The Berean Expositor
Volume 9 - Page 133 of 138
Index | Zoom
#20. The Citizenship and the Transformation
(Phil. 3: 20, 21).  pp. 91 - 95
After the solemn warning that occupies verses 18 and 19, and which are parenthetical,
it is a joy to resume the theme of the apostle commenced by him in verse 17. He had
spoken of himself as a pattern for the believer to imitate, and verses 20, 21 may be read
on from verse 17 without a break, ". . . . as ye have us for an example; for our
conversation is in heaven, etc." The word rendered "conversation" is politeuma, and is
better translated by the word "citizenship".  We have the word polite, a citizen
(Acts 21: 39); politeia, citizenship, rendered "freedom" (Acts 22: 28); politeuo, to live
according to one's citizenship,  rendered "lived" (Acts 23: 1);  "conversation"
(Phil. 1: 27). The inhabitants of Philippi would be in a position readily to understand the
apostle's meaning when he used this word "citizenship". Philippi, according to
Acts 16: 12, was "the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony".
Philippi had been made a Roman colony with free municipal government by
Augustus. Its citizens though living in Philippi were citizens of Rome. They were
exempt from taxes that other less fortunate cities paid. How forcible therefore the
meaning of the apostle would be. Just as they lived and acted as citizens of Rome though
far away from that city, so too they were to act as citizens of heaven, though for the time
on earth.
In Phil. 1: 27 the exhortation is, "Only let your conversation (politeuo) be worthy of
the gospel of Christ", where the idea of citizenship is latent in the word used. In Phil. 3:
the connection is more evident, for the walk of the believer is directly linked with his
heavenly citizenship. This citizenship, its freedom, its privileges, and its foundation, is
explained in Eph. 2: 11-22.
"No therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but joint-citizens of the
saints, and of the household of God" (verse 19).
It is because these believers were "joint-citizens" that the apostle exhorted them to
become "joint-imitators" of his walk, for he ever remembered that his citizenship was in
heaven. We must not pass over the little word "is" in the sentence, "our citizenship is in
heaven", for it is not simply a part of the verb "to be", but the rendering of another verb
altogether, namely, huparch§. This word gives us huparxis, "substance" or "goods"
(Acts 2: 45 and Heb. 10: 34, and huparchonta, goods or possessions, Matt. 19: 22;
24: 47, etc.) and the primary idea is not expressed by the verb "to be" simply, but by the
added thought "to possess". It is something that subsists, that really is, that demands this
word in preference to eimi, "to be". The word occurs twice in Philippians. The first
occurrence is in 2: 6, "Being in the form of God". The R.V. margin has, Gr. being
originally; Rotherham and J. N. Darby render it "subsisting"; Weymouth puts it,
"from the beginning He had".