Introduction-“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” (Isaiah 40:10)
-In 168 B.C., the Romans brought Philippi under Roman rule. In the days of the New Testament, the former empire of Greece was divided into the northern Roman providence of Macedonia and the southern Roman providence of Achaia. After Philippi became a Roman colony, over 500 discharged military veterans received land allotments in Philippi. Being a Roman colony, Philippi was tax-exempt, self-governing, and enjoyed the rights and privileges of Rome itself, such as the dress, coinage, holidays, and language.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
1. A Heavenly Citizenship
-“But” (γὰρ) contrasts the false teachers with true believers in Christ, just like Paul contrasted Judaizers and the Philippians in Philippians 3:2-3.
-“Our citizenship” (ἡμῶν πολίτευμα) can be translated many different ways, but the intended meaning is members of a commonwealth or state. The archaic translation “conversation” improperly represents this idea as “way of life.”
-Roman citizens enjoyed the right to legally marry, the right to vote, and the right to make commercial contracts. Roman citizens, except in Roman colonies like Philippi, were taxed. Someone could become a Roman citizen by birth if the child was born in legal wedlock, whereupon he/she assumed the social status of their father. If the child was born to parents not legally married under Roman law, the child took the status of the mother. If the mother was a Roman citizen, then the child would become a Roman citizen. However, Roman legionaries were forbidden by law to marry during their 20-year term of service, and any children born to soldiers in active military duty were not considered citizens.
-The Cives Romani were either non optimo iure who held property and marriage rights, or optimo iure who held these rights and the rights to vote and hold office.
-Roman citizens could not receive the death penalty (such as crucifixion), whipped, or tortured.
-Roman citizens could also be priests or magistrates, which at first was only a privilege granted to the Patricians. Later, however, the plebians also enjoyed this privilege. Free-born Roman women who were citizens could not hold civil office or vote.
-Paul was the only apostle with recorded Roman citizenship, and he had it by birth. (Acts 22:25-29) Tarsus, in the province of Cilicia (Acts 22:3), was a free city in the Roman Empire. Because he was a Roman citizen, he had the legal right to a fair trial in the Roman courts, and could appeal to Caesar himself as the highest standard of appeal.
-The Roman Republic lasted from 509 B.C. until 27 B.C., so the majority of Philippi’s history under Roman rule occurred during the commonwealth period. Beginning with Augustus Caesar in 27 B.C., however, the Roman Empire began. Augustus Caeser, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius all ruled prior to Nero, who was currently the emperor when Paul was in prison.
-“is” (ὑπάρχει) is present active indicative, specifying we have a present citizenship already in place.
-“heaven” (οὐρανοῖς) is the present realm of God, Christ, the angels, and those awaiting their resurrection bodies. Our citizenship finds its location in Heaven.
-To be a citizenship meant that one was an inhabitant of a city or country. (Luke 15:15; Luke 19:14).
-To be a citizen in some contexts meant that one was part of the same ethnic nation as other “citizens”. (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:11)
-To be a citizen means that we are part of the holy nation of believers. (1 Peter 2:9)
-To be a citizen means that our inheritance is in heaven. (Matthew 5:12; 1 Peter 1:3-5)
-To be a citizen means that we enjoy the privileges of being sons of God. (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1)
-To be a citizen means that we enjoy the privileges of having full access to the King. (Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12)
-To be a citizen means that we enjoy the protection and privilege of being known by God. (2 Timothy 2:19)
2. An Anticipated Savior
-“await” (ἀπεκδεχόμεθα) means to eagerly await and look forward to something.
-Paul and the Philippians eagerly looked forward to meeting each other again. (Philippians 1:25-26; Philippians 2:24)
-The Philippians eagerly looked forward to seeing Epaphroditus again. (Philippians 2:25-30)
-To eagerly await something or someone gives someone hope. (Romans 15:13; Psalm 130:5)
-To eagerly await something or someone gives someone focus for the future. (Psalm 55:16-17)
-God calls us to eagerly await the fulfillment of His promises. (Psalm 37:34)
-God calls us to eagerly wait on Him in our lives as we think about the future. (Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 25:9)
-“a Savior” (σωτῆρα) means one who delivers from death.
-The author of Hebrews echoes this idea of Paul’s. (Hebrews 9:28)
-The primary influences in the world of Paul’s day were the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Romans. The Hebrews had long thought of the idea of a Messiah, the Greeks would have considered it folly to look to a Hebrew teacher as a “savior”, and the Romans, particularly the legionaries, would have confessed Caesar to be the supreme lord and son of God.
-In secular Greek, men gave other men the term savior in order to laud them for noble actions. In the Roman Empire, the Roman emperors were termed “saviors”, with Julius Caesar being described, “First, then, they voted that he should always ride, even in the city itself, wearing the triumphal dress, and should sit in his chair of state everywhere except at the games; for at those he received the privilege of watching the contests from the tribunes’ benches in company with those who were tribunes at the time. And they gave him the right to offer spolia opima [the arms stripped from a slain enemy commander], as they are called, at the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, as if he had slain some hostile general with his own hand, and to have lictors [Roman civil servant] who always carried laurel, and after the Feriae Latinae [Latin Festival] to ride from the Alban Mount into the city on horseback. In addition to these remarkable privileges they named him father of his country, stamped this title on the coinage, voted to celebrate his birthday by public sacrifice, ordered that he should have a statue in the cities and in all the temples of Rome, 5and they set up two also on the rostra, one representing him as the saviour of the citizens and the other as the deliverer of the city from siege, and wearing the crowns customary for such achievements. They also resolved to build a temple of Concordia Nova, on the ground that it was through his efforts that they enjoyed peace, and to celebrate an annual festival in her honour.”—Roman History by Cassius Dio, circa. 220 A.D.
-Divi Filius, “Son of God”, was bestowed upon Julius Caesar posthumously by the Roman senate in order for Augustus to be known as the “son of god”. Caesar Augustus (Gaius Octavius) used this title for political advancement. Tiberius and Nero were both emperors known as “son of god.” Roman centurions had to confess that Caesar was the son of god, in contrast to the Roman centurion that confessed Jesus to be the Son of God. (Mark 15:39)
-The phrase “son of God” in the Hebrew (God-breathed) understanding can mean those who act like God, those who are redeemed by God, or those belonging to Israel. But for Jesus to be known as the Son of God, it means that He is the truest Israelite ever born, the divine Savior sent by God, and rightful Davidic King of Israel.
-Men need a savior in order to deliver them from the enemies of God’s people. (Judges 3:9; Judges 3:15)
-No one on earth can ever be our sufficient and everlasting savior. (Psalm 146:3; Matthew 19:25-26)
-God is the only Savior of men. (Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4)
-Men need a Savior in order to redeem their souls. (Psalm 107:20; Psalm 130:8)
-Men need a Savior in order to usher them into the eternal Kingdom of God. (Colossians 1:11-14)
-Jesus Christ is the only Savior of men. (Acts 4:12; Acts 10:43)
-“Lord Jesus Christ” (κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν) identifies our savior: the Lord Jesus. It is the same title used in Philippians 2:11. Paul again states that Jesus, not Nero, is the true Lord of all.
-As Lord, Jesus Christ is the sovereign Ruler of the cosmos. (Psalm 47:8)
-As Lord, Jesus Christ reigns over all the actions of men. (Psalm 22:28)
-Jesus Christ is the only Lord of men. (1 Corinthians 8:6)
who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
1. A Future Transformation
-“will transform” (μετασχηματίσει) is a future active indicative verb, meaning that this is an actual fact that will occur in the future.
-Part of redemption is transformation. (Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26)
-“our” (ἡμῶν) “lowly” (ταπεινώσεως) “body” (σῶμα) means that we have bodies that are humiliatingly lowly and base in comparison to what will follow.
-Back in Genesis, God cursed humanity with death as a result of human sin. (Genesis 3:17-19)
-Our bodies last for a very brief amount of time compared to the time span of redemptive history. (Psalm 144:4; James 4:14)
-Our bodies have no power compared to the power of God. (Jeremiah 17:5; Isaiah 2:22)
-Our bodies will deteriorate as a result of the Fall, as this is inevitable for everyone. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)
-Our bodies are not the bodies that we will inhabit for eternity. (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)
-Our bodies suffer greatly from the effects of the Fall. (Romans 8:23; 2 Corinthians 5:4)
-Our bodies will assuredly die. (Job 34:14-15; Psalm 104:29)
-“By this argument he stirs up the Philippians still farther to lift up their minds to heaven, and be wholly attached to Christ—because this body which we carry about with us is not an everlasting abode, but a frail tabernacle, which will in a short time be reduced to nothing. Besides, it is liable to so many miseries, and so many dishonourable infirmities, that it may justly be spoken of as vile and full of ignominy.—John Calvin, Commentary on Philippians
2. A Glorious Body
-“to be like” (σύμμορφον) means to conform an object to specifications.
-Christ is the standard of our conformity. (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27)
-God has already predestined us to be conformed to Christ. (Romans 8:29)
-Christ Jesus stands perfect before the Father, interceding for us. (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25)
-Christ Jesus is sinless. (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22)
-Christ Jesus is risen from the grave. (Matthew 28:6; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
-The Holy Spirit is the divine agency of transforming power in our lives. (John 14:15-17; Romans 8:26)
-“his” (αὐτοῦ) “glorious body” (σώματι δόξης) contrasts our lowly bodies with Christ’s body of glory.
-God the Father raised Jesus Christ from the dead. (Acts 2:24; Acts 2:32)
-Jesus Christ Himself raised Himself from the dead. (John 2:19; John 10:17-18)
-The Holy Spirit’s power caused Christ to be raised from the dead. (Romans 8:11)
-John the apostle saw Jesus Christ in His glorified state after His resurrection. (Revelation 1:1-18)
-We will receive glorified bodies at the resurrection of the righteous. (Daniel 12:2; Ezekiel 37:12)
-The presence of sin will be removed when we are with our Lord. (Daniel 12:3)
3. A Supreme Power
-“power” (ἐνέργειαν) refers to working power and operational power.
-In the Gospels, the writers continuously present Jesus as possessing divine power that no mere mortal ever possessed in human history. (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 1:21-22)
-By the word of His power, God created the Heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
-Christ Jesus is the Creator of the universe. (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:10-12)
-The Lord possess all royal and sovereign power over the universe. (Psalm 29:4-6; Jeremiah 51:15-16)
-God the Father works His great power in us like He worked in the life of His Son. (Ephesians 1:19-21)
4. A Total Subjection
-“that enables” (δύνασθαι) means that Christ possesses divine power.
-“him” (αὐτὸν) “to subject” (ὑποτάξαι) means that Jesus has power to subdue bring into submission.
-To subject means to cause the object to be submissive. (Luke 10:17)
-God subjected all things and gave them to Christ. (Ephesians 1:22)
-“all things” (πάντα) means that nothing is outside Jesus’ control.
-Christ Jesus possesses all power over heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:18-23)
-Christ Jesus possesses all power over spiritual forces, for Christ Jesus is God incarnate. (Mark 1:23-27)
-Christ Jesus possesses all power over all rulers, for He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Psalm 89:27; Revelation 19:16)
-Christ Jesus possesses all power over suffering, for He conquered death itself. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
-Christ Jesus possesses all power over our indwelling sin, for He paid the penalty at the Cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)
-Christ Jesus possesses all power the dead, for He will raise men from the dead at His second coming. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
-“to himself.” (αὑτῷ) means that Jesus Christ powerfully rules over everyone and everything in Creation.
-Christ is the One to whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Philippians 2:9-11)
-No enemy will withstand Jesus Christ of Nazareth. (Psalm 17:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:8)
-Jesus Christ is worthy, and He is the conquering Lion of Judah and victorious Lamb of God. (Revelation 5:9-14)
-“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12-13 ESV)