RECONCILIATION TOWARD MAN
(Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:20)
The New Testament doctrine of reconciliation is of major importance. The Greek word
katallasso, translated to reconcile, has but one meaning, namely, to change completely
(Romans 5:10; 11:15; 1 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians
There are two aspects to the doctrine of reconciliation. These two aspects are best
revealed in 2 Corinthians 5:19-20.
This passage presents the truth that in and through the death of Christ on the cross, God
was changing completely the position of the world in its relation to Himself.
However, the apostle declares in verse 20 that Christ’s messengers, to whom is
committed the word of reconciliation, are to go forth, in His stead, beseeching those
who, according to verse 19, are already reconciled, to be reconciled to God. The term
beseech implies that they may or may not be reconciled in response to the messengers.
What is it specifically that men are implored to do? It is simply this: Receive this reconciliation by faith.
In other words, the value of Christ’s reconciling death is not applied to the believing
sinner at the time of His (Christ’s) death, but rather when he (the sinner) believes.
There can be no question about the fact that there are two aspects of reconciliation: one
wrought for all by God in His love for the world, and the other wrought in the individual
who believes, when he believes.
Prepared by: David Seilaf
Paul was an ambassador to carry forth a twofold message in the ministry of reconciliation. One, he told people that God so loves them that Christ died for them while they were yet ungodly, yet sinners, and God’s enemies. God has already done His part in the reconciliation by not imputing any of humanity’s trespasses to their account. The slate is clean as far as God is concerned. There are no longer barriers between them and God. Christ has died for them because He supremely loves them. The second part of Paul’s responsibility was to tell mankind to receive that reconciliation which God has already accomplished. He told them, “be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
A true reconciliation can only be a success when both parties agree to forgive and forget; when complete harmony exists between both; when both of them become real friends once again. What remains is for mankind, on his own part, to be reconciled to God. God has already forgiven us our trespasses and forgotten our sins through the death of Christ on the cross. Now mankind himself must respond to God’s love. He must be sorry for his sins, he must repent of them, and he must now take steps to be in harmony with God. When this is accomplished, a total reconciliation is effected. So Paul’s ministry was twofold:
- to tell people that God has reconciled them to Himself, and then,
- to tell all to respond and accept the reconciliation by faith and be at peace with God.
Perfect peace, harmony, reunion and conciliation will then come to pass.
A general and limited illustration of RECONCILIATION (by William R. Newell, Romans, pp.
“Suppose I am a master of a school, and I make a rule that there is to be no profane
swearing. I write that rule on the blackboard, and the whole school sees and hears it,
The penalty I announce too: there is to be a whipping if any one breaks the rule.
Now there is a boy named John Jones in my school, a boy I am fond of. At recesstime
he swears. Everybody hears him; I hear him; everybody knows I hear him. When I call
the school to order, all the scholars are looking at me to see what I will do.
I have a son of my own in that school room, a beloved son, Charles. I call him and we go
outside to counsel, while the school waits. I say, ‘Son, will you bear John Jones’
whipping for him? He doesn’t believe that I love him. He thinks I hate him because he
has broken my rule. There must be a whipping. I must be true to my word, but you know
how I love John.’ My son says, ‘Yes, father, I’ll do anything for you that you wish. And I
love John Jones too.’
I bring my boy, Charles, out before the whole school, and I say, ‘This is John Jones’
whipping I am giving to my son, Charles. The law of the school was broken by John
Jones. I am putting the penalty on my boy. He says he will gladly do this for me, and for
John.’ Then I whip my son, Charles; and I do not spare him. I whip him just as if he were
John Jones, just as if he had broken the rule himself.
When the whipping is over, I say to some scholar, ‘Go and tell John Jones I have nothing
against him – nothing at all. And ask him to come and give me his hand.’ This breaks
John Jones up, and he comes forward in tears and says, ‘I didn’t know you loved me that
much! I thank you from my heart!’
Now he is reconciled from his side to me. But you see I reconciled him to myself first. I had to
deal with his disobedience, or be myself unrighteous.’”