TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

II. Being ‘in’ Jesus Christ

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Chapter 16  Part II

Being ‘in’ Jesus Christ

See also:

Arguably the most fundamental change in the standing of God’s people in relationship to him that followed what Jesus Christ accomplished, is that they are now “in” Jesus Christ. Being “in” Jesus Christ involves the association or correlation of believers with Jesus Christ, by which God views them in association with his Son.

Due to this connection with Jesus Christ, they participate with him in such things as: his victory over sin and death; his life; and other blessings he has secured. As such it has great significance in the relationship of believers to God – and of their relationship to Jesus Christ.

Note that expressions like “in Jesus Christ” sometimes have other meanings, such as “through Jesus Christ”. While the great majority of verses in this section quite probably use such expressions to speak of believers being “in” Jesus Christ, in some instances the meaning is debatable.

God’s People Are ‘in’ Jesus Christ

God’s people are “in” Jesus Christ

See also:

John 14:20  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. ▤ 

Rom 14:14  I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. ▤ 

Gal 3:27-28  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slavel nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

l Greek bondservant

The expression “have put on Christ” (v. 27), in line with the preceding clause, quite possibly is speaking of immersing oneself in one’s union with Christ. As such it refers to surrounding oneself with Christ, acting in line with his purposes and for his glory, and in reliance on him. Alternatively, it may be referring to taking on or adopting Christ’s character, and so following his example.

Eph 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithfulm in Christ Jesus: … ▤ 

m Some manuscripts saints who are also faithful (omitting in Ephesus)

Col 1:28  Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. ▤ 

Phil 3:8-9  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— ▤ 

1Thes 2:14a  For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. ▤ 

1Thes 4:16  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. ▤ 

Philem 1:15-16  For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16no longer as a slaven but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. ▤ 

n Greek bondservant; twice in this verse

Philem 1:23  Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, … ▤ 

1Pet 5:14  Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. ▤ 

  • Believers are joined with Christ, as one spirit with him:

1Cor 6:17  But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. ▤ 

God’s people are “in” Jesus Christ because of what God has done

1Cor 1:30  And because of himo you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, … ▤ 

o Greek And from him

Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ▤ 

Eph 1:4a  … even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. ▤ 

This is saying that God chose us “to be his through our union with Christ” (GNT). As such it points to believers being in Jesus Christ because of what God has done.

2Cor 1:21  And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, … ▤ 

Note that this appears to refer to God’s part in the believer’s ongoing status in Christ as much as their initial inclusion in Christ.

  • God calls believers into the fellowship of Jesus Christ:

1Cor 1:9  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. ▤ 

The expression “the fellowship of his Son” would appear to involve fellowship with Jesus Christ (cf. AMP, GNT, NASB, NIV, NLT), as well as with other Christians.

Jesus Christ identifies himself with God’s people

See also:

Jesus’ statements below identifying himself with God’s people arguably reflect their union with him.

Matt 18:5  Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, … ▤ 

With his use of the phrase “one such child”, Jesus is often understood to be referring primarily to his followers, who should humble themselves like little children (cf. vv. 3-4).

Matt 25:35-40  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,p you did it to me.’ ▤ 

p Or brothers and sisters

The King in this parable represents Jesus Christ himself. Commentators generally interpret “these my brothers” to be referring to Christians. It has also been interpreted to refer to the poor in general and even to the Jews.

Acts 22:4-8  I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. 6“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ ▤ 

Persecution of Jesus Christ’s followers amounts to persecution of him.

Matt 10:40  Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. ▤ 

Here and in the following two verses listed (John 13:20; Luke 10:16) Jesus primarily has in view believers spreading his message, meaning that people’s response to them and their message about him is effectively the people’s response to him. As such in these verses Jesus is perhaps not as explicitly identifying himself with God’s people in a general sense.

John 13:20  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. ▤ 

Luke 10:16  “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” ▤ 

God’s people live with Jesus Christ . . .

See also:

2Cor 13:4  For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. ▤ 

Rom 6:8  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. ▤ 

Note that here “live with him” is probably referring to the new spiritual life that Christians share in Christ now.

1Thes 5:10  … who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. ▤ 

John 14:23  Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. ▤ 

. . . and Jesus Christ is in his people

See also:

John 6:56  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. ▤ 

The “eating” of Jesus’ “flesh” and “drinking” of his “blood” is metaphorical language alluding to dependence on Jesus’ death. Jesus appears to teach that the result of such dependence is a reciprocal indwelling of a believer with him. He is at least referring to a very close spiritual association.

John 14:20  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. ▤ 

John 15:4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. ▤ 

John 17:23, 26  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ▤ 26I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them. ▤ 

2Cor 13:5  Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! ▤ 

Gal 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ▤ 

Jesus Christ lives in believers through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Col 1:27  To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. ▤ 

The phrase “Christ in you” denotes the personal experience of Jesus Christ dwelling within one, as indicated by the rendering “Christ lives in you” (CEV, NLT; cf. ZBC).

Col 3:11  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,q free; but Christ is all, and in all. ▤ 

q Greek bondservant

With the final clause, Paul appears to have primarily in view Jesus Christ being in all believers (cf. CEV, NCV, NLT).

2Jn 1:9  Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. ▤ 

This indicates that in a sense both God and Jesus Christ are in believers (cf. 1Jn 5:20). This is understood to be a reality through the Holy Spirit’s presence in believers.

Rom 8:9-10  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. ▤ 

As per the above comments on Galatians 2:20a and 2 John 1:9, this and Ephesians 3:16-17a below link the Holy Spirit living in a person with Jesus Christ living in them.

Eph 3:16-17  … that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, … ▤ 

  • Paul gave up all else to “gain Christ and be found in him”:

Phil 3:7-9  But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— ▤ 

Particularly with the subsequent reference to being found in Christ (v. 9a), the term “gain Christ” (v. 8b) may well be speaking of Christ indwelling believers in a spiritual sense, as per the theme of this subsection. Note that Paul’s use of “gain” here may well allude to his earlier use of “gain” in v. 7, to contrast his “gain” of Christ with what he no longer considered as gain.

Pray for persecuted Christians

The Significance of Being ‘in’ Jesus Christ

Generally speaking at least, the spiritual standing and blessings that Christians have are based on them being “in” Jesus Christ, by which they are associated and even identified with him. As referred to earlier, this means that they are granted by God the standing and blessings that Jesus Christ has attained on behalf of those so associated with him.

Note that not all of the verses in the following subsections specifically refer to being in Jesus Christ, but they do at least speak of associated concepts.

“In” Jesus Christ God’s people are saved

See also:

2Tim 2:10  Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. ▤ 

This may be meaning that salvation comes to those who are “in” or “belong to” (CEV) Jesus Christ – hence its inclusion here. However it could simply be referring to salvation coming through Jesus Christ (cf. GNT).

Eph 2:4-5  Butr God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved ▤ 

r Or And

This indicates that we “have been saved” (v. 5b) through God having “made us alive together with Christ” (v. 5a) – i.e. God has made us alive in our relationship with Christ, or “in” Christ.

Gal 3:16, 29  Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. ▤ 29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. ▤ 

The reference to being Christ’s (v. 29) can be linked with being “in” Christ. Due to this association with Christ, believers are Abraham’s “offspring” and so are heirs “according to” and/or of the “promise” (v. 29) – or “promises” (v. 16) – made to Abraham and his offspring. The promise or promises referred to are not specified, but most likely matters associated with salvation are in view – quite possibly justification by faith (cf. vv. 6-9, v. 24), or the promise of receiving the Spirit by faith (cf. v. 14). Even various or all of the promises made to Abraham (v. 16, cf. v. 21) may be in view.

Eph 3:6  This mystery iss that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. ▤ 

s The words This mystery is are inferred from verse 4

Similar to Galatians 3:16, 29 above, what the “promise” refers to is not specified but most likely relates to an aspect of salvation in the saving work of the Messiah. As such this also points to the fact that in Jesus Christ believers are saved.

  • In Jesus Christ, those who were far off have been brought near:

Eph 2:12-13  … remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. ▤ 

In v. 13 “brought near” may be talking of being brought near to God (cf. v. 12) – as a number of other translations stipulate or imply – alluding to reconciliation with God. Alternatively it may be referring to being brought near to Israel and “the covenants of the promise” (v. 13). Both possibilities are associated with salvation, which is obtained in Jesus Christ as v. 13 implies.

“In” Jesus Christ they have righteousness and are redeemed

1Cor 1:30  And because of himt you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, … ▤ 

t Greek And from him

This suggests that by being in Jesus Christ believers are afforded “righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”

Rom 8:10  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. ▤ 

This associates union with Jesus Christ with righteousness – as well as having the Holy Spirit and spiritual life.

2Cor 5:21  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ▤ 

Phil 3:8-9  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith ▤ 

Paul is saying that righteousness comes through faith, but in conjunction with this he links righteousness with being in Jesus Christ.

Eph 1:7  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, … ▤ 

Col 1:13-14  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ▤ 

“In” Jesus Christ God’s people are sanctified

See also:

As reflected in the above cross references, note that aspects of the following subsection also pertain to this one.

1Cor 1:2  To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: … ▤ 

Eph 1:4a  … even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. ▤ 

This suggests that it is through being in Christ that God’s people are holy and blameless.

1Jn 3:6  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. ▤ 

One who lives in Christ does not keep on or persistently go on sinning. As one’s relationship with Christ deepens, the hold of sin on them diminishes. This speaks of sanctification in the ongoing sense.

Eph 5:8  … for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light … ▤ 

Christians no longer live in the “darkness” of sin but now, in the Lord, they are “light”. As such this points to their sanctification.

  • “In” Jesus Christ God’s people become a new creation:

2Cor 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.u The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ▤ 

u Or creature

“In” Jesus Christ they are identified with him in his death, resurrection and life – meaning release from sin and the law . . .

See also:

Rom 6:2b-11  How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old selfv was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For one who has died has been set freew from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

v Greek man

w Greek has been justified

Being “baptized into Christ” (v. 3) signifies the union of the believer with Christ. In v. 5, the phrases “a death like his” and “a resurrection like his” appear to refer to “the likeness of His death” and “the likeness of His resurrection” (NASB), which perhaps more closely associate the believer’s death to sin and spiritual resurrection with those of Christ, as per the context. Verse 10a appears to be indicating that because Christ died, sin now “has no power over him” (GNT; cf. v. 10b) – meaning that those who are “in Christ” have also died to sin (v. 11), sin thus losing its stranglehold on them. One implication of this is that Christ has defeated the power of sin (cf. NCV, NLT).

Col 2:11-14  In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. ▤ 

Verses 11-12 speak of one’s sinful nature being cut off through one being buried and raised with Christ. Following on from this, Paul speaks of believers being given life with Christ (v. 13). In v. 14, “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands” appears to portray a record of our sins with the corresponding “legal demands” of the law which we have broken. Paul may be implying that Christ cancelled not only our sins but also the “legal demands” of the law, releasing us from the law. The passage suggests that this cancellation is due to believers’ association with Christ.

Rom 7:4-6  Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.x ▤ 

x Greek of the letter

Verse 4a is saying that as “part of the body of Christ” (CEV, GNT), in a spiritual sense believers died with Christ (cf. NLT) and so are dead to the law “which held us captive” (v. 6a) – released from it to “serve in the new way of the Spirit” (v. 6b). Note that the believer’s union with Christ appears to continue to be in view in v. 4b, and thus Paul probably alludes to their spiritual identification with Christ in him being raised from the dead, whereby being spiritually alive they can “bear fruit for God” (cf. v. 6b).

Gal 2:19-20  For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ▤ 

In saying that “through the law” he died to the law (v. 19), Paul may be meaning that in accordance with the law and the penalty of death that it demands for sin, he has died – in being crucified with Christ (v. 20) – and by dying he has been released from the realm of the law. Alternatively Paul may have in view the law’s role in leading one to Christ, in whom one has died to the law.

Rom 8:1-2  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.y 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set youz free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. ▤ 

y Some manuscripts add who walk not according to the flesh (but according to the Spirit)

z Some manuscripts me

For an explanation of the phrase “the law of sin and death”, see the comment on Rom 8:2-3 – under We have been freed from the law to live by the Holy Spirit.

Gal 2:4  Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— ▤ 

Freedom from the OT law is in view here.

. . . This identification also has other implications – present and future

This subsection speaks of further implications of Christians – through their position “in” Jesus Christ – being identified with Christ in his death, resurrection and life. These implications relate to both present and future aspects of their lives – including their own resurrection.

2Cor 4:10-11  … always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. ▤ 

Paul alludes to the sufferings he undergoes for Jesus’ sake (v. 11a), by which he identifies with and shares in – metaphorically speaking – the death of Jesus (v. 10a). In both verses Paul says he does this so that the power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection life may be revealed in his fragile, mortal body. The believer’s union with Christ is clearly in view.

2Cor 13:4  For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. ▤ 

The phrase “crucified in weakness” is probably a reference to Jesus’ death, with “weakness” alluding to either his humanity or his submissiveness and meekness. In Christ, Paul similarly was “weak”. This is a reference to Paul’s apparent non-assertiveness on his previous visit to Corinth and quite possibly to emulating the submissiveness and meekness of Christ (cf. 10:1). Additionally, in view of the earlier clause “he was crucified in weakness”, “we also are weak in him” may allude to the believer’s identification with Jesus Christ in his death. Despite such weakness, Paul asserts that by God’s power he lived with Christ. This implies that he shared in the power of God that Christ lives by – with God’s power working through him in his service of others.

Col 2:20  If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— ▤ 

The term “the elemental spirits of the world” quite possibly has in view “the evil powers of this world” (NLT; cf. CEV, GNT, NCV). Alternatively, “elementary principles” (NASB; cf. AMP, NIV) born of the thinking of this world may be in view. With either possibility, in the context Paul is clearly using the expression to refer to the influence – demonic and/or worldly – apparent in people’s adherence to the false teaching of asceticism, which involved strict, rigorous rules (cf. v. 21). In Christ believers have died to both evil powers and worldly wisdom – and thus should not needlessly submit to any such rules propagated by them.

Eph 2:4-7  Buta God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

a Or And

In v. 6, what is true of Jesus Christ in the present is applied to believers in a secondary, spiritual sense. Being “in” Christ – in addition to participating now with him in his risen life (v. 5) – believers are in a spiritual sense positioned with him in heaven (cf. Col 3:1-4 ). The consummation of this with its wonderful blessings will take place in the afterlife (v. 7).

Col 3:1-4  If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is yourb life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. ▤ 

b Some manuscripts our

The phrase “hidden with Christ in God” (v. 3) suggests that through the believer’s spiritual union with Christ they are “in God” in a spiritual sense, by virtue of Christ’s relationship with the Father. Similar to Ephesians 2:6-7 above, the believer’s “position” in heaven “with Christ” may well be in view throughout this passage, particularly with its consummation being spoken of in v. 4.

1Cor 15:22-23  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. ▤ 

Verse 2 parallels all people’s identification and union with Adam, in which they die, with believers’ identification and union with Jesus Christ, in which they will be made alive – as he has been (v. 23).

2Cor 4:14  … knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. ▤ 

The believer’s union with Christ is apparent here. As God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, he will raise those who are “with Jesus”.

2Tim 2:11  The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; … ▤ 

Commentators differ on whether “we will also live with him” refers to the Christian’s spiritual life in him now or to living with Christ in heaven. Arguably the context suggests that the latter is in view (cf. vv. 10, 12).

“In” Jesus Christ God’s people are given God’s grace

1Cor 1:4-5  I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— ▤ 

Eph 1:6  … to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. ▤ 

The phrase “in the Beloved” may well be referring to believers being “in Jesus Christ” – hence the verse’s inclusion here. But it could alternatively be speaking of what God has done in the work of Jesus Christ. (The same could be said of “in Christ Jesus” in the following verses.)

Eph 2:7  … so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

2Tim 1:9  … who saved us and called us toc a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,d … ▤ 

c Or with

d Greek before times eternal

2Tim 2:1  You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, … ▤ 

Arguably this most likely refers to grace from God (cf. NLT), although Jesus Christ himself may be in view as the source of the grace (cf. CEV). Probably the believer’s union with Christ is again being spoken of (cf. GNT).

  • Paul received grace through Jesus Christ:

Rom 1:4b-5  Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, … ▤ 

“In” Jesus Christ God’s people have peace and other spiritual “fruits”

John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ▤ 

Phil 4:7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

1Pet 5:14b  Peace to all of you who are in Christ. ▤ 

1Tim 1:14  … and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

This appears to be speaking of the faith and love “that are [to be realized] in Christ Jesus” (AMP), “in union with Christ Jesus” (GNT). However it has also been interpreted as referring to this faith and love as coming from or being of Jesus Christ (cf. NIrV, NLT). A similar comment could be made regarding faith and love in 2 Timothy 1:13 below.

2Tim 1:13  Follow the pattern of the sounde words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

e Or healthy

  • Christians are filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus Christ:

Phil 1:10-11  … so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ▤ 

Note that this is speaking of “the fruit of righteousness” coming through Christ (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NKJV, NLT) as opposed to speaking of righteousness coming through him.

“In” Jesus Christ God’s people have eternal life

See also:

Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ▤ 

1Thes 4:16-17  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. ▤ 

While v. 17 does not specifically speak of the believers who have not died as being “in” Christ, it does associate them with “the dead in Christ” (v. 16b) and so arguably does imply this. As such these verses reflect that all those who are in Christ will always live with him, and thus have eternal life.

1Cor 15:22  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. ▤ 

2Tim 2:11  The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; … ▤ 

1Jn 5:11-12  And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. ▤ 

Verse 11 may be speaking of eternal life having its source in Jesus Christ (cf. GNT), rather than being realized through one being “in” him. However v. 12 certainly has the believer’s union with Christ in view.

2Tim 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, … ▤ 

This may be referring to the promise of life – inclusive of eternal life – that one has “in union with Christ Jesus” (GNT). Alternatively, “in Christ” may more generally have a meaning akin to “because of Christ”.

  • With Christ in believers, the Spirit brings life:

Rom 8:10  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. ▤ 

Believers have now spiritual life – equated with eternal life – through their relationship to Christ and the associated presence of the Holy Spirit (cf. v. 9). Such life is theirs in Christ on the basis of the righteousness that they have been granted.

“In” Jesus Christ they will have glory and other blessings in the afterlife

Col 3:3-4  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is yourf life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. ▤ 

f Some manuscripts our

Col 1:27  To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. ▤ 

Because of their union with Jesus Christ, believers have the hope of glory.

1Pet 5:10  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ▤ 

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, … ▤ 

The phrase “in the heavenly places” may well be indicating that the blessings spoken of are ones that we will experience in the afterlife, although they have already been designated to us. However, possibly the phrase may be emphasizing the heavenly and eternal dimension of spiritual blessings that we have now.

Eph 1:11  In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, … ▤ 

Eph 2:6-7  … and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

As referred to earlier, that which God has granted us in Jesus Christ will come to fulfillment in the coming ages, perpetually displaying the incomparable riches of God’s grace to us in Christ.

Phil 3:14  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

Rev 14:13  And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” ▤ 

Those who die in the Lord will be blessed in the afterlife with the rewards for their deeds (cf. CEV). Note that this is speaking of those who die in the great tribulation, but its teaching is applicable to all Christians.

  • Those who continue in Jesus Christ will be confident and unashamed on his return:

1Jn 2:28  And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. ▤ 

Further blessings of being “in” Jesus Christ

John 15:5-7  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. ▤ 

Rom 8:10  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. ▤ 

Paul may well have in view that through our union with Christ we have God’s gift of the Holy Spirit – as spoken of below in Ephesians 1:13 and possibly also Philippians 2:1.

1Cor 1:4-5  I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— ▤ 

Gal 3:25-26  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. ▤ 

Eph 1:13  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, … ▤ 

In Christ God’s people have been sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Eph 3:11-12  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. ▤ 

This speaks of “access” into God’s presence.

Phil 2:1-2  So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. ▤ 

Note that here Paul may imply that together with other believers in Christ there is not only encouragement, but also the subsequent things he lists – i.e. “comfort from love, … participation in the Spirit, … affection and sympathy”.

Col 2:9-10  For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. ▤ 

In Jesus Christ dwells “God’s whole nature” (NIrV®). Through their union with him believers share in this fullness; in a spiritual sense they are “complete” (NKJV, NLT).

1Jn 5:20  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. ▤ 

This indicates that God’s people are in God through being in Jesus Christ.

2Cor 2:14  But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. ▤ 

Paul alludes to the practice of victorious Roman generals leading their soldiers and captives in a triumphant procession, where the air was filled with sweet aroma, in describing God triumphantly spreading the gospel through him in Christ. Although in being part of this we ourselves may not always feel triumphant, it is certainly a privilege, accompanied by many other blessings.

John 13:8  Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” ▤ 

This reflects that because of the believer’s identification with Christ, they will have a “share with” him – which quite possibly refers to or is inclusive of having a part with him in such things as his glory and kingdom.

  • Being “in” Christ also entails hardship:

Rev 1:9  I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. ▤ 

This shows that along with incomparable blessings such as the kingdom, being in Christ also entails hardship.

Pray for persecuted Christians

God’s People Are One Body ‘in’ Jesus Christ

See also:

All believers – including Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free – are one body “in” Jesus Christ . . .

See also:

1Cor 12:13  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slavesg or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. ▤ 

g Or servants; Greek bondservants

The “one body” is the body of believers. Believers are one body in which they share in the “one Spirit”. The following references indicate that it is in Jesus Christ that all these groups are made one body (cf. v. 12).

Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slaveh nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

h Greek bondservant

Oneness in Jesus Christ takes primacy over all distinctions. In him “there is no difference” (GNT, NCV) between contrasting groups such as Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free people, and males and females. For no group is spiritually superior to another, and all are equal before God (cf. Eph 6:8-9). Note that the use of “Greek” as opposed to “Jew”, appears to denote all Gentiles.

Eph 2:11-20  Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,i but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, … ▤ 

i Or sojourners

Note that the references to “peace” and “hostility” (vv. 14-17) are probably referring to that between Gentiles and Jews, rather than between them and God – although some commentators would debate this in respect to v. 17 at least.

Eph 3:6  This mystery isj that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. ▤ 

j The words This mystery is are inferred from verse 4

Note that commentators differ somewhat on what “the promise” refers to, but it seems clear that it is a promise relating to the saving work of the Messiah.

Col 3:11  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,k free; but Christ is all, and in all. ▤ 

k Greek bondservant

“Christ is all, and in all” points to Christ as being that which unifies his people, making them one body. For Jesus Christ is “all that matters, and he lives in all of us” (CEV, NLT). Note that in addition to “Greek”, Gentiles are also referred to here by the terms “uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian” – with the latter two speaking of uncivilized Gentiles in particular, in contrast to “Greek”.

. . . The church is in fact the body of Christ

See also:

The term “the body of Christ” figuratively depicts the spiritual union of Jesus Christ with his people. As such it points to the oneness Christ’s people have together in their relationship with him. Note that references to the church in this and the following subsections, are generally applicable both to the worldwide church as a whole and to each individual church.

1Cor 12:27  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. ▤ 

Eph 5:23, 30-32  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. ▤ 30because we are members of his body. 31“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. ▤ 

The profound mystery (v. 32) is the union of Christ with the church, which is what the quotation in v. 31 is used to illustrate, drawing a marked parallel of this union with that of husband and wife becoming one body.

Eph 1:22-23  And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. ▤ 

The phrase “the fullness of him” (v. 23) has a few possible meanings. It may mean that: the church is filled by Christ’s presence and/or by the blessings he gives it; the fullness of Christ is manifested in the church; or the church is the complement of Christ, in a sense the completion of what he represents.

Col 1:24  Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, … ▤ 

1Cor 6:15  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! ▤ 

Our bodies are parts of “the body of Christ” (GNT, CEV).

  • Believers are added to Jesus Christ:

Acts 5:14  And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, … ▤ 

This reflects and possibly even has in view the fact that believers form the body of Christ.

God’s people are many different parts making up one body “in” Jesus Christ

See also:

Rom 12:4-5  For as in one body we have many members,l and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. ▤ 

l Greek parts; also verse 5

With the phrase “individually members one of another” (cf. Eph 4:25 ) Paul may have in view the fact that believers are “mutually dependent on one another” (AMP; cf. NLT).

1Cor 12:12-14, 18-20  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slavesm or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. ▤ 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts,n yet one body. ▤ 

m Or servants; Greek bondservants

n Or members; also verse 22

Throughout this passage Paul draws parallels between the human body with its many parts and the body of Christ which likewise has many different parts.

1Cor 10:16-17  The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. ▤ 

When believers participate in the Lord’s Supper, sharing the one loaf of bread signifies that each of them is a part of the one body.

Eph 4:4, 25  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call ▤ 25Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. ▤ 

The church body is built by and “in” Jesus Christ . . .

See also:

Matt 16:18  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rocko I will build my church, and the gates of hellp shall not prevail against it. ▤ 

o The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar

p Greek the gates of Hades

Note that “Peter” – the new name given here by Jesus to Simon – sounds like “rock” (cf. text note). This points to Peter’s leadership role in Jesus Christ’s building of his church. The “gates of hell” may be speaking of “all the powers of hell” (NLT; cf. AMP) that are opposed to Jesus Christ and his church – or, more specifically, death (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV).

Heb 3:3  For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. ▤ 

This implies that Jesus Christ is the builder of God’s house, which probably refers to the household of God’s people although some think it could denote all creation. In contrast Moses was just a part of the house, a servant in it (cf. v. 5).

Eph 2:21-22  … in whom [Christ] the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God byq the Spirit. ▤ 

q Or in

Note that v. 22 may be speaking of church members “being built together” “by the Holy Spirit”. But “by the Holy Spirit” may instead be speaking of how God dwells in the church (cf. GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Eph 4:7, 11-16  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. ▤ 11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsr and teachers,s 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,t to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ▤ 

r Or pastors

s Or the shepherd-teachers

t Greek to a full-grown man

The grace given (v. 7) refers to the gifts (v. 11) that Christ has given his people, to build up his body (v. 12). In v. 13, “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” refers to becoming more like Christ. In v. 15, “grow up … into him” could have a similar meaning, but more likely means to grow into a deeper union with Christ.

Eph 5:25-30  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.u 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body. ▤ 

u Or holy and blameless

A primary aspect of Jesus Christ’s work in building up the church was/is making it holy (vv. 25-27). The phrase “washing of water” (v. 26) is understood by some to be a reference to baptism, but more often it is seen simply as a description of Christ’s cleansing of the church – which is vital to its growth – through its exposure to God’s word (v. 26).

Col 2:19  … and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. ▤ 

Note that this speaks of God producing the growth of the church, with Jesus Christ being the basis or source of its growth.

John 17:22-23  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ▤ 

Jesus enables believers to be one just as he and God are one. Regarding the use of “glory”, there are various interpretations of what it is referring to here. These include: Christ’s glorious reconciliatory work, given to believers to continue doing; Christ’s manifestation in believers; and the eternal glory that will be consummated in heaven.

2Cor 3:3  And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.v ▤ 

v Greek fleshly hearts

The “letter from Christ” is the Corinthian Church. The terminology points to them being one entity, formed by Christ – in Paul’s ministry and through the Holy Spirit.

Zec 6:11-13  Take from them silver and gold, and make a crown, and set it on the head of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. 12And say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. 13It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”’ ▤ 

This crowning of the high priest is understood to be symbolic, portraying the messianic King-Priest who would build the temple of God. This “temple” is quite possibly a reference to the church – making the verse pertinent to this subsection – although some consider a millennial temple to be in view.

. . . and Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the church

Acts 4:11  This Jesusw is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.x ▤ 

w Greek This one

x Greek the head of the corner

Although rejected by the Jewish religious leaders (cf. 1Pet 2:4 ), Jesus Christ became the cornerstone of God’s church – the most important and honored stone in the structure. The metaphor alludes to such roles as: being the key element in the building’s foundation (cf. 1Cor 3:9-11 ), holding the building together; and setting the direction for the building’s design and growth.

Eph 2:19-21  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,y but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. ▤ 

y Or sojourners

1Pet 2:4-8  As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”z 8and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. ▤ 

z Greek the head of the corner

With Christ as the living cornerstone (vv. 4, 6, 7), believers “like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house” (v. 5). Note that regarding the term “the honor”, most other modern translations interpret the Greek to refer to the stone being “precious” or of great value to believers (v. 7a) – as he is to God (v. 4b) – because he is the “precious” cornerstone” (v. 6) of the “spiritual house” (v. 5), the one in whom they can trust (v. 6).

1Cor 3:9-11  For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. ▤ 

Akin to being its cornerstone, Jesus Christ is the foundation of God’s building, the church.

  • Christ is like a vine with believers as the branches:

John 15:5  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ▤ 

This reflects the fact that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the church, portraying him as being that on which the church is based and revolves around.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church body

See also:

As the head of his body, the church, Christ is its ruler and leader – and the key factor in its life and growth.

Col 1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. ▤ 

Eph 4:15-16  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ▤ 

Eph 5:23  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. ▤ 

Col 2:19  … and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. ▤ 

The “Head” of the body clearly refers to Jesus Christ.

  • Jesus Christ is the head of every man in the church:

1Cor 11:3  But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wifea is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. ▤ 

a Greek gunē. This term may refer to a woman or a wife, depending on the context

This points to Jesus Christ’s headship over all individuals in his body.

Jesus Christ is portrayed as the husband of the church

See also:

Jesus Christ’s portrayal as the husband of the church points to both his headship of it and his oneness with it (cf. Gen 2:24 et al.).

2Cor 11:2  For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. ▤ 

Paul is speaking to the Corinthian church.

Eph 5:23-32  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.b 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body. 31“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. ▤ 

b Or holy and blameless

Here Paul draws a number of parallels between a husband’s relationship to his wife and Jesus Christ’s relationship with the church, portraying Jesus Christ as an ideal husband with the church as his wife. In v. 27, the reference to the “splendor” of the church alludes to a bride in her splendor. As noted earlier, in v. 32 Paul indicates that in v. 31 he has Christ’s union with the church primarily in view.

Rev 19:7-9  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9And the angel saidc to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” ▤ 

c Greek he said

The “Lamb” is Jesus Christ, and the “bride” likely represents God’s people – “the saints” (v. 8). These verses look forward to the consummation of Jesus Christ’s relationship or union with his people, associated with the consummation of their salvation at the end of the age.

Matt 9:15  And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. ▤ 

Jesus is here referring to himself as a bridegroom. (His disciples are the guests and the “days” when he would be taken from them refers to his death.) Arguably this alludes to his people as a whole as his bride (cf. John 3:29 ).

John 3:29  The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. ▤ 

Here John the Baptist parallels the roles of Jesus and himself with the roles of a bridegroom and a friend. In speaking of a bridegroom and a bride, John possibly is alluding to Jesus’ relationship with his people.

  • The new Jerusalem as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband:

Rev 21:2, 9-10  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. ▤ 9Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, … ▤ 

Partially in view of the new Jerusalem being the future dwelling place of God’s people, some commentators view this depiction of it as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband to be a portrayal of God’s people as Christ’s bride (vv. 2, 9; cf. 22:17).

God fosters unity and peace in the church body

See also:

God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit take a critical role in establishing and maintaining unity and peace in the church body, which is made up of many different parts. In reading the following passages, bear in mind that amongst the references below to unity in the church are references to a unity of form and function as well as to a unity of spirit.

2Chr 30:12  The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord. ▤ 

God’s work here in giving unity of mind to the people of Israel is illustrative of his work in the church.

Rom 15:5-6  May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

1Cor 12:7, 12-13  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. ▤ 12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slavesd or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. ▤ 

d Or servants; Greek bondservants

Verse 7 speaks of spiritual gifts being given by the Holy Spirit (cf. vv. 4-6, 11 ) for the good of the church as a whole. These gifts from the Spirit and the Spirit’s role in believers becoming part of the church body (v. 13), illustrate the Holy Spirit’s part in fostering a unity amongst the many members in form and function. For as such the church is able to exist as a unit or single body (v. 12).

1Cor 12:24b-25  But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. ▤ 

Eph 2:21-22  … in whom [Christ] the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God bye the Spirit. ▤ 

e Or in

Note that v. 22 could be speaking of church members “being built together” “by the Holy Spirit”. But “by the Holy Spirit” may instead be speaking of how God dwells in the church (cf. GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Eph 4:11-13  And he [Jesus Christ] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsf and teachers,g 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,h to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, … ▤ 

f Or pastors

g Or the shepherd-teachers

h Greek to a full-grown man

Phil 2:1-2  So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. ▤ 

That which we have from or with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (v. 1) should spur church members on to unity (v. 2).

2Cor 13:11  Finally, brothers,i rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,j agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. ▤ 

i Or brothers and sisters

j Or listen to my appeal

The phrase “the God of love and peace” may well be alluding to God as the one who gives love and peace (cf. AMP, CEV, NIrV), suggesting that the aforementioned unity and peace comes from him.

2Thes 3:16  Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. ▤ 

This is probably speaking primarily of Jesus Christ giving peace or harmony amongst the believers as a church.

Col 3:15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. ▤ 

The reference here is to relationships with other believers, in which they should seek after Christ’s “peace” in working out differences.

  • The kingdom of God is characterized by righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit:

Rom 14:17  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. ▤ 

This is from a passage dealing with matters of church harmony. The implication is that in and through the Holy Spirit, the church should be characterized by peace (along with righteousness and joy).

The church’s unity is linked with it having one God, one Lord and one Spirit

See also:

1Cor 12:4-6, 11  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. ▤ 11All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. ▤ 

Verses 4-6 speak of the different spiritual gifts given to church members and their different applications all having a unity in their source, function and purpose – in accordance with the same Spirit, Lord and God being behind them. Verse 1 further underlines that there is one Spirit involved (cf. v. 13 ) in these gifts.

Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. ▤ 

The unity of Gentile and Jewish believers in Christ (cf. vv. 14-17) is alluded to here with Paul saying that it is by “one Spirit” that they both can have access to God.

Eph 4:3-6  … eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. ▤ 

The reference to “one Spirit… one Lord… one God and Father of all” (vv. 4-6) – along with other singular elements of the faith – reinforces the call (v. 3) and need for unity. The coupling of the term “one Spirit” with “one body” (v. 4) may well be intended to underline the Holy Spirit’s role in facilitating the spiritual life and unity of the body – as per the theme of the previous subsection – reinforcing the earlier reference to “the unity of the Spirit” (v. 3). In v. 6, if the use of “all” refers to all of God’s people (cf. CEV, NLT) as opposed to all things (cf. NCV), then the verse points to the unity of believers in having one God who encompasses all of them.

1Cor 1:2  To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: … ▤ 

All believers everywhere together call on the one Lord – the Lord of all of them. This points to the unity of all believers worldwide.

Mal 2:10  Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? ▤ 

For God’s people to be unfaithful to one another is incongruous with the fact that they all have the one Father.

Matt 23:8-10  But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.k 9And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. ▤ 

k Or brothers and sisters

The emphasis here is on equality and humility more so than unity, but the concepts are not unrelated and each is right and proper in view of the fact the church has only one “teacher” and “instructor” (Jesus Christ) and one spiritual “Father”.

  • God’s people should be one just as the Father and Jesus Christ are one:

John 17:11, 20-23  And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. ▤ 20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ▤ 

The clause “that they also may be in us” (v. 21b) is most likely speaking of believers being one in the Father and Jesus Christ (cf. AMP, NCV). egarding “glory” (v. 22), see the comment on John 17:22-23 – under The church body is built by and “in” Jesus Christ . . ..

Pray for persecuted Christians

Epilogue: God’s People Relate to God through Jesus Christ

See also:

Verses which speak of God’s people relating to God (e.g. praying to him) “through” Jesus Christ appear to have in view one or more of the following three concepts: Jesus Christ’s death opening the way into God’s presence; Jesus Christ’s priesthood; and God’s people being “in” Jesus Christ. Bear in mind that these three concepts or interpretations are not mutually exclusive and all three are aspects of Jesus Christ’s mediatory role in a believer’s relationship with God. The following three paragraphs discuss these three concepts further.

By his death, Jesus Christ’s consummate sacrifice removed sin forever as a barrier between God and his people – opening the way into God’s presence for God’s people. Thus it can be said that God’s people approach God “through Jesus Christ” by what he has accomplished in his death.

In his ongoing high priestly role Jesus Christ mediates between God and God’s people, representing the people before God. It would appear that this includes him doing so in conjunction with individual believer’s approaches to God. As such, just as under the old covenant people approached God by having a priest go before God on their behalf, now believers approach God “through Jesus Christ” in his role as high priest.

Additionally, it can be said that one relates to God “through Jesus Christ” by being “in” Christ (as per the theme of the preceding sections). Believers have the right to approach God because of their relationship with Jesus Christ, being “in” him (cf. Eph 3:12). For it is because of this union with Jesus Christ that what they say is sanctioned to be spoken before God. (See also the introductory comment below on God’s people ask the Father for things in Jesus Christ’s “name”.)

Jesus Christ’s death and priesthood have opened the way into God’s presence for God’s people

Matt 27:50-51  And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. ▤ 

To enter the Most Holy Place of God’s presence in the temple, the high priest – the only one permitted to do so – went through the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place. The tearing of the curtain of the temple in two from top to bottom (v. 51) is understood to symbolically proclaim that there was no longer any barrier to people themselves directly entering into God’s presence; no longer was this privilege confined to just the high priest.

Heb 10:19-22  Therefore, brothers,l since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. ▤ 

l Or brothers and sisters

The reference to Jesus Christ’s body as “the curtain” (v. 20), is drawing a parallel between his death which opened a way for believers to confidently enter into God’s presence, and the curtain which the high priest went through to enter the Most Holy Place of God’s presence on the Day of Atonement. The expression “our bodies washed with pure water” (v. 22) is understood by some to be a reference to baptism, but more often it is seen as a reference to being made clean by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Similar to “hearts sprinkled clean” (v. 22), the expression is used to draw a parallel with the priests washing with water to signify them being cleansed whenever they entered the Tent of Meeting or approached the altar to present an offering to God (cf. Ex 30:20-21).

Heb 4:14-16  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ▤ 

Because of Jesus Christ and his position as high priest (vv. 14-15), we may approach “the throne of our gracious God” (NLT; cf. CEV, GNT, NCV).

Heb 7:17-22  For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” 18For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. ▤ 

God made Jesus Christ high priest forever, on oath (vv. 20-21). In doing so God has effectively introduced a better hope for us (v. 19; cf. Heb 6:19-20 ), with Jesus Christ’s role as high priest guaranteeing a better covenant (cf. v. 22) or relationship between God and his people. In this relationship we can now draw near to God (v. 19b), through Jesus Christ (v. 25 ).

Heb 9:6-14  These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9(which is symbolic for the present age).m According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. 11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,n then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctifyo for the purification of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify ourp conscience from dead works to serve the living God. ▤ 

m Or which is symbolic for the age then present

n Some manuscripts good things to come

o Or For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies

p Some manuscripts your

Previously the high priest alone entered the earthly Most Holy Place, with the blood of sacrifices made for sin (v. 7). This indicated that the sacrifices ultimately were not able to clear the people’s consciences, for them themselves to be able to enter God’s presence (vv. 8-9). But by his own blood Jesus Christ entered God’s very presence in heaven to obtain eternal redemption (v. 12) and realize true cleansing for God’s people (vv. 13-14). As such they may serve God (v. 14b), having been made holy – with the implication that Jesus Christ’s high priestly work, notably his sacrifice, has opened the way into God’s presence (v. 8) for all God’s people.

  • Because of Jesus, our hope extends into God’s presence, “behind the curtain”:

Heb 6:19-20  We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. ▤ 

Verses 19b-20 may mean that our hope extends into God’s very presence, where Jesus has entered as a “forerunner” on our behalf – giving us an assured hope that we will be able to follow. (As such our future, ultimate entry into God’s presence would appear to be in view.) Alternatively, or along with the above, the verses may mean that our hope is based on Jesus’ ministry for us in God’s presence, in his role as high priest.

God’s people have access to God through Jesus Christ – by the Holy Spirit

See also:

Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. ▤ 

Here “through him” may be speaking of how people are to approach God. Alternatively it could be referring to being able to approach God because of what Jesus Christ has done (cf. NLT) – i.e. his reconciliation of people to God by his death (cf. v. 16).

Eph 3:11-12  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. ▤ 

In v. 12, “in whom” may well have the believer’s union with Christ in view (cf. GNT). In him and through our faith in him we can confidently access God.

Heb 7:25  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermostq those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. ▤ 

q That is, completely; or at all times

The expression “draw near to God through him” may be referring to believers turning to God at conversion. However, in the Greek the verb translated as “draw near” is in the present tense, which suggests that this phrase is referring to continuing to come to God through Jesus Christ, relating to God through him (cf. NEL, NBC).

  • Jesus’ declaration of heaven opening up:

John 1:51  And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,r you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” ▤ 

r The Greek for you is plural; twice in this verse

A number of commentators understand this to be speaking of communication between God and humankind being opened or freed up through Jesus Christ. In this, Jesus (“the Son of Man”) is the representative of humankind or God’s people and the means by which this more accessible communication is possible. Another interpretation of this verse is that Jesus is implying that the disciples would see heaven, or God, testifying to who he is.

God’s people give thanks and praise to God through Jesus Christ

See also:

Rom 1:8  First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. ▤ 

Col 3:17  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ▤ 

Heb 13:15  Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. ▤ 

As quite possibly is the case in other verses in this subsection, Jesus Christ’s role as high priest is in view here, with him being the one through whom we offer such sacrifices.

1Pet 4:10-11  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. ▤ 

This could well be speaking of people glorifying or praising (cf. GNT, NIV) God through Jesus Christ for God’s grace in one’s ministry. However, some commentators understand the reference to Jesus Christ to be primarily related to his role in one’s ministry, through which glory comes to God.

Jude 1:25  … to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. ▤ 

This may be speaking of ascribing to God through Jesus Christ “glory, majesty, dominion, and authority” (cf. NIrV) – hence its inclusion here. Alternatively it may be saying that these things are or will be God’s through Jesus Christ.

Rom 7:24-25a  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ▤ 

Note that the appropriateness of this verse to this subsection is debatable, as v. 24 and the general context suggests that rather than giving thanks to God through Jesus Christ, Paul may instead be speaking of God saving him through Jesus Christ (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NIrV, NLT).

  • They offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ:

1Pet 2:4-5  As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ▤ 

The phrase “through Jesus Christ” may be referring to how the spiritual sacrifices are offered (cf. CEV), or the reason why they are acceptable, i.e. Jesus Christ’s work in securing salvation (cf. NLT).

God’s people ask the Father for things in Jesus Christ’s “name”

See also:

In Jewish thought, a person’s name represented or embodied their whole person – including their nature, authority and goals. Believers make requests of God “in Jesus Christ’s name” – in accordance with all that his name signifies. Such prayer is compatible with Jesus’ person and purpose and offered on his authority. (cf. NSB, ZBC) (See also the introductory comment on Ask for things in Jesus Christ’s “name”.)

Being “in” Jesus Christ and relating to God “through” Christ are connected to this concept of relating to God “in the name of” Jesus Christ. For it is only because of a believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ – in which believers may relate to God “through” Jesus Christ – that a believer can make requests of God in Jesus Christ’s “name”, on his authority.

John 15:16  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. ▤ 

John 16:23-24, 26  In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. ▤ 26In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; … ▤ 

“I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf” (v. 26b), probably refers to the fact that God’s people are able to ask God directly, in Jesus Christ’s name; Jesus does not have to ask for them.

Matt 18:19-20  Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. ▤ 

Coming together in Jesus Christ’s name (v. 20) to pray to God (v. 19), is comparable to praying in his name.

  • They give thanks to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ:

Eph 5:20  … giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, … ▤ 

Along with the verses in the previous subsection and in accordance with the teaching in this subsection, this verse suggests that giving thanks to God in the name of Jesus Christ is closely associated with giving thanks to God through him.

Further references to God’s people relating to him through Jesus Christ

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ▤ 

A common interpretation of the first statement is that Jesus means he is the way to the Father for he is the truth and the life. The second statement appears to relate back to the first assertion – “I am the way”. The verse is speaking of, primarily at least, coming into a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ, and is usually understood to be meaning that what Jesus has done is the reason for why we can begin this relationship. Arguably it is also applicable to one’s ongoing relationship with the Father, with Jesus being the means or way through which we can come to the Father.

Rom 5:11  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. ▤ 

The phrase “through our Lord Jesus Christ” may be referring to Jesus Christ as the means by which we rejoice in God. However, the phrase may instead mean that Christ is the reason why we can, which is spoken of in the subsequent clause.

2Cor 1:20  For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. ▤ 

“Amen” is a reference to the “Yes” in the first sentence (as emphasized by the NCV which uses “yes” in both instances; cf. CEV text note). In response to God’s promises to us finding their fulfillment (i.e. being “Yes”) in Jesus Christ, we say “Yes” or “Amen” in worship to God “through Christ” – quite possibly meaning “in His Person and by His agency” (AMP). Presumably Paul means we do this in acknowledgment of the promises and of their fulfillment in Christ, including in his death and resurrection.

  • Paul’s confidence “through Christ toward God”:

2Cor 3:3-4  And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.s 4Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. ▤ 

s Greek fleshly hearts

Paul was confident through Christ toward or before God that the product of his work amongst the Corinthians (v. 3) validated his ministry (cf. vv. 1-2).

Pray for persecuted Christians