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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Paul's Roman citizenship was of the lower kind, which though not entitling him to vote with the tribes and enjoy a magistracy, yet secured to him the protection of the laws of the empire, and the right of appeal from his own hostile countrymen to Caesar, as also exemption from scourging (Acts 16:37; Acts 22:25-28; Acts 25:11). He seems to have inherited it from his father. Hence, he naturally uses the image to express the believer's high privileges as a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem.

"Our citizenship (Greek, or rather our life as citizens; politeuma , not politeia ) is in heaven," etc. (Philippians 3:20); an image especially appropriate at Philippi, it being a Roman colony and possessing Roman citizenship of which its people were proud. Moreover, it was there that Paul had compelled the magistrates publicly to recognize a Roman citizen's privileges. So believers, though absent from their heavenly city in body, still enjoy its civic privileges and protection; pilgrims on earth, citizens of heaven (Ephesians 2:6; Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:9-10; Hebrews 11:13-16; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:10; Luke 10:20).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Citizenship'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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