February 2, 2010

Know Your Audience

Paul uses the image of a "colony [politeuma] of heaven" (Philippians 3:20) to bring out several aspects of Christian existence. By speaking of the Christian community this way Paul encouraged his listeners/readers to think along certain lines. The Christian post is an outpost of heaven here on earth. It speaks the language of the homeland and adheres to it's laws dispite the fact that the world around speaks differently and adheres to a different set of laws. The colony's institutions an beliefs system are that of the homeland and one day these colonists will return to the homeland. These citizens will also take up all the rights and privileges that citizenship confers. This image lends dignity and hope to the "now" and "not yet" and the bittersweet feeling of not belonging to the world and feeling like a third wheel.

Context: Paul was speaking to Philippi here. They were a Roman colony formed in 41-42BC after the defeat of Brutus. Octavian reconstituted the colony and it took on a decidedly Italian flavor due to the presence of Italian settlers and the constant movement of Roman troops passing through the city becasue of its strategic position in Macedonia. The language, imagery and outlook would then have a decidedly Roman flavor even though it was not in Rome or Italy proper. They would exist in the Roman "thought world", hence Pauls's analogy. Philippi was conscinece of their ties with Rome and would've understood Paul perfectly. Paul was speaking their langauge shaping his message to his audience. Paul did the same thing in (Acts 17:22-31) Areopogus sermon.

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