by Mike Ratliff
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18-22 ESV)
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV)
When a Christian is born of God into His Kingdom he or she also undergoes a change in status not only there, but in the kingdom of darkness, the world, from which they came. Carefully read the two passages I placed at the top of this post from the Apostles Paul and Peter. Sadly so much of what we hear in what pretends to be Christianity these days emphasizes the exact opposite focus. They push agendas of political reform and social change rather than in truly discipling their flocks to prepare them to be sojourners (pilgrims) just passing through a very hostile world on the way to their real home.
Let’s look at the words from the two passages above the ESV translates as “strangers,” “aliens”, “fellow citizens,” “sojourners,” and “exiles.”
Here is Ephesians 2:19 from the Greek text, “ἄρα οὖν οὐκέτι ἐστὲ ξένοι καὶ πάροικοι, ἀλλὰ συμπολῖται τῶν ἁγίων καὶ οἰκεῖοι τοῦ Θεοῦ,” Here is my personal translation, “Therefore you are no longer strangers and aliens but you are fellow citizens of the saints and of the household of God.” The word translated here as “strangers” is ξένοι the nominative, plural form of ξένος or xenos. To the Greeks a ξένος was the same thing as a barbarian. It could even refer to a wanderer or a refugee. The word translated here as “aliens” is πάροικοι the nominative, plural form of πάροικος or paroikos. This is made up of two words, παρά or para, “by or alongside” and οἶκος or oikos, “house.” Therefore, πάροικος literally means “by the house” or “next to the house” or “one who has a house alongside others.” This word was used to describe a foreigner who lived beside the people of a country, one was a neighbor that enjoyed the protection of the community but who had not citizen rights because his citizenship was elsewhere. He was a resident alien or licensed sojourner, one who paid an “alien tax” to live in the area without being naturalized. Paul was telling the Ephesians that Christians are not in either of these categories in the Kingdom of God. Instead, they are what? Christians are συμπολῖται of the saints of the household of God. This word, συμπολῖται is the nominative, plural form of συμπολίτης or sumpolitēs. What is this? The root πολίτης or politēs referred ti a citizen, an inhabitant of a city, a freeman who had the rights of a citizen. However, by adding the prefix σύν or sun “together with,” yields the idea of a citizenship with others.
Christians have a common citizenship in Christ with incredible rights forthcoming in our home to which we are traveling as sojourners and exiles. This rights are not for now to be enforced over the kingdom of darkness in this time. That is for the judgment and that will be in God’s timing. For now, we are not in our home and must understand that we are on a pilgrimage to our home. This is not it.
Look again at 1 Peter 2:11-12. Here it is from the Greek text, “᾿Αγαπητοί, παρακαλῶ ὡς παροίκους καὶ παρεπιδήμους, ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν σαρκικῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν, αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς,” Here is my personal translation, “Loved ones, I encourage you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from fleshly passions which wage war against your soul.” Notice that Peter’s point is that we are to approach this walk through this life as a sojourn or pilgrimage and this will help us fight the battle to deny our flesh. In any case, the word translated here as sojourners is παροίκους the accusative, plural form of πάροικος or paroikos. Again, this is another word for a resident alien, but with the added dimension of that person being a “sojourner” or one traveling through.” One of my lexicons translates this word as “a transient.” Notice that Peter also refers to us as παρεπιδήμους. What is this? This is a word describing a temporary resident without a license. I think the word “exile”in the world’s eyes applies, but from out perspective we are pilgrims.
Now my brethren, with yesterday’s post on the centrality of the sovereignty of God in our salvation, how true Christians are God centered instead of man-centered or religious centered, et cetera and we look at that through the lens of our being mere pilgrims, sojourners, aliens in a hostile world journeying to our true home where our true citizenship with its rights and privileges awaits, then shouldn’t that change how we live this life now? Are we to be about kingdom building here? Will we be about focusing on our “best life now?” No, we should be focusing on God and His glory as we prayerfully seek His wisdom and direction as we journey through this increasingly hostile and dangerous world. Also, notice how so many professing Christians are getting derailed here and are off the path and are focused full bore on the temporal rather than the eternal. Let us uphold each other in prayer and seek to obey our Lord in all things according to His will until we reach the end of this journey.
Soli Deo Gloria!