Philippians: On Grace, Faith, and Works

Philippians: On Grace, Faith, and Works

The following is another extract from the forthcoming study guide on Philippians in the Participatory Study Series, by Dr. Bruce Epperly:

For Paul the issue is two-fold: 1) the status of Gentiles as members of the Christian community and 2) the relationship of grace, faith, and works. As apostle to the Gentiles, Paul affirms that God’s grace is universal and freely-given. God’s grace includes all persons, regardless of ethnicity and race. Just as all have sinned and fallen short, Jew and Greek alike, all are equally welcomed into God’s realm. To place certain requirements on Gentiles would fracture our unity in Christ and place them in the category of second class Christians, who must do something extra to receive God’s freely given grace. If we must do something extra to receive God’s grace and our place in the community of faith, then the grace of God is nullified and is dependent on our achievements. In practice, then a person will never know if he or she has done “enough” to receive God’s grace and promise of salvation in this life and the next. While Paul recognizes that grace leads to action, our ethical actions and religious practices do not earn God’s love. God loves us because we are God’s beloved children, regardless of our sin and brokenness (53).

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