What Does the Bible Really Say About Reconciliation?

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The Bible teaches that reconciliation is the process of bringing two parties who were separated or in conflict back into a state of harmony and unity. This can happen on a personal level, such as reconciling with a friend or family member, or on a larger scale, such as reconciling nations or groups of people.

In the New Testament, the concept of reconciliation is closely tied to the message of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to bring reconciliation between God and humanity, which was made possible through his death on the cross. He reconciled us to God by taking upon himself the punishment for our sins so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God. This reconciliation is offered to all people, regardless of their background or circumstances, and is available to anyone who believes in Jesus and repents of their sins.

The Bible also teaches that Christians are called to be reconciled to one another and to work towards reconciliation in the world. In Colossians 1:20, it says, “And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” This verse teaches that Jesus has reconciled all things to himself through his death on the cross and that we are called to be ambassadors of that reconciliation in the world.

In the book of Romans, Paul writes about the importance of reconciling with one another, saying, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24). This passage shows that reconciliation is important not just for the sake of the other person but also for our own spiritual well-being.

How to Interpret the Bible-1

Overall, the Bible teaches that reconciliation is an essential part of the Christian life, and that it is made possible through the work of Jesus on the cross. It is through his sacrifice that we can be reconciled to God and to one another, and it is our responsibility to work towards reconciliation in the world.

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 140 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

To reconcile means to “restore to friendship or harmony.”[1] The Greek katallasso means, “‘to reconcile.’ It is related to the Greek word, allasso, which means, “to change, exchange” (6x in the NT: Acts 6:14; Rom 1:23; 1 Cor. 15:51–52; Gal 4:20; Heb. 1:12).”[2] In the New Testament, katallasso “is a theological term describing the removal of enmity between humans and God (Rom. 5:10 [2x], 2 Cor. 5:18, 19, 20); it occurs only once in reference to human relationships (1 Cor. 7:11, husband/wife; it is significant that marriage is the relationship chosen for the use of this word). In biblical thought, God reconciles humans to himself through the death of his Son (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18–20).”[3]

Reconciliation to God

The Greek word katallage in the New Testament is used “for our ‘reconciliation’ with God, which has taken place through Christ’s blood (Rom. 5:11). It is, therefore, a work of God in that he is the one who removes the enmity between himself and humanity (2 Cor. 5:18–19). This divine act does require a response of faith from the human beings. This is why Paul admonishes his readers to ‘be reconciled to God’ (2 Cor. 5:20; see reconcile). The majority of Jews made reconciliation available to all people because of their rejection of Christ (Rom. 11:15). Now this is not to say that non-Jews were never going to benefit from the ransom as that was already part of the will and purposes of God from Genesis 3:15 forward. Such removal of enmity between God and the human race should lead to missionary zeal–to our being Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20).”[4]

The apostle Paul tells us why reconciliation to God is needed when he writes, “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12, ESV) Since Adam and Eve rebelled and were expelled from the Garden of Eden, there has been this alienation between man and God, a separation, a lack of harmony with God’s personality, standards, ways, and will. In fact, humanity has been in a state of hostility toward God. Paul wrote, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:7-8, ESV) When Paul says “those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” he is not referring to literal human flesh, as this is the very condition in which he created humans. Paul’s use of “flesh” here is a reference to our fallen condition as imperfect humans with inherited sinful tendencies.

The Holman New Testament Commentary on Romans tells us, “Here, in a different language, is Paul’s contrast between the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:19–23. He lists the deeds and the fruit in Galatians; here he explains from whence they arise. The mind of a human being can be set upon only one thing–either the desires of the flesh or the Spirit. The new way of life in the Spirit makes it possible for the mind of the believer to be set upon what the Spirit desires. Here is what Paul states, implicitly and explicitly, about the two kinds of people he is describing:”

  Those Who Live in Accordance with the Flesh Those Who Live in Accordance with the Spirit
What they think about doing Minds are set on the desires of the flesh Minds are set on the desires of the Spirit
Ultimate end Leads to death Leads to life and peace
Attitude toward God Hostile toward God Receptive toward God
Attitude toward God’s standards Does not submit to God’s law Seeks to fulfill God’s law
Ability to keep God’s standards Unable to submit to God’s law Able to submit to God’s law
Ability to please God Cannot please God Able to please God

Boa and Kruidenier go on to say that “Paul is not defining two categories of people here: Christians versus non-Christians, or Spirit-filled Christians versus “carnal” Christians. Rather, he is using the opposite extremes of the spectrum to illustrate two ways of living life in God’s world. One way is to live it according to the desires and directives of the flesh, a way that produces hostility toward God and ultimately death. The other way is to live life according to the desires of God as revealed and empowered by his Holy Spirit [a laid out in the Word of God], a way that leads to life and peace.”[5]


The enmity that exists is because God is perfect and his standards for his human creation are perfect, and God cannot condone simply because we are now living in imperfection. The Psalmist tells us that the Father ‘does not delight in wickedness, and evil cannot dwell with him.’ He goes on to state that ‘righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne. (Psa. 5:4; 89:14) The apostle Paul tells us that the Son has “loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” (Heb. 1:9) Yes, it is true that God is love” and ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, hat whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’ (1 John 4:8, 16; John 3:16) Nevertheless, humanity as a whole remains at odds toward God. Moreover, the love of the whole world of humankind alienated from God is a principled love (Gr agape) as opposed to affection or friendship (Gr philia). – See James 4:4

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS Young Christians

The author of 2 Samuel tells us, “As for God, his way is perfect.” (22:31, ASV) Moses tells us, “‘The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.’” (Deut. 32:4, ESV) King David says, “Jehovah is merciful, and merciful; slow to anger and of great lovingkindness.” (Psa. 45:8) The apostle tells us “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us.” (Eph. 2:4, ESV) David further said, “God does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who [have reverential] fear [of] him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psa. 103:10-12, ESV) One thing that we need to realize is, God does not tolerate or view sin favorably, which is contrary to, his personality, standards, ways, and will. Thus, God does not set aside justice so that he can be merciful. A Biblical and Theological Dictionary makes the correct observation, “That [the] relation[ship between God and imperfect man] is a legal one, as that of a sovereign in his judicial capacity, and a criminal who has violated his laws and risen up against his authority, and who is, therefore, treated as an enemy.” (Watson 1832, 808) Imperfect man finds himself in this situation because of his inheriting sin and death from his father, Adam. The dictionary further says, “by the infection of sin ‘the carnal mind is enmity to God,’ that human nature is malignantly hostile to God and to the control of law; but this is far from expressing the whole of that relationship of man in which, in Scripture, he is said to be at enmity with God, and so to need a reconciliation, the making of peace between God and him.” (p. 807) The reconciliation is a renewing of peace between God and man but it is man be reconciled to God not God to man.


Foundation for Reconciliation

Again, reconciliation is “to reestablish proper friendly interpersonal relations after these have been disrupted or broken (the componential features of this series of meanings involve (1) disruption of friendly relations because of (2) presumed or real provocation, (3) overt behavior designed to remove hostility, and (4) restoration of original friendly relations)—‘to reconcile, to make things right with one another, reconciliation.’”[6] In order for man to be reconciled to God, this is the direct result of the Father offering his Son as a ransom sacrifice, making full reconciliation possible. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV) Jesus is “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2, ESV) John did not mean that Jesus ransom is going to cover everyone’s sin, so all receive salvation but rather his ransom sacrifice is available for all to accept. John goes on to write, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10, ESV) Jesus death served as a propitiatory sacrifice (hilasmos), which means an “appeasement necessitated by sin, expiation [The cancellation of sin, appeasing divine wrath].[7] Propitiation [is a] “reference to the idea that Christ’s atonement satisfies the wrath of God.”[8] Propitiation “is never used of any act whereby man brings God into a favorable attitude or gracious disposition. It is God who is “propitiated” by the vindication of His holy and righteous character, whereby through the provision He has made in the vicarious and expiatory sacrifice of Christ, He has so dealt with sin that He can show mercy to the believing sinner in the removal of his guilt and the remission of his sins.”[9] So, what was appeased or satisfied? The ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ appeased or satisfied, the legal request of God’s perfect justice by making available the just and righteous basis for forgiving sin, so that God might “show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” – Romans 3:24-26, ESV.

Ephesians 1:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

The Holman New Testament Commentary offers the following on Ephesians 1:7, “to be redeemed means to be “bought back.” It carries with it the sense of being released from slavery. By being redeemed by Christ, we are freed from sin, both the penalty and the enslaving power. This redemption was accomplished by the death of Christ on the cross where he shed his blood and died to secure our redemption. His death paid the price for our release from sin and death. Forgiveness goes hand in hand with redemption. We cannot have one without the other. To forgive means to give up the right to punish someone for a transgression. Making forgiveness possible was a major accomplishment in God’s eyes, since it required the sacrifice of blood and the death of his Son, Jesus. This magnanimous decision to do this for us grew out of God’s grace which he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”[10]


Hebrews 2:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 Therefore, he was obligated to be made like his brothers in all respects, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Thomas D. Lea tells us “Jesus had a complete, perfect humanity. We read two reasons for the incarnation of Christ. First, the incarnation allowed Christ to become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. Jesus’ own suffering allowed him to be sympathetic to others and thus to show mercy. He demonstrated his faithfulness by remaining steadfast to the end without flinching. Jesus was completely trustworthy in everything God called him to do. A second reason for the incarnation was that Jesus might make atonement for the sins of the people. Jesus’ death handled the personal sins of all human beings. Jesus did in reality what the Old Testament sacrificial ritual could only do in symbols. It was not that Jesus’ death satisfied the angry demands of a peevish God. The truth is that God himself provided the payment for our sins because of his ever-abiding love (Rom. 5:8).”[11] There are at least two additional reasons why Jesus came to earth as a man. (1) Jesus specifically said, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” (John 18:37) (2) The apostle Peter tells us “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21, ESV)

God, through his Son made it possible “to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross.” In doing so, those, ‘who once were alienated and enemies in their minds, doing evil works, has now been reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present them holy and blameless and above reproach before him.’ (Col 1:19-22) The apostle Paull tells us, “Through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” (Ac 13:38-39) Paul tells the Christians in Rome,

Romans 5:9-10; 8:32-33 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

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 to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him over for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring charges against God’s chosen ones? God is the one who justifies;

If we are to be truly forgiven of our Adamic sin, namely, our inherited sin, and any sin we make commit while in human imperfection, we must repent and ask for forgiveness. Even, though, it is the Christian, who is repenting, turning to God, he must realize it is not his insight, his goodness but rather God who is drawing him. By the Word of God, the unbeliever will come to recognize that he needs to be forgiven, which can only come by and through Christ’s atonement sacrifice. Christians, while they are still in imperfection, suffering from human weaknesses, sin-laden flesh, they can still be declared righteous (namely, credited righteousness) because of the merits of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ being applied on their behalf. They then have a righteous, uncondemned standing before God. The Father has given Christians the most precious gift he could, his own begotten Son for his worshipers. God can declare righteous all who accept his Son, Jesus Christ. They will become new persons, who are at peace with God. (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10) How is it possible for persons such as Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and others from pre-Christian times to be reconciled to God and declared righteous, when they died before Jesus’ ransom sacrifice? The apostle Paul writes, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts.” (Heb. 11:4-5, NASB) James writes, “The Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.’” (Jam. 2:23, NASB) Even John the Baptist died before Jesus had offered himself as a ransom sacrifice. If God had already dealt with these ones and blessed, why would they need reconciliation by means of Jesus’ sacrifice? Let us first take an excursion to look at how they were declared righteous.

How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1

Declared Righteous Excursion

The Hebrew verb tsaddiq, which is related to tsedeq; means just, righteous.[12] “Jehovah is righteous (tsaddiq) in all his ways and loyal in all his works.” (Ps 145:17; See Ex. 23:7; Deut. 25:1) The Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains says, “righteous, upright, just, i.e., pertaining to being a person in accordance with a proper standard (Ge 18:23, 24(2×),25(2×),26, 28); 2. LN 88.289–88.318 innocent, guiltless, i.e., pertaining to not having sin or wrongdoing according to a just standard (Ex 23:7).[13] This Biblical expression is characterized by his actions and morals. In the New Testament, we have the Greek verb dikaioo, which means, “‘to declare righteous, justify.’ This word is prominent in Paul’s letters, containing 27 of the 39x (about 70%).”[14]

On being righteous, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words has,

  1. Verb.

tsadaq (צָדַק, 6663), “to be righteous, be in the right, be justified, be just.” This verb, which occurs fewer than 40 times in biblical Hebrew, is derived from the noun tsedeq. Nowhere is the issue of righteousness more appropriate than in the problem of the suffering of the righteous presented to us in Job, where the verb occurs 17 times. Apart from the Book of Job the frequency of tsadaq in the various books is small. The first occurrence of the verb is in Gen. 38:26, where Judah admits that Tamar was just in her demands: “She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son.”

The basic meaning of tsadaq is “to be righteous.” It is a legal term which involves the whole process of justice. God “is righteous” in all of His relations, and in comparison with Him man is not righteous: “Shall mortal man be more just [righteous] than God?” (Job 4:17). In a derived sense, the case presented may be characterized as a just cause in that all facts indicate that the person is to be cleared of all charges. Isaiah called upon the nations to produce witnesses who might testify that their case was right: “Let them bring forth their witnesses that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth” (43:9). Job was concerned about his case and defended it before his friends: “… Though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge” (9:15). Tsadaq may also be used to signify the outcome of the verdict, when a man is pronounced “just” and is judicially cleared of all charges. Job believed that the Lord would ultimately vindicate him against his opponents (Job 13:18).

In its causative pattern, the meaning of the verb brings out more clearly the sense of a judicial pronouncement of innocence: “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify [tsadaq] the righteous [tsaddiq], and condemn the wicked” (Deut. 25:1). The Israelites were charged with upholding righteousness in all areas of life. When the court system failed became of corruption, the wicked were falsely “justified” and the poor were robbed of justice because of trumped-up charges. Absalom, thus, gained a large following by promising justice to the landowner (2 Sam. 15:4). God, however, assured Israel that justice would be done in the end: “Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked” (Exod. 23:6-7). The righteous person followed God’s example. The psalmist exhorts his people to change their judicial system: “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy” (Ps. 82:3).

Job’s ultimate hope was in God’s declaration of justification. The Old Testament is in agreement with this hope. When injustice prevails, God is the One who “justifies.”

The Septuagint translates the verb by dikaiao (“to do justice, justly, to vindicate”). In the English versions a frequent translation is “to justify” (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV); modern versions also give the additional translations “to be vindicated (RSV, NASB, NIV) and “to acquit” (RSV, NIV).

  1. Nouns.

tsedeq (צֶדֶק, 6664); tsedaqah (צֶדֶק, 6666), “righteousness.” These nouns come from a Semitic root which occurs in Hebrew, Phoenician and Aramaic with a juristic sense. In Phoenician and Old Aramaic it carries the sense of “loyalty” demonstrated by a king or priest as a servant of his own god. In these languages a form of the root is combined with other words or names, particularly with the name of a deity in royal names. In the Old Testament we meet the name Melchizedek (“king of righteousness”). A more limited meaning of the root is found in Arabic (a South Semitic language): “truthfulness” (of propositions). In rabbinic Hebrew the noun tsedaqah signifies “alms” or “demonstrations of mercy.”

The word tsedaqah, which occurs 157 times, is found throughout the Old Testament (except for Exodus, Leviticus, 2 Kings, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah). Tsedeq, which occurs 119 times, is found mainly in poetic literature. The first usage of sedeq is: “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor” (Lev. 19:15); and of tsedaqah is: “[Abram] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6).

Translators have found it difficult to translate these two words. The older translations base their understanding on the Septuagint with the translation dikaiosune (“righteousness”) and on the Vulgate iustitia (“justice”). In these translations, the legal relationship of humans is transferred to God in an absolute sense as the Lawgiver and with the perfections of justice and “righteousness.”

Exegetes have spilled much ink in an attempt to understand contextually the words tsedeq and tsedaqah. The conclusions of the researchers indicate a twofold significance. On the one hand, the relationships among people and of a man to his God can be described as tsedeq, supposing the parties are faithful to each other’s expectations. It is a relational word. In Jacob’s proposal to Laban, Jacob used the word tsedaqah to indicate the relationship. The KJV gives the following translation of tsedaqah: “So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face …” (Gen. 30:33). The NASB gives the word “righteousness” in a marginal note, but prefers the word “honesty” in the text itself. The NEB reads “fair offer” instead. Finally, the NIV has: “And my honesty [tsedaqah] will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me.” On the other hand “righteousness” as an abstract or as the legal status of a relationship is also present in the Old Testament. The locus classicus is Gen. 15:6: “… And he [the Lord] counted it to him [Abraham] for righteousness.”

Regrettably, in a discussion of the dynamic versus the static sense of the word, one or the other wins out, though both elements are present. The books of Psalms and of the prophets particularly use the sense of “righteousness” as a state; cf. “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged” (Isa. 51:1); and “My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust” (Isa. 51:5). The neb exhibits this tension between dynamic and static in the translation of tsedeq: “My victory [instead of righteousness] is near, my deliverance has gone forth and my arm shall rule the nations; for me coasts and islands shall wait and they shall look to me for protection” (Isa. 51:5). Thus, in the discussion of the two nouns below the meanings lie between the dynamic and the static.

Tsedeq and tsedaqah are legal terms signifying justice in conformity with the legal corpus (the Law; Deut. 16:20), the judicial process (Jer. 22:3), the justice of the king as judge (1 Kings 10:9; Ps. 119:121; Prov. 8:15), and also the source of justice, God Himself: “Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.… And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long” (Ps. 35:24, 28).

The word “righteousness” also embodies all that God expects of His people. The verbs associated with “righteousness” indicate the practicality of this concept. One judges, deals, sacrifices, and speaks righteously; and one learns, teaches, and pursues after righteousness. Based upon a special relationship with God, the Old Testament saint asked God to deal righteously with him: “Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son” (Ps. 72:1).

The Septuagint gives the following translations: dikaios (“those who are upright, just, righteous, conforming to God’s laws”); dikalosune (“righteousness; uprightness”); and eleemosune (“land deed; alms; charitable giving”). The KJV gives the senses “righteousness; justice.”

  1. Adjective.

tsaddiq (צַדִּיק, 6662), “righteous; just.” This adjectival form occurs 206 times in biblical Hebrew. In Old Aramaic the adjective signifies “loyalty” of a king or high priest to his personal god, often represented by a gift to the god. Similarly in Phoenician, the noun and adjective apply to the loyal relationship of the king before the gods. The word is used of God in Exod. 9:27: “I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.” Tsaddiq is used of a nation in Gen. 20:4: “… And he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?”[15]

Over 4,000 years before the arrival of Jesus Christ, clear back in the Garden of Eden, Adan was perfect, righteous according to God’s standards, in fact, “the son of God” at the time. (Lu 3:38, NASB) Moses was inspired to tell us, “God saw everything that he had made [including Adam], and behold; it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31, ESV) Adam was righteous by virtue of the fact that the God had created him. Sadly, Adam willfully chose to rebel against God, failing to maintain his righteous standing, as well as all future offspring. – Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 5:12.

However, not all was lost, as God has allowed time to settle the issues rose in the Garden of Eden by Satan’s challenges and Adam’s action. Some of Adam’s descendants have proven to be great men and women of faith. The first great man of faith was Abel. (Heb. 11:4, ESV) Then, we are told, “Enoch walked with God,” (Gen. 5:22, ESV) Moreover, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” (Gen. 6:9, ESV) God himself said of Noah, “I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.” (Gen 7:1, ESV) Then, “there was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1, 8, ESV) Of Abraham and Rahab, James, the half-brother of Jesus was inspired to tells us of how both place their trust in God, when few others were, moving God to declare them righteous, although imperfect.

James 2:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working together with his works, and by the works the faith was perfected;[16] 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness,”[17] and he was called a friend of God.

James 2:25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

In Paul’s letter to the Romans (quoting Genesis 15:6), he speaks of how Abraham’s ‘faith was credited to him as righteousness.’

Romans 4:3-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For what does the Scripture say?  “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not credited as a gift but as his due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

Romans 4:9-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Is this blessing then on the circumcised,[18] or on the uncircumcised[19] also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” 10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised,[20] or uncircumcised?[21] Not while circumcised,[22] but while uncircumcised;[23] 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised,[24] so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,

We can better understand the expression ‘faith was credited to him as righteousness.’ by considering the sense of the Greek verb logizomai, rendered as “credited” (LEB, HCSB, NASB (1995), UASV) or “counted” (KJV, ESV) or “reckoned” (ASV, YLT). It means, “To keep records of commercial accounts, involving both debits and credits–‘to put into one’s account, to charge one’s account, to regard as an account.’”[25]

Logizomai “is used of love in 1 Cor. 13:5, as not taking ‘account’ of evil, RV (KJV, ‘thinketh’). In 2 Cor. 3:5 the apostle uses it in repudiation of the idea that he and fellow-servants of God are so self-sufficient as to ‘account anything’ (RV) as from themselves (KJV, ‘think’), i.e., as to attribute anything to themselves. Cf. 12:6. In 2 Tim. 4:16 it is used of laying to a person’s ‘account’ (RV) as a charge against him (KJV, ‘charge’).”[26]


Looking at the Bible background, we see that “Paul reads [Genesis 15:6] contextually as dependence on God’s promise and stresses the word “reckon” (NASB, [1971]) or “credit” (NIV), a bookkeeping term used in ancient business document for crediting payment to one’s account.” (Keener 1993, 422) Clinton E. Arnold writes, “In order to capture Abraham for his own teaching about the righteousness of faith, Paul seizes on the crucial text of Genesis 15:6 (see also Gal. 3:6). In the Genesis story, Abraham’s faith is specifically his conviction that God would send him a natural descendant (Gen. 15:4–5). But this promise of a son born to him and Sarah represents the whole promise of God to Abraham. Critical to Paul’s citation of the passage is the idea of “crediting” (Gk. logizomai + eis). The Hebrew construction does not indicate that Abraham’s faith was itself a righteous deed (as some Jews interpreted the text), but that his faith was the means by which God graciously gave Abraham the status of righteousness. Paul seizes on this notion and plays on it throughout Romans 4. This ‘crediting’ was on the basis of faith, not works—a matter of pure grace on God’s part (4:4–8). The ‘crediting’ was, moreover, not based on circumcision (4:9–12) or the law (4:13–17). This recurring reference to Genesis 15:6 is somewhat similar to the Jewish interpretational technique called midrash, in which a Scripture text becomes the basis for an extended discussion.[27] In Paul’s day, the Greek word logizomai was used for numerical calculations such as in accounting, used both in reference to entering a debit or a credit into one’s account. In the case of Abraham’s faith, combined with works, he was “credited, counted, reckoned, or attributed to him as righteousness standing before God.

Of course, this does not mean that Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Rachel, Rebekah, Moses, and other men and women of pre-Christian times were perfect or granted some kind of perfected status. Rather, they were merely reckoned, counted, or credited a righteous standing before God by virtue of their faith in the promised seed. In addition, they were doing just as God commanded, unlike the rest of the world, who were alienated from God. (Gen. 3:15; Psa. 119:2-3) The Psalmist writes, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom Jehovah does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Psa. 32:1-2, UASV) The apostle Paul wrote that the pagan nations “were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Eph. 2:12, UASV) There, we can see how, a perfect, sinless, righteous, and just, Creator could have a relationship with imperfect men, blessing them for their faith and obedience. While, at the same time, ‘He could in His loyal love to those who know him, and his righteousness to the upright in heart!’ (Ps 36:10) Nevertheless, these ones were well aware through the Hebrew Old Testament that a complete redemption from sin was yet to come.

Psalm 49:7-9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Surely no man can redeem a brother,
Or give to God a ransom for him,[28]
(for the redemption of their[29] soul is costly,
and it always fails),
that he should live on forever
and not see the pit.[30]

Hebrews 9:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

26 Otherwise, he would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now he has appeared once at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.[31]


The Precious Blood of Christ

The apostle Peter spoke of Christ’s perfection, which Paul says was maintained under test. Peter writes, “Knowing that it was not with perishable things like silver or gold that you were redeemed[32] from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but it was with precious blood, as of an unblemished and spotless lamb, that of Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:18-19) Paul writes, “For it was fitting for him, for whom are all things and through whom are all things in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Heb. 2:10) Paul goes on to say, “In the days of his flesh [i.e. during Christ’s earthly life], who having offered up both supplications and prayers with loud crying and tears to the one able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his godly fear. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered. And having been made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation …” (Heb. 5:7-10) In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul says, “being justified as a gift by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed; it was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Rom 3:24-26) He adds that Jesus “was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” (Rom. 4:25) Going on, he says, “So, then, as through one trespass there was condemnation to all men, so too through one act of righteousness [Gr dikaiomatos] there was justification [Gr dikaiosin] of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:17-19) It was Jesus proving himself perfectly through his entire time as a human, especially during his persecution and sacrifice; he gave all of humankind, who evidences their trust in him, the basis for being declared righteous.

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End of Excursion

Thus, we can say of those men and women who served God prior to the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, they enjoyed a measure of reconciliation to God. Nevertheless, like all of humankind, were sinners by way of inheriting imperfection from Adam’ descendants. They were well aware of this by their carrying out animal sacrifices throughout their lives. ‘The Mosaic Law was but a shadow of the good things to come [that is, Jesus Christ] instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near.’ (Heb. 10:1-2) It is true that some have been what Scripture calls “gross sinners,” and some’s sin was as God stated, they “sinned a great sin.” (Gen. 13:13; 18:20; Ex 32:30-31; 2 Ki 17:16, 21; Isa. 1:4, 10; 3:9; Lam. 1:8; 4:6) Thus, Scripture does show that there is a comparative gravity of wrongdoing. Certainly, no sane person would argue that lying about one’s weight is as grave as murdering another human. All the same, sin is still sin, regardless of the degree or extent. All are under sin, as ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, because sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. We know that one trespass led to condemnation for all men, by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, as sin ruled by bringing death.’ (Rom 3:9, 22-23; 5.12, 18-21) Therefore, all men need reconciliation with God that Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice has made possible.


The friendship that Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rachel, Rebekah, Moses, Rahab, Elijah and other had with God was relative to their faith in the promised seed, which they believed would remove sin completely one day. (See Heb. 11:1-2, 39-40; John 1:29; 8:56; Ac 2:29-31.) Therefore, the degree of reconciliation that those ones enjoyed was based upon their faith in the promised seed of Genesis 3:15, namely, the long awaited Messiah, and his ransom sacrifice. As was stated God, “counted,” “reckoned” or credited, their faith as righteousness, which enable those ones an opportunity to be considered a friend of God, who could still maintain his perfect standard of justice in the face of sinners. (Rom. 4:3, 9-10; also see 3:25-26; 4:17) Regardless of these great men and women of faith, it still comes back to the fact that the Father’s justice had to be satisfied, so that what was credited would then be paid in full, that is, the ransom price of the Son. Clearly, we can see that the greatest act in the history of man came on Nisan 14th 33 C.E., when Jesus gave up his life for all who would believe in him. It is this ‘one act of righteousness, it leads to justification and life for all men, so by the one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:18-19) The righteous standing allows us to stand before God. – See Isaiah 64:6; Romans 7:18, 21-25; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 1 John 1:8-10.


Steps to Reconciliation

There are a few key steps that can help someone begin the process of reconciling with God:

  1. Admit that you are a sinner: The first step towards reconciliation with God is acknowledging that you have sinned and are in need of his forgiveness. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

  2. Repent: Repentance involves turning away from your sin and turning towards God. It involves a change of heart and a willingness to turn from your old ways and follow Jesus.

  3. Believe in Jesus: In order to be reconciled to God, you must believe in Jesus and his work on the cross. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus paid the price for our sin and made it possible for us to be reconciled to God.

  4. Confess your faith: Confessing your faith involves publicly declaring your belief in Jesus and your commitment to following him. This can be done through prayer or through being baptized.

  5. Follow Jesus: Following Jesus involves living your life in a way that is pleasing to God. This involves reading the Bible, praying, and participating in a community of believers. It also involves living a life that reflects the values and teachings of Jesus.

By following these steps, you can begin the process of reconciling with God and experiencing the forgiveness and new life that he offers through Jesus.

As Scripture makes all too clear, God was the one who was offended, it is his laws that were and are being violated, and it was Adam’s one act of disobedience, which brought sin into the world and death through sin, and so death has spread to all men. Therefore, it is man who needs to be reconciled to God, not God to man. (Ps 51:1-4; Rom. 5:12, 18-21) It is impossible for man to meet God on equal terms, nor is God’s standards of justice, law, morality, ethics and the like are not conditional, subject to change, to being emended, or modified. (Isa 55:6-11; Mal 3:6; see Jam. 1:17) Therefore, God’s conditions for reconciliation are set, unchanging, not in question, the subject of discussion, debate, or negotiation. (See Job 40:1-2, 6-8; Isa 40:13-14) Some renderings of Isaiah 1:18 have caused confusion, which is often used during the Advent season. All of Isaiah Chapter 1 is about the rebellion of God’s people and their need to be reconciled to God.

Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)

18 Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 (HCSB)

18 Come, let us discuss this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
though they are as red as crimson,
they will be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 (NRSV)

18 Come now, let us argue it out,
says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 (LEB)

18 “Come now, and let us argue,” says Yahweh.
“Even though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white like snow;
even though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 (NASB)

18 Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 (ASV, KJV)

18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18 New International Version (NIV, 1984 edition)

18 Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 Update American Standard Version (UASV)

18 Come now, let us set matters straight, says Jehovah:
“though your sins are like scarlet,
They will be made as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
they will become like wool.


Isaiah 1:18 New International Version (NIV)

18 Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 New American Bible (NABRE)[33]

18 Come now, let us set things right,
says the Lord:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be red like crimson,
they may become white as wool.

Isaiah 1:18 Update American Standard Version (UASV)

18 Come now, let us set matters straight, says Jehovah:
“though your sins are like scarlet,
They will be made as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
they will become like wool.


The New International Version is right on point with, “let us settle the matter,” as is true with the New American Bible (Revised Edition), “let us set things right” but the Updated American Standard Version is the best rendering, with “let us set matters straight.” However, the least favorable renderings are the NRSV/NEB has “let us argue it out,” the HCSB, has “let us discuss this,” the ESV/ASV/KJV “let us reason together,” and the NASB has “let us argue it out.” These latter translations give the impression that Jehovah is trying to cut a deal with the inhabitants of Jerusalem. This is just not the case, as there is only one party at fault here, the Israelites. They were the people who had rebelled too many times to count. (Deut. 32:4-5) This is not some bargaining between two equals, but a warm and loving setting the record straight, bringing the Israelites before the great theocratic court. In essence, the verse is talking about establishing an environment where justice can take place in which the righteous Judge, Almighty God, gives the Israelites another opportunity to turn around, make adjustments and cleanse themselves.

The Hebrew that is “reason together” by the KJV, ASV and ESV essentially means, “to decide, prove, convince, judge.”[34] It has a legal essence, suggesting more than two persons simply reasoning together, the result being a verdict. (Gen. 31:37, 42; Job 9:33; Ps. 50:21; Isa. 2:4) Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words offers the meaning “to reason together (in a legal case); to be vindicated; to rebuke, discipline, punish; decide, argue, defend, judge; to be chastened; to lodge a charge against.”[35] God was commanding: “Come now, let us set things right” New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) or, “Let us set matters straight.” (UASV) The NABRE has the following footnote on Isaiah 1:18, “Let us set things right: the Hebrew word refers to the arbitration of legal disputes (Job 23:7). God offers to settle his case with Israel on the basis of the change of behavior demanded above. For Israel it is a life or death choice; life in conformity with God’s will or death for continued disobedience.”


While this might appear to be an unnerving idea, we can appreciate that Jehovah is full of mercy and is always ready to forgive, who is a compassionate judge. There is no other with such a capacity for forgiveness. (Ps. 86:5; 103:12; Isa. 38:17; Mic. 7:19) It is only God, who could take the sins of Israel that were “like scarlet” and “make them white as snow.” There was no amount of effort, or works, sacrifices, or prayers, which could have removed the stain of their sins. However, this act of mercy, loving kindness in forgiving their sins would have been on God’s terms, which meant the Israelites would have had to evidence true, wholehearted repentance.

This truth is so paramount that Jehovah repeats it in poetic variation, “though [their sins] are red like crimson, they will become like wool.” Jehovah wanted the Israelites to know that he is justly the Forgiver of sins, even ones that would seem unforgivable. However, for this to be the case, he needed to find them sincerely repentant. If today’s reader doubts the level of God’s forgiveness, they only need to look to the case of Manasseh. His sin was beyond all comprehension for years. He reestablished the high places for false worship, setting up altars to Baal; he offered his sons in a sacrifice to Molech, practiced magic, employed divination, and promoted spiritistic practices. Manasseh also put the graven image of the sacred pole he had made into the house of Jehovah. Nevertheless, he came to God with a repentant heart and was forgiven. – 2 Chronicles 33:9-16.

Hard work to remove a deep stain from clothing is often pointless. Even with the most valiant effort, the stain is merely dulled but nevertheless visible. God wants each of his servants, even those who have committed very erious sins, to understand that it is not too late to “set matters straight.” However, he also wants us to appreciate that our repentance needs to be genuine and from the heart. Returning to man as a whole, this is where the fault lies that leaves us out of harmony with, at odds to God’s personality, standards, ways, and will. – See Ezekiel 18:25, 29-32.

Sin and imperfection entering creation have not prevented God from taking the initiative in opening the way for reconciliation. The father made this so through the Son. The apostle Paul writes, “For while we were still helpless, yet at the proper time Christ died for the ungodly. For only rarely will someone die on behalf of a righteous person (for on behalf of a good person possibly someone might even dare to die), but God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, by much more, because we have been declared righteous now by his blood, we will be saved through him from the wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, by much more, having been reconciled, his life will save us. And not only this, but also we are boasting in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:6-11, LEB) Elsewhere Paul writes, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  – 2 Corinthians 5:18, 21.

Because of God’s great love for his creation, humankind, Christians ‘are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you [all unbelievers in the world] on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” This does not mean that the Creator is somehow weak and beggarly, nor that he is soft on wrongdoing, but rather that his love is great and his mercy runs deep, hoping that offenders will escape the condemnation that awaits them. The prophet Ezekiel lets us know that the Father, has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Eze. 33:11, ESV) Paul, warned the Corinthians not to accept the mercy and grace of God and misunderstand its purpose. He said, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ [Quote Isa. 49:8] Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

The Following three are needed, and none of the three can be missing.

(1) Knowledge

(2) Belief

(3) Obedience

To become a well-grounded Christian, one must

(1) Obtain a real, broad knowledge of Bible truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4),

(2) Put faith in the things we have learned (Hebrews 11:6),

(3) Repent of your sins (Acts 17:30-31), and

(4) Turn around in your course of life. (Acts 3:18-19);

(5) Then our love for God should move us to dedicate ourselves to Christ.

If one is missing the knowledge department, he cannot believe in something he has no real in-depth knowledge. Once we are reconciled, we are no longer an enemy under the wrath of God. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 3:16; 5:24) The Father “is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psa. 145:18, ESV) The apostle Paul exhorts, “the things which you have learned and received and heard about and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Php 4:9, LEB) Paul also wrote, “he [Jesus] has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you [Christians] continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Col. 1:22-23, ESV) Yes, once one has been reconciled to God, being declared righteous they must remain clean in every way.

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How Was God In Christ Reconciling the World to Himself?

The apostle Paul said, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:19) We should not assume that this means that every human is automatically reconciled to God by Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Why? Because Paul’s next words were, “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20, ESV) The truth of the matter is, God has made available a means (Jesus’ ransom) by which every human can willingly accept Christ, and, thus, gain reconciliation. Hence, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28, ESV) Therefore, “whoever believes [trusts] in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” – John 3:36; See also Romans 5:18-19; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8.

Nevertheless, the Father purposed “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Eph. 1:10, ESV) “Come now, let us set things right, says the [the Farther]: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool.” (Isa 1:18, ESV) The reality is, all, who refuse to “set things right,” will face destruction, resulting in a renewed earth that will be in harmony with God. John said, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth, had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” The father will dwell with humanity after Armageddon representatively by means of The Son, Christ Jesus, who will rule over the earth. “When all things are subjected to him [Jesus], then the Son himself will also be subjected to him [the Father] who put all things in subjection under him [the Sone], that God [the Father] may be all in all.” Thus, after the thousand-year reign of Christ over the earth, the Son will hand the kingdom over to the Father. – Revelation 21:1-4; 5:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:28.

In speaking of the Jewish people being God’s chosen people, Jesus said, “I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” (Matt. 21:43) A short time later, he said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Paul said, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” (Heb. 8:7-13) Clearly, the apostle was referring to the fact that the Israelites had lost covenant relationship with the father because of 1,500 years of horrendous unfaithfulness. “For if their [the Jewish nation of Israel] rejection means the reconciliation of the world [outside of the Jewish people], what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” – Romans 11:15.

In other words, natural Israel lost its favored position as God’s chosen people, and this was to be given to another. Who? This new nation proved to be a spiritual Israel, which the apostle Paul referred to as “the Israel of God.” It would be made up of Jews, who accepted Jesus Christ and non-Jews. Entry into this “Israel of God” was not dependent on natural descent, but rather on one coming to “know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3), In other words, it was a matter of ‘trusting in Jesus Christ.’ (John 3:16) Nevertheless, natural Israel was made up of 12 tribes, so James was simply drawing on the number 12, which carries the connotation of completeness. If a natural Jew or a non-Jew were to become a part of this spiritual Israel, the Israel of God, they would have to acknowledge, “Circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” (Rom. 2:29) He must further understand “it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all …” (Rom. 4:16) There are many verses, which qualify what it means to be a part of this Israel of God. – See also, Romans 4:17; 9:6-8; Galatians 3:7, 29; 4:21-31; Philippians 3:3.

 Did this mean that no Jewish person could be a part of the Kingdom? Hardly! The first disciples of that Kingdom for seven years, 29 C.E. to 36 C.E. were only Jewish people. After 36 C.E., and the baptism of the first Gentile, Cornelius, anyone, including the Jews, could be a part of this Kingdom, as long as they accepted the King, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) At Jesus’ Baptism, there was a voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:16-17) Jesus’ teaching, miraculous signs, his ransom sacrifice and resurrection, established him as the truth, having the authority and power of the Father.[36] The Christians in the first century were given the position of being God’s chosen people. (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 43) It would be through Jesus to the Christian congregation that the truth would now flow. As Paul told the Corinthians, “For to us God has revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10) It happened just as Jesus had said it would, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to young children.” – Matthew 11:25.

This “Israel of God” is not based on the requirements that Abraham had received from God, i.e., all males having to be circumcised. Instead, as was stated in Romans 3:26-29, are neither Jew nor Greek … for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christthen you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”

On the Israel of God, The College Press NIV Commentary, says, “The true Israel of God, the true descendants of Abraham, are those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation. Those physically born of Abraham are not necessarily his spiritual heirs (Rom 9:6–8). Instead, those who have put on Christ–whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female–are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise (Gal 3:27–29). Paul could write in similar fashion to the Philippians that it is we Christians who are really the ‘circumcision,’ we who glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3).” (Boles 1993, Gal. 6:16)

Review Questions

  • What are the Greek words that deal with reconciliation?
  • Why is reconciliation with God necessary?
  • What is the basis for reconciliation?
  • In what sense are we redeemed by Christ’s blood?
  • How does forgiveness go hand in hand with redemption?
  • What two reasons does Thomas D. Lea offer for why Jesus came to earth as a man? What additional Scriptural reasons are there?
  • What is necessary if we are to attain reconciliation?
  • In what sense could Paul say, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself”?




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[1] Frederick C. Mish, “Preface,” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

[2] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 565.

[3] IBID., 566

[4] IBID., 566

[5] Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 250–251.

[6] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 501.

[7] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 474.

[8] Millard J. Erickson, The Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 162.

[9] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 493.

[10] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 92–93.

[11] Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 30.

[12] Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).

[13] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[14] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 594.

[15] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 205–207.

[16] Or “completed

[17] Quoted from Gen. 15:6

[18] Lit the circumcision

[19] Lit the uncircumcision

[20] Lit in circumcision

[21] Lit in uncircumcision

[22] Lit in circumcision

[23] Lit in uncircumcision

[24] Lit was in uncircumcision

[25] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 582.

[26] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 9.

[27] Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Romans to Philemon., vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 26.

[28] Lit his cover; Heb. kophroh

[29] their MT Syr; LXX Vg his

[30] Or grave

[31] Or by his sacrifice

[32] Or ransomed

[33] (Revised Edition)

[34] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., vol. 1, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 203.

[35] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 949.

[36] Matt. 15:30-31; 20:28; John 4:34; 5:19, 27, 30; 6:38, 40; 7:16-17; 17:1-2; Acts 2:22

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