The Reconciliation -- By: John Murray

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 29:1 (Nov 1966)
Article: The Reconciliation
Author: John Murray

The Reconciliation

John Murray

The term “reconciliation” occurs in the New Testament four times (Rom. 5:11; 11:15; II Cor. 5:18, 19).1 In Romans 5 and II Corinthians 5 it obviously refers to that which is spoken of in the contexts by means of the corresponding verb “reconcile” (Rom. 5:10; II Cor. 5:18, 19, 20).2 The verb used by Paul in other passages (Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20, 22) is to the same effect though the form is slightly different.3 In speaking of “the reconciliation”, therefore, we must take into account that which is denoted by both substantive and verb in the usage of the New Testament. The term, thus understood and applied, may be used actively or passively according as we think of the act of reconciling or of the status resulting from the accomplished action. When Paul says: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to him self” (II Cor. 5:19), he refers to the action or process involved (cf. Rom. 5:10). When he says: “we have received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11), what is particularly in view is the relation established and bestowed in virtue of the reconciling action. These observations respecting the active and passive denotations, though necessary and helpful, do not resolve the questions that arise respecting what is involved in the reconciling action or in the resulting status and, more specifically, the questions pertaining to the relation of the objective, once-for-all action to the application and subjective realization of that which was once for all wrought in the death of Christ. It would be over-simplification to say, for example, that when the verb is used in terms of action, it refers exclusively to the historical, finished accomplishment wrought through the cross of Christ, even though there can

be no doubt that this finished work is frequently in the forefront in such instances.

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