Friday, September 9, 2022

Galatians Words ~ Word 5: In Christ


Galatians Words Word 5: In Christ

Today’s word is actually a phrase that has great significance in the New Testament and in the life of every Christ-follower. I have been tracking this phrase for several years as I study in the New Testament. Someday I hope to have a complete study of it.

Our faith, our identity, and our ability to live the life of a Christ-follower rests in the words ‘in Christ’. As we have seen in our previous words our salvation rests on the fact that through faith ‘in Christ’ we are justified; we are made righteous in the sight of God.

“…yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:16

It may appear to be a simple phrase, but when we break it apart and understand its theological significance, we will gain a deeper understanding of this phrase, and I hope that you will then pause each time you see it in the New Testament as I do.

The word ‘in’ is an often-used preposition that we can tend to just skim over when we read, but biblically when it is connected with the words Christ, Jesus, Lord, or Him it holds great significance. ‘In’ refers to our state or position or standing.  That we are ‘in’ Christ means that our position, our identity, our very life is found within the sphere of Christ Jesus. ‘In Christ’ refers to our vital, personal union with Jesus. It’s meaning is parallel to John’s ‘abide in Him” in John 15. Commentator Kent Hughes says, “being in Christ indicates radical transformation”. As we have seen in Galatians 2:16, our relationship with God is based on our position ‘in Christ’. Our position in Christ is that we have put our faith in Him and are therefore justified with God by that faith.

‘In Christ’ is a favorite term of Paul’s, used 165 times in his epistles; this includes the synonymous phrase ‘in him’. When Paul uses this phrase, he is most often using it to refer to a Christ-follower, referring to his position and identity. In Galatians Paul uses this phrase 13 times. As noted, three of those times are in 2:16 alone.  Let’s look at some of the ways Paul uses this phrase in Galatians:

  • 2:4 Paul says that the Judaizers have “infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ”. Our union with Christ brings with it the benefit of certain freedoms.
  • 2:16 We have already looked at the fact that we are justified by faith in Christ. It also comes up in 2:17 and 2:20 as well.
  •  3:14 “In Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham comes to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” In Christ means we also have the Spirit in us.
  • 3:22 In Christ we receive the promises of God.
  • 3:26 In Christ we are sons (children) of God through our faith in Him.
  • 3:27 We are baptized into Christ and therefore are clothed with Him.
  •  3:28 The phrase ‘in Christ’ does not only impact us individually, but corporately as well. In Christ we belong to each other. We are “all one in Christ”. Not only that but we are all equal 'in Christ'.
  • 5:6 In Christ our faith expresses itself through love.

We will expand on many of the things expressed in the list above in our future words and gain a deeper understanding of them.

If you are ‘in Christ’, you are united to Christ and His Spirit lives in you. Your whole being and life is wrapped up ‘in Him’, and you are held secure and surrounded by Him. You have a vital, personal relationship with Him, and as Kent Hughes pointed out, being ‘in Christ’ means your life has been through a radical transformation! You have a new identity, a new purpose, a new calling, a new family, a new community, a new life!

For our next word we will look at one of the most known verses in the New Testamant. Read through 2:17-21 again to familarize yourself with this passage and prepare yourself for our next word, live.

Share how you respond in the Words Challenge Facebook group. You can also share on social media using #galatianswords.




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