3:17Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
4:1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
Philippians is The Epistle of Joy! The words for grace and joy in Greek come from the same root, so you could say to have joy means to recognize and embody grace.
χάρις = grace
χαράς = joy
Captivity (imprisonment) letter written from Ephesus circa 54-56 or from Rome, circa 61.
Other prisoners whose writing helped change lives: Martin Luther; Dietrich Bonhoeffer; MLK, Jr., Nelson Mandela. Examples of more regular people prisoners whose lives have changed or helped change others during incarceration?
Philippi was a Roman colony on the main east-west road between Byzantium and Rome, so just like the apostle Paul himself, technically the people Paul addressed in this letter also were Roman citizens yet still colonials. They received a lot of freedom and privilege in return for their loyalty to the empire. As Pastor Peg pointed out, Paul gave up the perks and privileges of Roman citizenship because of Christ.
3:17 is an example of paranesis, a type of exhortation that's not quite teaching or instruction. Join in imitating literally is coming together, "sym"-mimesis in a joint effort. Think of sympathy, feeling together.
3:17 those who live according to the example (example = a pattern or a type = a strike that leaves an imprint. Typography. Typewriter. Jesus is the archetype that made an imprint on Paul's life, therefore Paul feels justified asking us to imitate him. "you have in us" = Paul and his followers.
3:17, 18 – "live" is walk, go about, as in peripatetic
3:20 citizenship – politeuma, note the "poli" root, as in politics, or polity: a thing about the people.
3:21 all things subject to himself. That's absolutely everything: people, planets, plants, politics, structures, institutions, etc.
empire / baptism
Paul tells them the assembly at Philippi their real citizenship is in the earthbound reality of God's Kingdom of Heaven here on this planet. Think about the process for US citizenship. What is the process for heavenly citizenship? It starts with baptism! We enjoy the benefits and perks and responsibilities of Jesus' lordship, of our heavenly citizenship.
we never got to this question:
What does it mean to be a colonial? Roman? Spanish? British Empire? Basic US history? Empire?
We barely mentioned "How about us and empire? Monsanto? US government?"
As Sara pointed out, our baptismal identity supersedes our citizenship in the USA or any other country.
We'll hear from Philippians two more times before Easter:
• Paul's autobiography in 3:4-14 on Lent 5;
• the early christian hymn, "did not count himself equal to God, but humbled himself, taking the form of a servant..." in 2:5-11 on Lent 6 /Passion Sunday.