JUNE 2 – CHRIST BRIDGED THE GULF BETWEEN GOD AND MAN

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ….

2 CORINTHIANS 5:18

Paul encouraged the Athenians by reminding them that God was not far from any one of them, that it was He in whom they lived and moved and had their being. Yet men think of Him as farther away than the farthest star. The truth is that He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves!

But how can the conscious sinner bridge the mighty gulf that separates him from God in living experience? The answer is that he cannot, but the glory of the Christian message is that Christ did! Through the blood of His cross He made peace that He might reconcile all things unto Himself: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Col. 1:21, 22).

The new birth makes us partakers of the divine nature. There the work of undoing the dissimilarity between us and God begins. From there it progresses by the sanctifying operation· of the Holy Spirit till God is satisfied.

That is the theology of it, but even the regenerated soul may sometimes suffer from the feeling that God is far from him. Put away the evil from you, believe, and the sense of nearness will be restored. God was never away in the first place![1]


5:18 All things are of God. He is the Source and Author of them all. There is no ground for human boasting. It is this same God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

This splendid statement of the scriptural doctrine of reconciliation is found in A New and Concise Bible Dictionary:

By the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross, God annulled in grace the distance which sin had brought in between Himself and man, in order that all things might, through Christ, be presented agreeably to himself. Believers are already reconciled, through Christ’s death, to be presented holy, unblamable, and unreprovable (a new creation). God was in Christ, when Christ was on earth, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses; but now that the love of God has been fully revealed in the cross, the testimony has gone out world-wide, beseeching men to be reconciled to God. The end is that God may have His pleasure in man.[2]


  1. And all things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

“And all things are from God.” No one can ever say that renewal has its origin in human beings, for Paul clearly teaches that God is the originator and source of renewal. God created all things through Christ Jesus (John 1:3; Col. 1:15–18; Heb. 1:2) and recreates all things for his children. They are in Christ Jesus, for God is the cause of their membership in the body of Christ (refer to 1 Cor. 1:30).

“Who reconciled us to himself through Christ.” This astounding statement reveals God’s infinite love. We offended God by breaking his commands and sinning against him. Therefore, the initiative for reconciliation should have come from us, for we are the offending party. Instead we read that God, as the offended party, reached out to us to achieve restoration of relationships. God took the initiative and completed the work of reconciliation before we, as sinners, began to respond to God’s gracious invitation to be reconciled to him (Rom. 5:10–11). In brief, God restored the relationship between himself and us, so that his new creation for us could be fully realized.

In apostolic times, the Jews believed that man had to initiate reconciliation with God, chiefly by prayer and confession of sin. For instance, the writer of II Maccabees uses the verb to reconcile four times, but all of them are in the passive voice. They disclose that human beings petition God to be reconciled to them.

By contrast, the New Testament teaches that God restores us to himself by “putting us in right relations with himself.” God is the subject and we are the object whenever the verb to reconcile is in the active voice. But when in the same context this verb is in the passive voice, we are the subject (see v. 20). God did not cause alienation between himself and us and, therefore, did not have to reconcile himself to us. Yet in love God reconciles us to himself through the atoning work of his Son Jesus Christ. For this reason, Paul says that God brings about restoration through Christ, that is, through Jesus’ redemptive work. The phrase through Christ alludes to his death and resurrection (vv. 14–15), which bring about both a new creation (v. 17) and a reconciliation (vv. 18–20).

“[God] has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” God himself commissioned Paul and his co-workers to acquaint the readers of this epistle with his work. God wants his servants to be engaged in a restorative ministry by preaching, teaching, and applying the gospel. For Paul, this is ministry of the Spirit of the living God (3:3, 8), and is glorious in bringing forth righteousness (3:9). Also, this ministry secures peace between God and human beings (Rom. 5:1, 10; Col. 1:20; see Acts 20:24). Peace is the result of restoring personal relations that were broken and is “a denotation of the all-embracing gift of salvation.”[3]


Reconciliation Is by the Will of God

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, (5:18)

The phrase all these things points back to the immediately preceding section of this epistle, which described the total transformation taking place at conversion (vv. 14–17). In that passage Paul described believers’ death and resurrection in Christ as being transformed into new creatures. All these things, that is, those related to the transformation, come from God (cf. 1 Cor. 8:6; 11:12; James 1:17); sinners cannot be reconciled to Him on their own terms. Unregenerate people have no ability to appease God’s anger against sin, satisfy His holy justice, or conform to His standard of righteousness. They are guilty of fatally violating God’s law and face eternal banishment from His presence. The deadly, deceptive premise of all false religion is that sinners, based on their own moral and religious efforts and achievements, can reconcile themselves to God. But God alone designed the way of reconciliation, and only He can initiate the reconciliation of sinners; that God … reconciled us to Himself is precisely the good news of the gospel.

God so loved the world that He made the way of reconciliation. He desired to reconcile sinners to Himself—to make them His children. Such a desire is not foreign to God’s holy character but consistent with it. One of the glorious realities of God’s person is that He is a Savior by nature.

From before the foundation of the world, God freely and apart from outside influence determined to save sinners in order to eternally display the glory of His grace. He chose those He would rescue from His own wrath on sin and wrote their names in the Book of Life. He is no reluctant Savior; in fact, Scripture frequently gives Him that title (Ps. 106:21; Isa. 43:3, 11; 45:15, 21; 49:26; 60:16; 63:8; Hos. 13:4; Luke 1:47; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3, 4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6; Jude 25).

From Genesis 3:8–9 where God said, “Where are you?” He has been seeking to save sinners. Ezekiel 34:16 says, “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick.” He Himself is the eager reconciler, as Paul wrote to the Romans:

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 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. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Rom. 5:9–11)

It is to God’s plan through Jesus Christ that we owe the gratitude for our reconciliation.

Both the verb katallassō (reconciled) and the noun katallagē (reconciliation) appear in the New Testament only in Paul’s writings. The terms always portray God as the reconciler and sinners as the ones reconciled, since it was human sin that ruptured the relationship between God and man (cf. Isa. 59:2). In Romans 5:11 Paul declares, “We also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” To the Ephesians Paul wrote,

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. (Eph. 2:13–16)

Colossians 1:20–22 affirms that God chose

through [Christ] to reconcile 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. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 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.

Thus, reconciliation is not something man does but what he receives; it is not what he accomplishes but what he embraces. Reconciliation does not happen when man decides to stop rejecting God but when God decides to stop rejecting man. It is a divine provision by which God’s holy displeasure against alienated sinners is appeased, His hostility against them removed, and a harmonious relationship between Him and them established. Reconciliation occurs because God was graciously willing to design a way to have all the sins of those who are His removed from them “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12), “cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19), and “cast all [their] sins behind [His] back” (Isa. 38:17).

In the most magnanimous expression of sacrificial love the universe will ever know, God reconciled believers to Himself through Christ; that is, at His expense. God the Son’s perfect sacrifice is the only one that could satisfy the demands of God the Father’s holy justice. Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5; cf. Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24), and “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). God, for His own purpose and by His own will, designed the sacrificial death of His Son to reconcile believers to Himself:

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. (Eph. 2:13–16)

“[Christ] has now reconciled [them] in His fleshly body through death,” making them “holy and blameless and beyond reproach” in the sight of God (Col. 1:22). “Now once at the consummation of the ages [Jesus Christ] has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26); “He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12). His sacrifice propitiated God’s holy wrath (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10), making reconciliation possible.

It is to all reconciled people that God gives the ministry of reconciliation. This is equal to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19–20) and all calls to proclaim the gospel. Diakonia (ministry) denotes humble service, such as serving meals (cf. Luke 10:40; Acts 6:1). But though the messengers may be humble (see the discussion of 4:7 in chapter 10 of this volume), the message they proclaim to the lost world is the most exalted one ever proclaimed.[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1841). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, pp. 194–195). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 199–201). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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