Philippi was a Roman colony - a bit of Rome away from Rome, Rome in miniature. Ownership and transfer of land, administration of the law and taxes to be paid were all the same as those in Rome. It was a mammoth privilege. Those who lived there were hugely proud of their citizenship and the blessings it brought. Very well then, says Paul, how much more must we be mindful of the gracious privileges we enjoy, whose citizenship (‘conversation, commonwealth ‘) is in heaven. Ruling us is not some despotic Caesar, but our loving Lord and Saviour, indeed there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved.
We are foreigners and strangers then in this world; we don’t belong. However proud we are of our nationality, of our country, of our county even, in this world all believers don’t belong, we are strangers just passing through. Heaven is where our true citizenship lies.
And we await the Saviour form heaven who is coming back to reign. The work he did on the cross demands that he bring it to completion, to perfection when he comes. And so there will be mighty changes as a result. The Bible speaks of changes in world government (“Behold a King shall reign in righteousness”, Isaiah 32:1); changes in geography (“His feet shall stand in that day on Mount Olives - and the mount shall split in two, and there shall be a very great valley”, Zechariah 14:4ff); changes in the animal kingdom (“the wolf also will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the falling together”, Isaiah 11:6-7ff); changes in our personal character (“we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is”, 1 John 3:2).
And the changes that Paul describes here: our lowly body (what ‘vile’ means) will be transformed to be like Christ’s glorious body. This is good news indeed. Christians are all too well aware of the downward pull of their bodies as we fail to control our lust or temper, as we fail to control our tongue or lazy habits, as we are bound by appetites. And then there is the ‘1000 natural shocks that flesh is heir to’ - the aches and pains, the waning of our mental powers, failing sight and hearing, the often humiliating ways our body holds us back. How we long for this lowly body to be transformed! This body then, beset with limitations, nerves, injuries and decay WILL be made like Christ’s glorious body at his coming again. That is one very good reason therefore to long for his coming again. A seed is planted in the ground, a humble nothing kind of thing, and yet through a continuous process of transformation, that seed becomes a magnificent flower or tree.
So we are to long for our Saviour who is to come form heaven. The word Paul uses suggests we are to detach ourselves deliberately from all that would distract us from THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, for he is to be our chief focus. We will find him utterly captivating - even above our obvious transformation.
This is New Testament HOPE. Nothing can stop the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t know when - but it will happen. Our task is to live in constant readiness.
The power the Lord Jesus Christ, our coming King, has is seen in three ways: he is able to “subject all things to himself”. His power is available. Then his power is also effective - he will do all that he must, all that he can to make sure the whole world is under his righteous rule. He cannot be deflected from his aim and godly purpose. And note it is “all things” - all, whether sickness or sin, or devilry, or spiritual wickedness in high places, or the unbelieving hearts of men and women, all will be subject to him and he will be all in all, the ruler of the earth and the very earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, as the Atlantic is wet.