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Being “In Christ”

Being "In Christ"

This article is also available in Urdu.

Being “in Christ” is one of Paul’s favourite phrases that describes the state of a Christian believer. (“In Christ,” or almost identical expressions, are used over 170 times in the New Testament.)

I understand that being “in Christ” means belonging to Jesus, being in union and in unity with him, but the phrase has not really “gelled” with me.

What does it really mean to be “in Christ”?  In what way(s) are we “in Christ”?

As I was thinking about these questions, I came up with a list of other “ins” that have helped me to understand Paul’s phrase of “in Christ” a little more. These “ins” say something about ourselves.

~ “In” can describe our welfare: We may be in love, in pain, in good health, in dire straits, etc.

~ “In” can be about our geographic location: We may be in Sydney, or in Nairobi, or in Colorado Springs, etc.

~ “In” can relate that we belong to (or are positioned within) an institution or organisation: We may be in school, in church, in hospital, in prison, etc.

~ “In” can tell what occupation we are in: We may be in the army, in “ministry”, in teaching, in banking, etc.

~ “In” (or more precisely, into) can tell what our passions and hobbies are: We may be into golf, into crafts, into astronomy, into music, etc.

All of these “ins” tell us a bit about who we are.  They give us information about our state of being, about our self.

Does being in Christ” comprehensively describe your state of being? Does it define who you are? Is Jesus Christ being formed in you (Gal. 4:19)?

There is a wonderful mystery to being in Christ”. It involves a profound partnership and union with him which we cannot fully understand. Moreover, words cannot adequately express this union. Perhaps this is why the phrase in Christ” still leaves me a little baffled. Baffled but delighted.

© 24th of July 2010, Margaret Mowczko

Postscript (October 15 2015)

I love what Ben Myers says about being “in Christ”.

That phrase “in Christ” just keeps tolling like a bell through all the Pauline letters. It’s not that Christ was an instrument that God used to fix things up. Rather, for St Paul, Christ is himself our salvation. Christ is humanity made new, he is the place where human nature now resides, he is the new Adam who includes all human beings within himself, he is the oldest brother of many adopted siblings, all of whom now share in his status. Christ is God’s child by nature, and we are God’s children by grace. We get to share by grace everything that belongs to Christ by nature. . . . (Source)

Related Articles

The Fullness of Christ
Harmony and Humility – Philippians 2:1-5

10 thoughts on “Being “In Christ”

  1. “in” as “in Christ” describes the position – we are positioned in Christ.

    1. Yes, I agree.

      How would you describe what “we are positioned in Christ” means?

  2. That is a very good question. It is opposite of being outside Christ or someone who is unbeliever.
    I would describe “we are positioned in Christ” to mean that we have accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sin – (Ephesians 1:7) ” in Him we have our redemption, that is the forgiveness of our sins.” I would substitute “in Him” for ” in Christ”. It also means that we are reconciled permanently to God the father, as in (Ephesians 2:13) . ” But now in Christ, you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” There are other verses such as (2 Corinthian 5:17) “Therefore, If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: “The old has gone, the new is here”. Perhaps this could be looked at more thoroughly. There is being baptised into Christ. What about (Romans 8: 38-39) ” I am certain that neither death nor life ……. nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” It is deeply reassuring that you are included mysteriously in Christ.. I know that this does not answer your question… it is more of a beginning that needs a lot more work… Peace to you in Christ.

    1. I especially like this bit, “It is opposite of being outside Christ.”

  3. Father God does give us a new name which expresses the identity of being found in Him – in Christ.

  4. “We are positioned in Christ” = position and not performance/striving/trying to earn
    Father God does give us a new name which expresses the identity of being found in Him – in Christ – Revelation – a new name which is carved into a white stone.

    1. It’s interesting that such a little word “in” (Greek: ἐν) is used to convey a profound truth about our status, identity and allegiance.

  5. You have summed that up very well. I had no idea about the Greek equivalent of “in”. It is amazing that one word can concisely convey so much. There are many words like this in the Bible… and I am just finding out about the meaning of Gethsemane – some say olive press others wine press – and the “crushing” of the press and Christ’s was crushed with grief..

  6. Sorry about the typo – should read Christ was crushed with grief..

  7. – Olive press – Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

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