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Reconciliation refers to the re-establishment of the peaceful relationship between God and humans which had been broken because of the Fall of Adam and Eve and personal sin.

Reconciliation is described as the removal of the causes of God and humans being enemies and the restoration of the Father-son and Master-servant relationship which humans originally had with Him.


Reconciliation explained


The New Testament teaching of reconciliation refers to two parties, who originally had a good relationship but then became enemies, re-establishing a good harmonious relationship. Originally Adam and Eve had a close relationship to God. Then they decided to turn to self-rule and sin thereby rejecting God (see Genesis 3:1-7). As a result, Adam and Eve were spiritually cut off from God, and He, them and their descendants became enemies (see Romans 5:10).

Colossians 1:21 reveals our evil behaviour caused us to become alienated from Him and His enemy: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” The unsaved love sin and wickedness, but God hates these things. This causes them and Him to be enemies. Isaiah 59:1-2 shows our sins before conversion separated us from God: “…But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”


Our reconciliation to God is only possible because of Christ's death


Romans Chapters 1 to 3 emphasise that sin results in God’s righteous anger against us. But God had a brilliant way of reconciling Himself to us and thereby giving us the opportunity to choose to be reconciled to Him, without Him condoning any of our past, present or future wicked actions. This was through the death of Jesus Christ.

In Romans 5:9-10, Paul says our reconciliation to God occurred because of the death of His Son: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when 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.” Here our reconciliation to God is linked to firstly having been justified or declared righteous by God and saved from God’s wrath through Jesus Christ's death.

We need a revelation of how the enormous difference between God’s holiness and sinless perfection and our selfishness and sin resulted in our being His enemies before we were converted. Then we can far more easily understand the wonderful reconciliation between God and ourselves which has been provided by Jesus’ death.

In the present age when sin and various evils are taken so lightly, most humans cannot even slightly understand why they cannot have a relationship or friendship with God without Jesus’ death.

Ephesians 2:14-18 says: “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Notice these verses reveal:


·         the Law of Moses with its moral commandments and regulations put a barrier or a dividing wall of hostility between God and ourselves. Our disobediences to God’s Law have resulted in a just sentence of condemnation being declared against us (see Romans 3:19-20).

·         the death of God’s Son has enabled God to not have to be hostile or angry towards us because of our sins.

·         Jesus’ death has removed all obstacles to our having direct access to God through His Holy Spirit.


God acted first


Do not think the Biblical teaching of reconciliation means humans took the initiative and found a way of reconciling themselves to God. God’s standards are so high that even one disobedience to His commandments is enough to condemn us eternally (see Galatians 3:10 and James 2:10). So no human could ever reconcile themselves to God.

Also, Romans 5:18-19 reveals Adam’s sin resulted in every one of his descendants being born as sinners and a sentence of eternal condemnation being pronounced by God the Supreme Ruler and Judge on all of them: “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation…For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners…”

It is impossible for us to reconcile ourselves to God. We have no way of having His perfectly just judgement of ourselves changed and no way of changing our sinful natures.

Humans could not reconcile themselves to God by even sincerely saying to Him, “I no longer regard you as my enemy. I now will accept you as my partner, friend and Lord. I wish to negotiate with you and get rid of our differences.”

Neither could just feeling sorry for their sins and turning from them alone bring about reconciliation with God.

Reconciliation had to be initiated by God. He could, however, never justly bring about a reconciliation of humans to Himself without finding a means by which the due penalty for their sin – death – was paid for by a sinless human for them. 2 Corinthians 5:19 stresses it was God who was reconciling others to Himself through Jesus Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Paul says: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them…” This reconciliation by God was not done by Him lowering His standards of holiness and justice, by merely forgiving sins without some innocent person carrying the punishment deserved for these sins.

Romans 3:25 reveals God’s perfect justice was displayed on the Cross when He punished God the Son in place of ourselves: “whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness…” The Cross of Jesus Christ was therefore both:


·         an act of God’s justice and judgement against our sins.

·         an act of God’s enormous love and mercy towards us.


So through the Cross of His Son, God found a means by which He could remain perfectly just and holy without compromising in even the smallest way with sin, while at the same time being able to reconcile humans, whom He has always loved, to Himself. In Jesus’ death, the barrier created by our sins was removed, God’s perfectly righteous standards were upheld and His righteous anger against all sin was expressed.


A perfect Mediator reconciling two enemies


1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 8:6, 9:15 and 12:24 speak of Jesus being the mediator. 1 Timothy 2:5 says: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” God gave Jesus the role of being mediator between God and humans – two enemies – in order to reconcile them to each other.

As God, Jesus represented God to humans and as a human, Jesus represented humans to God in this process of reconciliation.

Jesus perfectly understood the attitudes of both God and humans about each other. This is because He is both fully God and fully human. Jesus also paid the price Himself to bring about the restoration in the relationship between these two enemies. Jesus is therefore the one and only mediator between God and humans.


A perfect example of loving your enemies


Reconciliation is an example of God practicing what He commands. He commands us to “Love our enemies” in Matthew 5:44. God loved His human enemies so much He went to the extraordinary length of being willing to suffer terribly when dying on a Cross. Even though humans by nature are hostile to the real God and what He stands for (but not necessarily to pagan gods), He was willing to have His Son treated as a condemned criminal in order to provide the basis of reconciliation between Himself and them.


Relevant Greek words


The main words used in the original Greek New Testament for reconciliation are:


1.       “katallasso” which means “to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile”. [1] This word is used in Romans 5:10, 1 Corinthians 7:11, 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 and 20.

2.       “apokatallasso”  which means “to reconcile completely, to change from one condition to another so as to remove all enmity and leave no impediment to unity and peace”. [2] This word is found in Ephesians 2:16, Colossians 1:20 and 21.

3.       “katallage” which is defined as “an exchange, reconciliation, a change on the part of one party induced by an action on the part of another”. [3] This word is located in Romans 11:15, 2 Corinthians 5:18 and 19.


Bible Study Questions


1.       What does reconciliation between God and humans mean?

2.       Why are unsaved humans and God enemies?

3.       What historical event made the reconciliation of humans and God possible?

4.       What does Ephesians 2:14-18 teach?

5.       Why was it not possible for fallen humans to reconcile themselves to God?

6.       How was God able to reconcile sinful humans to Himself without lowering His standards of holiness and justice?

7.       What does 1 Timothy 2:5 mean when it says the Man Jesus Christ is the Mediator between God and humans?

8.       Why is reconciliation an example of God loving His enemies?


[1] Vine, page 513.

[2] Ibid, page 514.

[3] Ibid, pages 514-515.

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