- A. T. Robertson, Minister., p. 50
Rome settled communities of army veterans, called colonies, as garrisons in conquered territory. Augustus extended this practice by giving full Roman citizenship not only to settlements of veterans but to important provincial cities and to men who had distinguished themselves in public service. These provincial communities held equal rights and privileges with the citizens of Rome itself. In return they were expected to represent Rome and all things Roman to their neighbors, so that the Roman way of life might permeate their province. This policy proved extremely successful. In A.D. 212 the Emperor Caracalla was able to issue a decree admitting all his subjects to Roman citizenship.
During New Testament times the city of Philippi, where Paul founded a church on his second missionary journey, was a Roman colony. When Paul later wrote to the church at Philippi and underscored the meaning of church membership, he had at hand an illustration his readers could easily understand. “Our citizenship,” he wrote, “is in heaven.” James Moffatt translates the statement even more strikingly: “We are a colony of heaven.”