Do you think Paul enjoyed writing his letters? Probably not 2 Corinthians! But his letter to the Philippians was a different story; you can really feel the love here!
Philippi was a city in eastern Macedonia (now part of modern-day Greece), originally built because of the gold mines nearby; the mint was also located there, meaning that it was a wealthy place. Those in the church seemed to have plenty of money, but they were willing to share it with Paul and a good chunk of this letter is his thanks to them. The words ‘joy’ and ‘rejoice’ are frequently used, so it’s a very uplifting and positive read, and chapter 2 has a sublime passage about Jesus that seems to be an early Christian hymn.[perfectpullquote align=”right” size=”17″]Like the loyal Philippians, we can enjoy the benefits of heavenly citizenship here and now, as we carry out our service in our outpost of God’s kingdom.[/perfectpullquote]
Philippi is famous for one particular event: in 42 BC, Mark Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Julius Caesar, in a battle there. Later Octavian (now known as Caesar Augustus) rebuilt the city and placed retired soldiers there as a military outpost to ensure loyalty to Rome. It became known as ‘little Rome’ and he gave the new colony the ‘ius italicum’ – the highest privilege he could give them – so that citizens had the right to own property, were exempt from certain taxes and had the right to civil lawsuits.
It’s no accident that Paul’s letter reminds the Philippians that their citizenship is in heaven. This wasn’t to say that they should be so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly use; as N.T. Wright says, when you’re told your dinner is in the oven, you don’t have to physically get into the oven to benefit from it!
Like the loyal Philippians, we can enjoy the benefits of heavenly citizenship here and now, as we carry out our service in our outpost of God’s kingdom.
Martin Jones, The Church of God in Hamilton