by Mike Ratliff
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 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, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. Ephesians 2:13-16 (NASB)
13 νυνὶ δὲ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ὑμεῖς οἵ ποτε ὄντες μακρὰν ἐγενήθητε ἐγγὺς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 14 Αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἓν καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας, τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ, 15 τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας, ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην 16 καὶ ἀποκαταλλάξῃ τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ, ἀποκτείνας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν αὐτῷ. Ephesians 2:13-16 (NA28)
The term “reconciled’ is a wonderful word. the Greek is ἀποκαταλλάσσω (apokatallassō). In Ephesians 2:16 (above) the word “reconcile” translates ἀποκαταλλάξῃ (apokatallaxē) the third singular, aorist active subjunctive case of ἀποκαταλλάσσω. The usage of this word in the New Testament is to exchange hostility for friendship. We find this word in the passage I shared above and in Colossians 1:20,21. This Greek preposition adds the idea of “back.” Therefore, ἀποκαταλλάσσω means “to bring back to a former state of harmony.”What does this picture for us? This tells us that that there was once a time when there was no variance between God and man. Is there now? Sure there is!
9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:9-20 (NASB)
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:21-23 (NASB)
However, there was a time when there was no enmity, no warfare between us. When was that? It was, of course, in the Garden of Eden. But sin created a barrier; it brought variance and division. The very moment that sin entered the world, Adam and Eve immediantely realized that they were naked, immediately tried to hide from God, immediately tried to shift the blame to someone else, and immediately denied responsiblility. In that one moment, in that one act, variance was introduced.
It was the blood of Christ, however, that reconciled (ἀποκαταλλάσσω) us; it was a “changing back” to that time of no variance. What a truth! As a believer, each of us is no longer at variance with God; we have returned to that time of walking with Him “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8), communing with Him in heart and mind.
It is interesting that ἀποκαταλλάσσω is not found in Classical Greek. In fact even the simple verb καταλλάσσω, “to change or exchange as coins for other of equal value,” was never used in ancient pagan worship. Why? Because the pagans were never reconciled to their gods; they had no concept of a god with whom they could have no vaiance. The gods of the ancient pagan religions were alwasy angry, always demanding appeasement.
Also, neither is ἀποκαταλλάσσω in the Septuagint, but rather is found only in the epistles, for never before has man been brought back to a time of no variance. Only the blood of Christ could accomplish that. Even the Old Testament sacrfices were inadequate; they were only an “atonement,” that is, a covering of sin. Only by Christ’s blood could we be reconciled.
Soli Deo Gloria!