For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
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).
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) 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).
(b) 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?”
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