In studying συν Χριστω, I was intrigued by Paul’s use of συν-compounds. Most of these compounds only appear in Paul in the New Testament but they seem to incorporate so much of Paul’s theology – engaging past, present, and future realities for those ‘in Christ. It turns out I am not the only one who finds these terms significant…
As for our theme of union with Christ, Dunn states that the συν-compounds are even more significant in Paul’s usage than the phrase συν Χριστω:
For the real force of the ‘with Christ’ motif is carried by the remarkable sequence of about forty ‘with’ compounds which constitute yet another distinctive feature of Paul’s writing. He uses them both to describe the common privilege, experience, and task of believers and to describe a sharing in Christ’s death and life.
Indeed, McGrath goes so far as to say that ‘the quintessence of Saint Paul’s doctrine of the solidarity of the body of Christians with Christ is contained in the concepts embodied in the words which we have been considering’. Believers suffer with him (Rom 8:17), are crucified with him (Rom 6:6), are nailed to the cross with Christ (Gal 2:19), are united with him in his death (Rom 6:5), are fellow members of the same body (Eph 3:6), are built together in him (Eph 2:2), die with Christ (2 Tim 2:11), and are buried with him (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12). God brings believers to life in Christ (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), who are raised up with him (Eph 2:6; Col 2:12; 3:1) and live together with him (Rom 6:8; 2 Tim 2:11). They become like Christ (Phil 3:10), are conformed to him (Rom 8:29; Phil 3:21), are joint-heirs with him (Rom 8:17; Eph 3:6), are joint-partakers of the promise (Eph 3:6), and are seated together with Christ (Eph 2:6) so that they may reign with him (2 Tim 2:12) and be glorified with him (Rom 8:17).