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Jesus Creed

One of the most significant texts in this discussion of the “permanence” of heaven is Philippians 3:20. In context now:

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

There are, Paul says, two sorts: those who are enemies of the cross of Christ whose destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is focused on earthly things. So verse 19.
There is another group, and this group is found in v. 20. Their citizenship is in heaven, Jesus the Savior is there and will return from there, and when he comes he will “transform our lowly bodies so that they will become like his glorious body.”
Wow, in this text Paul does not say Jesus will come and take us back to heaven where he came from. Instead, he say our citizenship is in heaven (where it is stored on file?) and Jesus will come down from there and transform us … and he doesn’t say he’ll take us back transformed. In other words, this text looks to me like a new heavens and new earth passage: Jesus the Savior will come down and transform our earthly existence into a new heavens/new earthly existence.
But, let’s be fair here: I’m not sure we can say that the transformation is not simultaneously a return into heavens. There isn’t evidence for that, because there isn’t evidence for anything other than a return to earth and a transformation. I suspect the new heavens/new earth view is right here.

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