Philippians 3:20
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
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(20) Our conversation.—The original may signify either “our city” or “our citizenship” is in heaven. But both the grammatical form and the ordinary usage of the word (not elsewhere found in the New Testament) point to the former sense; which is also far better accordant with the general wording of the passage. For the word “is” is the emphatic word, which signifies “actually exists”; and the reference to the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ is obviously suggested by the thought that with it will also come the manifestation of the “Jerusalem which is above . . . the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26); as in Revelation 21:2, “I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven.” The force of the passage would, however, in either case be much the same. “Their mind is on earth; our country is in heaven,” and to it our affections cling, even during our earthly pilgrimage. It is impossible not to remember the famous words of Plato of his Divine Republic, “In heaven, perhaps, the embodiment of it is stored up for any one who wills to see it, and seeing it, to claim his place therein” (Rep. ix., p. 592B). But the infinite difference between the shadowy republic of the philosopher, to which each has to rise, if he can, by his own spiritual power, and the well-centred “kingdom of God,” is suggested by the very words that follow here. The kingdom is real, because there is a real King, who has given us a place there, who will one day be manifested to take us home. It should be noted that the city is spoken of as ours already. As all the citizens of Philippi, the Roman colony, were citizens of the far distant imperial city, so the Philippian Christians even now were citizens of the better country in heaven. (See Ephesians 2:19.)

We look for.—Properly, we eagerly wait for. The word is a peculiar and striking expression of longing, found also in Romans 8:19; Romans 8:28; Romans 8:25, “The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” (where see Note).

The Saviour.—The title is emphatic in relation to the hope of perfected salvation which follows. But we note that the use of the word “Saviour” by St. Paul is peculiar to the later Epistles, and especially frequent in the Pastoral Epistles. It is found also again and again in the Second Epistle of Peter.

Php 3:20-21. For our conversation is in heaven — We that are true Christians are of a very different spirit, and act in a quite different manner. The original expression, πολιτευμα, rendered conversation, is a word of a very extensive meaning, implying our citizenship, our thoughts, our affections, are already in heaven; or we think, speak, and act, converse with our fellow-creatures, and conduct ourselves in all our intercourse with them, as citizens of the New Jerusalem, and as being only strangers and pilgrims upon earth. We therefore endeavour to promote the interests of that glorious society to which we belong, to learn its manners, secure a title to its privileges, and behave in a way suitable to, and worthy of our relation to it; from whence also we look for the Saviour — To come and carry us thither according to his promise, (John 14:3,) namely, our spirits, at the dissolution of this earthly tabernacle; yea, and afterward to transform our vile body, το σωμα της ταπεινωσεως, the body of our humiliation; which, in consequence of the fall of our first parents, sinks us so low, is subject to, and encompassed with, so many infirmities, is such a clog to our souls, and so greatly hinders our progress in the work of faith and labour of love: this body we expect he will transform into the most perfect state and the most beauteous form, when it will be purer than the unspotted firmament, brighter than the lustre of the stars, and, which exceeds all parallel, which comprehends all perfection, like unto his glorious body — Of which an image was given in his transfiguration, yea like that wonderfully glorious body which he wears in his heavenly kingdom, and on his triumphant throne. So that here, as Romans 8:23, the redemption of the body from corruption, by a glorious resurrection, is represented as the especial privilege of the righteous. According to that mighty working — That energy of power; whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself — To show himself to the whole intelligent creation of God completely victorious over all his enemies, even over death and the grave, the last of them.

3:12-21 This simple dependence and earnestness of soul, were not mentioned as if the apostle had gained the prize, or were already made perfect in the Saviour's likeness. He forgot the things which were behind, so as not to be content with past labours or present measures of grace. He reached forth, stretched himself forward towards his point; expressions showing great concern to become more and more like unto Christ. He who runs a race, must never stop short of the end, but press forward as fast as he can; so those who have heaven in their view, must still press forward to it, in holy desires and hopes, and constant endeavours. Eternal life is the gift of God, but it is in Christ Jesus; through his hand it must come to us, as it is procured for us by him. There is no getting to heaven as our home, but by Christ as our Way. True believers, in seeking this assurance, as well as to glorify him, will seek more nearly to resemble his sufferings and death, by dying to sin, and by crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts. In these things there is a great difference among real Christians, but all know something of them. Believers make Christ all in all, and set their hearts upon another world. If they differ from one another, and are not of the same judgment in lesser matters, yet they must not judge one another; while they all meet now in Christ, and hope to meet shortly in heaven. Let them join in all the great things in which they are agreed, and wait for further light as to lesser things wherein they differ. The enemies of the cross of Christ mind nothing but their sensual appetites. Sin is the sinner's shame, especially when gloried in. The way of those who mind earthly things, may seem pleasant, but death and hell are at the end of it. If we choose their way, we shall share their end. The life of a Christian is in heaven, where his Head and his home are, and where he hopes to be shortly; he sets his affections upon things above; and where his heart is, there will his conversation be. There is glory kept for the bodies of the saints, in which they will appear at the resurrection. Then the body will be made glorious; not only raised again to life, but raised to great advantage. Observe the power by which this change will be wrought. May we be always prepared for the coming of our Judge; looking to have our vile bodies changed by his Almighty power, and applying to him daily to new-create our souls unto holiness; to deliver us from our enemies, and to employ our bodies and souls as instruments of righteousness in his service.For our conversation is in heaven - That is, this is true of all who are sincere Christians. It is a characteristic of Christians, in contradistinction from those who are the "enemies of the cross," that their conversation is in heaven. The word "conversation" we now apply almost entirely to oral discourse. It formerly, however, meant conduct in general, and it is usually employed in this sense in the Scriptures; see the notes at Philippians 1:27, where the verb occurs, from which the noun here is derived. The word used here - πολίτευμα politeuma - is found nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, any public measure, administration of the state, the manner in which the affairs of a state are administered; and then the state itself, the community, commonwealth, those who are hound under the same laws, and associated in the same society. Here it cannot mean that their "conversation," in the sense of discourse or talking, was in heaven; nor that their "conduct" was in heaven - for this would convey no idea, and the original word does not demand it; but the idea is, that they were heavenly citizens, or citizens of the heavenly world, in contradistinction from a worldly community, They were governed by the laws of heaven; they were a community associated as citizens of that world, and expecting there to dwell.

The idea is, that there are two great communities in the universe - that of the world, and that of heaven: that governed by worldly laws and institutions, and that by the laws of heaven; that associated for worldly purposes, and that associated for heavenly or religious purposes; and that the Christian belonged to the latter - the enemy of the cross, though in the church, belonged to the former. Between true Christians, therefore, and others, there is all the difference which arises from belonging to different communities; being bound together for different purposes; subject to different laws; and altogether under a different administration. There is more difference between them than there is between the subjects of two earthly governments; compare Ephesians 2:6, note 19, note.

From whence also we look for the Saviour - From heaven. That is, it is one of the characteristics of the Christian that he believes that the Lord Jesus will return from heaven, and that he looks and waits for it. Other men do not believe this 2 Peter 3:4, but the Christian confidently expects it. His Saviour has been taken away from the earth, and is now in heaven, but it is a great and standing article of his faith that that same Saviour will again come, and take the believer to himself; see the John 14:2-3, note; 1 Thessalonians 4:1, note. This was the firm belief of the early Christians, and this expectation with them was allowed to exert a constant influence on their hearts and lives. It led them:

(1) to desire to be prepared for his coming;

(2) to feel that earthly affairs were of little importance, as the scene here was soon to close;

(3) to live above the world, and in the desire of the appearing of the Lord Jesus.

This was one of the elementary doctrines of their faith, and one of the means of producing deadness to the world among them; and among the early Christians there was, perhaps, no doctrine that was more the object of firm belief, and the ground of more delightful contemplation, than that their ascended Master would return. In regard to the certainty of their belief on this point, and the effect which it had on their minds, see the following texts of the New Testament; Matthew 24:42, Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:37; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Hebrews 10:37; James 5:7-8; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20. It may be asked, with great force, whether Christians in general have now any such expectation of the second appearing of the Lord Jesus, or whether they have not fallen into the dangerous error of prevailing unbelief, so that the expectation of his coming is allowed to exert almost no influence on the soul.

In the passage before us, Paul says that it was one of the distinct characteristics of Christians that they looked for the coming of the Saviour from heaven. They believed that he would return. They anticipated that important effects would follow to them from his second coming. So we should look. There may be, indeed, a difference of opinion about the time when he will come, and about the question whether he will come to reign "literally, on the earth - but the fact that Christ will return to our world is common ground on which all Christians may meet, and is a fact which should be allowed to exert its full influence on the heart. It is a glorious truth - for what a sad world would this be, and what a sad prospect would be before the Christian, if the Saviour were never to come to raise his people from their graves, and to gather his redeemed to himself! The fact that he will come is identified with all our hopes. It is fitted to cheer us in trial; to guard us in temptation; to make us dead to the world; to lead us to keep the eye turned toward heaven.

20. our conversation—rather, "our state" or "country"; our citizenship: our life as citizens. We are but pilgrims on earth; how then should we "mind earthly things?" (Php 3:19; Heb 11:9, 10, 13-16). Roman citizenship was then highly prized; how much more should the heavenly citizenship (Ac 22:28; compare Lu 10:20)?

is—Greek, "has its existence."

in heaven—Greek, "in the heavens."

look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ—"We wait for (so the same Greek is translated, Ro 8:19) the Lord Jesus as a (that is, in the capacity of a) Saviour" (Heb 9:28). That He is "the Lord," now exalted above every name, assures our expectation (Php 2:9-11). Our High Priest is gone up into the Holy of Holies not made with hands, there to atone for us; and as the Israelites stood outside the tabernacle, expecting Aaron's return (compare Lu 1:21), so must we look unto the heavens expecting Christ thence.

For our conversation is in heaven; he here adds a further reason why he would have them to be fellow followers of him, and such-like as he, because though they were not already in heaven, yet their citizenship was there, the privileges of that city did belong to them, who, according to the municipal laws of that corporation (which cannot lose its charter or be discorporated) whereof they were free denizens, made it their business to demean themselves with minds above the earth, Philippians 1:27 2 Corinthians 4:18 Ephesians 2:6 Colossians 3:1 accounting nothing inconvenient to any one of them, which was for the advantage of the whole community; they set their affections on things above, John 14:2 2 Corinthians 12:2-5 Hebrews 13:14.

From whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; and reason good, for from thence, or from that place, in the heavens, or heaven, they stedfastly expect him who is both Lord and Christ, Acts 1:11 1 Corinthians 1:7 1 Thessalonians 1:10 2 Timothy 4:8 Titus 2:13, to come not only as their judge, 2 Timothy 4:8, but as their heart-comforting Saviour, Hebrews 9:28.

For our conversation is in heaven,.... The Ethiopic version renders it, "we have our city in heaven"; and the words may be truly rendered, "our citizenship is in heaven"; that is, the city whereof we are freemen is heaven, and we behave ourselves here below, as citizens of that city above: heaven is the saints' city; here they have no continuing city, but they seek one to come, which is permanent and durable; a city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God, Hebrews 11:10, as yet they are not in it, though fellow citizens of the saints, and of the household of God; they are pilgrims, strangers, and sojourners on earth, Leviticus 25:23; but are seeking a better country, an heavenly one, and God has prepared for them a city, Hebrews 11:16; they have a right unto it through the grace of God, and righteousness of Christ, and a meetness for it in him; and their conversation is here beforehand, while their commoration, or temporary residence, is below; their thoughts are often employed about it; their affections are set upon it, Colossians 3:2; their hearts are where their treasure is, Matthew 6:21; the desires of their souls are towards it, and they are seeking things above, and long to be in their own city, and Father's house, where Christ is; and to be at home with him, and for ever with him. This is the work and business of their lives now, and what their hearts are engaged in. The Syriac version renders it, "our work is in heaven"; the business, the exercise of our lives, and of our graces, tend that way:

from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; Christ is now in heaven, at the Father's right hand, Acts 2:33, appearing in the presence of God for his people, and making intercession for them, Hebrews 7:25; and so will remain, until the time of the restitution of all things; when he will descend from heaven, and be revealed from thence: and this the saints look for, and expect; they have good reason for it; from his own words, from the words of the angels at the time of his ascension, Acts 1:11, and from the writings of the apostles and they expect him not merely as a Judge, under which consideration he will be terrible to the ungodly, but as a Saviour; who as he has already saved their souls from sin, and the dreadful effects of it, from the bondage and curse of the law, from the captivity of Satan, and from eternal ruin and wrath to come, so he will save and redeem their bodies from the grave, corruption, mortality, and death, as follows.

{9} For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

(9) He sets against these fellows true pastors who neglect earthly things, and aspire to heaven only, where they know that even in their bodies they will be clothed with that eternal glory, by the power of God.

Php 3:20. After Paul has, by way of confirmation and warning, subjoined to his exhortation given in Php 3:17 the deterrent example of the enemies of the cross of Christ in Php 3:18 f., he now sketches by the side of that deterrent delineation—in outlines few, but how clear!—the inviting picture of those whom, in Php 3:17, he had proposed as τύπος.

γάρ] The train of thought runs thus: “Justly I characterize their whole nature by the words οἱ τὰ ἐπίγεια φρονοῦντες; for it is the direct opposite of ours; our πολίτευμα, the goal of our aspiration, is not on earth, but in heaven.” γάρ therefore introduces a confirmatory reason, but not for his having said that the earthly mind of the πολλοί necessarily involves such a walk (Hofmann); for he has not said this, and what follows would not be a proof of it. The apostle gives, rather, an experimental proof e contrario, and that for what immediately precedes, not for the remote ὧν τὸ τέλος ἀπώλεια (Weiss).

ἡμῶν] emphatically placed first; contrast of the persons. These ἡμεῖς, however, are the same as the ἡμᾶς in Php 3:17, consequently Paul himself and the οὕτω περιπατοῦντες.

τὸ πολίτευμα] the commonwealth, which may bear the sense either of: the state (2Ma 12:7; Polyb. i. 13. 12, ii. 41. 6; Lucian, Prom. 15; Philo, de opif. p. 33 A, de Jos. p. 536 D); or the state-administration (Plat. Legg. 12, p. 945 D; Aristot. Pol. iii. 4; Polyb. iv. 23. 9; Lucian, Dem. enc. 16), or its principles (Dem. 107. 25, 262. 27; Isocr. p. 156 A); or the state-constitution (Plut. Them. 4; Arist. Pol. iii. 4. 1; Polyb. v. 9. 9, iv. 25. 7), see generally Raphel, Polyb. in loc.; Schweigh. Lex. Polyb. p. 486; Schoemann, ad Plut. Cleom. p. 208. Here, in the first sense: our commonwealth, that is, the state to which we belong, is in heaven. By this is meant the Messiah’s kingdom which had not yet appeared, which will only at Christ’s Parousia (comp. ἐξ οὗ κ.τ.λ. which follows) come down from heaven and manifest itself in its glory on earth. It is the state of the heavenly Jerusalem (see on Galatians 4:26; comp. Usteri, Lehrbegr. p. 190; Ritschl, altkath. Kirche, p. 59), of which true Christians are citizens (Ephesians 2:19) even now before the Parousia in a proleptic and ideal sense (ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι τῆς δόξης, Romans 5:2; comp. Romans 8:24), in order that one day, at the ἐπιφάνεια τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου (2 Thessalonians 2:8), they may be so in complete reality (comp. Hebrews 12:22 f., Hebrews 13:14), as κοινωνοί τῆς μελλούσης ἀποκαλύπτεσθαι δόξης (1 Peter 5:1; Colossians 3:4), nay, as συμβασιλεύοντες (2 Timothy 2:12; comp. Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 4:8). Hence, according to the necessary psychological relation, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21), they φρονοῦσιν, not τὰ ἐπίγεια, but τὰ ἄνω (Colossians 3:1 f.), which serves to-explain the logical correctness of the γάρ in its relation to οἱ τὰ ἐπίγ. φρον. Others, following the Vulgate (conversatio), render it: our walk, making the sense, “tota vita nostra quasi jam nunc apud Deum naturasque coelestes puriores versatur, longe remota a τοῖς ἐπιγείοις eorumque captatione” (Hoelemann). So Luther (who up till 1528 rendered it “citizenship”), Castalio, Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius, and many others, including Matthies, van Hengel, de Wette; while Rheinwald mixes up interpretations of various kinds. This rendering is not justified by linguistic usage, which indeed vouches for πολιτεύεσθαι (Php 1:27) in this sense, and for πολιτεία (Clem. Cor. I. 54: πολιτεύεσθαι πολιτείαν Θεοῦ, Ep. ad Diogn. 5), but not for πολίτευμα, not even in Eus. H. E. v. prooem. Nor does linguistic usage even permit the interpretation: citizenship. So Luther, in the Postil. Epist. D. 3, post f. pasch.: “Here on earth we are in fact not citizens.…; our citizenship is with Christ in heaven …, there we are to remain for ever citizens and lords;” comp. Beza, Balduin, Erasmus Schmid, Zachariae, Flatt, Wiesinger, Ewald, Weiss, and others. This would be πολιτεία, Acts 22:28; Thuc. vi. 104. 3; Dem. 161. 11; Polyb. vi. 2. 12; 3Ma 3:21. Theophylact’s explanation, τὴν πατρίδα (which is used also for heaven by Anaxagoras in Diog. L. ii. 7), must be referred to the correct rendering state (comp. Hammond, Clericus, and others [172]), while Chrysostom gives no decided opinion, but Theodoret (τὸν οὐρανὸν φανταζόμεθα) and Oecumenius (στρατευόμεθα) appear to follow the rendering conversatio.

ἐξ οὗ καὶ κ.τ.λ.] And what a happy change is before us, in consequence of our thus belonging to the heavenly state! From the heaven (scil. ἣξοντα, comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:10) we expect, etc. The neuter οὗ, which is certainly to be taken in a strictly local sense (in opposition to Calovius), is not to be referred to πολίτ. (Wolf, Schoettgen, Bengel, Hofmann); but is correctly rendered by the Vulgate: “unde.” Comp. on ἐξ οὗ, Colossians 2:19, and Bornemann, ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 20: ἡμέρας τρεῖς, ἐν ᾧ.

καί, also, denotes the relation corresponding to the foregoing (namely, that our πολίτευμα is to be found in heaven), not a second one to be added (Hofmann).

σωτῆρα] placed first with great emphasis, and that not as the accusative of the object (Hofmann), but—hence without the article—as predicative accusative: as Saviour, namely, from all the sufferings and conflicts involved in our fellowship with the cross of Christ (Php 3:18), not from the ἀπώλεια (Weiss), which, indeed, the ἡμεῖς have not at all to fear. Comp. on the subject-matter, Luke 18:7 f., Luke 21:28; Titus 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:18.

ἀπεκδεχ.] comp. 1 Corinthians 1:7; Titus 2:13. As to the signification of the word: perseveranter expectare, see on Romans 8:19; Galatians 5:5.

[172] The Gothic Version has: “unsara báuáins” (that is, building, dwelling).


20. For] The A.V., by marking Php 3:18-19 as a parenthesis, connects this “for” with Php 3:17. But there is no need for this. A suppressed link of thought is easily seen and expressed between Php 3:19-20; somewhat thus: “such principles and practices are wholly alien to ours; for &c.” In a grave oral address or dialogue such links have often to be supplied, and the Apostle’s written style is a very near approach to the oral.

A reading “But,” or “Now,” has much support in early quotations, but none in MSS. See Lightfoot here.

our] He refers to the “ensamples” mentioned Php 3:17, as distinguished from their opponents. Or perhaps we should say, from their false friends. For very possibly these antinomians claimed to be the true disciples of Pauline truth, the true exponents of free grace as against legalism.

conversation] R.V. “citizenship”; margin, “commonwealth.” The A.V. is the rendering also of all our older versions, except Wyclif’s, which has “lyuyng.” It represents the conversatio of the Latin versions, a word which means not “mutual speech” but “the intercourse of life” (see on Php 1:27); and the meaning is thus, in effect, that “we live on earth as those whose home is in heaven.”—The same English is found (in A.V.) Psalm 50:23; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 4:22; above Php 1:27 (where see note); &c. But the Greek in all these places is quite different from the Greek here, where the word is polîteuma. (connected with polis, city, polîtês, citizen), a word which occurs nowhere else in N.T., nor in LXX., nor in the Apocrypha. In classical Greek it denotes (a) a “measure,” or “policy,” of state; (b) the governing body of a state, its “government”; (c) the constitution of a state, including the rights of its citizens. On the whole, this last meaning best suits the present context, or at least approaches it most nearly. What the Apostle means is that Christians are citizens of the heavenly City, enrolled on its register, free of its privileges, and, on the other hand, “obliged by the nobility” of such a position to live, whether in the City or not as yet, as those who belong to it and represent it. “Our citizenship, our civic status, is in heaven,” fairly gives this thought. In the anonymous Epistle to Diognetus, a Christian writing of cent. 2 (printed with the works of St Justin), a sentence occurs (c. 5) which well illustrates this passage, and perhaps refers to it, and is in itself nobly true: “Christians, as dwellers, are on earth, as citizens, in heaven.”—The verb cognate to the noun here is used there; see, on the verb, note on Php 1:27 above.

is] More strictly and fully, subsists. See second note on Php 2:6 above, where the same word occurs. The thought is that the “citizenship” is at any moment an antecedent and abiding fact, on which the citizen may fall back.

in heaven] Lit., in (the) heavens; as often in N.T. On this plural see note on Ephesians 2:10, in this Series.—Cp. Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 3:12 (where see Abp Trench’s full note, Epistles to the Seven Churches, pp. 183–187), xxi., xxii., for the revealed conception of the heavenly City, the Ourănopolis, as it is finely called by St Clement of Alexandria (cent. 2), and Eusebius of Cæsarea (cent. 4); and other Greek Fathers use the word ouranopolîtês of the Christian.—The great treatise of St Augustine (cent. 4–5), On the City (Civilas) of God, contains a wealth of illustration of the idea of this verse. To Augustine, writing amidst the wreck of Old Rome (about a.d. 420), the Christian appears as citizen of a State which is the antithesis not of human order, which is of God, and which is promoted by the true citizens of heaven, but of “the world,” which is at enmity with Him. This State, or City, is now existing and operating, through its members, but not to be consummated and fully revealed till the eternity of glory shall come in (see Smith’s Dict. of Christian Biography, 1., p. 221). The thought of the Holy City was dear to St Augustine. The noble medieval lines,

Me receptet Syon illa,

Urbs beata, urbs tranquilla,

(quoted at the close of Longfellow’s Golden Legend), are taken almost verbally from Augustine, de Spiritu et Animâ, c. lx. See Trench, Sacred Latin Poetry, p. 332 (and cp. pp. 312–320).

from whence] Lit., “out of which (place).” The pronoun is singular, and so cannot refer directly to the plural noun, “the heavens.” The construction must be either (a) a merely adverbial one, an equivalent for the adverb “whence”; or (b) the pronoun must refer back to the noun politeuma (on which see above). In the latter case, we must suppose that the idea of citizenship suggests, and passes into, that of city, the local home of the citizens, and the word denoting citizenship is treated as if it denoted city[24]. The solution (a) is no doubt simpler, but clear evidence for the usage (where ideas of place are in view), is not apparent, though the fact is asserted (e.g. by Winer, Grammar of N. T. Greek, Moulton’s Ed., p. 177). Happily the grammatical problem leaves the essential meaning of the clause quite clear.

[24] We might thus perhaps render, or explain, politeuma by “seat of citizenship.”

we look for] Better, with R.V., we wait for. The form of the verb implies a waiting full of attention, perseverance, and desire. The verb occurs elsewhere, Romans 8:19; Romans 8:23; Romans 8:25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 5:5; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 3:20. Of these passages all but Gal.(?) and 1 Pet. refer to the longed for Return of the Lord, the blessed goal of the believer’s hope. Cp. Luke 12:35-38; Acts 1:11; Acts 3:20-21; Romans 8:18; Romans 8:23-25; Romans 13:11-12; 1 Corinthians 11:26; 1 Corinthians 15:23, &c.; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:14 to 1 Thessalonians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 2:11-12; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 10:25; Hebrews 10:37; James 5:7-8; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Peter 3:4; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 3:13; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:2-3; Revelation 2:25; Revelation 22:20.

the Saviour &c.] There is no article in the Greek; and therefore render, perhaps, as our Saviour, the Lord &c. The A.V. is by no means untenable grammatically, but the word “Saviour” is so placed as to suggest not only emphasis but predicative force. And the deep connexion in the N.T. between the Lord’s Return and the full and final “salvation” of the believer’s being (cp. esp. Romans 13:11) gives a natural fitness to this use of the holy Title here.

“The Lord Jesus Christ”:—this full designation of the Blessed Person suits the tone of solemn hope and joy in the passage.

Php 3:20. Ἡμῶν, our) whom you have as a type or example [Php 3:17].—γὰρ, for) This gives the reason why the Philippians ought to imitate them.—τὸ πολίτευμα) the community, country, city, or state: for ὑπάρχει, has its existence, follows. Therefore it is the antecedent to ἐξ οὗ, from which.[49]—σωτῆρα, the Saviour) This furnishes the ground on which we rest our expectation, 2 Timothy 4:18.—Κυρίον, the Lord) now exalted, ch. Php 2:11. This furnishes the confirmation of this expectation.

[49] τόπον, implied in οὐρανοῖς, might seem otherwise to be the word to which οὗ refers.—ED.

Verse 20. - For our conversation is in heaven. The word "our" is emphatic; the apostle refers back to ver. 17: "Follow us, not those enemies of the cross; our conversation is in heaven; they mind earthly things." The A.V. has this same word "conversation" in Philippians 1:27, where the Greek (πολιτεύεσθε) is the verb corresponding with the noun (πολιτεῦΜα) which occurs here. The verb is used in the sense of a certain mode of life or conversation, as in Acts 23:1, but it does not appear that the noun ever bears that meaning. The rendering" citizenship" also seems deficient in authority. In classical Greek the word has three meanings:

(1) a form of government;

(2) political acts, politics;

(3) a commonwealth.

The last seems the most suitable here. The unworthy Christians mentioned in the last verse mind earthly things; but our city, our country, our home, is in heaven: there is the state of which we are citizens; there is the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn, whoso names are inscribed in the roll of the citizens of the heavenly city. Our real home is there now (ὑπάρχει); comp. Ephesians 2:19, "Ye are no longer strangers and foreigners, but ye are fellow-citizens of the saints" (comp. also Hebrews 11:10, 16 and Hebrews 13:14; Galatians 4:26). From whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; rather, we eagerly wait for (comp. Romans 8:23, 25; Galatians 5:5) the Lord Jesus Christ as a Savior; comp. Isaiah 25:9, "This is the Lord; we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Philippians 3:20Conversation (παλίτευμα)

Only here in the New Testament. Rev., citizenship, commonwealth in margin. The rendering conversation, in the sense of manner of life (see on 1 Peter 1:15), has no sufficient warrant; and that πολίτευμα commonwealth, is used interchangeably with πολιτεία citizenship, is not beyond question. Commonwealth gives a good and consistent sense. The state of which we are citizens is in heaven. See on Philippians 1:27. Compare Plato: "That city of which we are the founders, and which exists in idea only; for I do not believe that there is such an one anywhere on earth. In Heaven, I replied, there is laid up the pattern of it methinks, which he who desires may behold, and beholding may settle himself there" ("Republic," 592).

Is in heaven (ὑπάρχει)

The use of this word instead of ἐστι is is peculiar. See on being, Philippians 2:6. It has a backward look. It exists now in heaven, having been established there of old. Compare Hebrews 11:16; John 14:2.

We look for (ἀπεκδεχόμεθα)

Rev., wait for. See on 1 Corinthians 1:7. Used only by Paul, and in Hebrews 9:28. Compare Romans 8:19, Romans 8:23, Romans 8:25; Galatians 5:5. It indicates earnest, patient waiting and expectation. As in ἀποκαραδοκια earnest expectation, Philippians 1:20, the compounded preposition ἀπό denotes the withdrawal of attention from inferior objects. The word is habitually used in the New Testament with reference to a future manifestation of the glory of Christ or of His people.

The Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (σωτῆρα)

Savior has no article, and its emphatic position in the sentence indicates that it is to be taken predicatively with Jesus Christ, and not as the direct object of the verb. Hence render: we await as Savior the Lord, etc. Compare Hebrews 9:28, "To them that wait for Him will He appear a second time unto salvation."

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