Throughout scripture there is the idea of 'abiding/having/obtaining' Christ.

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. 1 John 5:12

Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. 1 John 2:23

8 More than that, I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith. Philippians 3:8-9

This one is a parable, but has the same idea:

Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. John 15:4

There are also other mentions (that I believe are spiritual) that share a part in the same idea:

yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. John 5:40

Jesus also said: 'I am the light of the world' and 'It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life"

What is the spiritual meaning here, is it that:

  1. The 'person' of Jesus Christ is in Heaven and His Spirit indwelling in people has a direct connection to Him in heaven by whom people have access to The Father since He is the only way to The Father.
  2. 'Gaining' Jesus is being completely 'spiritually embodied' in His spirit so that all of His righteousness and other attributes are accredited.

Are any of these two points accurate, if so are there any other points? If not, what is a more accurate meaning of the idea of having/gaining/abiding in Christ?

  • An excellent question. Up-voted +1. But I think the answer to this specific question is more a matter of experience, the 'knowledge' of Christ (in the sense of personally knowing him, through the Spirit) rather than the knowledge of the doctrine of Christ, as such.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 22, 2021 at 19:05
  • 3
    This is a huge topic: the doctrine of Union with Christ. It's too big to handle in one question here, especially considering you're asking about multiple different phrasings in the Greek.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 22, 2021 at 22:24
  • 4
    I have voted to reopen but it will need to be reduced in scope and focussed more.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 23, 2021 at 0:29
  • 2
    I have also voted to reopen, I believe it is a very good question Mar 23, 2021 at 15:40
  • 1
    If this isn't edited it will need to be closed again.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 26, 2021 at 2:42

5 Answers 5


Scripture is crystal clear on this issue: Simple answer: abiding / having / obtaining Christ are all contractions of being “IN COVENANT” with Christ.

The promises of forgiveness of sin & eternal life are only found IN COVENANT with the son.

Romans 11:27 For this is my covenant (G1242) unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

1John 5:11 this is the testimony, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this (eternal) life is (found) in (covenant with) his Son.

This information has been hidden from us because it reveals the truth, a different doctrine from the popular thought.

Matt 19:16-17 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? ¶And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God (DENIES INCARNATION) : but if thou wilt enter into (COVENANT WITH & OBTAIN ETERNAL) life, keep the commandments.

1John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in (COVENANT WITH) him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (KEEPING THE LAWS, SABBATHS, FEAST ETC).

1John 2:3-4 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him.

I can't put it more plainly than John above.

  • Hi Craig. You have to read the book of Galatians (and also acquire understanding about the kingdom of God).
    – user35803
    Apr 14, 2021 at 12:29
  • Hi snoopy, I have read Galatians, any verses you wish to discuss?
    – Craig
    Apr 15, 2021 at 2:15
  • Not really, I just found weird that you said 'keep the law'. Christ has freed us from the law by his grace, the law demands justice and if God does justice to us we're all condemned because all of us have broken the law. Paul spoke about this a lot. Now we are free to obey Christ, to be humble, gentle, meek, giving grace when we are stricken, to bear one another in love, because Jesus has given us grace.
    – user35803
    Apr 15, 2021 at 13:39
  • Actually snoopy Christ freed us from the punishments in the Law which demand our death for our disobedience to the Law. We are not freed from the Law as in both the OT & NT we display our love for God by keeping His Laws. Paul taught this extensively.
    – Craig
    Apr 16, 2021 at 1:56

What is the meaning of abiding in/having/gaining Christ?

What is a more accurate meaning of the idea of having/gaining/abiding in Christ?

It refers to the Christian hope of gaining everlasting life in heaven or on earth, something not available to humankind prior to Jesus. Jesus' teachings shed light upon life and incorruption through the gospel--good news.-(2 Tim.1:10)

2 Timothy 1:10 NASB

10 But has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

Immortality in heaven.

The spirit-begotten brothers of Christ are told that they have heavenly hopes because of the great mercy of God, who gave to them “a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Colossians 1:5 NASB

5 because of the hope reserved for you in [a]heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, [b]the gospel

Titus 3:6-7 NASB

6 whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Everlasting Life on Earth

Yes, our Creator has extended to us the opportunity to choose a course that can lead to life everlasting! What must we do to having/ gaining eternal life? Jesus Christ declared:

John 17:3 NASB

3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

According to the Bible, “in the way of righteousness, there is life.” (Proverbs 12:28) We can be among the righteous who are on the path to life everlasting. How? By making sure that our lives conform to God’s will and his commands. (Matthew 7:13, 14) May we, therefore, make the right choice and receive God’s gift of gaining /having everlasting life on earth.

Romans 6:23 NASB

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isaiah 25:8 (ASV)

8 He hath swallowed up death forever, and the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth: for Jehovah hath spoken it.

Revelation 21:3-4 (NET Bible)

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”


In general, I would agree with the comments/interpretation of the OP. Abiding/remaining/having – these words likely refer to a state of spiritual union or indwelling with God. But as such, it is a mystery that may elude any attempt to articulate an “accurate” meaning or interpretation.

Still, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on this discussion, in particular, with regard to the concept of heaven. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, who is in heaven.” We commonly think of heaven as some far away place where God dwells. An alternative to this view is that wherever God’s spirit is, that is where heaven may also be.

This perspective of heaven can serve as a guide for interpreting the gospel and writings of John:

  • God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. (1 Jn 4:16)
  • If we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we remain in Him and He in us, because He has given to us of His Spirit. (1 Jn 4:12-13)
  • Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. (Jn 15:9)

Love plays a central role in our spiritual union with God. God is love and everything flows from his love, first to the Son and then through the Son to us so that we cannot have one without the other. John tells us to remain in this love, as if he were likening it to a physical location or dwelling. Perhaps what he is really trying to depict is a spiritual dwelling place, where love is the principle builder and architect, a place where God’s Spirit can come to rest and where there is room for God and for one another.

I'm not saying that this idea of a spiritual dwelling should replace our understanding of heaven, only that the spiritual union with God may offer us a glimpse of what heaven is like.

  • Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. (Lk 17:20-21)

As my first answer on this site I would like to agree with Nhi in that heaven is where there is union between God and man. How does this occur?

Mat 23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 

The new Jerusalem is the heavenly place of union with God. Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. This is the process of the spirit of God given by the father in Ephesians 3. Notice the work of the father, and the work of the spirit that Christ may dwell in your heart by faith. One of the fruits of the spirit is faith. The greek word pistis for faith is a fruit in us given freely as a gift so that the full character of Christ shown in the fruit of the spirit would be formed in us. (Eph 3:14)  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Eph 3:15)  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (Eph 3:16)  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (Eph 3:17)  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Reading on from these verses above leads us to further verses on love (for God is love). These verses state that love leads to the fulness of God. Abiding in God has much to do with abiding in love. When we choose to love the God way His spirit helps us. You cant give away what you have not received. So the command to BE FILLED with the spirit is to allow (surrender or yield) to the spirits prompting to love God and to love people. If you abide in the lord then you WILL walk as he walked.

1Jn 2:6  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. 

Singing and being thankful is also part of this process of being filled with the spirit.

Eph 5:18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  Eph 5:19  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  Eph 5:20  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 

How can you read the above verses and not connect melody in your heart to the Lord with being filled with the spirit? Some might argue that it does not but I would differ. It goes along with many commands to "rejoice always". Rejoicing is a decision that God is at work and that he has heard our prayer that is prayed in faith according to the will of God.

1Jn 5:14  And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:  1Jn 5:15  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 

That confidence is a joyful expectation that He is at work and that our prayer has been answered. Mark 11:24 backs this up wonderfully.

Relying and depending on the spirit of God for every word and action is abiding in Christ. Christ means the anointed one. Allowing Him to fill you up with love is to allow Gods action in your life. Jesus said that his words were spirit and life. He also said

Joh 15:7  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 

Abiding in Him means abiding in HIS living word. Mary said "be it unto me according to thy word" and Christ was formed in her. In the same manner spiritually Christ can be formed in us. The peace of God (the prince of peace himself) will guard and hearts and minds in Christ if we give our anxieties to Him Phil 4. The joy of the Lord (fruit of the spirit) is our strength.

Knowing that he lives in us (IN CHRIST) has an action every moment of the day.

(Act 17:28)  For in him we live, and move, and have our being;

The first part of that is to love God and receive His love (walk in the Spirit) The next part is to do this and love others in HIM. To walk in Christ is to walk in light.

(Mat 5:14)  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

How do we do this?

(1Jn 2:9)  He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. (1Jn 2:10)  He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. (1Jn 2:11)  But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

putting this altogether an adding a bit more

  1. Let God love you
  2. Walk in Him (walk in love for God is love)
  3. Choose to love others
  4. Be filled with the spirit - singing and being thankful and a whole lot more
  5. meditating on the Word of God - man shall not live by bread alone but ....
  6. See and hear Christ in His body. 1 Cor 12
  7. Pray without ceasing - stay connected by faith
  8. Let Christ live in your heart by faith - like a child dpends totally on its parents. For of such is the Kingdom of God
  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Apr 13, 2021 at 2:23

Here are the senses that the word translated abide is used in the New Testament. The English word say has much of the same senses. It can mean stay in place or stay at ones house. Used in John 15

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Here are the senses of the word translated have in 1 John 5:12. The four occurrences in this verse are all present tense. "To have (a relationship)" seems the best match.

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In Philippians 3:8-9, here are the senses of the word translated gain. It is aorist subjunctive, which indicates something Paul does not yet have thus something different from "eternal life" in 1 John 5:12.

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Your points seem OK. Paul's description implies that gaining Christ as ever growing but never completely achieving in this life.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom. 8:28–30, ESV)