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Theology > Salvation > Work of Salvation > Justification > Reconciliation


All religious sentiment of man is predicated on the need for man to be on good terms with nature, unseen forces, the gods, or the one supreme God, the God of the Bible. Man was made for fellowship with God, and in one sense or another most individuals would admit a sense of being unworthy and the accompanying need for appeasing, according to their understanding, the higher power or powers, hence the universal offering of homage, alms, good deeds, and even sacrifice in order to overcome the perceived alienation. Man is driven to feel good about himself since he knows something is wrong.

From the Biblical perspective the alienation is real, and it is because of the enmity between the one and only God who is thrice holy and the man He created. When man turned from God unity between God and man was destroyed, therefore, the need of man is to be reconciled to God. The incident in the Garden was real and has real consequences to this day.

Reconciliation is creating harmony between the ones who are alienated from each other; it is the establishing of peace between God and man. Hostility is removed in order that a relationship might be realized, and the relationship replaces enmity or estrangement, resulting in unity or reconciliation between God and man.

In reconciliation there is a past and a present dimension; both are affirmed in Rom. 5:10: “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Note the past and the present sense: “we were reconciled” and “we are reconciled.” The past act results in a present state.

The believer receives the state of reconciliation and then lives in that state. In the Greek New Testament both the noun and verb speak of reconciliation:

The noun is katallagā, meaning “to be put into friendship” or “to be reconciled”; the word speaks of a thorough change, the state; the noun appears four times in Gr. NT; found in Rom. 5:11; 11:15; II Cor. 5:18, 19; in Rom. 5:11 it is transl. “atonement” in KJV; in the NKJV “reconciliation” is used consistently.

The verb is katallassō, “to put into fellowship” or “to reconcile”;  appears six times in the Gr. NT, twice in Rom. 5:10 and in I Cor. 7:11; II Cor. 5:18, 19, 20.

In another sense reconciliation is a reference to Christ’s work on the cross. Paul writes: “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11)—reconciliation is received through Christ. In II Corinthians Paul states: “God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ” (5:18). God is the Reconciler because only God can reconcile, and He accomplishes reconciliation in and through Christ.

And this accomplishment of Christ has been given as a responsibility to the recipient of reconciliation. Paul reveals that God has given to the believer “the ministry of reconciliation” and “the word of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:18-19). The Gospel must be preached.

To be justified is to be reconciled; to be reconciled is to be justified (Rom. 5:9-11). These two words speak of a single act from different perspectives, that is, the words speak of two aspects of the same event. To be reconciled the sinner must be justified, and justification manifests its reality in reconciliation.

The individual who is reconciled to God has a basis by which he is also able to be reconciled to fellow believers.

We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Rom. 5:11

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