The church is an eschatological community, a colony of heaven. But in order for the heavenly reality to be a present, earthly experience, believers need to work out the salvation promised to them. Paul desires to see an ecclesiological fulfillment of the eschatological promise of salvation. This understanding of working out salvation as a present expression of God’s promise of salvation does not contradict but rather implements Paul’s earlier instruction to look after the interests of others (2:4) (174–75; cf. 177).
Indeed, for Paul, decoupling eschaton and ecclesiology was a highly precarious activity, for such an action would tend to deconstruct the Christian community’s identity and its witness in the world to God’s mighty acts in Jesus (e.g., 1 Cor 6:1–11; 10; Phil 3:17–21).
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