Wednesday, 15 February 2017
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:20
This is a verse very rich in its content and meaning. First, there is an emphasis in the original of the first clause on “our” and on “is.” Secondly, the word “citizenship” is found only here in the New Testament. It is the word politeuma, and it is a noun indicating a state or a commonwealth. Rather than “citizenship,” the word appears to be speaking of an actual city which awaits us. Thus, it is probably referring to the New Jerusalem.
The emphasis in this first verse, and the reference to the state which awaits, is literally translated then as “Of us, indeed, the state of heaven exists…” The word “exists, according to Vincent’s Word Studies, “signifies ‘actually exists;’ and the reference to the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ is obviously suggested by the thought that with it will also come the manifestation of the ‘Jerusalem which is above…’”
It is a delightful set of words, given to us to revel in as we await the glory which is ahead, and which already exists. We can now anticipate it in the fullest sense because of the work of Christ which assures us of our entry into that wonderful city. This then is in contrast to the previous verse which spoke of those whose minds are set on “earthly things.” Let them have their party now. In the end, it will all be swept away and forgotten, but our walk will be an eternal one in a land of delight and abundance.
Next he says, “from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The words are intended to fill us with an actual longing and a great anticipation for that which lies ahead. What does this world hold that is a jillionth as wonderful as the glory which is promised to us? Instead, we should continuously fix our eyes on Jesus, and the savor in our mouths should be that of anticipation in what He has prepared for us.
Of note in the Greek is that there is no article in front of the word “Savior.” Again, Vincent’s Word Studies looks into the thoughts of Paul which are being relayed. He says “its emphatic position in the sentence indicates that it is to be taken predicatively with Jesus Christ, and not as the direct object of the verb. Hence render: we await as Savior the Lord…” Therefore, we have a dual thought to be pieced together. Our city awaits us as a city which is prepared for us, but access to that city is dependent upon the return of Jesus as Savior. He is our Savior, and yet we await Him as Savior with all that the title implies and with all that will accompany His final salvation.
Life application: Reading verses like this one should remind us not to get too entangled in the things of the world. Instead, we should direct our thoughts, hopes, and devotions to the Lord who has promised us so much more than what we now experience.
Heavenly Father, You have promised us great things in Christ Jesus. Our citizenship is assured, our city awaits, and our Savior is coming. Help us to not get so fixated on this world that we lose sight of the great and glorious things which lie ahead. In anticipating those things, our hearts and praises will be more appropriately directed to You. May this be our daily custom and devotion, to Your glory and praise. Amen.