Reconciliation in Christ- Romans 5:6-12

In this passage, Paul tells us that we have been reconciled to God. What does he mean by reconciliation, and how is it brought to pass? The Greek word reconciliation is katallaso, and it literally means “to exchange for something of equivalent value”. Our sin is a debt against an infinite God and requires that something of equal value be exchanged in order for there to be reconciliation between God and man, for it is our sin which has brought about a separation between God and us. Paul, in this passage, tells us what reconciliation involves and how it comes about. He begins, in verse 6, by telling us that “while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly”. Paul begins by telling us that we are “powerless”, that we are unable to bring about reconciliation because we do not have anything of equal value to exchange, but that “Christ died for the ungodly”, that because we are ungodly that reconciliation would have to originate with God and not with us. Paul then contrasts two types of “love” in verses 7 and 8. In verse 7, we have a demonstration of phileo love, which is the love of affection. Human beings will sometimes die for someone they have affection for (spouse, child) or something they have affection for (cause, country). Having given us an illustration of phileo love in verse 7, Paul then contrasts this with the agape love of God in verse 8, using the word “but” here to connect the two and emphasize the contrast. He then gives us demonstration of the agape love of God, which is not the love of affection but something more and something greater, and the demonstration of agape is that Christ died for sinners, He died not for those he “liked”, who He thought were worthy of it or somehow deserved it (as with the phileo love of verse 7), but He died for His enemies, for those who despised Him, rejected Him, rebelled against Him. The result of this agape love is that we have been “justified by His blood” (verse 9). The Greek word justify is dikaioo, which means to “conform to a standard” or to measure up, and we do in Christ. The blood of Christ, shed for us, His death for us and in our place, was of equivalent value to our infinite debt, for Christ is the infinite God, coming to us and dying as one of us, His sacrifice of equivalent value to our sin debt and able to reconcile us to God, to pay off our debt, to balance the books. This was done to save us from God’s wrath, from the eternal separation from him which is the penalty for our sin. Paul then sums things up in verses 10 and 11. He begins verse 10 with the phrase “for if”, with the if here referring not to uncertainty about whether or not Christ’s death has brought about reconciliation, but uncertainty about whether or not each of us have accepted the reconciliation offered to us by God in Christ. He then makes a statement of fact, telling us that those who have accepted Christ “have been reconciled” (past tense here) to God through the death of the Son of God. Jesus Christ has come as God in the flesh to make the exchange of equal value which allowed us to be united with God, for death is separation and life is union. Only God truly has life, he is the source of all life, and life in the Scripture is defined in relation to Him. Those united to Him have life, those separated from Him do not have life, or are “dead”. It is His life which “saves” us, His life which unites us to God, and enables us to live more and more united to Him as we grow in our faith (more on that in our next post). Paul then concludes, in verse 11, by telling us that this reconciliation is a gift, that it can only be “received”, and the receipt of this reconciliation is a cause for rejoicing, that our lives should reflect the fact of our reconciliation by being filled with joy. God has done for us what we were not able to do for ourselves. Our sin had incurred for us an infinite debt, which all the good behavior in the world could not repay, and this sin and debt separated us from God. God paid this debt for us by coming as one of us, an infinite payment for an infinite debt, and this payment allowed us to be united with God (to have life), to be reconciled. It is our prayer that all who have not accepted this offer of reconciliation might do so, and that those who have accepted it might learn to “live” and “rejoice” in it.

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