Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence…
Did you ever have committed to your care something exceedingly rare and precious; something of singular beauty or untold value? Did you ever come into the possession of something long and ardently desired, which you had thought to be too good, too sweet, too lovable ever to be really yours, your very own? Was not there an awe, almost a terror in the sense of that possession? Did you not say to yourself, "Who am I that I should have this? What if I should let it drop? What if I should lose it?" Did not the very joy make you "afraid" and your happiness make you "tremble"? There is another cause of "fear" and "trembling!" You are working with Omnipotence, it is an awful thing working with God! What a responsibility! What a position for a man, a poor sinner, to be in! "What if my shortcomings and sins should deprive me at last of that friendship, and turn His very kindness into a curse! The thought may well make me 'fear and tremble!'" And how tremendous is the issue at stake! To have been once saved; to have stood on that high and blessed position; to have tasted that peace, and then to lose it all! Oh! what bitter self-reproach forever! What a wrong done to my own dear kind Saviour! What an aggravation to my time of misery!
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.