‘In Christ’ – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians

For more info on series read this post…for Romans and Galatians here…for 1 & 2 Corinthians and Philemon here.

Continuing march through Paul’s use of “in Christ.” I am categorizing each usage of the phrase within three lines – the use of the preposition εν*; the main referent or object of the phrase; and its place within Paul’s already/not yet framework. Today’s entry includes Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.


  • 1:1 – location**: faithful: already
  • 1:3 – state, cause: (God) has blessed us: already
  • 2:6 – state: seated…in heavenly places: already
  • 2:10 – cause: far off…brought near: already
  • 3:6 – state: partakers in the promise: already
  • 3:21 – shows itself (by): to him be the glory: already
  • 4:32 – state, cause: God _____ forgives: already


  • 1:1 – location**: saints: already
  • 1:13 – reason: my imprisonment: already
  • 1:26 – object: glory: already
  • 2:1 – state, cause: encouragement: already
  • 2:5 – state, cause: this mind: already
  • 3:3 – object: glory: already
  • 3:14 – state, cause: call of God: already
  • 4:7 – state, cause: peace of God: already
  • 4:19 – object: glory: already
  • 4:21 – location**: saint: already


  • 1:2 – location**: saints and faithful brothers: already
  • 1:4 – object: faith: already
  • 1:28 – state: mature: already

Initial Thoughts:

1. Several of the patterns found in the previous posts continue to emerge. The connection of ‘in Christ’ with the ‘already’ continues in these books. Also, God’s activity continues to be connected with the phrase.

2. For the first time outside Romans 8, the Spirit makes an appearance. The lack of connection with the Spirit has been one of the most surprising aspects of studying the phrase. I need to look closer at these three passages (Rom 8, Phil 2, Phil 3) before I offer more concrete conclusions on their importance.

3. ‘In Christ’ is connected with ‘faith’ in Colossians 1:4. Christ seems to be the object of faith in this passage, not surprising, except for fact it does not occur more often.

4. In both Ephesians and Philippians, ‘in Christ’ is united with glory. These passages have been the hardest for me to categorize. I have listed them as ‘object’ trying to imply that God’s glory cannot exist apart from Christ, at least according to Paul. But I am not certain of this categorization.


*There are many ways εν can function (see BDAG and Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar beyond the Basics). I decided to list the two, at most, strongest possibilities as determined by my interpretation of the passage.

**Location simply means Paul may be using phrase to identify a “Christian”


2 thoughts on “‘In Christ’ – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians

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