Only let your conversation be as it becomes the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent…
(Text in conjunction with Philippians 3:20.) Paul was a Roman citizen. By virtue of this, be possessed rights, privileges, and immunities denied to strangers. He now turns it to spiritual account.
I. TRUE BELIEVERS ARE CITIZENS OF HEAVEN. Here they are strangers and pilgrims. Their thoughts and affections point to the heavenly Jerusalem. But they cannot say with Paul, "I was free born." Like the captain, "With a great sum they obtained this freedom" (1 Peter 1:18-19). It is the believer's interest in Christ, the purchaser of his freedom, which constitutes him a citizen of heaven.
II. CITIZENS OF HEAVEN SHOULD REFLECT IN THEIR LIVES THE DIGNITY AND HOLINESS OF THEIR CITY. As royal children they must behave royally. We do not expect princely bearing in the pauper, and we look only for earthly mindedness in the citizens of earth. When Alexander was asked to run in the Olympic games, he replied, "I will if kings are to be my antagonists."
III. HEAVEN'S LAWS FOR THE LIFE OF ITS CITIZENS UPON EARTH ARE CONTAINED IN THE GOSPEL OF THEIR KING. The one great law of which all the rest are only particular applications is "Christ our life." "He left us an example."
IV. LIVES WHICH HARMONIZE AND ILLUSTRATE THESE LAWS ARE WORTHY OF THE HEAVEN TO WHICH THEY BELONG. Lessons:
1. Prize the privilege.
2. Study the laws.
3. Live the life.
(J. B. Norton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
WEB: Only let your way of life be worthy of the Good News of Christ, that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your state, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the Good News;