of Christ’s powerful sacrifice. It begins by changing the way you think and renewing your mind. Look to the empty tomb, behold the glory of your risen King, and declare his goodness and grace over your situation. Grace and peace will be multiplied to you as you grow in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (2 Pet 1:2).
(c) With fear and trembling. Fear and trembling are involved because faith is risky. It can be a scary thing to walk by faith. When Paul took the gospel to Corinth, he went “in fear and much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3). Paul was so fearful that God had to step in and say “do not be afraid” (Acts 18:9).
It’s not wrong to be fearful, but in the presence of these feelings, work out your salvation anyway. Take the faith-risk, because you will be blessed if you do.
Further reading: “What does it mean to work out your salvation with fear and trembling?”
so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
Children of God. Although God is the Father of all (Acts 17:29, Eph. 3:15), the phrase “children of God” usually refers to believers. See entry for Children of God.
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