Working Your Salvation With Fear and Trembling: Meaning and Bible Study


What does God mean when the Bible says we are to work for our own salvation and do it with fear and trembling? What do the words fear and trembling mean?

God fearing is true wisdom

On the one hand, the fear of God is reverent, holy and profound respect for God and honoring Him and His Word, the Bible. Fearing God is truly the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111: 10; Prov 9:10) because those who fear God read and obey His written Word. Anyone who takes what God says to heart takes true wisdom to himself because the ways of God are no longer to be discovered (Rom 11:33) and the wisdom of man is foolishness to God (1 Cor 1:25; 1 Cor 3:19). The point is, you will find true wisdom in the Bible, and a man or woman who reads the Bible daily will begin to understand, at least to some extent, God’s mind and what God’s will is for us. It is a wise thing to do.

Trembling before God

Isaiah 66: 2 “He is he to whom I will look: he who is lowly and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

God actually looks at or cares about those who are humble and contrite (broken) in their human minds and who tremble at His Word which is revealed in the Bible. God resists whoever is proud but will give His grace only to those who are humble (James 4: 6) so if you are a proud person, God will not consider you, nor look at you, and the word says that “God is against” or literally “at war with” the proud (James 4: 6). For those who “tremble in their flesh before God and stand in awe of his laws” (Psalm 119: 12)) If you fear and tremble before God and have such high regard for His Word, “The Lord is near to broken hearts, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). that God says “I live in a high and holy place, but also with one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15) because “They will follow Jehovah, he shall roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west “(Hosea 11:10). God said to his children,” Hear the word. word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word: ‘Your brethren who hate you and cast you out for my name’s sake have said:’ The Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy ‘; but they are the ones who will be ashamed ”(Isaiah 66: 5).

Fear and trembling

For those who fear God and tremble at His Word, God will look at them, consider them, save them, grant them grace and be close to. To fear God is to take God seriously when He speaks in the pages of the Bible, and then to fear the consequences of disobedience to His Word. To tremble before His Word is to have the utmost respect for Scripture, so submit and “Hade yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that in due time he may lift you up” (1 Pet 5: 6 ). If you exalt yourself, God will humble you but if you humble yourself, God will exalt you one day (James 4:10). Fear and trembling before God recognizes that he is the Almighty and that we are his children and children should have reverent respect for him and natural children should have for their parents.

Work our own salvation

Philippians 2: 12-13 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence, but even more in my absence, work for your own salvation with fear and trembling , because it is God who operates in you, both to want and to work for his good pleasure.

Paul associates fear and trembling with the effort we must make in our sanctification or our salvation. He does not say that we contribute or add to our salvation, but we work it as he indicated, “as you have always obeyed”, therefore this obedience is a “work” due to a healthy fear of disobedience because we tremble at His Word. Paul was familiar with the scriptures and certainly knew what the fear of God meant and what it meant to tremble before God. He knew the scriptures well enough to have read in the Old Testament that fear of God equated to wisdom and that trembling represented humility or humility. Someone who is proud does not fear God and will lack divine wisdom, and someone who does not tremble at His Word does not take the Bible seriously. These are two serious mistakes that will ensure that God will resist them (James 4: 6).

There is no fear that a person will lose their salvation, which is written here. It is not in the context of this book or in this chapter (2) of Philippians. The Book of Philippians is considered by many Bible scholars to be the Book of Joy, and the Church of Philippians may well have been Paul’s favorite. lose their salvation because they weren’t working hard enough. He exhorted them, telling them that they should “hold on to the word of life, so that on the day of Christ I may be proud that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” (Phil 2:16). This “clinging to the word of life” can mean nothing other than clinging to the Word of God, the Scriptures, and may have meant, in a dual way, the Word of God in Jesus- Christ (John 1).


There is no need to fear for those who have been saved but for those who are not saved, they have every good reason to fear that the day of their judgment will come because they have a day appointed to die and be judged (Heb 9:27). At that time there will be fear and trembling for a far more terrifying reason (Rev 20: 12-15). Decide today to be saved (2 Cor 6: 2) because if he returns today or tonight and you are not saved, you will perish in your sins and be separated from God forever in a eternity without Christ to which there is no escape or can one seek repentance at that time. Then there will be real fear and trembling that will never subside, and you will have reached a point of no return.

Another Patheos Read to Check Out: What Jesus Really Was Like: A Look at the Biblical Facts

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is the pastor of Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the senior editor of What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage and energize Christians and answer questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon


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