God's Kingdom Ministries
Serious Bible Study



Part 1: Salvation: Chapter 4: What is Reconciliation?

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says,

18 Now all these things are of God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 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. 20 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.

We are ambassadors of the Kingdom who have been given a message to convey to the world. The world has been fighting against God, making them enemies in a war. The sin of the world created an offense to God through Adam, but the last Adam (Christ) has paid the penalty for the sin of the world, satisfying the demands of justice in the law, and removing the cause of this war.

For this reason, He has been sending ambassadors to the world to convey the message of reconciliation, “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” This was a one-sided conciliation, and the message is designed to convince the world to respond in kind—“be reconciled to God.”

Conciliation and Reconciliation

There are two words translated “reconciliation”: katallasso and apokatallasso. In 2 Cor. 5, Paul uses katallasso, “conciliation,” a one-sided initiative that God has taken by sending His Son to die on the cross. If and when God’s enemies respond in kind, it creates a “reconciliation” (apokatallasso), where both parties stop fighting. As ambassadors, we carry the word of conciliation, letting them know the Good News that God’s justice has been satisfied.

In other words, the world was saved by Christ’s death on the cross. It is an accomplished fact, even though the outworking of this event takes a long time to be completed. Most people will not be reconciled in their lifetime, but they will certainly be reconciled in the ages to come. This fact is no longer in question; only the timing is now a factor.

Apokatallasso, “reconciliation” (of Jew and Gentile) is a term used in Eph. 2:14-16,

14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 … so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile [apokatallasso] them both in one body to God through the cross, by having put to death the enmity.

Paul sees conflict between the two groups, but he says that Christ “is our peace” and has made “the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.” There is no more “enmity” in this matter, because Christ has made the two into one body. The dividing wall in the temple, which separated Jewish men from Gentiles and woman, has been torn down through Christ. Equal access to God has been established. Jews have no advantage over non-Jews (and women) in God’s Kingdom.

Speaking of the ultimate reconciliation between God and His creation, Paul again uses the term apokatallasso in Col.1:20-22, saying,

20 and through Him [Christ] to reconcile [apokatallasso] all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.

Paul was writing to the church, reminding them how “hostile in mind” they had been prior to their conciliation with God. Yet they had repented and had ended their hostility. Therefore, they were now reconciled (apokatallasso), because they had accepted God’s peace proposal. Paul taught that all of creation (vs. 16) would respond to the message of Christ’s conciliation and thereby be reconciled before the divine plan was completed.

The Love of God

Sinners need justification; enemies need reconciliation. Both were accomplished by the love of God through Christ’s death on the cross. Rom. 5:8-11 says,

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled [“conciliated”] to God through the death of His son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation [“conciliation”].

Love is God’s motive, conciliation is the foundation, reconciliation is the goal. Paul tells us that divine love is greater than love that is found among men. Men love those who are worthy; God loves mankind “while we are yet sinners.” Hence, He took the initiative by sending Christ to conciliate us, and His power and zeal (determination) makes it a certainty that He will succeed in reconciling the world to Himself.

His infinite wisdom devised a plan that would succeed in satisfying His love-nature, for how could a God of love be satisfied with only a tiny fraction of creation being reconciled to Him? Would not such loss be painful to Him for eternity?