Reconcilliation to God

 Acknowledgement: I am deeply indebted to R. B. Thieme Jr. for both my understanding of this doctrine as well as much of the content you will read here.  I have abridged it, paraphrased it and as he would say, made it mine.  No one can teach a doctrine unless he understands it and mentally digests it. 

Pertinent Scriptures

 Namely, that God by means of Christ was reconciling the world to Himself by not imputing their sins to them, having deposited in us the doctrine of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We invite you on behalf of Christ to become reconciled to God.  He [God the Father] caused Him [God the Son] who knew no sin to be made sin as a substitute for us in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cornthians 5:18-21

 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:10-11


 Definition and Description

  1. Biblical Vocabulary& Scriptural Use
  • Romans 5:10
  • Romans 5:11
  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
  1. IRENE
  • Philippians 1:2
  • Romans 5:1
  • Ephesians 2:16
  • Colossians 1:20

Definition and Description

  1. The doctrine of reconciliation is the category of soteriology, the biblical doctrine of salvation, which means that every believer should master it.  This is one of those important doctrines that every believer should recall during the communion service.
  2. Our reconciliation explains how we become changed from spiritual death to spiritual life.
  3. This doctrine explains how God, through Jesus Christ, provided everything necessary to take individual humans from a state of enmity to God to a state of peace, even friendship.
  4. The mechanics involve the removal of the barrier between God and the human race.
  5. This barrier and all of its factors result from every human being’s status of spiritual birth from work. 
  6. One of the barriers which our Lord removed by His work involves every human being’s spiritual death from birth and inability to establish a relationship with God.
  7. Jesus Christ accomplished our reconciliation byHis salvation work, His spiritual death, on the Cross.
  8. This real spiritual death, as compared to our Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death,defines separation from God. 
  9. People receive reconciliation to God, never vise versa.  God is never reconciled to us.  We are always reconciled to Him.
  10. The mechanics of our reconciliation involve the Father imputing our personal sinsto Jesus Christ on the Cross then judging them. 
  11. The imputation of our sins to Christ is the major factor in the removal of all barriers between the human race and God. 
  12. Peace or reconciliation between God and man must be ratified in every individual case through personal faith in Jesus Christ.  The means of ratification is personal faith in Jesus Christ. 

 Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved; and if anyone in your household believes in Christ, they too will be saved.

Reconciliation is the finished work of God by which individual people are brought from an attitude and status of enmity towards God to an attitude and status of peace with God by means of the removal of the enmity through the cross. To be effective it must, of course, be received in faith [1]

Biblical Vocabulary and Scriptural Use

            a.       KATALLASSOκαταλλάσσω

                        1)      Definition

This is an early Greek compound verb, meant to exchange coins of equal value, hence, in Paul’s specialized use of the word, “to reconcile.”  It means to exchange a state of hostility for a state of tranquility and peace, from enmity to reconciliation.  In the active voice, God is the subject. In the passive voice, a human is the subject.  The “kata” part of this compound verb imparts the perfective concept, meaning complete reconciliation. 

                    2)      Scriptural Uses

                          a)      Romans 5:10

 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10, NAS

 This verse presents the a fortiori of reconciliation. A fortiori is a system of logic which says that if the greater has been given, the lesser will not be withheld.  This a fortiori is broken up into two parts, the protasis and apodosis.  The protasis presents the greater provision, in this case, reconciliation, while the apodosis presents one or more conclusions.  The greater, which our Lord provided us, was our reconciliation to the Father; the lesser provision being “saved by His life.”

  •  Protasis: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…
  •  Apodosis: …much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

 “For if”–This verse begins with the first class conditional conjunction ε EI.  It draws a logical conclusion between the two clauses.  If the protasis is true, then, the apodosis is true.  To differentiate it from other classes of conditional conjunctions, this should be translated to indicate that if the protasis is true then the apodosis is also true. The Greek language has 3 other conditional conjunctions, reflecting, instead of what is true, what is assumed false, fantasy or even desire. “For” represents the second word in the verse is the post positive causal conjunction γάρ GAR. We can assume then, that this verse presents a conclusion based upon a true statement of doctrine.

 “while we were enemies”The first three words in this phrase come from one word, the present active participle of the verb of being, εμί EIMI.  It is correctly translated, “while we were.”  “Enemies” comes from the nominative masculine plural adjective EKTHROSχθρός. Every human being was born into a state of hostility to God having been born into Satan’s system of world control.  We are also born into a state of experiential old sin nature control, thanks to the sin of our original parents.  This explains our human predilection to be against anything related to God!  We are born locked-in to this state, therefore, totally helpless to establish a positive relationship with God, the One who created us.  Because He is perfect, God must reject our sinfulness and spiritual death.  Because His justice must condemn sin and lack of perfect righteousness, hostility exists between Him and every member of the human race.One can visualize various factors that come between the human race and God as an insurmountable barrier; a barrier which only God can penetrate.  As human beings, due to the state we were born into, we cannot approach God without Him having previously breached that barrier.

 “…we were reconciled…” The word, “reconciled” is the first person plural, aorist passive indicative ofκαταλλάσσωKATALLASSO, a compound verb made up of the preposition, KATA and verb, ALLASSO.  In this case, combining the preposition with ALLASSO, “to exchange” intensifies the meaning to take parties from the state of hostility to peace.  The subject of this verb is “we,” human beings, though we receive the action performed by someone else.  Who that someone else is must be established by the context.

 The aorist tense is culminative meaning that this reconciliation, provided by our Lord’s work on the cross, is viewed in its entirety, but with the existing results emphasized.  What are the existing results of being reconciled to God?  Our life with Him eternally!

 The passive voice dogmatically indicates that God does the reconciling, we believers receive the action of His work at the moment we believe in His Son.   

 The indicative mood indicates the dogmatic force with which Paul presents this doctrine.  This fact of reconciliation is absolutely true!

 “…to God…” This is the dative of reference from the articular proper noun θεόςTHEOS. With the definite article, τό TO, this refers to God the Father.  This dative of indirect object emphasises God as the One in whose interest reconciliation is performed. We are reconciled to the God, the dative is always directional.

 “…through the death of His Son…”This phrase begins with the preposition, διάDIA translated, “through,” expressing means.This phrase continues with the definite article, HO with genitive singular of the noun θάνατος THANATOS, translated “the death.”  The definite article indicates that this is a particular, special death.  What follows is the articular genitive singular masculine of υός HUIOS, with the reflexive pronoun ατός AUTO.  These three words are translated, “of His Son,” referring to our Lord Jesus Christ.We know from the context that this death refers to the substitutionary spiritual death of our Lord, whereby He bore and paid for the sins of the world.  His substitutionary spiritual death, not His physical death, is the mechanic of our reconciliation to the Father.  Our Lord reconciled us to the Father by bearing the punishment for our sins.  It was by this death that He removed the barrier between God and the human race.  Though He died for, paying for our sins, not every human being appropriates His gracious act by believing in Him.  Every actof reconciliation, especially between nations, is accompanied by a ratification of that reconciliation.  So it is with our reconciliation to the Father.  That ratification is our faith in His Son.

 “…much more…”  These two words are the dative singular from the adjective πολύςPOLLUS meaning“many,” with the comparative adverb μλλονMALLON, meaning “much more.”  These words form an idiom meaning, “to a greater degree,” and are translated as “much more.”  This phrase begins the apodosis, the conclusion, of this a fortiori. 

 “…having been reconciled…”In this phrase, the verb καταλλάσσωKATALLASSO is expressed as an aorist passive participle instead of the previous, the aorist passive indicative.  This presents a question: why did Paul repeat KATALLASSO, then use the participial form the second time?  This participle is adverbial, that is, acting as an adverb.  It modifies the main noun, that is, the first use of KATALLASSO.  This participle indicates condition under which the apodosis is to be fulfilled.  We must be reconciled to the Father, one of the categories of events the Spirit fulfils when we believe in the Son.  If you are saved, then you have fulfilled the condition for the fulfilment of the apodosis.  This participle also sets up the logical flow of events.  Again, this is passive participle emphasizes the fact that we receive reconciliation as a part of the salvation package God imputes to us.  We believe in the Son, God does the rest!

 “…we shall be saved…”The verb, expressed in the English, “we shall be saved” is the future passive indicative of σζωSOZO, which means “to save,” “to deliver” or “to rescue.”The word, “saved” immediately brings to mind salvation which is fulfilled at the moment a person believes in Jesus Christ.  Salvation, however, was fulfilled in the protasis.  Believers are not saved resulting in reconciliation, then having been reconciled, saved.  So, even though, “saved” maybe a literal translation of SOZO, because “saved” usually refers to the moment of salvation, we need to further understand what “salvation” is being referred to here.  The better translation of SOZO is “deliver” or “rescue” to steer us away from assuming that this refers to salvation.  We can ask the question, what deliverance does our salvation result in which is future?From what are going to be delivered which is in our salvation package which we do not yet possess?  We can get some clues from the morphology of SOZO.

 The future tense of SOZOis a predictive future. It indicates that this deliverance will become a reality after our salvation.  This verb points to a change in status for the believer;after our salvation, after our reconciliation to the Father.  This is a reference to an actual change identifiable by taking on a characteristic related to, as we’ll see by the next set of words, our Lord’s life.

 The passive voice indicates that believers will receive the action of the verb.  We will receive this status, because God has already accomplished our salvation and every aspect of it.  The Father planned it, the Son executed it and the Spirit empowered it.

 The indicative mood is declarative representing the verbal action from the viewpoint of absolute reality. This is absolutely true!

 “…by His life.”This phrase comes from the preposition νEN, with thedefinite article τόto, which modifies the following noun, ζωήZOE. The phrase concludes with the third person personal pronoun ατόςAUTOS.  This phrase can be translated, “in His life…” or “by His life.”  The second use of the preposition makes the most sense in the context.  The question we need to answer, then, is this: What aspect of our Lord’s life do we not currently possess? We know that because of our sanctification that we are in Him, sharing everything He is. Our Lord has eternal life, which we gain at salvation, though we do not often realize that we do while we live in our bodies of corruption.  One aspect of eternal life which He possesses which we do not as of yet realize is our resurrection body.  His humanity resides in His resurrection body.  This is the life to which this verse refers.  We will be delivered from our bodies of corruption at the completion of the Church Age.  Our bodies will be changed as we meet the Lord in the air at the resurrection of the Church whether we come from Heaven or from the Earth.  When we put on that body, we will have no old sin nature and produce no human good. This body will be absolutely perfect and will last for eternity.

 Looking at this from God’s perspective that is outside of our “prison” of time and space we are already in resurrection body in the eternal state, having been delivered from our bodies of corruption. This verse, then should interpretively read as:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God for salvation through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be delivered by His eternal life. Romans 5:10

                   b)   Romans 5:11

 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:11 (NAS)

 This verse presents a temporal implication of reconciliation.  Whereas the previous verse teaches that we will, in the future, possess the same life which the Son now enjoys, this verse teaches a temporal application.  We can apply this truth of our reconciliation now.  So often, we gothrough our lives academically understanding future realities without experiencing temporal realities.  This verse describes one of those temporal realities we receive because of our reconciliation. 

 “And not only this…” The verse begins with the negative particle οOU, “not,”with the adverb, μόνον MONON, translated, “only.”  Then, in the Greek, this phrase continues with the postpositive conjunction, δέDE, translated, “and.” Being in the post positive position, it falls at the beginning of the sentence in the English. This phrase is an idiom.  It serves as the “but wait, there’s more…” made popular in infomercial ads!  This idiom also indicates that the preceding statement in verse 10 is an absolute;we will all share in our Lord’s life in resurrection body.  That will be a perfect blessing that will be an absolute reality whether you see it now or not.  But there is another blessing, also perfect, which will precede that one.  It is one we can have now; during this temporal life.

 “…but we alsoexult…” “But” is ἀλλALLA the Greek adversative conjunction.  The adjunctive use of καίKAI is translated “but.”  “We exult” is the present middle participle nominative participle plural from καυχάομαιKAUCHAOMAI, which means “to be proud of,” “to boast in,” and “to express a high degree of confidence in.” The present tense is a customary present which denotes what is normal for mature believers, those who are totally oriented to and have a positive relationship with God’s integrity. The middle voice is only middle in form but active in meaning.  The mature believer produces the action of this verb.  He or she is exulting in God.  This is a circumstantial participle meaning that it applies to anyone who reaches this advanced status of spiritual growth.In secular writings, this verb has its roots in boasting about one’s self…evidence of one’s foolishness!   Paul turns the table of this verb, from an intense self-boasting, to, as we will see from the rest of this verse, boasting in God.  This believer’s thinking changes from preoccupation with self to occupation with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Self-boasting, that is arrogance is replaced by confidence and glorying in the Lord.  For a believers boasting to be valid, it must be in the Lord’s workings, not in anything done through human power.Another issue indicated by the context of this verse deals with the fact that this does not just apply to one believer but to a multiplicity of believers, sharing this exultation is God, which glorifies Him.

 “…in God…” This phrase begins with the preposition νEN with the articularlocative of the proper nounτ θεός TO THEOS.  This is translated “in God.”  The definite article indicates that God is unique and familiar to the readers.  We all know who God is.

 “…through our Lord Jesus Christ.”This phrase consists of the preposition διDIA and definite article τοTOU and the genitive of κυρίουKURIOU, the personal pronoun ἡμῶνHUMON and the genitive of the proper nouns, Ἰησοῦ ΧριστοYESOU CHRISTOU. This phrase indicates the mechanics of our boasting in God.  We must be believers, and mature ones at that.  Faith in our Lord is the issue, then taking His thinking and applying it to our lives.  Every aspect of our relationship with the Father comes through the Son because He accomplished the salvation work by which we have become reconciled to the Father.  The Father also placed Him in the position of being our High Priest, also because of His salvation work.  The Spirit placed us into union with the Son, so again, another reason that we glorify God through the Son.  Note that both the Father and Son are mentioned here.  Reconciliation, therefore, is a joint effort between the Father and Son.  The Father judged our sins which the Son bore on the cross.

 “by whom we have received reconciliation…”This phrase begins with the prepositionδιDIA with the genitive of the relative pronounοOUtranslated,“through whom.” The next word in the Greek is νῦν NUN translated, “now.”  The key word in our study, the accusative singular feminine noun καταλλαγKATALLAGE with the preceding definite article τὴν TEN continuesthe phrase.As we have just discussed, KATALLAGE is translated as reconciliation, a change in status from being an enemy to friend.  The definite article particularizes, identifies this reconciliation as being totally unique.  Through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, people can be reconciled to God.  A person may be a party of reconciliation many times during life, but only one reconciliation changes our relationship with the One True God.  Furthermore, this reconciliation is completely the work of God. 

 The final word in this phraseis ἐλάβομεν ELABOMEN, the aorist active indicative of λάβομενωLAMBANO, translated, “received.” Because this is a constative aorist, it refers to one action which occurred in a moment of time, the salvation of an unbeliever through faith in Jesus Christ.  At the moment of faith, God reconciles that new believer to Himself, instantly and permanently.  Note that the believer receives reconciliation.  The active voice indicates performs the action of the verb by receiving reconciliation.  This declarative indicative mood means that this action occurs as reality of this doctrine.

 “And not only this, but also we glory in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

 c)      2 Corinthians 5:18–20

 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18–20 (NASB)

 Paul uses KATALLASSO in various forms 5 times in this passage.  We’ll look at each use of it and explain what each use teaches us about reconciliation.  The doctrine of reconciliation is one of the core doctrines of our salvation, so we need to understand it thoroughly. 

 “Now all of these things are from God…”This phrase refers to the text immediately preceding our passage.  In it Paul describes several factors related to our salvation.  Specifically, “these things” refer to our Lord’s spiritual death on the cross for each of us and the fact of Church Age believers become new creatures, something new under the sun! 

 “…who reconciled us to Himself through Christ…”This first use of καταλλάσσωKATALLASSO is an aorist active particle used adverbially. This phrase tells us two very important factors about our reconciliation.  First, that it was the Father’s plan that we be reconciled to Him.  It was His desire that we be reconciled to Him because of His limitless love.  Secondly, we learn that the mechanics for our reconciliation to the Father involve our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Father reconciled us to Him by means of the work our Lord accomplished for us on the cross.  There is absolutely no place for anything we do.

 “…and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…”This time, reconciliation appears as a genitive singular noun in apposition to the noun, DIAKONIA διακονία, ministry or service.  This refers to our ministry or service of reconciliation.  After having received reconciliation from God through Christ, we are to present the mechanics of our reconciliation on to others that they may also become reconciled to God.  See “Witnessing” for details. 

 “…namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself…”Here, KATALLASSO appears as a nominative present active participle.  In this context, the participle takes on the characteristics of a verb.  What was Paul expressing with this use of the KATALLASSO that would not communicate with the present active participle?  That question can be answered looking at the preceding verb of being, “was,” EIMI εμί in the imperfect active indicative.  Together they emphasize both the process of reconciliation and that the Father did the reconciling;“God was reconciling…to Himself…”That God was “in Christ” has two implications.  First, that God through or by Christ, was doing the reconciling.  It was the Father’s plan that our Lord was fulfilling.  Secondly, understanding that Paul’s audience knew of the God of the Old Testament,  this ties the two Testaments together, emphasizing that this God, even of both Testaments, of both Jews and Gentiles, has reconciled the world to Himself.

 “…not counting their trespasses against them…” With this phrase, Paul teaches the mechanics the Father employed to accomplish our reconciliation.  This speaks to the law of double jeopardy.  First, God withheld the punishment for our sins, not imputing them to us, but holding that punishment in reserve for our Lord when He was on the cross.  Sins we commit are only judged once, on our Lord’s perfect body, on the Cross.

 “…and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”  This phrase repeats and therefore emphasizes the last substantival use of KATALLASSO, reconciliation.  The Father hasn’t simply committed to us reconciliation, but the meaning is far more intimate than that.  Committed is the aorist middle participle of TITHEMI τίθημι, which when considering the use of “word,” LOGOS λόγος of reconciliation, figuratively speaks of planting within us the Gospel, expecting it to grow within us, to pass on to others.  It must become implanted into the deepest part of our beings, become part of us, then we impart it to others.  

 b.      EIRENE εἰρήνη

 1)         Definition

 This word, generally translated “peace,” has different meanings, depending upon its context.  First, when used in context of our relationship with God, it gives us a better idea of what reconciliation is all about.  It is also used as a greeting, but more importantly, it reminds us of all of our benefits which come with our relationship with the Father through our Lord.

 2)         Scriptural Uses
 a)      Philippians 1:2

 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:2

 For a thorough analysis of this verse, see the study of Philippians 1:2.  In that study, peace is designated as the direct result of grace.  One aspect of that grace is our peace with God as previously discussed.

 b)     Romans 5:1

 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1


(to be continued)

. Vol. 119: Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 119. 1962 (474) (144). Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary.




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