Theodore Epp adds that every believer’s…
new life is life “in Christ.” The word “in” does not in this connection speak of location, such as “in an automobile,” but carries the idea of union. On the resurrection side of this experience we have His life. He has come to live in us. It is this that marks the real difference between the old life prior to our salvation and the new life now that we are saved. It is necessary before the believer can enjoy victory in Christ for the power of the old life to be broken. This is accomplished through union with Christ in His crucifixion. This is not an experience that wemust struggle to enter into now. It was accomplished for us in the past. The King James Version is not clear on this point. The American Standard Version of 1901 will help us here. The expression “I am crucified with Christ” is translated in the ASV: “I have been crucified with Christ.” God got rid of the old self-life by crucifying it. We were separated from the old self-life when we died with Christ. (Back to the Bible)
In Christ describes every believer’s new position and new sphere of existence. Before we were born again into the Kingdom of God (Jn 3:3,5), our existence was in Adam (1Co 15:22, Ro 5:12–note = spiritually dead and under the dominion [supreme authority, power, jurisdiction, sway, control, absolute ownership] of the Sin “virus” we inherited from Adam – see Adam in the NT), in the flesh (under the dominion of the flesh – note, believers can “act fleshly” but strictly speaking are no longer “in the flesh” – see Ro 8:9–note, 2Co10:3–note Gal 2:20–note use “in the flesh” to refer to the human body not the “anti-God” influence), in (under the influence of) the world, and in the kingdom of the Devil (under his dominion – Acts 26:18, Col 1:13–note). In the Upper Room Discourse just prior to His crucifixion Jesus alluded to the idea of in Christ when He declared…
In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (Jn 14:20).
Paul expounded on the idea of a believer’s new identity, using the phrase in Christ or its synonyms (over 160 times in some form – in Him, in the Beloved, in Christ, in Christ Jesus, in the Lord – study the references below). In Christ summarizes the profound truth that believers are now and forever in spiritual union with the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, considering the prevalence of in Christ and its synonyms in Paul’s writings, this mysterious spiritual truth is one of the most significant teachings in the New Testament.
Charles Ryrie in fact comments that…
Probably the most important doctrinal fact underpinning the spiritual life is the believer’s union with Christ. It is foundational to the truth of co-crucifixion of the Christian with Christ (Ro 6:6–note, Gal 2:20–note), which in turn is the basis for freedom from the power of sin (Ed: Read Ro 6:11–note, Ro 6:14–note, Ro 6:17, 18–note, Ro 6:22–note Lk 4:18, Jn 8:36 – Remember that freedom in Christ [note the sphere or “atmosphere” in which one is free indeed!] is not the rightto do as one pleases but the power to please God by doing what is right!). Unfortunately, this concept is little understood, unbalanced in its presentation, and unused in its application….What does this concept mean? My own definition is simply this:
To be in Christ is the redeemed man’s new environment in the sphere of resurrection life. (Ed: Note [esp in Ep 1:20] the source of the “surpassing greatness of His power” that allows us to live our new life in Christ – Read Ep 1:18, 19–note, Ep 1:20, 21–note)
The key word is environment, for being in Christ is not a barren state or an almost unreal positional truth (as it is often presented), but a vital, pulsating, functioning involvement. The chief characteristic of this environment is resurrection life, the life of Christ Himself. (cp Col 3:4–note, Jn 14:6; 19, 20:31, Ro 6:4–note, 2Co 4:10, 11; 1Jn 4:9, 5:11, 12)
Another writer speaking of this same position of the believer describes it this way:
“He has been transplanted into a new soil and a new climate, and both soil and climate are Christ.”
(Ryrie goes on to explain that) In relation to sanctification (Ed: See noun hagiasmos = sanctification and verb hagiazo = to sanctify) or the Christian life…being in Christ frees us from the bondage of sin (Ed: Ro 6:11–note, Ro 6:14–note, Ro 6:17, 18–note, Ro 6:22–note Jn 8:36) and enables us to live righteously before God. (Ryrie, C. C.. Balancing the Christian Life. Chicago: Moody Publishers) (Bolding added)
When we believed in Christ Jesus as our Substitutionary and fully atoning Sacrifice, God transferred us from the kingdom of darkness “in Adam” (cp 1Co 15:22) into the kingdom of light, of His dear Son, so that now all believers are seen by the Father as in Christ. This transfer was the outworking of the New Covenant in His blood, which is an important truth to remember when trying to understand the concept (truth) of “in Christ”. Covenant is a solemn, binding agreement between two parties (see Covenant – Solemn and Binding) in which there is a co-mingling of lives and identities (See Covenant – The Oneness of Covenant). The two become one just as a husband and wife become one new person and just as the mystical church becomes one with Christ, the church as His body of which He is the Head (Ep 1:22, 23–note, Ep 4:15–note, Ep 5:23– note, Col 1:18–note). And so we see the vital nature of the inseparable union pictured in the phrase “in Christ“. It is no longer the believer who lives but Christ Who lives in the believer (Gal 2:20–note) and we live in such a way that His life not only enables us, but also shows through us (2Co 4:10). It is no longer our life, but it is Christ our life (Col 3:4–note). We are no longer separate “branches” but attached to the Vine (Christ Jesus – John 15:4, 5 – “Abide in Me” is synonymous with the concept of “in Christ”) deriving our life and our purpose from Him, for now Christ is our all in all, the very source of and supply for our existence, now and forever. When others see us, they should see Him (cp2Co2:13,15, 16, 4:11) (Watch and listen to the Youtube video of the song – In Christ Alone; In Christ Alone – another version)
James Montgomery Boice writes that…
The phrases in Christ, in Him…occur 164 times in all Paul’s writings. The phrases mean more than just believing on Christ or being saved by His atonement. They mean being joined to Christ in one spiritual body so that what is true of Him is also true for us…This is a difficult concept, and the Bible uses numerous images to teach it to us: the union of a man and woman in marriage (see notes Eph 5:22-33), the union of the vine and the branches (Jn 15:1-17), the wholeness of a spiritual temple in which Christ is the foundation and we the individual stones (Ep 2:20–note; Ep 2:21, 22–note), the union of the head and other members of the body in one organism (1Co 12:12-27). But whether we understand it or not, union with Christ is in one sense the very essence of salvation….Apart from Christ our condition is absolutely hopeless. In Him our condition is glorious to the extreme. (Boice, J. M.: Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary) (Bolding added)
Wuest comments on our position in Christ noting that…
Here again we have separation, for that which surrounds the believer, namely, Christ in Whom he is ensphered, separates him from all else. (Ibid)
MacArthur adds that
A Buddhist does not speak of himself as in Buddha, nor does a Muslim speak of himself as in Mohammed. A Christian Scientist is not in Mary Baker Eddy or a Mormon in Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. They may faithfully follow the teaching and example of those religious leaders, but they are not in them. Only Christians can claim to be in their Lord, because they have been made spiritually one with Him (cf. Ro 6:1–11). (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,
And all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I will walk,
Till trav’ling days are done.
In Christ expresses intimacy of a believer’s union with Christ. The preposition “in” is locative of sphere meaning that the believer’s sainthood was (is) in the sphere of Christ, not because someone named them “saints” and not in the sphere of some worshipper of a pagan deity as the term was commonly used in the so-called “mystery” religions of Paul’s day. Christ is the sphere in which the believer has his new life or as Paul phrases it in chapter 3, “Christ — our life” (Col 3:4–note).
Study the following passages and make a list of what “In Christ”, “In Him”, etc – To check the context click link. Then after you’ve made your own observations and list click on the commentary notes of verses where notes are available.
In Christ (33x) – Ro 9:1–note Ro 12:5–note Ro 16:7–note Ro 16:9–note, 16:10-note, 1Co 3:14:10 4:17 15:18 15:19 15:2 2Co 1:21 2:14 2:17 3:14 5:17 5:19 12:2 12:19 Gal 1:22 2:17 1:101:12 1:20 4:32 Php 2:1–note Php 3:9–note Col 1:2–note Col 1:28–note Col 2:5–note 1Th 4:16–note Philemon 1:8 1:20
In the Lord (45x) – Ro 14:14–note; Ro 16:2–note, Ro 16:8–note, Ro 16:11, 12, 13–note, Ro 16:22–note; 1Cor 1:31; 4:17; 7:22, 39; 9:1, 2; 11:11; 15:58; 16:19; 2Cor 2:12; 10:17; Gal 5:10;Ep 1:15–note; Ep 2:21–note; Ep 5:8–note; Ep 6:1–note, Ep 6:10–note, Ep 6:21–note; Phil 1:14–note; Phil 2:19–note, Phil 2:24–note, Phil 2:29–note; Phil 3:1–note; Phil 4:1–note, 2, Phil 4:4–note,Phil 4:10–note; Col 3:18–note; Col 4:7–note, Col 4:17–note; 1Th 3:8–note; 1Th 4:1–note; 1Th 5:12–note; 2Th 3:4, 12; Philemon 1:16, 20
In Christ Jesus (50x) – Ro 3:24–note; Ro 6:11–note, Ro 6:23–note; Ro 8:1–note, Ro 8:2–note,Ro 8:39–note; Ro 15:17–note; Ro 16:3–note; 1Cor 1:2, 4, 30; 4:15; 15:31; 16:24; Gal 2:4, 16;3:14, 26, 28; 5:6; Eph 1:1–note; Eph 2:6–note, Eph 2:7–note, Eph 2:10–note, Eph 2:13–note; Eph 3:6–note, Eph 3:11–note, Eph 3:21–note; Phil 1:1–note, Phil 1:26–note; Phil 2:5–note; Phil 3:3–note, Phil 3:14–note; Phil 4:7–note, Phil 4:19–note, Phil 4:21–note; Col 1:4–note; 1Th 2:14–note;1Th 5:18–note; 1Ti 1:14; 3:13; 2Ti 1:1–note, 2Ti 1:9–note, 2Ti 1:13–note; 2Ti 2:1–note, 2Ti 2:10–note; 2Ti 3:12–note, 2Ti 3:15–note; Philemon 1:23
In Him (31x) – Ro 4:5–note, Ro 4:24–note; Ro 9:33–note; Ro 10:11–note, Ro 10:14–note; Ro 15:12–note; 1Cor 1:5; 2:11; 2Cor 1:19, 20; 5:21; 13:4; Eph 1:4–note, Eph 1:7–note, Eph 1:9–note, Eph 1:10–note, Eph 1:13–note; Eph 3:12–note; Eph 4:21–note; Phil 1:29–note; Phil 3:9–note; Col 1:17–note, Col 1:19–note; Col 2:6–note, Col 2:7–note, Col 2:9–note, Col 2:10–note, Col 2:11–note; 2Th 1:12; 1Ti 1:16
Contrast “in the flesh” (Ro 7:5–note Ro 8:8–note Ro 8:9–note Phil 3:3, 4–note) As noted above, there are other Pauline uses of this phrase but they all refer to the physical flesh, not the evil disposition inherited from Adam and manifest as continual anti-God attitudes and actions. Flesh is a confusing word because it can have so many meanings in Scripture. If you are confused take some time to study the flesh. And remember that the definition of the common NT word flesh(147x in 126v in the NT) is always determined by checking the context.
David Garland comments that…
in Christ can mean several things that are not mutually exclusive: that one belongs to Christ, that one lives in the sphere of Christ’s power, that one is united with Christ, or that one is part of the body of Christ, the believing community. Paul’s assumption is that being in Christ should bring about a radical change in a person’s life. (New American Commentary – Volume 29: 2 Corinthians. B & H Publishers)
Philip Hughes explains that…
The expression in Christ sums up as briefly and as profoundly as possible the inexhaustible significance of man’s redemption. It speaks of security in Him who has Himself borne in his own body the judgment of God against our sin; it speaks of acceptance in Him with whom alone God is well pleased; it speaks of assurance for the future in Him who is the Resurrection and the Life; it speaks of the inheritance of glory in Him who, as the only-begotten Son, is the sole heir of God; it speaks of participation in the divine nature in Him who is the everlasting Word; it speaks of knowing the truth, and being free in that truth, in Him who Himself is the Truth. All this, and very much more than can ever be expressed in human language, is meant by being in Christ. (Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes) – Named as one of the 850 Books for Biblical Expositors by the Master’s Seminary. Cyril Barber writes this “May well be regarded as the finest conservative exposition of this epistle“)
William MacDonald observes that
In Christ speaks of their spiritual position. When they were saved, God placed them in Christ, “accepted in the beloved.” (Ep 1:6–note) Henceforth, they had His life and nature (2Pe 1:4–note). Henceforth, they would no longer be seen God as children of Adam (1Co 15:22) or as unregenerate men, but He would now see them in all the acceptability of His own Son. The expression in Christ conveys more of intimacy, acceptance, and security than any human mind can understand. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)
William Barclay adds
that when Paul spoke of the Christian being in Christ, he meant that the Christian lives inChrist as a bird in the air, a fish in the water, the roots of a tree in the soil. What makes the Christian different is that he is always and everywhere conscious of the encircling presence of Jesus Christ. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)
Barclay goes on to explain that
A Christian always moves in two spheres. He is in a certain place in this world; but he is also in Christ. He lives in two dimensions. He lives in this world whose duties he does not treat lightly; but above and beyond that he lives in Christ. In this world he may move from place to place; but wherever he is, he is in Christ. That is why outward circumstances make little difference to the Christian; his peace and his joy are not dependent on them. That is why he will do any job with all his heart. It may be menial, unpleasant, painful, it may be far less distinguished than he might expect to have; its rewards may be small and its praise non-existent; nevertheless the Christian will do it diligently, uncomplainingly and cheerfully, for he is in Christ and does all things as to the Lord. We are all in our own Colosse, but we are all in Christ, and it is Christ who sets the tone of our living.” Barclay describes an ideal state writing that “There is the life that is dominated by the Spirit of God. As a man lives in the air, he lives in Christ, never separated from him. As he breathes in the air and the air fills him, so Christ fills him. He has no mind of his own; Christ is his mind. He has no desires of his own; the will of Christ is his only law. He is Spirit-controlled, Christ-controlled, God-focused.” (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)
Ray Stedman commenting on Paul’s repeated use of this phrase in Christ in the letter to the Ephesians writes that every spiritual blessing in the believer’s life (Eph 1:3)…
is in Christ. All this comes to us in Christ, in the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus Himself. This fact is going to be stressed again and again in this letter (Ephesians). No two words appear in it more frequently than “in Christ,” or “in him.” Over and over it is emphasized that everything comes to us through Him. We must learn not to listen to those who claim to have God’s blessing in their lives, and yet to whose thinking Christ is not central. They are deceived, and they are deceiving us if we accept what they say. The only spiritual blessing that can ever come to you from God must always come in Christ. There is no other way that it can come. So if you are involved with some group which sets aside the Lord Jesus Christ and tries to go “directly to God,” and thus claim some of the great spiritual promises of the New Testament, you are involved in a group which is leading you into fakery and fraud. It is completely spurious! For God accomplishes spiritual blessing only in Christ. Physical blessings are available “to the just and the unjust alike,” but the inner spirit of man can be healed and cured only in Christ, and there is no other way. (Read full message Ephesians 1:1-14: God At Work) (Copyright 1972 Discovery Publishing, a ministry of Peninsula Bible Church.) (Bolding added)
Spurgeon comments that…
One of the first doctrines of our holy faith is that of the union of all believing souls with Christ. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ. Apart from Christ we are nothing (cpJn 15:5); in Christ we have “all spiritual blessings” We are rich as Christ is rich, when we are united to him by the living bond of faith.
Simon J. Kistemaker notes that…
To be in Christ connotes being part of Christ’s body (I Cor. 12:27), and Christ brings about a radical transformation in the believer’s life. Instead of serving the ego, the Christian follows Christ and responds to the law of love for God and the neighbor. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians)
John Piper reminds us that…
And the work of Christ in Whom we have our righteousness is a complete and perfect work. It does not get better with time. And we are united to Christ at once, through our first faith, not progressively. No one is half in and half out. And if we are in Christ, all that He is He is for us – from the very first instant of faith. This is wonderful news for sinners who face a long haul in becoming in life what we are in Christ. (The Purpose and Perseverance of Faith) (Bolding Added)
Zodhiates says that…
When you are in Christ, you are not merely professors of His name, learners of His doctrine, followers of His example, or sharers of His gifts. You are not merely men and women ransomed by His death or destined for His glory. These external connections exemplify how your individual life relates to Christ’s in the same way that one man’s life may relate to another’s by the effect of what he teaches, gives, or does. Paul says to the Corinthians and to all born-again believers, In your case, your life is not merely external, that is, “just like” His life, parallel to His. You are actually in Christ, and He is in you. This is something unique that Christ does for those who accept Him. (Zodhiates Corinthians Commentary Series)
This is the first passage in 2 Corinthians in which this Pauline formula for a Christian — a man in Christ — is used. It denotes the most intimate possible union, a union in which the believer’s faith identifies him with Jesus in His death and resurrection, so that he can say, “I live no longer, but Christ lives in me.” (Expositor’s Bible – 2Corinthians 5:16, 17 The New World)
The phrase, to “be in Christ,” evidently means to be united to Christ by faith; or to be in Him as the branch is in the Vine–that is, so united to the Vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it. John 15:2, “Every branch in me;” John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” See also John 15:5, 6, 7. To be “in Christ” denotes a more tender and close union; and implies that all our support is from Him. All our strength is derived from Him; and denotes further that we shall partake of His fulness, and share in His felicity and glory, as the branch partakes of the strength and rigor of the parent vine.
Guy King in his exposition of Philippians comments on the phrase in Christ writing that…
(a) Their (referring to the saints at Philippi but applicable to saints of all places and ages!)protection from evil life. The moral condition of a heathen city would be a constant peril to any new converts, especially as they themselves had but just recently come out of that very heathenism. Philippi may not have been so utterly debased as Corinth, or Rome, but its atmosphere must have been a subversive influence threatening any who would live pure and true. Yet, they could be kept safe. Christians must, of course, remain in such hostile surroundings, for CHRIST must have there, as Mt 5:13, 14– (note v13; v14) teaches, the salt, the light, and the testimony.
So He Himself prays “not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil”, John 17:15.
That keeping, that protection, is ministered to us in the fact of our being, not only “in the world”, but more closely, in Christ.
A shipwrecked man writes a message, and throws it into the sea, in the hope that it may reach some shore. But will not the water damage and destroy it? No; for, while it is cast into the sea, it is first sealed in a bottle – and so it arrives. Yes; in Philippi, with all its destructive influences, but in Christ – so they are secure, and so, in spite of all antagonistic forces, they arrive at “the haven where they would be.” Herein lay also
(b) Their possibility of holy life. We are called not only to a negative but to a positive life – “eschew (abstain from) evil, and do good”, as 1Pe 3:11 (note) says. But how can a holy life be lived in such unholy surroundings?
Mark that little water-spider going down to the bottom of that pond. It doesn’t really belong there, even as we believers are: “in the world” …but not of it, John 17:11, 16. The little creature has the queer, and amazing, ability of weaving a bubble of air around itself, and hidden in that it is able to pursue its way even amid such inimical conditions – in the water, but in the bubble!
So we come back to our glorious truth – in Philippi, but in Christ; then even in the midst of the most uncongenial surroundings, the Christ-life can be lived. (King, Guy: Joy Way: An Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, 1952, Christian Literature Crusade – Pdf) (Bolding added)
Guy King in his commentary on Colossians comments on their earthly and supernatural positions explaining…
Oh yes, I know they were at Colossae – breathing the fetid atmosphere of this typically pagan city. How could the fair flowers of fidelity and holiness flourish in such a place? Only because they enjoyed the nearer, purer air of being in Christ.
The clever little water beetle is able to live in the muddy bed of the pond because it has the gift of weaving around itself a bubble of air. Thus it takes its own atmosphere down with it. I often invert a “let’s pretend” story of a man shipwrecked on a desert island, who, happening to have his fountain pen still in his pocket, decides to write a message on a large island leaf to send to his people. Having thrown it into the sea, he could then only wait, and hope for the best. But, silly man, the leaf will soon be pulped and the message obliterated by the ocean. Oh, I forgot to mention that on his island he happened to find a bottle with a sealing top. So his SOS reached home, and led to his rescue, because though it was in the sea, it was in the bottle. Yes, although these Christians were in that Colossian sea of iniquity, they were kept safe and saintly because they were “in Christ”.
It is one of Paul’s chief inspired conceptions, so often reiterated through all his correspondence, that we are “in Him”, “in the Lord”, “in Christ”. What amazing privilege and prediction is here! “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, he says in Colossians 1:27 (note); and now it is the other side of the blessed truth: you in CHRIST, the hope of safety. (Colossians 1:1-2 His Tactful Approach – Pdf)
Excerpts from Wayne Barber’s notes on Ephesians (Ephesians 1:1-3 Sermon Notes) as he discusses the concept of “in Christ”…
(“In” is the Greek preposition “en” which) means we remain (abide, dwell, live) “in“…Christ Jesus…Any ability we have in the Christian life to be faithful before God (Ep 1:1–note“saints…faithful in Christ Jesus”)…is not of us. It’s because we are in Christ Jesus. And as a result of us being in Him, He in turn is in us. That is the only way any man can be faithful or dependable. It’s only as he is willing to submit and cooperate with that which is in the person that is in him. Look at John 14:18, 19, 20…We see evidence of Christ doing what He said He would do in His faithfulness by how the Ephesian believers were able…
If you ever see anything good in me, you know…It didn’t come from me. It came from He Who is in me and Whose I am (and Who I am in). It came from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It’s the same with you…When you see something in me that is good, remember it is not me, it must be Christ in me…The ability to be faithful as well as any other ability concerning our responsibilities to Christ is an ability that comes from our being in Him and Him being in us.
(Wayne gives a practical illustration of in Christ asking) What does it mean to be faithful inChrist Jesus? (Ep 1:1–note) Well, watch those little things in your life. Sometimes faithfulness is not seen before the failure. Sometimes faithfulness is more clearly seen after the failure, when you have messed up. What do you do when you have messed up? Do you go around talking about other believers? Do you criticize them as if you were the standard? Do you repeat things when you don’t even have the information yourself? Do you second guess others? Are you busy with this kind of lifestyle? How can you call yourself faithful in Christ Jesus? You are not. You may be a saint. But you’re not a “saintly saint”! You are not living as God wants you to live. In Ephesians 4-6 Paul has to instruct, exhort and encourage the Ephesian believers. Why did he have to encourage them if they were already perfect? Faithfulness does not mean perfection. It is a measure of a person’s character. It is a love for the love of the Lord Jesus Christ (cp His constraining love – 2Co 5:14–note). So it points to the character of one who is a believer who is faithful in Christ Jesus.
(Speaking of all “spiritual blessings” in Ep 1:3 Wayne reminds us that) Everything you have isin a Person, and His name is Jesus. And if you’ll come to Him and bow down to Him, you will begin experience inwardly what you’ve been looking for all along. The key is a repentant heart. When you are ready to bow, at that very moment, you attain access to the things that are yoursin Christ Jesus because they’re all available in Christ. The problem with most of us is, we look for these things (“spiritual blessings”) in everywhere except where they are found…And if we don’t have our needs met spiritually in Christ, they’ll never be met anywhere else. That’s the key. (Ephesians 1:1-3; see also Wayne’s notes on Ep 1:4 Chosen in Christ )
F B Meyer in his “Devotional Commentary of Ephesians” explains “in Him” writing that…
THE sponge, as it expands in its native seas, is in the clear warm water; and the water is in it. Thus there is a double In-ness between the Lord and the soul that loves Him. He is in the believer, as the sap is in the vine, and the spirit of energetic life in the body. But, in a very deep and blessed sense, the believer is in Christ. Of each of these sides of this marvellous truth there are many illustrations in this Epistle, so specially devoted to the study of the preposition in. We are dealing now with those passages only that assure us, as believers, of being in the Beloved.
WE ARE IN CHRIST, IN THE FATHER’S THOUGHT (Ep 1:3, 4, 9, 11-see notes Ep 1:3; Ep 1:4, Ep 1:9, Ep 1:11) The disclosures made to the apostle Paul of God’s hidden things, hidden from ages and generations, are perfectly overwhelming. He tells us that our connection with Christ, in the thought of God, is not a matter of yesterday, nor of the day before, but of eternity.
The foundations of the earth were not laid in a day. But, ere the aeons of creation began to revolve in their vast cycles, before the earth or the world was formed, God chose us in Christ. He chose Christ, and all those who, down the far vista of time, should answer to the attraction of his Spirit and become one with Him in a living faith.
How startling it would be if, according to a suggestion made by another, the geologist, mining deeply into the earth, should suddenly find, amid the footprints of animals long extinct, the initials of his own name cut in the primeval rock! How came those initials there? They must have been graven by the finger of the Creator! Ah, what a rush of awe would fill the breast! But a greater marvel than this awaits us here. For we learn that our names were engraven on the breastplate of the great High Priest before the amethyst or jacinth was wrought in the laboratory of Nature, among her oldest and rarest treasures.
Is there a doubt that we shall be ultimately holy and without blemish, when the stream that is to bear us thither started in eternal ages from the Father’s heart? Let us at least get comfort from the thought that He who foreordained works all things after the counsel of his will…
IN CHRIST THE BLESSINGS OF REDEMPTION ARE STORED. (Ep 1:3, 6, 7, 14-see notesEp 1:3, 1:6, 1:7, 1:13) All conceivable spiritual blessings needed by us for living a holy and useful life are stored in Jesus. We must therefore be in Him by a living faith to partake of them; as a child must be in the home, to participate in the provisions of the father’s care. It is only they who know the meaning of the life hidden with Christ in God, and who abide in Christ, to whom God gives the key of his granary, and says, “Go in, and take what you will.”
How can mortal man exhaust the wonderful gifts of our Father’s grace? But they are all freely bestowed in the Beloved, in whom we also stand accepted. Who can estimate the meaning of redemption, which begins with the forgiveness of our trespasses, and ends in the rapture of the sapphire throne? But it is to be found only in Him and through his blood. What do we not owe to the sealing of the Spirit, by which our softened hearts get the impress of the Saviour’s beloved face, and are kept safe until He comes to claim us? But the sealing is only possible to those who are in Him. All things are ours, but only when we are in Christ.
WE ARE IN CHRIST AS THE SPHERE OF DAILY LIFE AND EXPERIENCE (Ep 1:1, 3:17-seenotes Ep 1:1, 3:17) It is the intention of God that we who believe should ever live in Christ Jesus, as the very element and atmosphere of our life; never travelling beyond the golden limits established by his Love, or Life, or Light: in Him as the root in the soil, or as the foundation in the rock. Always in his love, because never permitting in speech or act what is inconsistent with it. Always in his life, because ordering our activities by the laws of his being. Always in his light, because saturated by his bright purity, and illumined by his gentle wisdom. Oh to be always one of the faithful in Christ Jesus, and to be able to say with the Psalmist, “I have no good beyond Thee”! (Psalm 16:2)…
IN CHRIST AS THE CENTRE OF UNITY (Ep 1:10–note) It is the evident purpose of God to finish as He began. He began by choosing us in Christ. He will end by summing up all things in Him, both the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth. All the landscape focuses in the eye; all creation finds its apex in man; and all the story of the ages shall be consummated in our Lord, the Divine Man. (For Meyer’s full discussion of “In Him” click Chapter 3 – “In Him”)
Courtesy of Precept Austin at http://www.preceptaustin.org/2corinthians_517_commentary.htm#in