“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV)
Readers of Paul’s letter to the Philippians would have appreciated the same term as their citizenship in the city as a Roman colony. Philippi of Macedonia was made a Roman colony after the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. when generals Mark Antony and Octavian released some of their veteran soldiers, probably from Legion XXVIII, to colonize or “Romanize” the area. The Macedonian city was proudly known as “Little Rome” by its inhabitants.
One historian defined a colony as:
“A community of people who share common roots, pursuits, meanings, and values. Even though colonists settle in a distant and sometimes hostile place, they continue to live under the control and in the spirit of their home country. No matter how far away the residents of a colony may be planted, they continue to remember, respect, and repeat the standards and stories of their native land.”
James Moffatt, in his commentary on Philippians 3:20, suggested that Christians should think of themselves as living in “a colony of heaven.” Paul’s application seems to be this: Because of our new birth in Christ we have a new citizenship. We are heavenly colonists placed here by God to live a certain way even though we are in the midst of an unholy culture that is hostile to all that we believe and hold dear. As representatives of another “country” we are ambassadors called to represent the Lord Jesus Christ before our neighbors, coworkers, and anyone we meet.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” II Peter 3:10-13
Believers are citizens, colonists, of heaven now. Our heavenly passport is genuine, stamped, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Are we ready to travel as soon as God calls us to our real home?
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world…Jesus answered [Pilate], ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’” John 17:14; 18:36