The Christian and World Affairs Part II: Christian Citizens -- By: Clyde W. Taylor

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 122:487 (Jul 1965)
Article: The Christian and World Affairs Part II: Christian Citizens
Author: Clyde W. Taylor

The Christian and World Affairs
Part II:
Christian Citizens

Clyde W. Taylor

We have discussed the Christian as a church member and some of the opportunities and responsibilities that fall to him as a result. Now we want to examine this Christian as a citizen. This does not mean that he has a dual personality, but it is a fact that from the viewpoint of the church we usually think in terms of spiritual things. As a citizen, a Christian citizen, the spiritual is in view but his citizenship assumes larger perspective.

What is a citizen? The word as used in the Bible usually means a person “of the city” and then follows the name of either a city or nation. The Apostle Paul used the word in two ways as far as his earthly relationships were concerned. In Acts 21:39 he speaks of himself as a citizen of Tarsus. This, however, would not clearly state whether he was a Roman citizen or not. It might mean that his citizenship was limited to that city and its province by the process of being born there. It was so understood by the chief captain because he ordered Paul bound. In Acts 22:25 Paul clarifies this by declaring himself a Roman, a citizen of the Roman commonwealth.

It is quite evident from Paul’s use of his Roman citizenship that he was not at all embarrassed at being a Roman citizen. He repeatedly identified himself as such, and on several occasions used it as a means of procuring rights that would assist him in his ministry within the gospel. However, the Apostle Paul also referred to the fact that his commonwealth, his citizenship, is in heaven. This is recorded in Philippians 3:20. This in no way negated his Roman citizenship, but simply was an expression of the spiritual affiliations of his life.

A study of citizenship in Old Testament times would indicate that, apart from those who lived under primitive society, most of the history in the Old Testament took place under kings. These, for the most part, would be classified as dictators, absolute sovereigns of their country with power of life and death. In the New Testament, the same condition prevailed; however, there is more instruction given on the relationship of the Christian and the citizen to government.

Now, we will not, in these discussions, endeavor to review all of the major passages that have to do with teaching regarding the government, especially in the New Testament, but it would be well to note a passage in the twelfth chapter of Mark. This is a report of the visit of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Christ to endeavor to catch Him in His w...

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