DEFINITION: Thayer as quoted in Pardington states, "The word is used in the New Testament...of the restoration of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust into the expiatory death of Christ" (Pardington, Rev. George P. Ph.D.; "OUTLINE STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE"; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 254)
"Reconciliation is the restoration to friendship and fellowship after estrangement. Old Testament reconciliation contains the idea of an atonement or covering for sin" (Taken from: "UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.)
RECONCILIATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
"And he slew [it]; and Moses took the blood, and put [it] upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it." (Leviticus 8:15)
"And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded [that] the burnt offering and the sin offering [should be made] for all Israel." (2 Chronicles 29:24)
"And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord GOD. 16 All the people of the land shall give this oblation for the prince in Israel. 17 And it shall be the prince's part [to give] burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel." (Ezekiel 45:15-17)
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." (Daniel 9:24)
These are the references where the term reconciliation appears in the Old Testament. Let us gather some facts from these verses.
1. There was shedding of blood in preparation for reconciliation. The blood was a means by which the alter was purified, so that sacrifices could be offered for reconciliation. (Lev. 8:15)
2. There was a shedding of blood to make reconciliation for the nation of Israel. (2 Chronicles 29:24)
3. There will be offerings of animals in the Millennial Kingdom for the people of Israel. It is not known just why these offerings will be given. The Lord will be in their presence and Israel will have turned to Him nationally. Whether they will be under the sacrificial system literally or for a memorial, we are not told. (Ezekiel 45:15-17)
It is of note that the offerings for reconciliation were commanded by God, not devised by man. Again, we see that the different items of salvation are God's idea!
4. In this passage as well as the others, reconciliation is linked to the sin of the people. The sin was separating the people from God. (Daniel 9:24)
The question that might come to mind is this. Is reconciliation a prerequisite for salvation? We always tie reconciliation directly to salvation, but should we.
It would seem that these verses show reconciliation to be the restoration of fellowship between Israel and God. Salvation is not mentioned in these texts. It seems, at least in the Old Testament, that reconciliation may be that action which brings the believer back into fellowship with God.
It seems that Lev. 16:20 might back up this idea. It mentions a reconciling of places rather than people. It seems that the term has the idea of correcting a relationship. In the case of the holy place, it was correcting from impure to pure.
Now let us move on to the New Testament.
RECONCILIATION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT:
I will list the words and the passages where they appear. Comments will be made as needed. (All usages of the words are listed.)
"katallasso" (Strong's 2644) "properly denotes to change, exchange (especially of money); hence, of persons, to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile." (Vine, W. E.; "AN EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS"; Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co.)
Rom. 5:10 "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." It seems that we may have been reconciled even before we were saved. It seems that the term relates to that action of Christ which made it possible for God and man to have fellowship. It is a changing in the relationship.
I Cor. 7:11 "But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to [her] husband: and let not the husband put away [his] wife." Though this passage is speaking of marriage and separation, it depicts the action by which the wife can be brought back into a proper marriage relationship with her husband. The term reconciliation again seems to mean the action of repairing a relationship.
II Cor. 5:18 "And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;" Here we see that it was God's idea to reconcile us to Himself. It is also shown here that it is our responsibility to share the Gospel so that others might also be reconciled to Him. II Cor. 5:19-20 adds to this thought.
"apokatallasso" (Strong's 604) "to reconcile completely...to change from one condition to another, so as to remove all enmity and leave no impediment to unity and peace" (Vine)
Eph. 2:16 "And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:" This passage indicates that there was enmity between God and man, but that the enmity was done away with by the cross. Again, it would seem that Christ's work repaired a relationship, but it does not indicate that this is indeed, salvation. Salvation was made a possibility because man was reconciled with God through the cross.
Col. 1:20 "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven."
Col. 1:21 "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled"
"diallasso" (Strong's 1259) "to effect an alteration, to exchange, and hence, to reconcile, in cases of mutual hostility yielding to mutual concession" (Vine)
Matt. 5:24 "Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." This shows the repairing of a relationship as has been mentioned before.
"katallage" (Strong's 2643) "primarily an exchange, denotes reconciliation, a change on the part of one party, induced by an action on the part of another" Vine.
Rom. 5:11 "And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." The word we are looking for in this text is atonement. It is normally translated reconciliation.
Rom. 11:15 "For if the casting away of them [be] the reconciling of the world, what [shall] the receiving [of them be], but life from the dead?" This pictures the world reconciled. It seems that reconciliation was provided for all of mankind, through the cross of Christ. Christ's action repaired the relationship between God and man. All has been done by Christ, so that man can come to God. If man refuses, then this results in his eternal position in the Lake of Fire.
II Cor. 5:18, 19 "And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;" 19 "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
"hilaskomai" (Strong's 2433) It is translated merciful in Luke
18:13 and reconciliation in Heb. 2:17. (This term is related to the Greek term translated propitiation. Ro. 3:25; Heb 8:12)
Lu. 18:13 "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner."
Heb. 2:17 "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."
Let us recap what we have learned from these passages.
1. We were enemies when we were reconciled. Rom. 5:10; 11:15; Eph. 1:21
2. We were reconciled to God. Rom. 5:10; II Cor. 5:18-20; Eph. 2:16. This reconciliation was a restoration of man to God, not the other way around.
3. We were reconciled by Jesus Christ. Rom. 5:10; 5:11; II Cor. 5:18-20/by His death Rom. 5:10/by His blood Col. 1:20.
4. We went away from God by our own will, and now Christ makes it possible for us to return. Though this verse deals with marriage it gives the essence of the term. That is one that has gone away of her own will is to return. I Cor. 7:11
5. We are ministers and ambassadors of reconciliation to the world. II Cor. 5:18-20
6. The world is in view when God was reconciling. II Cor. 5:18-20
7. We are to beseech the lost to be reconciled to God. (We do this in Christ's stead.) II Cor. 5:18-20
8. God has COMMITTED the job of reconciliation to the saved! II Cor. 5:18-20
9. We are reconciled WITH the Jews, unto God. Eph. 2:16
10. There is more to reconciliation than man alone. Col. 1:20, "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself - by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
The earth and heaven are under duress in some manner due to the fall of man. The ground only was cursed in Genesis three, however this verse would indicate that the whole of creation is in the backwash of man's sin and fall.
All things have been reconciled unto Christ. The completion of this is yet to come, but the provision has been made for all things to be reconciled unto him. In the creature realm it is limited to those that can, and do choose to respond to that reconciliation. (The angels can't, but man can, if he desires.)
11. Reconciliation should cause joy in our lives. Rom. 5:11, "And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."
Thiessen relates the terms propitiation and reconciliation thusly: "The two ideas seem to be related to each other as cause and effect: Christ's death 'propitiated' God, and as a result he is 'reconciled'" (Thiessen, Henry C.; "LECTURES IN SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1949, p 327)
He relates an apt illustration. "At first God and man stood face to face with each other. In sinning, Adam turned his back upon God. Then God turned His back upon Adam. [due to His justice demanding He turn away from sin.] Christ's death has satisfied the demands of God and now God has again turned His face toward man. It remains for man to turn round about and face God. Since God has been reconciled by the death of His Son, man is now entreated to be reconciled to God." (Thiessen, p 327-328)
Have you really thought about all that we have been studying to this point? Have we really gotten hold of the truths that we have been studying? II Cor. 5: 18-19 states "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, [This almost sounds like God has not been keeping track of sins since the cross. This would be a good study sometime!] and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
"GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD UNTO HIMSELF"
IF WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST died for all sin - the sin of the world - IF WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST propitiated God for the whole world-IF WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST reconciled the whole world - IF WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST did all there was to do to bring the sinner to a point that all he had to do was to reject or accept Christ's sacrifice for his sin - THEN - We have the sinner at what position before God? Think about it. What position is the lost person in today, before almighty God?
IS HE NOT AT THE POINT OF ADAM IN THE GARDEN IN ESSENCE - TRUE HE IS IN A DREADFUL STATE OF SIN AND ALL ITS RAMIFICATIONS BUT ISN'T HE AT THE SAME DECIDING POINT THAT ADAM WAS?
"DO I WANT TO OBEY GOD, OR DO I WANT TO DO MY OWN THING? In reality I believe that is just were lost mankind is today, and has been since the cross!
Thus, one that argues against the total depravity of man being based on the sin of Adam - he argues a mute question. It really doesn't matter in the context of salvation.
THE WORD OF GOD STATES THAT CHRIST HAS PAID THE PRICE, AND THAT YOU MUST RECEIVE HIS WORK, OR SPEND ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE.
YOU WILL ACCEPT THAT IMPERATIVE OR REJECT IT. IN SO DOING YOU ACCEPT OR REJECT GOD'S INJUNCTION TO ADAM TO OBEY GOD.
The application of this thinking is to the fact that we are all like Adam - we all chose to sin. Thus at the point of decision which God has so graciously brought us through His Son, we will as Adam - reject God's injunction to obey. THUS, WE HAVE THE TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF MAN PROVEN AS WELL AS THE ELECTION AND DRAWING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF THE ELECT TO GOD!
HE DID HIS PART. "That man is an utterly lost sinner who could never find his own way back to God, is a very unpalatable truth for the average natural man or woman. We all like to think that there is something we can do to help save ourselves, whereas, according to God's Word we are not only lost, but without ability to retrieve our condition. It is remarkable how apt the colored folks are in quick illustrations of spiritual realities, as the following instance will show.
"A recent convert, a colored man, rose in a meeting to give his testimony to the saving grace of God. He told how the Lord had won his hear and given deliverance from the guilt and power of sin. He spoke of Christ and His work, but said nothing of any efforts of his own.
"The leader of the meeting was of a legalistic turn of mind, and when the negro's testimony was ended, he said, 'Our brother has only told us of the Lord's part in his salvation. When I was converted there was a whole lot I had to do myself before I could expect the Lord to do anything for me. Brother, didn't you do your part first before God did His?' The other was on his feet again in an instant and replied: 'Yes, sah, Ah clear done forgot. Ah didn't tell you 'bout my pard, did I? Well, Ah did my part for over thirty years, runnin' away from God as fast as evah my sins could carry me. That was my part. An' God took aftah me till He run me down. That was His part.' It was well put and tells the story that every redeemed sinner understands." (Ironside/"ILLUSTRATIONS OF BIBLE TRUTHS")
Let us close with a summation of the doctrine by Unger. "By this change
lost humanity is rendered savable. As a result of the changed position
of the world through the death of Christ the divine attitude toward the
human family can no longer be the same. God is enabled to deal with lost
souls in the light of what Christ has accomplished. (Taken from: "UNGER'S
BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute
of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.)