Saturday, April 17, 2010

Phil. 3:20-21

And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

To our ears there is little that is controversial in Paul's declaration of Jesus as Lord and Saviour, nor indeed in the previous statement about our citizenship. But to first century readers in a Roman colony of Philippi's standing, a veritable hornet's nest is provoked by these words.

For the followers of Jesus, the governing authority in their lives is not the colony but heaven itself. This does not promote civil disobedience as the normal way of life for Christians, Paul makes that clear enough in Romans 13. That's not his point. His point is that we belong to a different kingdom with different standards and different expectations of its citizens.

And now Paul makes a stronger assertion by using language typically used of Caesar to describe the role fulfilled by Jesus. He is "Saviour and Lord", Roman terminology used for Caesar. Having restored order throughout the empire, Augustus was declared to be "saviour of the world" and the sovereign ruler of it. Paul, in contrast, now tells the church that they have another saviour and another lord. Our Saviour is not in Rome but in heaven.

Our hope and expectation rests not on what a man, or woman, in government might do for us, but on all that Jesus has done for us.

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