Citizenship the rights and privileges of a native or adopted citizen (πολίτης, 2 Maccabees 4:50; 5:6; 9:15, 19; Lu 15:15; Lu 19:14; Ac 21:39), in distinction from a foreigner. The laws in this respect are very different in different ages and countries. SEE ALIEN.

I. Hebrew. — Under the Mosaic constitution, which was framed on a basis of religious rather than of political privileges and distinctions, the idea of the commonwealth (πολιτεία, Eph 2:12) was merged in that of the congregation, to which every Hebrew, and even strangers under certain restrictions, were admitted. SEE CONGREGATION. Strict isolation did by no means, as some suppose, form the leading principle in the system of theocracy as laid down by Moses, since even non-Israelites, under various names SEE STRANGER, not only were allowed to reside in Palestine, but had the fullest protection of the law equally with the native Israelites (Ex 12:19; Leveticus 24:22; Nu 15:15; Nu 35:15; De 1:16; De 24:17: the law of usury, De 23:20, made, however, an exception), and were, besides, recommended in general terms by Moses to humanity and charity (Ex 22:21; Ex 23:9; Le 19:33-34; De 10:18; comp. Jer 7:6; Mal 3:5; see Josephus, Apion, 2, 28), as well as to a participation in certain prerogatives granted to the poor of the land, such as a share in the tithe and feast-offering, and the harvest in the jubilee-year (De 14:29; De 16:10,14; De 26:11; Le 25:6). In return, it was required on the part of non-Israelites not to commit acts by which the religious feelings of the people might be hurt (Ex 20:10; Le 17:10; Le 18:26; Le 20:2; Le 24:16; De 5:14. The eating of an animal which had died a natural death, De 14:21, seems to have been the sole exception). The advantage the Jew had over the Gentile was thus strictly spiritual, in his being a citizen, a member of the theocracy (the קהִל יהוָֹה community of Jehovah, Nu 16:3; De 23:2), on whom positive laws were enjoined. But even to this spiritual privilege Gentiles were admitted under certain restrictions (De 23:1-9); thus we find among the Israelites, Doeg, an Edomite (1Sa 21:8), as also Uriah, a Hittite (a Canaanite). The only nations that were altogether excluded from the citizenship of the theocracy by especial command of the Lord were the Ammonites and Moabites, from a feeling of vengeance against them; and in the same situation were all castrated persons and bastards, from a feeling of disgrace and shame (De 23:1-6). In the time of Solomon no less than 153,600 strangers were resident in Palestine (2Ch 2:17). SEE GENTILE.

II. Roman. — The right of citizenship (πολιτεἰα, "freedom," Ac 22:28, i.e. to be considered as equal to natives of the city of Rome, jus

Bible concordance for CITIZENS.

civitatis, civitas) was granted in the times of the emperors to whole provinces and cities (Dio Cass. 41:25; Suet. Aug. 47), as also to single individuals (Tacit. Annal. 1:58; Sueton. Nero, 12; Dio Cass. 43:39; Appian, Civ. 3. 26), for some service rendered to the state (Cic. Balb. 22) or the imperial family (Sueton. Aug. 47), sometimes through mere favor (Tacit. Hist. 3. 41), or even for a certain sum of money (Ac 22:28; Dio Cass. 41, 24; see Heinecc. Antiq. jur. Romans 1, 1, 11 sq.). The apostle Paul was a Roman citizen (civis natus, Sueton. Calig. 38; see Amntzen, De civitate Romans apost. Pauli, Utr. 1725) by family (Acts, 1.c.) SEE TARSUS, and hence his protesting against corporal or capital punishment (Ac 16:37; comp. Cic. Verr. v. 57, 65; Eusebius Hist. Eccles. 5, 1, etc.). It appears from a variety of passages in the classic writers that a Roman citizen could not legally be scourged (virgis or flagellis coedi); this punishment being deemed to the last degree dishonorable, and the most daring indignity and insult upon the Roman name. Such was the famous "Porcia Lex." "A Roman citizen, judges," exclaims Cicero, in his oration against Verres, "was publicly beaten with rods in the forum of Messina; during this public I dishonor, no groan, no other expression of the unhappy wretch was heard amid the cruelties he suffered, and the sound of the strokes that were inflicted, but this: 'I am a Roman citizen!'" Neither was it lawful for a Roman citizen to be bound, or to be examined by the question, or torture, to extort a confession from him. These punishments were deemed servile; torture was only inflicted upon slaves; freemen were exempted from this inhumanity and ignominy. The right once obtained descended to a man's children (Ac 22:28; see Zimmern, Gesch. des rom. Privat-rechts, 1, 2, 441). The Jews had rendered signal services to Julius Caesar in the Egyptian war (Josephus, Ant. 14, 8, 1 and 2), and it is not improbable that many obtained the freedom of the city on that ground; certain it is that great numbers of Jews who were Roman citizens were scattered over Greece and Asia Minor (Ant. 14, 10, 13 and 14). Among the privileges attached to citizenship, the most noteworthy was the above, that a man could not be bound or imprisoned without a formal trial (Ac 20:29), still less be scourged (Ac 16:37; Cic. Verr. 5:63, 66); the simple assertion of citizenship was sufficient to deter a magistrate from such a step (Ac 22:25; Cic. Verr. v. 62), as any infringement of the privilege was visited with severe punishment. A Jew could only plead exemption from such treatment before a Roman magistrate; he was still liable to it from Jewish authorities (2Co 11:24; Selden, Syn. 2, 15, § 11). Another privilege attaching to citizenship was the appeal from a provincial tribunal to the emperor at Rome (Ac 25:11). SEE APPEAL. The rights of the Roman citizen included several other important privileges: he had a full right over his property, his children, and his dependents; he had a voice in the assemblies of the people, and in the election of magistrates; and his testament had full authority after his death. See Smith's Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Civitas; Sigon. De antiquojure civ. Roman. (Par. 1572; Hal. 1715; also in Grasvii Thesaur. 1); Spanheim, Orbis Romans (London, 1703; Hal. 1728); Cellarii Dissertatt. p. 715 sq.; also Bittner, De civ. Romans virgideniis exempt. (Jen. 1672); Lange, De immunitate civ. Roman. (Hafn. 1710). SEE FREEMAN.

Definition of citizen

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.