why “crucified with Christ?”23-09-2019 - Posted by Andre Piet
A for me unknown visitor of the GB-site sent me an email with the following question:
“With Christ, I’m crucified.”
When Jesus was crucified, I didn’t yet exist. How could I be crucified with Christ? I cannot say that. Or is it not about us who are living right now? That Paul states it about himself is already totally ununderstandable, but he lived in those days. Among others, because of this verse I often doubt Paul.
If you can bring me to better thoughts, please, for I don’t understand Paul at all, while I already read him for 65 years, I have given up on him. K.
Below, my reaction and I’d like to share at this place, for I know that more people have questions like these.
The reason that people don’t understand sentences like this (“crucified with Christ”), is, in my view, for one doesn’t realize enough that Paul applies figure of speech. That’s first. Secondly, many don’t notice why Paul uses this figure of speech and how relevant it is. I’d like to clarify both issues in this blog.
Christ died literally, concretely. A historical fact. No one challenges it. But that Paul or we “were crucified with Jesus”, that’s not literally true. The only ones who died literally with him were the men who were crucified on both sides of Jesus (John 19: 18). For all other people is being crucified with Jesus, ‘so to speak’.
Subsequently, the question is: “why “crucified with him”? Why this figure of speech?
The core of the answer to this question is a repeating theme in Paul’s letters. We, mankind, are included “in Christ” (“the last Adam”), as we are also included “in Adam”.
For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. Yet each in his own class: the Firstfruit, Christ…
1 Corinthians 15: 22, 23
The parallel with Adam is of great importance to understand Paul’s figure of speech. Like Adam took all mankind with him into death (Romans 5: 12), Christ takes all mankind with him in his resurrection. (Romans 5: 19). But in order to rise with Christ, it’s logical that we first should die with him. As you can only arrive with somebody if you left together with that person before. De facto (literally: in practice) only Christ was crucified and resurrected. But de jure (formally, legally) al mankind is included. For Christ died and was resurrected “for us” (Greek: huper)
For the love of Christ is constraining us, -judging this, that, if One died for the sake of all, consequently all died. And He died for the sake of all that those who are living should by no means still be living to themselves, but to the One dying and being roused for their sakes.
2 Corinthians 5: 14, 15
God sees us already how we will be at a later time; resurrected with Christ and vivified. Just as God called Abram already Abraham, i.e. the father of a throng of nations when he was still childless (Romans 4: 17). Abram’s identity (name) was connected to his destination. In practice, Abraham was old and impotent (“deceased”), but God would create new life in him. That was the promise, for sure. And that’s what counts for God.
God states in Paul’s Evangel: you are made one with Christ, thát’s how I see it. And in belief we say ‘amen’ to that. And so we count the same as God counts.
Thus you also, be reckoning yourselves to be dead, indeed, to Sin, yet living to God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Romans 6: 11
The fact that we are crucified, dead, buried and resurrected, is not a matter of experience. We cannot take a photo of it, we cannot see it. It’s also not a feeling. It’s a message of how God sees us: made one with Christ. It’s just a matter of time that it will be a physical experience. In the meantime, we may stand on this promising message and so we experience already a maximum return!