Prepositions, by definition, are small words that create relationships between other words within a sentence.

Prepositions are often tiny words – like in, of, by, for, into, with, through, or to. But a preposition can be the most important word for understanding some sentences. There are not many of them, and they are powerful words.

The apostle Paul wrote, “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18). This phrase contains the tiny word “in” (ἐν). “Circumstances” is in italics because it is not in the Greek text but is supplied by the translators to make sense. The Greek text is ἐν παντὶ εὐχαριστεῖτε (“in all give our thanks”).

Paul could have written, “give thanks for all circumstances.” Paul did not use the preposition γάρ (“for”) but the preposition ἐν (“in”). Sometimes we can even give thanks “for” our circumstances, but other times all that we can do is be thankful “in” them.

In our joy and pain, we should be thankful people. I God’s mercy and grace, we should be grateful people. Even in the year 2020, we should be thankful people!

Prepositions are crucial in what the New Testament (especially the apostle Paul) tell Jesus’ followers about our relationship to Jesus. This is because prepositions indicate position and express relationships.

The entire relationship between God and His people is very well expressed with prepositions. “Union with Christ” is often used to describe Paul’s theology of being joined to Christ. Union refers to a profound spiritual connection to Christ through mutual indwelling by the Spirit. It is reflected in the phrases “in Christ,” “into Christ,” “with Christ,” “through Christ,” and so forth. It is also seen through various metaphors such as the body of Christ, clothing, the temple, and the church as the bride of Christ.

Participation refers to sharing in Christ’s key narrative events, such as His suffering, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and glorification. Identification refers to shifting our allegiance the realm of sin and death to Christ and His realm of righteousness and peace. Incorporation refers to being members together in a corporate entity shaped by Christ.

All of God’s blessings are bestowed to believers through our union with Christ (Eph. 1:3).

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