Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,

Prior to these verses in Philippians chapter one, Paul led us through a discussion about his own circumstances. 

Now he emphatically (“only”) changes direction …from himself to the Philippians as a church and calls on them to live out a specific lifestyle — a lifestyle marked by behavior that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. Lost in some of our translations of conduct yourselves is the meaning “to conduct yourself as a citizen.” This is a bit different than more usual word Paul uses “to walk”.  He basically calls them to perform their duty in a manner worthy of a citizen of that place that originates the Gospel — Heaven.

This is a powerful word to these Philippian Christians. They lived in a colony of Rome with a special relationship. They were actually considered Roman citizens and had their names on the citizen rolls in
Rome.  The soil of Philippi was considered Roman soil, though it was 800 miles from Italy.  The Philippians in general were quite proud of the colony relationship, their Roman citizenship, and Paul’s point is 
essentially “you are loyal to your city and country, then how much more should you be of your heavenly kingdom”

Apparently Roman soldiers had a great responsibility to represent Rome well wherever they served. They were to bring Rome to whatever duty station they were sent, not succumbing to the local customs that might conflict. Remember that Paul is chained to a Roman soldier. The combination of Philippi’s status and the civic responsibility of the soldier may have caused him to use this metaphor in calling them to a “worthy walk”.

Even today, our soldiers are to conduct themselves in such a way that “they do not bring discredit upon the armed forces” which, I’m told also includes behaving properly in foreign ports.  Failure to do so may lead to being Court-martialed  for conduct unbecoming of an officer/soldier.[1]

What Paul writes to the Philippians we too must take to heart. We are not citizens of this world …

Philippians 3:20
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ

How does Paul illustrate what that looks like? We just need to keep reading verse 27:

… so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

 Now you’re meddlin’ Paul!


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