Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Colonizing the earth

It is worth noting that Philippi was a Roman colony and that many in the Philippian church would have been Roman citizens. In drawing on the analogy between Roman citizenship and citizenship in heaven, Paul not only was designating Jesus as the true “Savior” and “Lord” in contrast to Caesar (who was often described by these titles); he was also undoubtedly aware that Rome was crowded (indeed, overcrowded), and its citizens who were spread throughout the empire did not expect to settle in Rome one day. Instead, they expected to live out their citizenship wherever they were, as representatives of the empire. Likewise Christians, whose citizenship is in heaven, are expected to live as representatives of the kingdom of God on earth, manifesting Christ’s rule, until the day when the true Lord returns from heaven (the mother city) to liberate them from their enemies and fully establish his rule in the colonies. Or, to put it in terms of the Lord’s Prayer, the day when God’s kingdom comes and God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 218

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