A fundamental component of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ is to be found in Him that we may acquire the excellencies of Christ. The apostle uses the phrase “found in” also in Phil. 2:8 speaking of the second Person of the Trinity who was found in appearance as a man. The meaning is to be recognized in reality by another. Jesus did not just appear as a man, He was a man recognized by others. So for us to be found in Him takes our faith out of the realm of a private subjective notion into the sphere in which the regenerate live.
A key description of the regenerate is the term in Christ. Barnes says that this points to our union with Christ – that we are truly and intimately connected to Him. We are in Him as a branch is in the trunk of the tree. There is a permanent dwelling which makes the branch naturally at rest, all the while drawing resources, growing and producing. We could say that the branch is in its element in the trunk just as a fish is in its element in water – the Christian’s element is in Christ. With numerous exhortations to abide in Him, the Christian’s permanent address is Jesus Christ my Lord. The regenerate may be at home, at work or traveling abroad; he may be healthy, sick, abased or abounding – but he is always in Him. Motyer colors the apostle’s statement in saying, “The Lord Jesus is a dwelling so attractive that Paul cannot bear to be away from home.”
To be found in Him, biblically, is an affirmed position, and it is the loftiest of human ambitions. When we ask, “Found by whom?” we will recognize this not as just a warm devotional thought, but as profound doctrinal truth about our essence and purpose with implications about our submission and habits.