I’ve seen Albert Schweitzer write a book about the “mysticism of paul” and how being “ in Christ “ is a mystical a mystical teaching by Paul. Is this true ?

  • If that is Paul's "mysticism" then it reflects Jesus' same teaching as per John 15:4-8, 17:20, 23, etc.
    – Dottard
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 20:53
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    I'm not sure there is an objective answer about what is really a value judgment. It's evident in Galatians and elsewhere that the concept of being "in Christ" is absolutely central to Paul's teaching. He clearly understands that and the related presence of the Holy Spirit as an objective spiritual reality, not a mere metaphor. Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 21:37
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    Please see the Tour and the Help (below, bottom left) Questions about biblical topics but without a specific Bible passage are off-topic as hermeneutical methods cannot be applied when no text is referenced..
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 22:11
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    There's also the problem that the term "mysticism" is polysemous. In the sense that being "in Christ" is not observable by the senses, it is indeed mystic. But is that sense he was using?
    – Mary
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 4:02
  • Paul's whole writing is mystical in nature.
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 5:17

2 Answers 2


Mysticism - belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender. - Oxford English Dictionary

This, if it is the working definition of mysticism in the OP, entirely bypasses the new birth. One does not see the kingdom of heaven (apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect) or enter the kingdom of heaven (union with or absorption into the Deity) through contemplation and self surrender. You must be born again ... from above ... of the Spirit. (John 3).

This Spirit, which plumbs the very depths of God (1 Corinthians 2), reveals from the written word these things to us because he is within us. It is union with Deity that precedes apprehension of knowledge and which induces contemplation and self surrender. Paul was no mystic.


Depends on how you define the vague word "mysticism". If it means intimate connection with God, that is to say, when God's activities and your life become so intertwined, so intimately related, that you start regarding that feature of your life, the feature of its connectedness and interaction with the divine presence in it, as the most important thing, to the extent of calling it one's "boasting" (cf. also 2 Cor. 10:17), that is more important for you than the biological/historical life itself (1 Cor. 9:15), and furthermore, regarding yourself as dead but only alive for Lord's life, that is to say, activity in yourself (Galatians 2:20-21), then Paul is 100% a Christian mystic.

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