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I have heard this verse used in support of the notion that "salvation" is the "good action" and the verse is affirming monergism:

Php 1:6 I am convinced of this, that the one who began a good action among you will bring it to completion by the Day of the Messiah Jesus. Php 1:7 For it is only right for me to think this way about all of you, because you're constantly on my mind. Both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, all of you are partners with me in this privilege.

As I read it in context it seems to be a reference to some kind of Christian work, like perhaps an evangelistic crusade.

Do I have the right idea?

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The word used in the above passage is normally translated as "work" - ἔργον.

This passage does not imply that Paul was professing monergism, as he preferences this particular remark with a commendation of the Philippians for their own action, namely their fellowship in furtherance of the Gospel (v. 5).

The concept of monergism was first seriously introduced by Augustine in the process of his combatting the Pelagian heresy. In some of his writings, which he later renounced, Augustine takes a position that man's free will plays no role whatsoever in his salvation. At one point he even went so far as to say that Peter essentially followed Christ involuntarily:

Will you dare to say that even when Christ prayed that Peter's faith might not fail, it would still have failed if Peter had willed it to fail?

Treatise on Rebuke and Grace, Ch. XVII

Augustine's views seemed to have taken hold in the west, but they were never taken seriously in the other four ancient Sees, which held to a doctrine of "synergy" of man's will with God's, rather than what has come to be called monergism. John Chrysostom, for example, comments on this passage:

Being confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.

See how he also teaches them to be unassuming. For since he had witnessed a great thing of them, that they may not feel as men are apt to do, he presently teaches them to refer both the past and the future to Christ. How? By saying, not, “Being confident that as ye began ye will also finish,” but what? “He which began a good work in you will perfect it.” He did not rob them of the achievement, for he said, I rejoice for your fellowship, clearly as if making it their act; nor did he call their good deeds solely their own, but primarily of God.

Homilies on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians, Homily I

In brief, I believe that the "work" or "action" that Paul is referring to is, in fact, the work of God - the action of Grace. I do not believe, however, as stated above, that this is some sort of proof text for monergism.

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  • Are you saying that the "work" is sanctification but that the work will be completed synergistically? – Ruminator Sep 23 '18 at 18:33
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God "works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure". But we still have to "work it out with fear & trembling".

Hen. 10:23 "let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised)". His faithfulness doesn't take the place of our need to be faithful.

Rom. 8:9-13 "but ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Christ dwell in you ... Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Like the rain from heaven, God gives His people everything they need to bring forth good fruit, but whether we walk after the Spitit & bring it to perfection, or whether we walk after the flesh & produce thorns & briars, is in our hands. "EVERY tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down & cast into the fire."

I think in Phil. 1:6 Paul is saying he is confident that they will do their part & work it out, not that he is confident that God will do his part till the end, Because that is unquestionable, and the apostle implies some doubt when he says "confident" and not "assured". And also his confidence is based on the good that he sees in them, which would not be a reason to be assured of God's faithfulness. The important thing to remember in this verse is that Paul is "confident" based on their present walk, & not 100% guaranteed based on the fact that they are elect. Similar to Heb. 6:9 where he is "persuaded" things "accompanying salvation" because they "minister to the saints and do minister", but then tells them to continue till the end in the same diligence.

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