Philippians (11): A Heavenly Colony and Resurrection

Date: 10/7/2012
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: Resurrection
Organization: All Saints
Price: FREE

Philippians (11): A Heavenly Colony and Resurrection

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 3:21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. 4:1 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.

We are a Colony under Christ’s Rule - In only a few words Paul masterfully expresses heavenly rule and resurrection (also in 1Cor. 15, Rom. 8). He uses a vivid word-picture the Philippians had readily in mind. Philippi was a Roman colony as a result of the Roman Generals Antony and Octavian settling this Greek area for the victorious soldiers from the Roman Civil war (44 BC). Later when Octavian became Caesar Augustus he recognized the city as a Roman colony and more settlers were sent there. These events would have been about as far back in their minds as the World Wars are for us and the status of their Roman citizenship would have been a practical matter for ordinary life. It would have given those who had it legal rights. Paul made just such an appeal in Philippi (Acts 16:37).

We are Citizens of Christ’s Realm - The term “citizen” (politeuma) refers to relocated veterans “whose purpose was to secure the conquered country for the conquering country by spreading abroad that country’s way of doing things, its customs, its culture, and its laws” (WBC). Standing in their shoes, as citizens of Rome they were to bring Roman culture and influence to Northern Greece and to live as Romans there. The church today is a colony of the realm of heaven and is empowered by heaven’s rule. “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

We are to be Consummated in Christ’s Glory - The hope we must maintain while earth is colonized is that finally our Emperor Christ shall come “from” heaven and transform us. Our Deliverer will transform “the body of our humiliation” into a body of glory, just as Christ’s resurrected body. Here it is clear that the contrast is not physical vs non-physical, since the transformation of our bodies is resurrection of the body. He has this power as the One who sits at God’s right hand “till all His foes submit” (Charles Wesley, Rejoice the Lord is King). This is the promised rule of Messiah in Ps. 110:1, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (1Cor. 15:24-28; Heb. 2:5-9). The resulting exhortation based upon this hope is to “stand firm in the Lord” (4:1). Just like 1 Cor. 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more