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Cities In Scripture - Theological Foundations

 

Are cities valid target for ministry? Are they a proper theological entity?

When I first heard of 'urban Ministry" I was very unconvinced. I didn't see "the city" as something that Christians ministered to. It was just an address. It was where the people you ministered to lived or the church you worshipped at was. It was just a collection of individuals and individuals were what missionaries were supposed to minister to - or so I thought. Before we undertake urban ministry we have to answer this question - can we minister "to a city" just as we minister to individuals within the city? Is talking about ministry "to a city" valid? Is a city a proper theological entity that can be addressed just like an angel , a demon or a person can? Should we just be talking about ministry "within a city" instead?

Cities are more than a mere collection of individuals. They have their own dynamics and feel about them just as any group of people such as a football crowd or theatre audience may take on a corporate personality and be described as a whole e.g. "that was an enthusiastic crowd" or "they weren't very responsive today' or "the audience was sullen and hostile". This can apply to a city and its responsiveness to the gospel. Everyone who has preached knows that in some churches there is unusual liberty in preaching the word and a wonderful sense of rapport while others are just plain hard work. Jesus seemed to see cities as theological entities that could be condemned for their hard-hearted unbelief even in the face of His teaching and miracles.

(Matthew 11:20-25 NKJV) Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: {21} "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. {22} "But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. {23} "And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. {24} "But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."

As Jesus goes through this list of biblical cities He speaks TO THEM and obviously considers them as valid theological entities that could be addressed. Jesus talks to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum and He talks about Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom and says that the cities themselves, as entities, would be judged on the day of judgement and that the standard of judgement would be how they responded to the light of the gospel. This judgement would be of the same nature as the biblical judgement of Sodom. In other words it would be a corporate punishment for corporate sin. This gives rise to a whole host of theological questions most of which are answered in two of the other chapters in this book, "The Salvation of Whole Groups" and "The Spiritual Character of Cities". However the point as far as this introductory chapter is concerned is that the Bible sees cities as having a definite corporate identity , a definite corporate response to the gospel and a definite corporate accountability. Therefore a city is just as valid a unit for ministry as a person, church, tribal group or nation. The urban worker can be "called to" minister to a city just as much as a pastor can be called to a church or a missionary to an ethnic group or nation.

THE CORPORATE PERSONALITY

Cities have corporate personalities Paris has one personality, New York another, Sydney a third, Beijing a fourth. These personalities are visible to those who minister to them as a whole or even to perceptive tourists but often become invisible to the actual inhabitants who are immersed in their daily lives. This corporate personality is the living context of urban ministry. Not only do cities have a feel or a personality they also have a spiritual character. Even a cursory reading of the prophets brings the conviction that cities have a spiritual character about them. Jerusalem is both the eternal city and the place where the gospel and God are most decisively rejected. Tyre is the place of wicked trade doomed to be utterly flattened by Alexander the Great and made a place where fishermen spread their nets. Babylon "the great" represents worldliness and sheer exultant hubris. This leads it to become a howling wasteland. Pergamum is the seat of Satan's throne. Bethel is the place where Jacob's ladder is and where angels ascend and descend. Rome is the harlot city that persecutes the saints but paradoxically is also where the gospel finally rests and prospers. Nineveh represents unwitting paganism simply heedless of God where 120,000 people " do not know their right hand from their left". It is mankind left utterly to itself and its own instincts. Sodom represents a city living in abundance and completely given to all forms of wickedness especially sexual perversion and slavery. It is the archetype of a city judged by God as is its companion city Gomorrah. The article "The Spiritual Character of Cities" goes into this in depth, sufficient to say that becoming aware of the city, its life, its networks, and its key people and institutions is absolutely essential to effective urban ministry.

THE ORIGINS AND KEY ASPECTS OF URBAN LIFE IN GENESIS

Genesis is always a good place to start when examining a ministry issue so we will look at all the significant verses on cities in Genesis, omitting parallel verses etc.

Life In The First City

The following twelve verses in Genesis 4:12-24 describe life in the first city, founded by Cain and called Enoch.

People Become Alienated From Rural Life

(Genesis 4:12-24 NKJV) "When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth." {13} And Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear! {14} "Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me." {15} And the LORD said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

The Population Grows, A City Is Built And Named

{16} Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. {17} And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son; Enoch.

New Social Configurations Are Adopted

{18} To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech. {19} Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah.

The Community Innovates There Is Specialization Of Labor and The Development of Technology.

{20} And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. {21} His brother's name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. {22} And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

Crime Develops Among The Powerful And Arrogant

{23} Then Lamech said to his wives: "Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, Even a young man for hurting me. {24} If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold."

Comment

1. Cities come about as a result of population growth "she conceived - he built".

2. Cities are "built" they are human artifacts.

3. The city is not rural. In this case the first city was built by people who could not participate in rural life because for Cain the Lord had said "When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth." To this days most cities reflect this sense of alienation from the land.

4. There is an urban-rural tension characterised by different types of people and different modes of living. The first city dwellers were Cain's descendants while the line of Seth seems to have remained rural. Too much can be extrapolated into this theologically. However certain stereotypes of urban and rural life seem to be almost constant across cultures. Like all stereotypes they need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Urban Rural
Cain Seth
Alienation from the land Close to the land
Away from the presence of God "then men called on the name of the Lord"
Trade Barter
Centre of music and culture, new ideas e.g. Jubal-Cain Traditional, follows prior generations.
Centre of technology e.g Tubal-Cain Peaceful, bucolic
Specialized labor "every craftsman.." Mostly generalists - do everything on the farm.
Always awake, clock time, rhythms of business and political life. Seasonal rhythms, governed by day and night, rhythms of crops and seasons.
New social arrangements often based around the desires of the powerful community members. Traditional patriarchal family life.
Lawlessness and crime In stereotype at least,country folk are honest.

5. Cities are a way that non-rural people can avoid being "wanderers and vagabonds upon the earth.."

6. Cities are named - reflecting the perception that they are a living things in some way. Often, as here, they are named after people. In this case the naming process seems to reflect a desire for continuity and stability to counter Cain's alienation.

7. Community life in the city allows specialization of labour.

8. This in turn allows the development of craftsmanship and technology.

9. It also helps promote the arts and music.

10. Powerful people start ruling city life as Lamech did taking two wives and engaging in murder of a weaker, younger man. Crime develops among the powerful and arrogant.

Cities Result From Human Expansion, Entrepreneurs and Empire Building

Nimrod was an empire builder and an entrepreneur. The cities he founded became the centers of the Babylonian, Akkadian, and Assyrian empires respectively.

(Genesis 10:8-14 NKJV) Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. {9} He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD." {10} And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. {11} From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, {12} and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city).

11. Powerful people and companies build cities as part of their desire to expand their territory.

12. These people often have a predatory nature "a might hunter (predator) before the Lord".

13. The cities build by them can take on their expansionist and predatory nature as it is the spirit and purpose behind their foundation.

14. They then in turn expand and found their own empires. The classic example of this is Rome founded (according to legend) by the mighty legendary Greek warrior Aeneas and his descendants Romulus and Remus who were reared by wolves. Rome of course took on this predatory and expansionist nature in the consequent Roman Empire.

15. Thus cities tend to reflect their founding fathers and their nature. purpose, and vision. This can of course work for good especially in cities that have been founded specifically for Christian purposes.

Grand Cities Can Be A Result Of Hubris - The Pride That Is Heard In Heaven

Babel was not just a tower but a city. Later it would become Babylon the Great which would also carry the same desire to make a name for itself and also experience God's judgement. The word "hubris" is a word full of classical meaning, In Greek literature it was the attitude that most certainly brought about madness and one's doom. It is pride that goes beyond natural boundaries and tries to penetrate into the realm of the gods such as Icarus who tried to fly to the sun but his wings melted and he fell to his doom. It is the pride that comes before a fall. It is the pride Nebuchadnezzar had when he declared "Is this not Babylon the great which I have built" and for which he was punished by being sent insane by God (Daniel 4). Great cities that wish to become grand cities can fall into this sin and one of the recurring themes of hubris is the desire - or even the insistence to have "the world's tallest building.." and "to make a name for ourselves". Involved in this is the development of technology for the task. Babylon was in a flood plain with no hills and the tower would have been a prominent feature for miles. Like many flood plains there few stones so they had to make bricks to do the job instead. This great resourcefulness and unity in pursuit of their own fame led God to observe that nothing would be impossible to them!

(Genesis 11:1-9 NKJV) Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. {2} And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. {3} Then they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. {4} And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." {5} But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. {6} And the LORD said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. {7} "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." {8} So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. {9} Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

16. Cities reflect the linguistic unity of the community "one language and one speech". Most if not all cities have a predominant trade language though many other languages may exist within it.

17. Cities can undertake massive corporate projects in a common purpose.

18. Cities can be a way that people can consolidate against the vastness of nature.

19. Cities can become delusional "a tower whose top is in the heavens.." and proud "let us make a name for ourselves".

20. Cities which are short of natural resources will innovate and develop artificial alternatives in order to achieve their corporate objectives. Singapore is an example of this today.

21. Key themes here are journeying, founding, settling, building and scattering. This can be called "the life cycle of a city". This can be seen most evidently in mining towns today. People who are "journeying" discover the place and its resources, it is founded and for a while is settled. In time massive building and technological effort is expended until the mine runs out and the people are scattered. Cities can be also scattered (that is have the community dismantled) by war, severe famine and natural disaster.

Warning About The Destruction Of The City Comes First To The Prophet

Cities can not only be scattered - they can be totally destroyed. In Genesis 18 we find God telling Abraham His purposes (God calls Abraham a prophet in Genesis 20:7) thus God's purposes for cities come first to the prophets. (see also Amos 3:7).

(Genesis 18:17-21 NKJV) And the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, {18} "since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? {19} "For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him." {20} And the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, {21} "I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know." 22. Here the prophet is given the keys to the fate of the city. This is no isolated incident either. Cities such as Nineveh, Tyre, Jerusalem and Babylon all had their corporate fate revealed first to a prophet who tried to turn them from their ways.

23. Thus urban ministry needs a "prophetic" component. That is a deep spiritual sensitivity as to what God is doing in the city and the message they are to bring to it as a whole.

24. The purpose of the revelation is twofold. The salvation of city and the edification of the church which beholds God at work. In this passage the second purpose is the main one" he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice".

Intercession For The City

Abraham Pleads with God for Sodom:

(Genesis 18:28 NKJV) "Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?" So He said, "If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it."

Later we find that this intercession was heard and answered:

(Genesis 19:29 NKJV) And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.

25. The urban worker should pray for the Lord to have mercy on the city.

26. The church in the city - the righteous in its midst preserve sit from judgment.

27. It is not far from here to seeing the church as the "salt and light" of the city and its main hope for transformation.

28. The church and its intercession is "hopeful" in that it can be effective for we deal with a merciful God and can at least preserve the righteous in theday of judgement.

The Righteous Struggle With The State Of The City

In 2 Peter 2:7,8 Lot is described as a righteous man whose soul was tormented day and night by the wickedness he saw.

(2 Peter 2:7-9 NKJV) and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked {8} (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds);

29. The church in the city struggles with the crime rate and "lawless deeds" all around it and like Lot may in many cases feel constantly tormented by it.

30. While the righteous both see and hear the lawless deeds they do not participate. Separation from the culture is an issue in which compromise can prove fatal - see Lot's wife.

Warning Comes Eventually To The Righteous Who Struggle To Obey It

(Genesis 19:12, 15 NKJV) Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city; take them out of this place! ….({15} When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." {16} And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 31. God's warning, first revealed to the prophet who intercedes now makes its way to the righteous inhabitants of the city. Despite a long series of circumstances Lot is not entirely convinced. "While he lingered…" says a lot. The prophetic is often received with some considerable skepticism by the righteous.

The Righteous Warn The Wicked And Are Unheeded

Genesis 19:14-16 NKJV) So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, "Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!" But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.

32. Lot's warnings fall on deaf ears. Not entirely convinced himself he seems to his sons-in-law to be joking. The urban church can be in effective if a) it gets too close to the mores of the surrounding culture and b) if it is not totally convinced of the seriousness of the gospel and its mission to proclaim it.

The Righteous Abandon The City And Judgement Falls

(Luke 17:29 NKJV) "but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.

33. When the righteous finally flee the city it is a sign of impending judgement and doom.

34. This can happen as here that is God can, in reality be about to judge the city and so He withdraws his people before handing it over to lawlessness or destruction.

35. More commonly urban neighbourhoods are deserted by evangelical churches which, losing their vision for mission, flee to the suburbs. Without the preserving "salt and light" the neighbourhood gradually goes into serious decline and lawlessness.

36. Thirdly a city can reject the gospel and the righteous can leave the city and "shake the dust off their feet" as a testimony against them. Cities which thus reject the witness of Christ are doomed on the day of judgement (see Matthew 11:20-25 above)

Sparing A Whole City

The arrival of the righteous in a city and their acceptance can spare a city from certain judgement.

(Genesis 19:20-22 NKJV) "See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live." {21} And he said to him, "See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. {22} "Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

37. Cities that accept the righteous - especially as refugees, are spared by God.

Judgement

(Genesis 19:24-25 NKJV) Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. {25} So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

38. Decisive and final judgement can come upon a wicked city. A relatively modern example of this is Port Royal , the wicked pirate city, the home of Bluebeard and the "the richest and wickedest city in the New World'. In 1692 the entire city slid into the sea and since then the original site of the city has seen a succession of hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Cities Are Centers Of Commercial Dealings

(Genesis 23:15-18 NKJV) "My lord, listen to me; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver. What is that between you and me? So bury your dead." {16} And Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, currency of the merchants. {17} So the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within all the surrounding borders, were deeded {18} to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city.

39. The gate of the biblical city was the place of trade, deals and the local courts. Here Abraham buys a piece of land from one of the leading men of the city in the presence of witnesses.

Some Cities Have An Unusual Degree Of Spiritual Presence

There are "sacred cities" all through the world from Jerusalem to Mecca to Benares in India to certain small country towns that make the Christian feel immediately at rest spiritually when he or she arrives.

(Genesis 28:16-19 NKJV) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." {17} And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" {18} Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. {19} And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously.

40. Cities can have an unusual and manifest spiritual presence about them.

41. This presence can initially go unnoticed as with Jacob's statement (Gen 28:16) - " I did not know it.."

42. This can be a blessed presence of God as at Bethel, or a provocation to the spirit as in the "very religious" and idolatrous Athens that Paul preached in. (Acts 17:16)

Rape, War and Intrigue In The Urban-Rural Tension

Genesis 34 is the story of the rape of Dinah and the intrigue, counter-intrigue and the totalistic revenge of Jacob's sons. In this chapter we see the worst of both lifestyles, the sleazy rapacious opportunism of city life contrasted with the violent, patriarchal loyalties of the rural clan. To summarize the story…. In the city of Shechem Dinah is raped by the besotted Shechem (same name as the city) son of Hamor the ruler of the city. Shechem desires to marry Dinah but Jacob's sons deceitfully request that all the men of the city be circumcised first. The men of Shechem agree thinking that inter-marriage with Jacob's family will make all his vast flocks and herds theirs. While they are in pain from the circumcision Jacob's sons attack in fury and take revenge.

(Genesis 34:26-29 NKJV) And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem's house, and went out. {27} The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. {28} They took their sheep, their oxen, and their donkeys, what was in the city and what was in the field, {29} and all their wealth. All their little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even all that was in the houses.

43. Cities can end up in conflict with the surrounding rural areas.

44. Not infrequently these conflicts center around wealth and marriage and various rivalries. The rural population feels exploited by the opportunistic city folk and develops a deep resentment which can move into a substantial rift between town and farm and even into open hostility as in the agrarian revolts in Europe.

Political Centres

(Genesis 36:32 NKJV) Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, and the name of his city was Dinhabah. (the first of a large number of parallel verses about so and so reigning in such and such a city…)

45. Local rulers choose the city as their administrative base.

46. Some cities become "capital cities" over a large region. In this case the nation of Edom ruled by Beor had the capital city of Dinhabah.

47. The first of these capital cities was Calah founded by Nimrod in the Genesis 10 passage quoted above.

Centralization of Power e.g. Grain Storage and Distribution

(Genesis 41:35, 48 NKJV) "And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities….So he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the fields which surrounded them.

48. The city is being used a centre point for grain storage during the good years. Later they would become the centre point for food distribution during the famine. This greatly increased the power of the cities in Egypt at this time.

49. The ability of the city to centralise key processes and thus accumulate commercial and political power at the expense of the surrounding countryside is well-known. This is well known here in the Philippines where the agriculturally-based people of Mindanao complain loud and long about all the money and power going to Manila. Modern cities control government, commerce, law-making, access to ports and tend to be far better served with infrastructure than the surrounding provincial or rural areas.

Urbanisation And Exploitation

(Genesis 47:18-21 NKJV) When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, "We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. {19} "Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate." {20} Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh's. {21} And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end.

50. The grain - that the farmers had originally produced, and which was taken from them by the government, is then sold back to them, first for their livestock and then for their land.

51. The city becomes a centre for rural dwellers who are escaping economic hardship caused by drought and famine.

52. The city becomes aware of its power and its favorable relationship with the central government and becomes the centre for taxation , dealing with government and economic exploitation of the poor.

53. Eventually the farmers are completely removed from the land and urbanized by government order.

54. When governments start the process of centralization and urbanization they can often go too far - in this case they destroyed the agrarian base of Egypt.

55. The process of urbanization and centralization can produce deep resentments. Some OT historians think that this action caused deep hatred of Joseph and his family. This entire period "the Hyksos period" was even expunged from Egyptian history.

56. The city wins. By the end of Genesis we see the absolute victory of the urban way of life. The city is a successful and highly predatory socio-economic unit. The ability of cities to survive famine and drought and to centralise and wield power efficiently means the city literally holds the surrounding rural areas to ransom.

Conclusion

Genesis records the absolute victory of the city as a socio-economic unit. From this point on mankind would become increasingly urban. Urbanization has never gone in reverse that I know of. An urbanized society has never turned back to live on farms. Cities are a successful and powerful way of living. Cities can organise efficiently and control huge empires such as the empires based in Babylon or Rome. It must be remembered that nationalism is recent. These were city-based not country based empires. The Roman empire was not "the Italian Empire" it was "Roman" springing from one very powerful city. Some modern political commentators predict the collapse of nationalism and the return of the "world city" as the primary political power. The city is the primary way that humanity organizes itself in community, it has a life and character of its own and will receive a corporate judgement for its corporate sin - or be spared because it welcomed the gospel. Cites are thus entities that we can and should minister to as urban workers.