“That at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;”

“at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow,”
Literally:  “That in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow.” That all human beings should consider themselves redeemed unto God by His blood, and look for an application of this redemption price; and that all who are saved from their sin should acknowledge Him the Author of their salvation.

       When Christ was on earth (as well as now), many not only refused to acknowledge Him as the God of the universe, but they also refused to recognize His honor and authority; but someday this will all be different.  The day is coming when everyone will have to acknowledge that Christ Jesus is Lord over all. 

“For it is written, ‘as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God’” (Rom. 14:11).
“I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear”

       Not merely token bowing or curtsying whenever the name of Jesus is mentioned, but universal acknowledgment of the majesty and power of Jesus who carries His human name and nature to heaven. This universal homage to Jesus is seen in Rom. 8:22; Eph. 1:20-22 and in particular Rev. 5:13.  Divine honor might be paid in every possible manner by every creature. No realm of God’s creation will be exempt from having to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ.  ALL will acknowledge Him–“things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth”– every knee shall bow, or bend, in token of honor, or worshi Him.
       This cannot mean merely that at the mention of the name of Jesus we should bow; nor is there any evidence that God requires this. Why should we bow at merely the mention of that Name, rather than at any of the other titles of the Redeemer?  Is there any special sacredness or honor in it above the other names which He bears? And why should we bow at His name rather than at the name of the Father? Besides, if any special homage is to be paid to the name of the Savior under the authority of this passage, and this is the only one on which the authority of this custom is based, it should be by bowing the knee, not the “head.” But the truth is, this authorizes and requires neither; and the custom of bowing at the name of Jesus, in some churches, has arisen entirely from a misinterpretation of this passage.

UNDER THE EARTH:  (Gr.-katachthoviōn)–Homeric adjective for departed souls, subterranean, simply the dead. Used only here in the N.T.  No realm will be exempt from having to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ.  ALL will acknowledge Him! 

“Things,” as it appears three times in this verse, does not emphasize clearly that these are creatures who must bow, not inanimate “things.”  There are three classifications of beings listed here:
Heavenly beings: Angels and the whole world of immaterial spirits; including the spirits of just men made perfect, now in a state of blessedness.

2.      Inhabitants of earth:  People living on earth at that time.
3.      Those under the earth:   all that are in the shades below, who have, through their own fault,  died without having received His salvation; should acknowledge Him.

{that} every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ {is}Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

“And {that} every tongue should confess”
Literally:  “And every tongue should confess.” Even those who are His enemies.  That all those before mentioned should acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, or
Absolute Governor, and thus glorify God the Father, who has exalted this human nature to this state of ineffable glory, in virtue of its passion, death, resurrection, and the atonement which it has made, by which so many attributes of the Divine nature have become illustrated, the Divine law magnified and made honorable, and an eternal glory provided for man.

But intelligent beings seem to be those which are chiefly intended by Paul for it appears that nothing less than absolute rule over angels, men, and devils, can be meant in these words, and by confessing Him to be Lord we may understand that worship, which all intelligent creatures are called to pay to God, is displayed in the flesh.  All should honor the Son even as they honor the Father, and the worship that is offered is to the glory of God. Then far from being idolatrous, as some have so rashly called it, is to the honor of the Godhead. We may also add, that the tongue which does not confess this, is a tongue that dishonors the Almighty.

        EVERY TONGUE: (Gr.-pasa glōssa)—This naturally includes ALL created beings who have ever lived.  NONE will be excluded in being required to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.

        CONFESS: (Gr.-exomologēsētai)—Confess literally means, “to speak the same thing.”  All must someday agree, or admit, that Jesus Christ is God, even though they have not trusted Him as Savior.

The sense here is that of frank, open confession. One translator adds the phrase, “with thanksgiving,” which the Greek text would support.  The verb may also be rendered as “thank” (as in Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21); that meaning growing out of “open, joyful,” acknowledgment. The same Greek word is in the LXX, in Isa. 45:23, where the Hebrew equivalent is “swear.” 

“that Jesus Christ {is} Lord”
Literally:  “that Jesus Christ {is} Lord”–The word “Lord” is used here in its primitive and proper sense, as denoting
owner, ruler, sovereign (comp. Rom. 14:9).

The meaning is, that all should acknowledge Him as the universal sovereign.  Such an acknowledgement that Jesus Christ is Lord, or God, is, “to the glory of God the Father.”  This is the key to whatever God does:  to reflect His glory.  Even the humiliation and exaltation of Christ, along with the eventual agreement by all that Christ Jesus is Lord, results in bringing glory to God.

“to the glory of God the Father”
Literally:  “to {the}  glory of God {the} Father”– Jehovah; now not “in the form of a servant,” but enthroned in the glory of God the Father.  The grand end of Christ's mediatorial office and kingdom, which shall cease when this end shall have been fully realized (John 5:19-23,30; 17:1,4-7; I Cor. 15:24-28).


“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.”

         “Wherefore, my beloved,”
         Literally: “So as, my beloved.”

        WHEREFORE:  (Gr.-hōste), literally:  “so as.”  This points out that Paul was referring to what he had written in the previous verses.  Having proposed Christ's example, he exhorts them to secure the salvation which Christ has purchased.  

In v. 3 Paul had urged them to put others first, and then he went on to show how Christ had put others first even to the extent of emptying Himself of the glory He had with the Father and dying on the cross (vv. 5-8).  Then in verses 9-11 he showed how God had highly exalted Christ as Lord.  Wherefore, or “so as,” on the basis of these truths, Paul goes on to tell these believers to work out their salvation.

        MY BELOVED:  (Gr.-agapētoi)–Paul’s fondness for these Philippian believers is seen in this expression.  He had first come to Philippi on his second missionary journey.  There he and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison (Acts 16:19-29).  Before long a close bond of fellowship developed between Paul and the Philippians, and even before they left the city, Paul and Silas were comforting the believers (Acts 16:40).

“as ye have always obeyed,
Literally:  Even as you always obeyed.”–Continue to act on the same principles and from the same motives, having the same disposition which was in Christ; i.e., laboring so as to promote His glory.

The Philippians had from the beginning manifested a remarkable readiness to show respect to Paul, and to listen to his teaching. This readiness he more than once refers to and commends. He still appeals to them, and urges them to follow his counsels.  He  reminds them of their obedience in the past, with the word “always,” being prominent in the sentence. 

        OBEYED:  (Gr.-hypersoute)–Both God, and me, His minister.  Continue to act on the same principles and from the same motives as you always have done; having the same disposition which was in Christ; laboring so as to promote His glory. “Even as ye have been obedient,” namely, to God, as Jesus was “obedient” unto God

“not as in my presence only”–Not just when I am with you, but also when I am away, as I am now.  Paul was about to urge them to fulfill a request, but he prefaced it by saying, “As you have always obeyed, not as if I were always there.”  When he was on the scene in Philippi, there was no reluctance to obey his instructions; but now, more than even, he was concerned that they do what he was about to say, although he was not there in person.

“work out your own salvation”
Literally:  “Cultivate your salvation.” Display outwardly what you claim to be inwardly.  Go on, walking by the same rule, and minding the same thing, till your salvation be completed: till, filled with love to God and man, walk unblameable in all his testimonies, having your fruit unto holiness, and your end everlasting life.

         This is used as a “proof text” for those who believe in some sort of a “works salvation”—that man must do something to earn or work into a state of salvation; but the blame for such theology comes from the weakness of this KJV translation.  Instead of translating the Greek word katertazesthe correctly as “cultivating,” the translators rendered the word as “work out.”  This gave it an entirely different meaning.  In reality, the verse is not referring to working to acquire salvation; rather, it is referring to working to express outwardly the salvation that you already have inwardly.
         The Bible makes it crystal clear that works (any kind of works; religious or otherwise) have NO PART WHATSOEVER in acquiring salvation.  Eph. 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Rom. 4:5 says, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” 

         However, for those who do believe, it is important that they EXPRESS the salvation they have as a result of placing their faith in Christ as their personal Savior.  This is what Paul is referring to when he told the Philippian believers to “Work out” (literally: CULTIVATE) your own salvation.”  They ALREADY possessed salvation, but Paul was concerned that they expressed it (“work out”) their salvation through their daily living.

VERSE 13:  Ground for Encouragement
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [His] good pleasure.”

“For it is God which worketh in you”
Literally:  “For God is the {One} working in you.” Every holy purpose, pious resolution, good word, and good work, must come from Him; you must be workers together with Him, that you receive not His grace in vain; because He works in you, therefore work with Him, and work out your own salvation.

         This is given as a reason for working out our salvation. It is often thought to be the very reverse, and men often feel that if God works “in us to will and to do,” there can be no need of our making an effort, and that there would be no use in it. The fallacy of this way of thinking is this:  if God does all the work, as they say, why should we not patiently sit still, and wait until He puts forth His power, and accomplishes in us what He wills?  Therefore, in order to see whether this objection is valid, or whether the fact that God works in us is to be regarded as a reason why we should make no effort, it is of importance to understand what this declaration of Paul’s really does mean.

        WORKETH:   (Gr.-energōn)–From a Greek verb energeō, meaning “to work, to be active, to produce effect,” and is that from which we have derived the word “energetic.”

The meaning is that God produces a certain effect in us. He exerts such an influence over us as to lead to a certain result in our minds–“to will and to do.”  Nothing is said of the mode or method in which this is done, and this probably could be understood by us anyhow (comp. John 3:8)–“The wind (Gr.-pneuma) bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth, so is every one that is born of the Spirit (Gr.-Pneuma).  Certain things of a negative character, are clear here:.
1.      It is not God Who acts for us.

He leads us to “will and to do.”  It is not said that He wills and does for us, and this cannot be. It is man that “wills and does” though God so influences him so that he does it.
2.      He does not compel or force us against our will.
He leads us to “will” as well as to do. The will cannot be forced; and the meaning here must be that God exerts such an influence as to make us willing to obey Him (comp. Psa. 110:3)–“Thy people {shall be} willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning:  Thou has the dew of Thy youth.”
3.      It is not a physical force, but it must be a moral influence.
A physical power cannot act on the will.
         a.      You may chain a man, incarcerate him in the deepest dungeon, starve him, scourge him, apply red-hot pincers to his flesh, or place on him the thumb-screw, but the will is still free.
         b.      You cannot bend a man’s will, or control it, or make him believe otherwise than as he chooses to believe.
The declaration here, therefore, cannot mean that God compels us, or that we are anything else but free agents still, though He “works in us to will and to do.” It must mean merely that He exerts such an influence as to secure this result.

Every holy purpose, pious resolution, good word, and good work, must come from God, for of ourselves we are incapable of producing such.  We must be workers together with Him, so that we do not receive His grace in vain.  It is God working in you, therefore work with Him, and work out (display outward) your own inner salvation.

“Do all things without murmuring and disputings:”–
Without grumbling and altercations; in a quiet, peaceful, inoffensive manner.

Be patient in, and contented with, your work; and see that you not fall out by the way. In a quiet, peaceful, inoffensive manner.  Let there be no brawls, strifes, or contentions. The object of the apostle here is, probably, to illustrate the sentiment which he had expressed in (vv. 3-5), where he had inculcated the general duties of humbleness of mind, and of esteeming others better than themselves. In order that that spirit might be fully manifested, he now enjoins the duty of doing everything in a quiet and gentle manner, and of avoiding any species of strife (Eph. 4:31- 32).

DO:  (Gr.-poieite)—This Greek word is in the present tense, which emphasizes a continuous practice.

ALL:  (Gr.-panta)—In the Greek text this word stands first in the sentence, and is therefore strongly emphasized. 

Not only are all things included, but also all time.  Paul emphasizes tat this was to be the believer’s way of life:  the way a Christian works our, or expresses, his salvation.  Believers would have no problem with doing many things, or perhaps most things, without murmuring and disputing, but Paul said that all things were to be done in this way.  NOTHING was excluded!

MURMURING: (Gr.-gongosmōn)—This Greek word literally means, “grumbling, complaining, muttering.”  

The believer who is characterized by a complaining attitude is not properly expressing, (literally: “working out”) the salvation he claims to possess; therefore, he is not attracting unbelievers to Jesus Christ.  Such a person does not have the confidence he should have in God’s ability to use everything in his life to bring about his good and God’s glory (see Rom. 8:28).  This does not mean that an individual should be content with a miserable situation, but he should recognize that God can use even such situations to conform him to the image of Christ.

DISPUTINGS:  (Gr.-dialogismōn)—It is from this Greek word that we get our English word, “dialogue.”  The grumblings (murmuring) led to disputes.

This Greek word means, “doubt, dispute, argument.”  It has to do with expressing one’s opinions; thus, the resultant meanings of arguing or debating.  “Disputings,” logically follows “murmurings  or complaining.   Both prevent the believer from being the kind of witness he ought to be.


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