Author: Ron Graham
Synonyms: Atonement, reunion, making friends of enemies
Greek References: katallagee 2643 (Strong) cf 2644, 604
Scriptures: Romans 5:8-11, Romans 11:15, 2Corinthians 5:18-21, Ephesians 1:1-22, Colossians 1:19-23.
Related ideas: rebellion, alienation, enmity, sacrifice
The word for "propitiation" here is the name given to the top of the ark of the covenant in the ancient tabernacle, the "mercy seat".
The mercy seat, with its winged cherubim who were face to face, was a priceless work of hammered gold, all of one piece.
This object was a "type" or symbol of Christ's sacrifice of atonement that would bring peace with God.
Synopsis: Our estrangement from God was entirely our own fault. Our reconciliation to God is not entirely within our own power. Only through Jesus Christ can we be made one with God again and be restored to fellowship in his family.
AT-ONE-ment To be reconciled means to be made "at one" with God.
This lesson is about the word "reconciliation". In the Bible, the word "reconciliation" has much the same meaning as the word "atonement". The meaning of "atonement" is easily recognised if you just break the word up like this: AT-ONE-ment
In this lesson, we are looking at three aspects of our reconciliation to God:
Our estrangement from God was entirely our own fault. Sometimes enmity and estrangement are the fault of both parties. For example, if a wife becomes estranged from her husband, she needs to be reconciled to him (1Co 7:11). But this may not be her fault. Even if it is her fault, it may not be her fault entirely. In some cases there is fault on both sides, but as often as not the fault is all on one side.
In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24), the fault was all on his side. When the son repented and returned home, there was reunion, peacemaking, and restoration. There was no more enmity, estrangement, and alienation. The father and son were now at one. So it is between us and God. We are at fault, not he. In 1John 1:5-8, it is made clear with whom the fault lies, and with whom the mercy.
Our reconciliation has come about, because God has shown mercy toward us, and we have shown repentance toward God.
In the great passages on reconciliation, the scripture reveals that it is the blood of Christ which makes peace (Romans 5:8-11, 2Corinthians 5:18-21, Ephesians 1:1-22, Colossians 1:19-23). You should read those passages carefully; they are at the heart of this lesson.
Jesus was the "propitiation" for our sins (1John 2:1-2, 1John 4:10, Hebrews 2:17). The word "propitiation" means atoning sacrifice. Jesus was "sent forth to be a propitiation by his blood" (Rom 3:25).
Our reconciliation is not only to God, but to the multitude of God’s people. We are reconciled to God not only "vertically" as it were, but "horizontally". We are brought together into one family, into the fellowship of the saints, "all sons of God through faith" and "all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26-29). We are no longer "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel" but have been "reconciled in one body through the cross" (Eph 2:16).
Not only does God break down the barriers between us and him, but also the barriers between us and our fellows. Barriers of gender, race, class, and creed, are all abolished through the reconciliation of the cross.