What does God’s Word Really say… “work out your own salvation,” and “grace did more abound”*

Roman soldier and Jesus 2

For a blessing read Endnote #4, statement #4; of the seven things that Jesus said upon the cross.

Introduction
The aim for any diligent student of God’s Word should be to handle the original languages of both Testaments along with the grammar.  

The Old Testament Hebrew is vague, which many times makes this point moot, but the Greek language is a very precise and detailed language with many nuances found within the grammar, especially the verb, though the noun can be just as revealing, simply little harder to learn.  

Nuance and Clarity
Let me clarify what I mean by nuance regarding handling the Greek grammar.  An
example of what I mean by nuance is that reading the English translation of the Greek New Testament is like a black-and-white photo and in some cases a very poor black-and-white photo with excess noise (a term in photography meaning excess grain, which takes from the clarity) and scratches.  

To add nuance would be like adding clarity to the photo by greater focus (smaller grain), and color which would bring a much greater understanding of the nuances of all the shades between black and white, this is what understanding the Greek and it’s grammar means.

Correct Meaning
However, in many cases the black and white appears to be the opposite of what the real color picture is, below is an example. 

It is by starting to parse the verbs that the student (remember Christ’s words in Matthew 28:19-20 to “make disciples of all the nations,” not converts; all believers are students and followers of Christ, which mandates studying His manifesto, “The Word of God itself”) may grasp a handle on the original Koiné Greek New Testament language, as compared to the inconsistent and sloppy English translation which creates many problems today.  

One of the examples of understanding how important comprehending the true meaning behind the English by examining the Greek behind any Scripture can be seen in Philippians 2:12, regarding the phrase, “work out  your salvation.

The Example
Philippians 2:12 (KJV), states:

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.”

Over the decades I have heard many pastors and teachers misinterpret this verse implying self-righteousness is a part of the Christian walk, that the believer helps in some way their own salvation, which is completely opposed to the teaching of salvation by grace through faith, as witnessed through the book of Romans (for another example see Endnote #1).

Salvation by Grace ALONE 
This should drive the believer to his knees in humility; not believing that they have to add to their righteousness in gaining salvation, which is heretical concerning the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross, He paid the price in full
(“it is finished” – better translated “paid in full”, as stated by Jesus in John 19:30, see Endnote #3).

But if one is ignorant or uninformed about the Greek meaning of the words that God did inspire, resting solely in the English translations based upon man’s interpretation of what would be the best English words, understanding that English is a living language and that words change their meeting; it is no wonder that the reader would misinterpret this verse.

What It is Note Saying
This verse is NOT saying to work for your salvation, it is  NOT saying to work out to receive your salvation, it is  NOT saying to earn your salvation, nor is it even saying to help in the completion of your salvation; though it may sound like it in the English translation.  

The Generic, None-Literal Meaning
The Greek word that is translated into the English “work out,” is katergazomai.  katergazomai 
in the Strong’s root (generic) dictionary does not help very much, understanding that a root dictionary only gives the base words, but not the nuances of what that specific word means, (which is why in the preface of Strong’s Greek dictionary it states it is NOT appropriate to use it for “word studies” or to understand the exact grammar of each specific verse that uses these words, wherein Strong’s dictionary only provides a generic interpretation), which would be analogous to a base word with no prefixes or suffixes.

Meaning that Strong’s says nothing beyond concerning the root of this word, it generically means: to work fully, to accomplish, by “implication” to finish, or fashion, to cause, to do, to perform, to work (out).

However, as stated above this is the generic understanding of the word, and not what the word means in this particular passage where the specificity of the Greek grammar indicates something different.

The Specific Grammar Of This Verse
The grammar of this use of the word katergazomai, within this passage is:  

Tense-Present
Voice-Middle or Passive Deponent
Mood -Imperative

The Tense
The present tense means that this is a current action that never, ever ends.  Excuse the over emphasis but the present tense never stops while you’re in this body on the earth, therefore this working out is not done to achieve your salvation and occurs only once, no this is something that occurs in the life of the believer throughout their lifetime, without ever stopping.

The Mood
The imperative mood indicates this is a command which must be done, there are no options here.  The believer is to do this working out all of their life and never stop it, and they have no choice if they are going to follow the admonition of the Holy Spirit as scribed by Paul.

The Voice
The voice within the grammar tells us who does the action (the gender of the verb, male does the action; female receives the action).  The active voice is the doer, and the passive voice is the receiver.  There are two other forms of voice, one which is used here.

Defining the Voice
To further define the different roles of the voice according to the King James translation which includes the grammar , “King James version – TVM” (tense, voice, and mood):

Active Voice
Subject Causes the Action (Object Receives Action)
“The active voice represents the subject as the doer or performer of the action. e.g., in the sentence, “The boy hit the ball, ” the boy performs the action.”

Passive Voice
Subject Receives the Action (Object Causes Action)
“The passive voice represents the subject as being the recipient of the action. E.g., in the sentence, “The boy was hit by the ball, ” the boy receives the action.”

Permissive Middle
The subject allows something to be done for or to himself or herself. This usage, though rare, involves some exegetically important texts. Luke 2:4-5 Joseph went up from Galilee … (5) to be enrolled with Mary. Acts 22:16 Rise, have yourself baptized and allow your sins to be washed away. 

Middle or Passive Deponent
A deponent middle verb is one that has no active form for a particular principal part in Hellenistic Greek, and one whose force in that principal part is evidently active. See Wallace for his list of true deponents. (http://www.bcbsr.com/greek/gvoice.html)

If the idea was that the person that this is addressed is meant to do all the action, it would’ve been in the active voice, which it is not.  

This in itself implies that this is not a behavior by the individual solely.  

The fact that many times this is interpreted as active, is not the same in this passage.  

“In linguistics, a deponent verb is a verb that is active in meaning but takes its form from a different voice, most commonly the middle or passive. A deponent verb has no active forms. (See Endnote #2)

What this means is that the action is NOT done by the hearer of this Scripture – WE DO NOT WORK OUT OUR SALVATION – GOD DOES.

What this Passage IS Saying
The best example of what this scripture means can be seen whenever a teacher who is doing the action of working out a mathematical equation, writing out the formula and the conclusion; then shows it to the student and tells him to work out how the teacher came to the conclusion of the problem.  The student does not do the work of the conclusion but observes how the teacher came to the conclusion by seeing his written work.  

The student does not do the work of the conclusion but observes how the teacher came to the conclusion by seeing his written work.  

In the same way you and I are to examine God’s word (“so then, faith, by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Romans 10:17), witnessing how bad sin is, how powerful it is, how that man severing his relationship with God by his lack of trust which was manifest in the sin of not believing God is so great that the only remedy that God Himself could do would be to place the punishment for that sin upon a pure sinless substitute, a substitute that had the greatest value to God; His Son.  This is how God could be both merciful and righteous.  

This is how God could be both merciful and righteous.  

How often have you heard it said that it is not fair that what one man did, Adam; affected all of humanity  by bringing death, yet God’s word says that the second Adam, Jesus Christ brought life (1 Corth. 15:22,45).

It is when we work out how God managed to overcome the problem, understanding that it cost Him the life of His Son, that the only conclusion is “fear and trembling,” understanding the gravity of the situation.  

If you do not have gratitude, you are not exercising faith, because you do not understand your own sin and the price that God paid for it – you think you have added to God’s grace.

Because gratitude which produces humility is the only proper response to genuine Biblical faith, which is the foundation and basis of the Christian walk.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (Hebrews 12:15 KJV)

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”  (James 4:6 KJV)

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time”  (1 Peter 5:6 KJV)

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” See Endnote #3   (John 19:30 KJV)

“The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’
is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast:
the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.”

Brent

For the complete exegesis of this passage, with further evidence concerning the claims made here please see the article entitled: “Work Out Your Own Salvation ~ Philippians 2:12-13” – LINK

Footnote
1.  Wuest’s statement concerning the challenging words: “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound”

“Moreover  the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”  (Romans 5:20 KJV)

In the Greek there is no article (“the”) before the word “law.”  What it is saying is that law as a method of divine dealing entered.  The Greek word for “entered” is pareisēlthen.  The Greek Elthon means “to come,” Eis “into,” and para, “alongside,” thus, this passage is saying that law “entered alongside.”

Vincent Says,
“Now that the parallel between Adam and Christ is closed, the question arises as to the position and office of the law. How did it stand related to Adam and Christ? Paul replies that it came in alongside the sin.

Dwight States,
‘It was taken up into the divine plan or arrangement, and made an occasion for the abounding of grace in the opening of the new way of justification and life’.

Meyer Says, 
‘The comparison between Adam and Christ is closed. But in the middle between the two stood the law’.

Denney Explains,
Paul must refer to it in such a way as to indicate the place it holds in the order of Providence, and especially to show that it does not frustrate, but further, the end contemplated in the work of Christ . . .

Sin entered into the world; the Law entered into the situation thus created as an accessory or subordinate thing; it has not the decisive significance in history which the objective power of sin has.” “Offense” is paraptōma (transgression).

Abound” is pleonazō, “to increase, be augmented.” “The offense is multiplied because of the law, encountering the flesh, evokes its natural antagonism to God, and so stimulates it into disobedience . . . As the offense multiplied, the need of redemption and the sense of that need were intensified.”

Vincent explains,
Not primarily of the greater consciousness and acknowledgment, but of the increase of actual transgression. The other thought, however, may be included. “Did much more abound” is huperperisseuō.  The simple verb means “to be over and above a certain number or measure,” thus, “to super-abound.” The prefixed preposition means “above.” Thus, Paul says, “Where sin increased (pleonazō), grace superabounded, and then some on top of that.”  

Denney Goes on to Say,
Sin (hamartia) is used here, not paraptōma, because more proper to express the sum total of evil, made up of repeated acts of disobedience to the law.  

Translation:
“Moreover, the law entered in alongside, in order that the transgression might be augmented. But where the sin was augmented, the grace superabounded with more added to that.”  

Taken from: “Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament – Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament – Volume 1.”

2.  Regarding Greek Deponent Verb and Middle Voice

Linguist Robert S. P. Beekes States
In grammar, the voice (also called diathesis and (rarely) gender (of verbs)) of a verb describes the relationship between the action (or state) that the verb expresses and the participants identified by its arguments (subject, object, etc.).

When the subject is the agent or doer of the action, the verb is in the active voice. When the subject is the patient, target or the one that undergoes the action, the verb is said to be in the passive voice. [Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction, Robert S. P. Beekes, formatted coloring added]

3.  “It is finished” (tetélestai) “it is finished” – “paid in full” Joh_19:30

Perfect Tense: Completed in the Past (Results in the Present)
The perfect tense in Greek describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated while having ramifications in the present. Jesus’ last cry from the cross, tetélestai (“It is finished!”) is a good example of the perfect tense used in this sense, namely “It [the atonement] has been accomplished, completely, once and for all time.”

Indicative Mood: Mood of Certainty (A Reality)
The indicative mood is a simple statement of fact. If an action really occurs or has occurred or will occur, it will be rendered in the indicative mood.

Number Singular: Applies to a specific person
Meaning that salvation applies to the person that meets the conditions of being a believer, having exercised faith.

Warren Wiersbe States regarding John 19:28
The word tetelestai is unfamiliar to us, but it was used by various people in everyday life in those days. A servant would use it when reporting to his or her master, “I have completed the work assigned to me (see John 17:4). When a priest examined an animal sacrifice and found it faultless, this word would apply. Jesus, of course, is the perfect Lamb of God, without spot or blemish.

When an artist completed a picture, or a writer a manuscript, he or she might say, “It is finished!” The death of Jesus on the cross “completes the picture” that God had been painting, the story that He had been writing, for centuries. Because of the cross, we understand the ceremonies and prophecies in the Old Testament. Perhaps the most meaningful meaning of

The death of Jesus on the cross “completes the picture” that God had been painting, the story that He had been writing, for centuries. Because of the cross, we understand the ceremonies and prophecies in the Old Testament.

Perhaps the most meaningful meaning of tetelestia was that used by the merchants: “The debt is paid in full!” When He gave Himself on the cross, Jesus fully met the righteous demands of a holy law; He paid our debt in full. None of the Old Testament sacrifices could take away sins; their blood only covered sin. But the Lamb of God shed His blood, and that blood can take away the sins of the world (John 1:29; Heb. 9:24-28).

Perhaps one of the best examples of gaining greater understanding of a text according to understanding the specific meaning of a Greek Word can be seen in the last words of Jesus hanging from the cross (see Endnote #4). John 19:30 records the second to last of seven statements that Jesus made from the cross when He said: Tetélestai, translated into the English, “it is finished.

While true the Greek word Tetélestai encapsulates the idea of completion, yet a fuller understanding of this word according to recent archaeological digs displays the full nuance that can be gleaned by a closer examination of this Greek word.

What has come to be understood is that while the Greek word Tetélestai connotatively (generally) means “completed,” or “finihed,” yet in this spelling and usage it denotatively (specifically) means, “paid in full.”

The Greek word Tetélestai has been found written corner to corner (catty-corner) on trust deeds concerning property ownership in the area of Judea when mortgages (leases) were paid off.

We must understand that according to Gods direction land was never to be sold, it was to stay within the boundaries of the tribe that it was dedicated, but it could be leased, returning to the original owner during the year of Jubilee.

The word Tetélestai was also found written on certain Roman documents concerning the confinement of prisoners in the area of Judea at the time of Christ, when they had completed their sentence; therefore at a later time if he was accused of being an escaped criminal he could prove he had “paid is debt to society” in full (when a prisoner was given a certain amount of time, whenever a year was completed it was noted in the document, therefore when five years was sentenced and then served, there were five separate entries, one for each year validating that he not only paid the price but that he paid it in full, year by year).

The Romans were very strict in their accountability and their bookkeeping, and if a Roman soldier lost a prisoner that he was guarding he would have to pay off the remainder of the sentence, so the guards were ambitious to always have an accurate total of the time the prisoner had paid in case there was an escape.

This is the reason why the head jailer was going to commit suicide when God had opened up the gate doors, and shackles of the prisoners, among who were Paul and Silas. The head jailer was aware that with all those prisoners escaping he would spend the rest of this life paying off their sentences.

The Romans were very strict in their accountability and their bookkeeping, and if a Roman soldier lost a prisoner that he was guarding he would have to pay off the remainder of the sentence, so the guards were ambitious to always have an accurate total of the time the prisoner had paid in case there was an escape.

This is the reason why the head jailer was going to commit suicide when God had opened up the gate doors, and shackles of the prisoners, among who where Paul and Silas. The head jailer was aware that with all those prisoners escaping he would spend the rest of this life paying off their sentences.

The Romans were very strict in their accountability and their bookkeeping, and if a Roman soldier lost a prisoner that he was guarding he would have to pay off the remainder of the sentence, so the guards were ambitious to always have an accurate total of the time the prisoner had paid in case there was an escape.

This is the reason why the head jailer was going to commit suicide when God had opened up the gate doors, and shackles of the prisoners, among who were Paul and Silas. The head jailer was aware that with all those prisoners escaping he would spend the rest of this life paying off their sentences.

Whereas the Hebrews never had a form of incarceration, the Romans used it throughout the known world. When a defendant was found guilty of a crime, he was given a “Bill of Ordinances,” which contained not only the charges but the amount of time that he would serve as punishment.

The Greek expression, cheirographon dogma, which is translated “handwriting of ordinances,” as noted by Paul in Colossians 2:14, is actually a technical term referring to this “Bill of Ordinances,” from which we have our American euphemism, “debt to society,” that we get from this expression.

Yet, in archaeological digs, it was noted that whenever a prisoner had paid his debt to society, Tetélestai would be written corner to corner, the same as on paid mortgages.

The relevance of the full meaning of this word is immense to the Christian. It could be said that Jesus completed His mission (of bringing peace or love to the earth), it could be said that Jesus completed His teachings (of wisdom), it could be said that Jesus was referring to finishing His life or even the vinegar.

Yet, these superficial general explanations do not fit the grammar of this word, in context. Jesus did come and teach, yet Christ’s specific mission was to die for the sins of the world, and it was His death for the sins of mankind that He had “paid in full.” What this passage means is that Christians cannot add anything to their salvation, not one dime; because Jesus paid every cent.

Conclusion
When it comes to the issue of salvation in regards to legalism and self-righteousness, there is an underlying motivation of pride that creates a mindset that is eager to find some kind of self-recognition in having attributed to one’s own receiving of such a precious gift.

There is this arrogance within man that does not want to receive anything freely, not having done anything to earn it. We have all met individuals that refuse to take anything for free, even a compliment; and upon close examination, it becomes obvious that their pride is the problem.

Many times the same individuals display an inability to admit weakness or vulnerability, which goes hand in hand with this kind of pride of life.

Yet, when it comes to salvation we owe everything to God. When Christ died on the cross, He paid the price in full, 100 percent, lacking nothing, and therefore it is on this that we must rest our faith.

Concerning the salvation of man, Jesus Christ “paid in full” the requirements of the law, and appeased the justice of God the Father.

4.  The 7 Last Words of Jesus

1. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
2. “Verily I say unto thee today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
3. “Woman, behold thy son” (John 19:25-27).

          [Three hours of darkness; Jesus is silent]

4. “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46)  BLESSING ~ This was not a question. Jesus spoke the first lines of Psalm 22, which those at His feet would have memorized as children. This Psalm is a first-hand account of what it was like to be crucified, even specifying the nails driven through His feet and hands. At the time this prophesy was written, 500 years before its occurrence, crucifixion was not in practice. The death penalty for Jews was always being stoned to death.  Jesus was not questioning the plan that He and The Father had determined before the creation as noted in Psalm 2. He was simply pointing out a prophecy that He was fulfilling at that very moment to those who were looking on.

5. “I thirst” (John_19:28).
6. “It is finished!” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit” (Luke 23:46).

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Faith Bible Ministries Blog ~ An Online Study of the Bible

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This online Bible study series addresses primary New Testament words in their original language - Koinè Greek - as opposed to mainly using the English translations; which is like adding color to a black-and-white picture.

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"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"

Faith Bible Ministries

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"

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