“For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life.”
Romans 5:10 (NIV UK)
In 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, beginning in verse 17, Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17–20).
It’s interesting to note that Paul uses the word ‘reconciliation’ three times. I enjoy exploring the meaning of familiar words because there is often more to them than ‘meets the ear’.
If something can be re-conciled, presumably it was once “conciled.” But what does that mean? ‘Concile’ isn’t a word you’ll find in most dictionaries. Reconciled is what linguists call an “unpaired opposite.”
For example, we recognise what it means to be “disgruntled.” But how often are you “gruntled?” You can be “overwhelmed”—but what about being “whelmed?”
These were once quite common words, but they have fallen into disuse and only their opposites remain. So what about “conciled?”
You can actually find it in the multi-volume Complete Oxford Dictionary. It is an archaic word that has to do with people meeting in agreement. And thus, “re-conciliation” implies not the forging of a new relationship, but the restoration of a relationship that once existed. And this adds an exciting dimension to the verses I read in 2 Corinthians.
With this new understanding, we can see Paul showing us that God, through Jesus Christ, has “reconciled” the relationship broken by the fall of man. In this restored state, God and man now work together in partnership to spread the “ministry of reconciliation” to all the world.
Study by Joseph Tkach, From Day By Day http://www.daybyday.org.uk/