Philippians 2:12b* reads:

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

I notice the same two concepts are given in Psalms 2 and 55.

Psalm 2:11:

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Psalm 55:5:

Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.

Is the NT expression given in Phil 2:12 related to the notions of fear and trembling in the psalms?

*All quotes ESV.


The same two words: φόβος (fear) and τρόμος (trembling) are used (in different cases, as dictated by the context) in Phil. 2:12 and in the Greek version (Septuagint) of Ps. 2:11 and Ps. 55:5. So yes, it is likely that the author of Philippians is alluding to these two Psalms.

Phil. 2:12: μετα φόβου καὶ τρόμου

Ps. 2:11: ἐν φόβῳ καὶ (…) ἐν τρόμῳ

Ps. 55:5: φόβος καὶ τρόμος

  • Is there something wrong with this answer? Why the anonymous down-vote?
    – fdb
    Jan 30 '15 at 21:16
  • 1
    Votes are meant as an anonymous crowd-sourced ranking mechanism and do not require explanation. That said, the DV was mine and apparently does not reflect a consensus here, so I’ll explain. When I was revising the question and trying to decide what text to include, I looked at the Greek psalms to make sure the words were at least consistent. They were, so I included both of these. Which is to say, I thought of that as a starting point for an answer, not the answer itself.
    – Susan
    Jan 31 '15 at 17:49
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    I was still wondering: is this collocation of words common elsewhere (in the LXX, or extra-biblical literature), i.e. just a normal turn of phrase that wouldn't necessarily indicate a specific reference? Are there other sorts of analyses people do to figure out whether, given the same couple words, a reference is intended? Are there contextual clues? Have commentators noted this connection? That’s the sort of thing I was interested in learning from the answer. That said, it's not my question, and you seemed to have helped the OP.
    – Susan
    Jan 31 '15 at 17:49
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    P.S. I’ve probably up-voted answers of yours that do little more than tell us what the Peshitta says when relevant. That's because Syriac looks like squiggles to me and you deciphering it for me is helpful. But this wasn’t helpful to me, and I think the question reasonably asks for more.
    – Susan
    Jan 31 '15 at 17:50

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