The Apostle Paul, could be called the Apostle in Christ. Of course this would really apply to all of them. But Paul in particular could be called the “in Christ Apostle.” Today’s blog takes a look at a special phrase in the New Testament.
The phrase “in Christ” is found 85 times in the NKJ version of the New Testament.
The first appearance is used by Luke writing the book of Acts. In Acts 24:24, it is said Paul’s message to Felix was concerning the faith in Christ.
The last two times the phrase is found in the book of 1st Peter.
In between these occurrences, we find the other 82 times. In these passages the phrase “in Christ” is found exclusively in the Pauline epistles. So we note that almost all of the phrases are used by Paul, hence we call him the “in Christ” Apostle.
Let us make some observations about Paul and the phrase “in Christ.” With the exception of 2nd Thessalonians and Titus, every other book that Paul wrote is saturated with the phrase, perhaps none more so than the letter to the Ephesians. Here we find that every spiritual blessing is found in Christ (Eph 1:3). If one were to include the phrase “in Him” as well, there are 10 uses found in the first chapter of Ephesians alone.
Paul’s frequent use of this phrase is one reason I resist the suggestion that he wrote the book of Hebrews. That’s because the phrase is not found in the Hebrew letter. Incidentally, all of Paul’s letters open and close with a reference to grace. Hebrews does not. But the authorship of Hebrews is a discussion for another time.
In Christ. I submit there is no phrase more important. Why? The earlier reference tells me all spiritual blessings are found there. All. That means there are none to be found outside of Christ. Those spiritual blessings certainly include redemption (Rom 3:24), eternal life (Rom 6:23), no condemnation (Rom 8:1), the love of GOD (Rom 8:39), sanctification (1 Cor 1:2), hope (1 Cor 15:19), to be called sons of GOD (Gal 3:26), forgiveness (Eph 4:32), the promise of life (2 Tim 1:1), and salvation (2 Tim 2:10). Read each of these passages and count your blessings in Christ.
So I see the importance of being “in Christ.” The question is “am I in Christ?” How do I know? Can I be sure? How do I get into Christ?
The phrase “into Christ” is found only two times in the New Testament. The reader is encouraged to see both of these passages in context. Let the Bible speak for itself.
Galatians 3:26, 27
For you are all sons of GOD through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
A study of the tenses of the verbs in the passage is important. You are all sons of GOD. That is present tense. You are presently a child of GOD. In the second case, were baptized, is in the past tense. You are a child presently because of what was done in the past. You are in Christ, you have put on Christ, if you have been baptized into Him.
Romans 6:3, 4
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into His death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Note that in both passages, the verb “baptized” precedes the phrase “into Christ”. It really is a simple matter. Some would minimize the importance of baptism but is that what we read here?
Are you in Christ? You are if you have been baptized into Christ. A proper candidate for baptism must be a believer. So says Mark 16:16, Acts 8:37. Thus, as a believer in Christ, and your immersion into Christ, then you can enjoy all of those blessings mentioned earlier.
If your hope of salvation has not included being buried with Him in a watery grave of baptism, why are you waiting? See Acts 22:16.