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And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?

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Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.

But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Incorporated into Christ's death, believers have "put off the old nature. Thus, just as humankind bears the image of the first Adam by virtue of corporate identification, those who have become incorporated into Christ are recreated in the image of the Second Adam Eph 2: The corporate nature of this identification is emphasized by Paul in his treatment of the new creation, referring to the whole body of Christ as "the one new man" Eph 2: Being "in Christ" is not only the basis of Christian individual and corporate identity, but also serves as the basis of transformed relationships Gal 3: Those "in Christ" are not only Abraham's seed and heirs to the promise v.

The concept of being "in Christ" refers not only to the believer's vertical relationships "sons of God" who "put on Christ, " vv. Incorporation into Christ by identification with his death and resurrection means to become part of a body. To be joined to the corporate Christ is to become part of an organic whole, under his headship 1 Cor 6: The principle of incorporation is also highlighted in Paul's use of the temple metaphor. Christ is the foundation and cornerstone of the temple, while believers are the stones built together into a corporate whole and indwelt by God 1 Corinthians 3: Thus, the nature of the Christian is described by Paul with the formula "in Christ.

The phrase is a social concept; to become incorporated into this new humanity is represented as belonging to the church as the true community of God. At the same time, however, Paul's understanding of being "in Christ" involved a personal and intimate relationship with Christ. Although the corporate meaning of the formula is important, this does not preclude the apostle's emphasis on personal faith-union and fellowship with Christ. The theme of incorporation is found outside the Pauline corpus, especially in the Johannine writings John These passages speak of a variety of relationships that are represented in terms of a reciprocal indwelling.

Christ-Mysticism and Union with God. Paul's teaching on union with Christ has often been labeled as Christian "mysticism.

Unity in the Body of Christ

Paul viewed communion with God as an act of divine grace, coming not by any spiritual exercises, but by God's self-revelation Gal 1: Thus, union with Christ is something to accept by faith, not something to achieve by human effort. Neither does being "in Christ" involve the loss of individuality, nor the absorption of the individual into the divine Spirit Romans 8: In addition, being "in Christ" is more than mystical union; it involves a moral union that provides the ethical dynamic for Christian living. This is more than a gospel of ethical example an impossible ideal , but the indwelling of Christ who provides the motive power to live in obedience to God.

For Paul to be "in Christ" was to be "in the Spirit. Thus, although distinct entities, Christ and the Spirit are experienced together, and are the means by which persons come into relation with God. Pauline mysticism, however, is a communal or corporate mysticism. Incorporation into this body is by faith in Jesus Christ. Having identified with the death and resurrection of Christ, the body is empowered by his Spirit to manifest his presence to the world.

The Christian lives in vital union with Christ, expressing corporately the love of Christ personally appropriated by faith. Union with Christ is union with God. Although Christocentric, Paul's theology is grounded on the premise that "God was in Christ" 2 Cor 5: Fellowship with Christ is fellowship with God Rom 8: Although union with God is dependent on God's gracious initiative, it also requires a human response Eph 2: Central to Paul's notion of being "in Christ" is the fact of faith. It is the indispensable condition for salvation, a placing of one's trust in the God revealed in Jesus Christ.

This faith is the basis for intimate union with Christ, since it is the self-abandonment of the redeemed to the Redeemer. Faith-union thus finds its focal point in the death and resurrection of Christ. At the same time, being "in Christ" also has eschatological implications.

Most Relevant Verses

Union with him involves looking beyond the present to the future. Even though the believer experiences communion with Christ, there is a yearning for more intimate knowledge and relationship Php 1: Present union with Christ is still "absence from the Lord, " and hence seeks fulfillment in his future advent or "presence" parousia [ parousiva ]. The notion of union with Christ is multidimensional in theological significance.

As a result, certain characteristics of Christ's person and work are attributed to those in communion with him. The "in Christ" formula is thus a comprehensive term, tying together soteriological, pneumatological, and ecclesiological dimensions of Christian experience. At the same time, it is a mystical concept, in that union with Christ is experienced "in the Spirit.

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  7. Last but not least, "in Christ" has eschatological significance, in describing the status of the believer, whose life has been transformed by the presence of the kingdom of God experienced in Christ. Barth, Ephesians ; M. Bouttier, Christianity According to Paul ; E.

    Union with Christ

    Best, One Body in Christ ; F. Apostle of the Heart Set Free ; W. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism ; J. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit ; A. Fitzmeyer, Paul and His Theology: A Brief Sketch ; W. Grossouw, In Christ ; A. Hunter, The Gospel According to St. He is saying that there are certain negatives here that we should have plainly in our minds when we speak about the mystical union with Christ. First, in speaking of mystical union, we must never emphasize the emptying of the mind rather than the filling of the mind with Scripture.

    The more the word of Christ dwells in us richly, the more fully the joy of Christ dwells in us. Second, in speaking of mystical union, we must never go beyond the revelation of God in Scripture to the notion of discovering God as he is in himself. In more than one place, Calvin says it is only fools who try to do that, to get beyond the attributes of God to find the being of God. Third, in speaking of mystical union, we must not lose our Trinitarian mooring. Mysticism-gone-bad leads to mere monotheism rather than Trinitarianism, and often it leads to either panentheism or straightforward pantheism.

    Once we cross that line, we are in trouble. But again, the marriage analogy is helpful here. This is the difference between the ability to describe your own marriage relationship and actually having that marriage relationship. In marriage, there is always something mysterious, something indefinable about the nature of the relationship. And I think that sometimes we may be nervous about this kind of language because we feel the loss of control.

    How much remains a mystery to you? I have known my wife from about the time I began to get clear on union with Christ — 45 years ago. That means, I have known her for about 16, days. I know so much about her, and I could go on and on about what is so admirable about her. How amazing I think it is that we ever got married in the first place! I felt I was from the wrong side of town, and from the wrong kind of house, and how I married upwards, and I remember all that she has done for me, for my family, for my life, in these 45 years.

    I say this partly humorously, but also truly: And I think that is the point. To go back to professor Murray, somewhere in connection with our doctrine of Scripture — and I think that this is true of all areas of theology where we are talking about the divine-human engagement — we come to a point where we have reached the circumference of biblical revelation. And I think that what we are called to do, as professor Murray says of the context of Scripture, is just to look and wonder and awe and praise and realize: There is a world beyond what we can presently understand, and we will know more when we see him face to face.