Life in the Son: Exploring participation and union with Christ in John’s Gospel and letters

Clive Bowsher


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Life in the Son: Exploring participation and union with Christ in John’s Gospel and letters by Clive Bowsher

Clive Bowsher provides an exegetical-theological study of oneness and ‘in-one-another’ relationship with Christ in John’s Gospel and letters, a new volume in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series.

The New Testament writers use spatial language and imagery to portray our relationship with God, speaking both about God or Christ in us, and us in them. Believers are also described as possessing and participating in divine qualities such as life and glory. Both aspects are prominent in John’s Gospel and letters. However, outside the Pauline writings, union with Christ has hardly been addressed in New Testament scholarship. Dr. Clive Bowsher seeks to redress this balance in Life in the Son.

In John’s Gospel, the oneness of the Father and Son is described as the Father and Son being ‘in-one-another.’ Clive Bowsher’s study shows that union with Christ in John’s Gospel and letters is the in-one-another relationship of believers with the Father and Son by the Spirit – the intimate, loving, relational participation of the believer and God, each in the life, affections, ways and work of the other. Insightful and accessible, Bowsher’s study also explores connections with the shape of sonship, and with covenant and the life of the age to come. This new volume in the NSBT series fills a significant gap in the literature and promises to be a blessing to pastors, preachers and scholars alike.


The recent resurgence of scholarly attention given to the theme of union with Christ has primarily focussed on Paul, making the lack of attention to the theme within Johannine literature all the more striking. Clive Bowsher has addressed this gap with his insightful, probing, and informative volume, demonstrating the centrality of in-one-anotherness of Father-Son and believers in John’s Gospel and Letters. Bowsher highlights John’s focus on this loving, intimate, and relational participation between God and his people, making his book essential reading for anyone wanting to understand union with Christ and/or John’s writings.

Constantine R. Campbell
Professor and Associate Research Director,
Sydney College of Divinity

Clive Bowsher persuasively demonstrates the centrality of what he calls “in-one-anotherness”—or the reciprocal relationship between believers and God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—to the Gospel and Epistles of John. This entails participation in God’s ways, work, and character as the fulfillment of the Bible’s covenant motif, as sharing in the story of Jesus, and as experiencing proleptically the life of the age to come. Everyone interested in the Johannine literature, or in the themes of union and participation, should engage this significant volume.

Michael J. Gorman
Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology,
St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Many Protestants are familiar with the one-anotherness of the Christian faith; we are called to a life of selfless love for each other in Christ’s body, the church. But few are aware that the one-anotherness between believers is based on something even more fundamental, the fact that the Father and Son are eternally in one another and that we as Christians are in the Father and the Son. Bowsher’s illuminating research expertly explores the contours of in-one-anotherness between God and believers in the Johannine writings of the New Testament. His book is eye-opening, faith-enriching, and heart-warming; it will affect every aspect of your relationship to God and to his people. I recommend it enthusiastically.

Donald Fairbairn
Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity,
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Given that union with Christ is central to how Christ’s work becomes ours, and given the diverse interpretations of it in theology, we need to return anew to Scripture to grasp properly this glorious truth. In this groundbreaking work, Clive Bowsher does precisely this. He offers careful biblical and theological reasoning that clarifies what union with Christ is, and in so doing, we are indebted to him. This work is must reading to understand and glory in what it means to be united to Christ and thus to be in covenant relationship with our triune Creator, Redeemer, and Lord.

Stephen Wellum
Professor of Christian Theology,
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Clive Bowsher

Clive Bowsher is Provost of Union School of Theology, where he teaches and researches in New Testament and Biblical Theology. Previously, he served as lead minister of a local church and co-mentored Union’s Learning Community in Oxford, UK. He has held positions at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Bristol. He is the author of Life in the Son: Exploring Participation and Union with Christ in John’s Gospel and Letters (IVP, 2023), and One: Being United to Jesus Changes Everything (Union Publishing, 2023).
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Publication Date
March 16, 2023