Reconcile, Reconciliation - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

Reconcile, Reconciliation

[ A-1,Verb,G2644, katallasso ]
properly denotes to change, exchange" (especially of money); hence, of persons, "to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile." With regard to the relationship between God and man, the use of this and connected words shows that primarily "reconciliation" is what God accomplishes, exercising His grace towards sinful man on the ground of the death of Christ in propitiatory sacrifice under the judgment due to sin, 2 Corinthians 5:19, where both the verb and the noun are used (cp. No. 2, in Colossians 1:21). By reason of this men in their sinful condition and alienation from God are invited to be "reconciled" to Him; that is to say, to change their attitude, and accept the provision God had made, whereby thier sins can be remitted and they themselves be justified in His sight in Christ.

Romans 5:10 expresses this in another way: "For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son...;" that we were "enemies" not only expresses man's hostile attitude to God but signifies that until this change of attitude takes place men are under condemnation, exposed to God's wrath. The death of His Son is the means of the removal of this, and thus we "receive the reconciliation," Romans 5:11, RV. This stresses the attitude of God's favor toward us. The AV rendering "atonement" is incorrect. Atonement is the offering itself of Christ under Divine judgment upon sin. We do not receive atonement. What we do receive is the result, namely, "reconciliation."

The removal of God's wrath does not contravene His immutability. He always acts according to His unchanging righteousness and lovingkindness, and it is because He changes not that His relative attitude does change towards those who change. All His acts show that He is Light and Love. Anger, where there is no personal element, is a sign of moral health if, and if only, it is accompanied by grief. There can be truest love along with righteous indignation, Mark 3:5, but love and enmity cannot exist together. It is important to distinguish "wrath" and "hostility." The change in God's relative attitude toward those who receive the "reconciliation" only proves His real unchangeableness. Not once is God said to be "reconciled." The enmity is alone on our part. It was we who needed to be "reconciled" to God, not God to us, and it is propitiation, which His righteousness and mercy have provided, that makes the "reconciliation" possible to those who receive it.

When the writers of the NT speak upon the subject of the wrath of God, "the hostility is represented not as on the part of God, but of man. And this is the reason why the Apostle never uses diallasso [a word used only in Matthew 5:24, in the NT] in this connection, but always katallasso, because the former word denotes mutual concession after mutual hostility [frequently exemplified in the Sept.], an idea absent from katallasso" (Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of Paul, p. 288).

The subject finds its great unfolding in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, which states that God "reconciled us (believers) to Himself through Christ," and that "the ministry of reconciliation" consists in this, "that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." The insertion of a comma in the AV after the word "Christ" is misleading; the doctrine stated here is not that God was in Christ (the unity of the Godhead is not here in view), but that what God has done in the matter of reconciliation He has done in Christ, and this is based upon the fact that "Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." On this ground the command to men is "be ye reconciled to God."

The verb is used elsewhere in 1 Corinthians 7:11, of a woman returning to her husband.

[ A-2,Verb,G604, apokatallasso ]
"to reconcile completely" (apo, from, and No. 1), a stronger form of No. 1, "to change from one condition to another," so as to remove all enmity and leave no impediment to unity and peace, is used in Ephesians 2:16, of the "reconciliation" of believing Jew and Gentile "in one body unto God through the Cross;" in Colossians 1:21 not the union of Jew and Gentile is in view, but the change wrought in the individual believer from alienation and enmity, on account of evil works, to "reconciliation" with God; in Colossians 1:20 the word is used of the Divine purpose to "reconcile" through Christ "all things unto Himself ... whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens," the basis of the change being the peace effected "through the blood of His Cross." It is the Divine purpose, on the ground of the work of Christ accomplished on the Cross, to bring the whole universe, except rebellious angels and unbelieving man, into full accord with the mind of God, Ephesians 1:10. Things "under the earth," Philippians 2:10, are subdued, not "reconciled."

[ A-3,Verb,G1259, diallasso ]
"to effect an alteration, to exchange," and hence, "to reconcile," in cases of mutual hostility yielding to mutual concession, and thus differing from No. 1 (under which See Lightfoot's remarks), is used in the Passive Voice in Matthew 5:24, which illustrates the point. There is no such idea as "making it up" where God and man are concerned.

[ B-1,Noun,G2643, katallage ]
akin to A, No. 1, primarily "an exchange," denotes "reconciliation," a change on the part of one party, induced by an action on the part of another; in the NT, the "reconciliation" of men to God by His grace and love in Christ. The word is used in Romans 5:11; Romans 11:15. The occasioning cause of the world-wide proclamation of "reconciliation" through the Gospel, was the casting away (partially and temporarily) of Israel. A new relationship Godward is offered to the Gentiles in the Gospel. The word also occurs in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, where "the ministry of reconciliation" and "the word of reconciliation" are not the ministry of teaching the doctrine of expiation, but that of beseeching men to be "reconciled" to God on the ground of what God has wrought in Christ. See No. 1, above.

Note: In the OT in some passages the AV incorrectly has "reconciliation," the RV rightly changes the translation to "atonement," e.g., Leviticus 8:15; Ezekiel 45:20, RV, "make atonement for" (AV, "reconcile").

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words