Introduction to "In Christ" series

The Greek word for the English word “in” is “ἐν (en)” it appears 2694 times in the NASB New Testament.

The Greek Word for the English word “Christ” is “Χριστός (Christós)” and it appears 528 times in the NASB New Testament.
The combination of “ἐν” with “Χριστός” seems to be the way that English readers understand the Greek words for the phrase “in Christ.” The Greek and English languages are not similar in the way that the two languages work and form sentences, so running a search for “ἐν Χριστός” in that order does not bear many results. Also, what tends to happen is that other Greek pronouns and acronyms  for Jesus are also used. 
So what will work for this type of study will be to evaluate the Greek at each occurrence of the English phrase “In Christ” in Ephesians. That is what I am set out to do.
The first one is in verse one of chapter one:
Ephesians 1:1 (NASB)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:

The Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament 28th Edition reads like this:

1  Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν [ἐν Ἐφέσῳ] καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,
This is actually one of the times where it reads very closely to the English text. The last word there “Ἰησοῦ” translates to “Jesus.”
So the Greek to English translation reads literally as the NASB has it “in Christ Jesus.”
So what does this phrase actually mean? Are we to physically be inside of Jesus Christ? Of course not!
A good understanding would be “in union with Christ Jesus.” Some translation have tried some phrasing that just do not seem to convey enough meaning:  “faithful in Christ Jesus” (RSV), “loyal Christians” (Barclay [Brc]) or “faithful Christians” (Phps). The French common language translation (FrCL) “who are faithful in union with Jesus Christ” offers a better meaning of the Greek phrase (Bratcher & Nida, 1993).
                                                                   References:
Bratcher, R. G., & Nida, E. A. (1993). A handbook on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. UBS Handbook Series (5). New York: United Bible Societies.

"In Christ" In Eph.

This phrase “In Christ” appears in the book of Ephesians 18 times in the NASB. The next few weeks I am going to explore these phrases in these verse. “In Christ” there is a lot of blessings and hope!

Ephesians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Ephesians 1:4
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
Ephesians 1:9
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
Ephesians 1:10
with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
Ephesians 1:11
also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
Ephesians 1:12
to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:13
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Ephesians 1:20
which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
Ephesians 2:6
and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Ephesians 2:7
so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:13
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 3:6
to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
 Ephesians 3:11
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Ephesians 3:21
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Exported from Logos Bible Software 5, 2:18 PM June 28, 2013.

follow me

In His sermon this week, my pastor spoke about Jesus and the disciples. Jesus chose fisherman to be his disciples, regular fishermen. The fishermen “immediately” left their boats and followed. “immediately” left their father and their fishing business to follow a man whom they had just seen for the first time!

The Greek Word “euyewv” is used for straightway, forthwith, or best fitting for modern English “immediately.” aka- quickly, shortly, without hesitation, at once or soon, as soon as possible.

This hits home with me ,because the very first disciples laid down a pure example of what faith can look like. These men did not know Jesus well when they met him, when all he said was “follow me.” But they left all that they knew and followed.

Ever since the first disciples and even today, that is all it takes to follow Jesus. It is not necessary to know everything about Him in order to believe and to follow Him. I am not saying that people shouldn’t look into Jesus and learn about Him before they make any kind of decision. Please do the research, Jesus speaks for Himself and the more you know about Him the better.

But for the point of this post and just pure reflection, it is an interesting thought. The first disciples simply followed. There wasn’t any skepticism. My point really is that this still happens today. Look at my salvation story, for example: I was very young when I came to know Christ. At eight years of age, I only knew the basics…Jesus died for my sins. Sure I grew up in a Christian home, but I was not trained on epistemology, hermeneutics, and Christology, not as an eight year old. My mom asked me if I would follow Him. I kind of understood that I was a sinner. But I wanted whatever it was that my mom had and was talking about. So I followed Him. That is it! I was saved without knowing very much at all about Jesus.

Today as my faith has matured a lot, I enjoy studying those deeper things I referred to. And if you read the Gospels and then read Acts, you see how Peter and the disciples’ faith mature quite a bit too. They knew very little and then over time and in their relationship with God they began to understand more deeply.

It is really basic observation but truly amazing, Jesus is for everyone!

Hellenistic culture

In my Intro to Old Testament and especially more so in my Intro to New Testament classes, we talked about the “Intertestamental period.” This it the chronological history and time between the date that the last book in the Old Testament was written and when the events in the first book of the New Testament were taking place. This is the time where we do not have internal Biblical text to portray history. But we do have external text, outside of the Bible that clue us in on history.
This period of time is sometimes overlooked. It is an important time in history, and important time especially for Jewish and Christian history.
This is where it gets fun, because there are several theories when it comes to dating the books of the Bible:
Typically it is thought that the last book of the OT was Malachi and it is dated around 450-441 BC. Then the first book of the NT is not completed till about 37-50 AD (this is a very conservative estimation). Some scholars think Matthew could have been the first Gospel completed as early as 37AD, while many more scholars believe that Mark was the first Gospel completed around 50 AD. There are other theories as well with more liberal and later dates.
But nonetheless the events addressed in the Gospels occurred from around 1AD-34AD.
This means that we have about 400 maybe even 500 years without anything written down. A silent period from the mouth of god, if it were.
This period is known as the intertestamental period, because the time (historically) is in-between the two Testaments.
One of the main features of this time period for Israel, (and is a big reason why there are not any writings from this time period) is Diaspora. Another big issue for Israel at this time is Hellenism.

The Jewish Diaspora during the Hellenistic period, should not be confused with either the Babylonian or the later Roman Diasporas. This diaspora was not pure brute force. It was in part, a voluntary movement of Jews into the Hellenistic kingdoms that created the Jewish presence outside Judea, especially in Ptolemaic Egypt .

This Diaspora was wedged between two worlds, on the one side were the Hellenistic values of the Greeks and on the other was the Mosaic law. The various ways the Jews of the Diaspora, especially the Jews in Alexandria, balanced these two extremes, through the emphasis of common values and loyalty to the monarch, dictated its existence in the Hellenistic World.

Hellenistic culture was brought on by the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BC spread Greek culture and colonization over non-Greek lands.

The Greek culture and influence left Hebrew Jews only a handful of options: They could embrace Greek culture, abstain from Greek culture, or mix with Greek Culture.

Some Jews continue to live in Israel and lived snobby. They hated Greek culture, they thought they were better than the Greek influence and lived a traditional lifestyle away from the world.

Some Jews fully embraced the new Greek cultures and fads. They went so far, as to abandon their Jewish and Hebrew traditions and religion.

Some Jews lived a life of balance. They lived in but not of the world. They embraced the culture but they continued their faith. For example the 72 scribes who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek.

In a later post I will describe how the Hellenistic culture looked a lot like America in recent years .

broken vs. brokeness

Is brokenness good or bad? Is brokenness the same as being broken?

I read an article the other day that said “God wants you WHOLE, complete, nothing missing nothing broken! Physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, etc… That’s what I believe – and the scriptures back it up. WHOLE is the complete opposite of broken.”

I will agree for the most part of this idea, especially after looking at the Scriptures he uses to back himself up. God does want us to be whole physically. But what I am concerned about is the use of the word “broken.”

I do believe God wants us to enjoy Himself and enjoy life and His creation. But God never said everything is going to be good, perfect, easy…He promises danger, instability, and a life that will inevitably be broken. I do not believe in the prosperity Gospel. And I do believe God wants us to be broken all of the time, by this I mean physically and emotionally hurt and sadden.

I do think that God wants us to have a broken spirit (or spiritual brokenness) “which makes us sensitive and responsive to the Holy Spirit and develops spiritual maturity and character.”
Let me define the terms (broken and brokenness) and reference the Bible. I believe these two terms are two different concepts.

The more I read Tim’s article, the more I am confused by what he is trying to say. I think deep down he has got the concepts correct. But a lot of the Scriptures he uses are out of context or have nothing to do with spiritual brokenness. So now let me try my way of explaining it. Maybe Tim is saying the same thing. I am not sure.

Brokenness- Nancy DeMoss explains the brokenness I am talking about best, “Brokenness means the shattering of my self-will, so that the life and Spirit of the Lord Jesus may be released through me.” This brokenness is a shattering of our will. It is a choice, to let the Holy Spirit guide us instead of our own choices. (Acts 2: 38-41) People heard Peter’s preaching and they were broken in their hearts and ready to receive the Word of God. The Greek original, “katanusso” denotes a vehement piercing of sorrow. The tense of the verb indicates a one-time striking of the heart which brings one to the realization of the sorrow for one’s sin and the need for God’s grace.

Broken – being deeply hurt by tragic circumstances. A person may have experienced many deep hurts and tragedies.

This broken is physical, emotional – it is not the spiritual. It is painful, yes. But it completely different from what we mean we we are talking about spiritual brokenness. (Something God wants us to have.) Tim’s article does a good job explaining that God does not call us to be physical and emotionally sad all the time, hurt and broken down. This true. But I am saying that God does call us to a spiritual brokenness. And this brokenness is completely different from being broken. David was broken, due to his sin. Not spiritually broken but emotionally hurt. (Ps. 51:10) in the Hebrew word “shabar.” The Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon denotes “shabar” with remarkable concrete-ness. Such meanings given for this root in it’s various moods include to break, to destroy in pieces, to break down, to hurt, to tear, to crush, to rend violently, to wreck, to rupture, to be maimed, to be crippled, to be wrecked, to shatter or be shattered.

This world is broken. The lost are hurt. They have been through train wrecks and are searching for truth and substance. A lot of unsaved folks are broken all the time. God does not want this. God comes to bring life and bring it abundantly. (Jn. 10:10)

To Christians God says this: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Cor. 4: 8-9 (NIV)

Passion for Spiritual Brokenness:
For the Christian, we are called to have a heart for God and the Holy Spirit. A spiritual Brokenness.

Psa. 51:17(KJV) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Put it in other words:
Sacrifice to God is the birthing of the Spirit. A humble heart God will not condemn.

God does call us to brokenness. To live selflessly. To let the Holy spirit reign.

Here are some resources on this topic:

Begin in my sanctuary – article by Nancy DeMoss

The Heart God Revives worksheet

Broken people vs. Proud People