‘In Christ’ = ?

What does ‘in Christ’ mean in St Paul’s Letters usually?
Does it mean ‘in the Church’ as the Church is the mystical body of Christ?
Would ‘as a Christian’ be a more accurate meaning in most of the 83 times Paul uses the phrase?

In Christ means in the Holy Spirit. Those whom are in Christ are in unity with his Holy Spirit.

In Christ means Unity with him. Another way to put it is in “belonging” to Him.

Faithful to, in league or solidarity with, while bound in an authentic spiritual relationship of love and obedience. Jesus expounded on it greatly in John 15:

**1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesa so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17This is my command: Love each other.**

Hi, Noel!

I can understand why you would think that it references the Church… however, St. Paul is actually speaking of his and our relationship with God through the Person of Christ Jesus:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God

—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4:15)

For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:17)
…the emphasis is not the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, but the Person of Christ… much as a contemporary Christian may close a letter with: "your brother/sister, in Christ.

Maran atha!



Here Pope Benedict XVI w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061108.html

I usually end my emails and letters with
“in Christ,
It means that I am part of the Catholic
Church, the faithful in Christ Jesus.

This Christian identity is composed of precisely two elements: this restraint from seeking oneself by oneself but instead receiving oneself from Christ and giving oneself with Christ, thereby participating personally in the life of Christ himself to the point of identifying with him and sharing both his death and his life. This is what Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans: “[A]ll of us… were baptized into his death… we were buried therefore with him… we have been united with him… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6: 3, 4, 5, 11).

"These last words themselves are symptomatic: for Paul, in fact, it was not enough to say that Christians are baptized or believers; for him, it was just as important to say they are “in Christ Jesus” (cf. also Rom 8: 1, 2, 39; 12: 5; 16: 3, 7, 10; I Cor 1: 2, 3 etc.).

At other times he inverted the words and wrote: “Christ is in us/you” (Rom 8: 10; II Cor 13: 5) or “in me” (Gal 2: 20).

This mutual compenetration between Christ and the Christian, characteristic of Paul’s teaching, completes his discourse on faith."

“In fact, although faith unites us closely to Christ, it emphasizes the distinction between us and him; but according to Paul, Christian life also has an element that we might describe as “mystical”, since it entails an identification of ourselves with Christ and of Christ with us. In this sense, the Apostle even went so far as to describe our suffering as “the suffering of Christ” in us (II Cor 1: 5), so that we might “always [carry] in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (II Cor 4: 10).”

~Pope Benedict XVI

More in the link…


I am very grateful for all the thoughtful, helpful, inspiring and encouraging replies.
Sacred Heart # 2**

The Holy Spirit is the Third, Christ the Second and Him may refer to the First (Father) persons of the Trinity.
You seem to claim that being in the Second Person is being in the Third and First Person of the Trinity,
So your reply is not really clear for me.

Fhansen #3

Thank you for your quote from John.

I would think that pruning and cutting off a branch are the same.

You seem to claim ‘being in Christ’ means ‘being in the grape tree’, the Church. If ‘being in the Church’ is ‘being a Christian’ do you imply ‘being in Christ’ means ‘being in the Church’ which is the same as being a Christian? Would this imply Protestants are members of the Church, as some claim?


I am not always sure who ‘him’ is in Paul.
Is Jesus our father (1 Cor 4:15)?
I regret I do not understand your reply.
I do not know what ‘being in the Person of Christ’ means.

Well, yes, most of Protestantism is united to the Church, however imperfect the graft union may be. :). But our union with God is both via the Church and directly with Him. The main purpose of the Church is to help bring about and then strengthen that union, that relationship, in fact.

Bookcat #5

Even though I find replies helpful, I still have problems.
Quoting Rom 3:28 B XVI seems to claim we are justified by faith alone (sola fide).
The words of B XVI show Paul lives ‘with Christ’ and ‘for Christ’, but it does not say here ‘in Christ’.
B XVI also seems to claim we should adore only Christ.
I am still confused.


You have resolved clearly and simply the issue concerning me.
I would go along fully with you. Again thanks.

Bookcat #7

This reply might lead one towards Pantheism, but you do note the importance of the distinction between Christ and us.

As in your previous reply is ‘co-penetration’ meant rather that ‘compenetration’?

He is rather simply pointing to what the Church Teaches - as Paul taught - we are saved by faith not by works of the law.

And further on he is pointing to the Churches Teaching - that one is not justified either by good works we do (we cannot acquire initial justification by any good works…)

That is not getting there into the question of “faith alone”. Though* if *used in a way understood within the Churches Teaching even that phrase could be used. Though commonly not something we use.

Pope Benedict XVI on the subjects of Faith and Works in St. Paul


vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081126_en.html (scroll down)

Read again his words - they are all those of Pope Benedict XVI–not mine.

I just forgot the quotes in the beginning.

No pantheism.

No there is no such claim…

I think you read it too fast :slight_smile:

Sip it like a fine wine…or take it in like a work of art.

hum…slow down your reading :slight_smile:

"These last words themselves are symptomatic: for Paul, in fact, it was not enough to say that Christians are baptized or believers; for him, it was just as important to say they are “in Christ Jesus” (cf. also Rom 8: 1, 2, 39; 12: 5; 16: 3, 7, 10; I Cor 1: 2, 3 etc.). "


“Moreover, our radical belonging to Christ and the fact that “we are in him” must imbue in us an attitude of total trust and immense joy. In short, we must indeed exclaim with St Paul: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8: 31). And the reply is that nothing and no one “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8: 39). Our Christian life, therefore, stands on the soundest and safest rock one can imagine. And from it we draw all our energy, precisely as the Apostle wrote: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Phil 4: 13).”

Go back and read the whole audience…and the other two on the other question. Very wonderful writings that need to be read more than once…or even 10 times…

No there is no such claim…

Again I think you read em too fast :slight_smile:

Hi, Noel!

…sorry I was not able to shine a light on you quest…

In my estimation, Bookcat gave an excellent rendering…

…consider his take with the Protestants’ idiom (not sure which denomination subscribes to it): “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

Some years back I met a gentleman who queried me on this… he wanted to know if I was there, at the foot of the Cross… this, I believe, comes from St. Paul’s preaching:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]19 For I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I may live to God: with Christ I am nailed to the cross

. 20 And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me. And that I live now in the flesh: I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered himself for me. (Galatians 2:19-20)
…St. Paul’s “in Christ” speaks of a mystical symbiosis where the Believer (self/persona) unites with Christ… if we died “in Christ” we will be resurrected “in Christ” by He Who Resurrected Christ, through His Spirit… it is inescapable!

St. Paul calls us to join ourselves to Christ… to offer our life’s experience “in Christ:”

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church:

(Colossians 1:24)
…so to him life is “in Christ” and death is to gain Christ:

17 All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father** by him**

. (Colossians 3:17)
…in effect Christ is not only our conduit to God, but our normal state of being (existing); recall the words of Consecration: “Through Him and with Him and in Him.”

…“in Christ,” to my understanding, is this very same principle: we are consecrated through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ; hence, the Believer, exists and moves “in Christ.”

Maran atha!



Hi, Noel!

…you are confusing the Protestant understanding of works of the Law… the works of the Law is the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Laws–this is a far cry from Catholic theology.

Romans 3:28 states that we are not justified by the Law but by our Faith in Jesus Christ:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for the just man, but for the unjust and disobedient, for the ungodly, and for sinners, for the wicked and defiled, for murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For fornicators, for them who defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and whatever other thing is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 Which is according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which hath been committed to my trust. 12 I give thanks who hath strengthened me, even to Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he hath counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry; 13 Who before was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and contumelious. But I obtained the mercy of God, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 Now the grace of our Lord hath abounded exceedingly with faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus.

(1 Timothy 1:9-14)
St Paul separates the Law from justification because man is not perfect and cannot uphold the Law on his own–the Law, then, serves to warn the wicked/unfaithful about what leads to damnation; while Salvation is separated from any intimation of sola fide:

1 If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge

, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

15 And if a brother or sister be naked, and want daily food: 16 And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit? 17** So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself**. 18 But some man will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith. 19 Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou, that faith did co-operate with his works; and by works faith was made perfect? (St. James 2:15-22)
St. Paul is not rejecting the works of charity (in Christ) but the works of the Law (obligations that must be fulfilled in perfection); the error of needing to find everything expressed in every passage of Scriptures is that we become myopic; we want to see “here it is!” …while ignoring Scriptures when they show us “HERE IT IS!:”

17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in this serveth Christ, pleaseth God, and is approved of men.

(Romans 14:17-18)

3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, saith Anathema to Jesus. And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost. (1 Corinthians 12:3)
The Holy Trinity Presence is forever patent… we are justified by Faith in Jesus, but our Salvation is not found in sola fide!

Maran atha!



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