The Celestial Citizens of Heaven. (Philippians 3:20-21)
The Apostle Paul declares to the Christians at Philippi that our “citizenship is in heaven,” (Verse 20) Many students and teachers have placed this four-word phrase as one of the greatest thoughts expressed in the Holy Bible, especially for Christians. Indeed, this idea of Pauls’ can be considered a meritorious spiritual pearl of great value, and exceedingly more so than possessing a natural physical pearl.
Some versions of the Bible translate the word ‘citizenship’ to “conversation’ is in heaven”. The noun, conversation, was not taken to mean a mere interactive oral communication or dialog between two or more people. It cannot mean that Church members’ speech, discourse or talking was in heaven; nor that their "conduct" was in heaven.
In the Greek language, the original expression rendered conversation, had a very extensive meaning, implying our citizenship and fellowship, our thoughts, our affections, are already in heaven. We think, speak, and act, converse with our fellow-creatures, and conduct ourselves in all our intercourse with them, as citizens of a transcendent or cosmological place. (The use of the word, conversation, and its meanings were obtained from biblehub.com, an Online Bible Study Suite.)
Whether we use the word citizen or conversation in connection with heaven, the fact remains that each or these words refer to a celestial existence and are in stark contrast to earthly citizens who “… are enemies of the cross of Christ, (18) whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things (19). Their god is their appetite, a natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, a strong desire or liking for something, a longing, yearning, wanting, wishing, hankering, hunger or thirst. These strong obsessive feelings are derived from biologic or psychological needs such as sex, money or affection.
Paul tells the Philippian church members, and to all followers of Jesus since that time, not set our minds on earthly things and that we are only strangers and pilgrims upon earth! This view or notion is at odds with the following modern dictionary explanations of earthly strangers and pilgrims, which fail to consider a celestial existence.
● Strangers are foreigners and resident aliens who do not belong to or are kept from the merits of citizenship in a tangible sovereign nation or place.
● Pilgrims are people who go on long journeys in foreign lands often for religious or moral purposes although they are not natives of or born in those far-off lands. Some make these journeys from unfortunate conditions of misery or unhappiness to an experienced state of contentment and happiness.
We that are true Christians are of a very different spirit from that of earthly citizens, therefore act in a quite different manner. There is a much greater difference between earthly and heavenly citizens than there is between subjects of two earthly nations or governments.
We therefore endeavor to promote the interests of that glorious society to which we belong, to learn its manners, secure a title to its privileges, and behave in a way suitable to, and worthy of our relation to it.
Stay tuned for Part Five of our current blog theme. The subtopic will be on the ‘ Flash-Back and Flash-Forward of Celestial Citizens of Heaven'.