So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Estate, city, temple
Our households are small – a nuclear family, a single person, or perhaps a roommate or two – but the reference to the household of God in the ancient world would have suggested a grand estate with a large extended family. Such a ‘household’ included all those who worked or lived on the estate. It’s the same idea we hear Jesus say in John 14 that’s normally translated “In my father’s house are many rooms.” Only they’re not “rooms”. Think Downton Abbey, not only with its large household staff, but all the homes and farms on its lands.
We are the household of God, those who live on and are joined to God’s great estate.
And we are citizens, citizens of the city of God, citizens of the New Jerusalem, citizens of the kingdom to come with all its privileges and responsibilities.
And we are God’s temple – a temple under construction, but a temple nonetheless – a temple where God dwells.
Estate, city, temple: the images are rich and vivid. And they are all about who we are together. This is not the language of private and individual faith, but the language of community.