Latest at First Things

Leroy HuizengaBlog3 Comments

The New Philippians,” in which I compare the situation of the Philippian Christians, who, having forsaken their Roman identity for the sake of a Christian identity, were living under pressure in a Roman colony:

So too is the situation now with us Americans. Too often we commit idolatry in conflating God and country, seeing America as a new Promised Land and ourselves as the chosen people. But as Paul found his identity in the Jew Jesus Christ, not in Pharisaic Judaism, and as the Philippians were to find their identity in Jesus Christ, not in their Roman citizenship, we must find our identity in Jesus Christ, and not in our status as Americans, especially as culture and government seem to turn ever more against us.

As I point out, Philippians is read fruitfully alongside the Letter to Diognetus.

In short, pick a standard and raise it high, either SPQR or INRI:

roman standard INRI

3 Comments on “Latest at First Things”

  1. In writing on the Phlippian/American comparison, you omitted the powerful lesson on “civics” that Paul teaches in that letter. Rather than shed his Roman identity he forcefully exerted his citizenship in humbling the city fathers. That example is a lesson to Americans; use the civil law when it works to the glory of God. Luke is very sparing in his descriptive detail, but is there any doubt that the authorities of Philippi viewed Christians differently after Paul and Silas’ visit?

  2. Yes, you’re right; throughout Acts, especially in Acts 16, Paul is willing to make use of his Roman citizenship. In Acts 16, it reads as if he’s deliberately devious about it. As far as the authorities thinking of Christians differently…well, if Philippians is written 60-62, some time after Paul’s time in Philippi in Acts 16, maybe not very much, since Philippians gives evidence the Christian community there is under serious pressure.

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