Here I want to talk about…
Rom 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Oftentimes, when we think of this verse and what it means to be “in Christ” we think in terms of “location” – you are either “in Christ” or NOT “in Christ” (therefore somewhere “outside of” Christ). But it that really the message that Paul is trying to convey here? Is something getting ‘lost in translation’? You might come to think so (as I have) if you dive more deeply into the word translated “were”. The word is “ginomai” and, according to Strong’s it means “to cause to be” as in “gen”-erate, to become or come into being – arise, be assembled, be brought to pass, be divided, be done, be ended, be finished (etc).
Here is the Strong’s entry:
A prolonged and middle form of a primary verb; to cause to be (“gen” -erate), that is, (reflexively) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (literally, figuratively, intensively, etc.): – arise be assembled, be (come, -fall, -have self), be brought (to pass), (be) come (to pass), continue, be divided, be done, draw, be ended, fall, be finished, follow, be found, be fulfilled, + God forbid, grow, happen, have, be kept, be made, be married, be ordained to be, partake, pass, be performed, be published, require, seem, be showed, X soon as it was, sound, be taken, be turned, use, wax, will, would, be wrought.
It seems to me that Paul is speaking about his (and their) “regeneration”, something we might also call their being “born again”. And we know that Jesus did say we MUST BE BORN AGAIN.
Joh 3:3,7 … Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Ye must be born again.
Take note of the fact that the words recorded in this passage for “born again” are “gennaō” and “anōthen”.
And we can see that gennaō is a variant of genos and genos comes from ginomai.
From a variation of G1085; to procreate (properly of the father, but by extension of the mother); figuratively to regenerate: – bear, beget, be born, bring forth, conceive, be delivered of, gender, make, spring.
From G507; from above; by analogy from the first; by implication anew: – from above, again, from the beginning (very first), the top.
Peter speaks of those who have been “born again”.
1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
The word used in Peter is “anagennaō” a combination of “ana” (which means UP) and “gennaō” (to precreate or regenerate)
From G303 and G1080; to beget or (by extension) bear (again): – beget, (bear) X again.
A primary preposition and adverb; properly up; but (by extension) used (distributively) severally, or (locally) at (etc.): – and, apiece, by, each, every (man), in, through. In compounds (as a prefix) it often means (by implication) repetition, intensity, reversal, etc.
See above for G1080
So I think it’s pretty clear that Paul is, indeed, saying that others were “born again” BEFORE HE WAS. But the question that still needs to be answered is what does that have to do with being “in” (or NOT IN) “Christ”?
Are ONLY those who HAVE BEEN “born again” IN CHRIST?
For me the answer to that question is not a simple one. A simple yes or no will not really answer the question about “who” is in Christ and what that means. I say that because, while I do believe that all of those “in Christ” HAVE BEEN “born again”, I understand that some of those in Christ are still reckoned “dead” (or, better yet, “asleep” – which holds more of an ‘indication’ OF LIFE, but a life that is not yet REALIZED, a life that one is not yet aware of or AWAKENED TO).
You see, while many do not see themselves as being “in Christ’ UNTIL they HAVE PASSED “from death unto life” (or until they have been “born again”, which they equate with being AWAKE, not ALSEEP), I recognize the fact that Paul’s message was that it was “while we yet sinner” that “Christ died for us”. (Rom 5:8) And that it was “when we were dead in sin” that God “quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” (Eph 2:5)
THAT IS THE GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL!!!
Jesus came to be THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD, to save the world FROM SIN AND DEATH, and BY HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED!!!
Jesus said: “And I, if I be lifted up, from the earth, shall DRAW ALL [men] unto me.”
The word translated “draw” here is “helkuō helkō” and it means “to drag”.
Probably akin to G138; to drag (literally or figuratively): – draw. Compare G1667.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he wrote of the ONE NEW MAN “created” IN CHRIST:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Paul did not say one had to believe this before it would become true. The truth IS that WE ARE MADE ONE “through” HIS CROSS, made nigh by the shedding of HIS BLOOD.
It is not a matter of whether or not we are “in Christ”, Paul said we were “baptized into Christ” by being baptized into His death; that we were not only “buried with him” by baptism into HIS DEATH, we were also “raised with Him” IN HIS RESURRECTION. (ALL while we were “yet sinner”, yet DEAD in sin.)
Rom 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
If one died for all, then were ALL DEAD! (2Cor 5:14)
The only way out of DEATH “is” THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.
And Jesus said: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE”.
Paul said THE DEAD were gathered together IN ONE BODY BY THE CROSS and those who WERE DEAD… WERE RAISED FROM THE DEAD “with Him”…. Because they (we) are “in Him”…. IN CHRIST.
You see it’s not just a matter of whether or not we are “in Christ” (ALL were “gathered together” INTO ONE BODY “by” THE CROSS and “in Him” was made ONE NEW MAN), it is a matter of whether or not we have come to KNOW HIM and THE POWER of HIS RESURRECTION. (Php 3:10)
And this comes not by our being “in Christ” but by Christ being formed “in us”.
Gal 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Little children are not yet sons, they are “yet carnal” and “to be carnally minded is death”. Here Paul is speaking about his “travail in birth” (AGAIN) and elsewhere he speaks of Eve (the church) being SAVED “in childbearing”, much the same way Jesus likened His disciples to A WOMAN “whose hour is come” TO BE DELIVERED OF “the child”.
I’ve written quite a bit on all of this before, so I won’t get into all of that “here”. Just wanted to address a question that was recently asked about Rom 16:17 and what it means to be “in Christ”….. though the real question might be what does it mean to be “ginomai” in Christ. (Understanding that even “the dead” are “in Christ”. Indeed, ALL were DEAD IN CHRIST BEFORE ANY were “made alive” IN CHRIST.)
All Blessings IN CHRIST!