"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
Lately, I have gotten back in the habit of keeping a dictionary near when reading my Bible. I love to look up certain words and understand the context they are being used in to help me understand more clearly what exactly it is saying. After reading these two verses today, I looked up the word "work".
There were so many definitions given, but I wrote down the ones that seemed to fit best in the context and then realized something - it seemed like each time the word "work" was used it could be replaced with a different definition given. This was exciting! I mean, honestly, if you read the passage above it may seem confusing how many times the word "work" is used (eg. "work out your own salvation", "for it is God who works in you"). You may read that and think "Well, which is it?" It's both. Let me show you what I did that made it all make so much more sense, at least to me.
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, prepare for use exerting oneself physically and mentally your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who brings to pass in you, both to will and to function according to plan or design for his good pleasure."
It all started to make so much more sense! You see, we are responsible for our obedience. This is the "work out your own salvation" part. We are to prepare ourselves for use by exerting ourselves physically and mentally (obeying). That is how we "work".
God is the one who brings it to pass. It is God's work in us that allows us to obey. He is the author of salvation and brings to pass salvation in us.
His "work" in us is so that we have the will to obey and will function according to the His design and plan for us. A plan for His good pleasure - because He delights in us and in our obedience.
I don't know about you, but while I had a semi-understanding of the above passage before, this just made it so much clearer and I had to share! I am so excited to have a better understanding between the connection of what God expects from us and His part that He fulfills in us. So amazing!