2 Corinthians 5:18-21
And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;…
I. CHRIST'S WORK — THE RECONCILIATION OF GOD TO MAN. Reconciliation is identical with atonement. In Romans 5:11 the word "atonement" is the same word which is here translated "reconciliation."
1. God needed a reconciliation.
(1) The Unitarian view is that God is reconciled already, that there is no wrath in God towards sinners. Nothing can be more unphilosophical and unscriptural. First of all, take Galatians 4:9, which is decisive. St. Paul declares that the being recognised of God is more characteristic of the gospel state than recognising God. "Know God": here is man reconciled to God. "Are known of Him": here is God reconciled to man. Next, it is perilous to explain away those passages which speak of God as angry with sin. We feel that God is angry; and if that be but figurative, then it is only figurative to say that God is pleased. Then, again, Christ was the representative of God. Now Christ was "angry." That, therefore, which God feels corresponds with that which in pure humanity is the emotion of anger. If we explain away such words, we lose the distinction between right and wrong; and you will end in believing there is no God at all, if you begin with explaining away His feelings.
(2) It is said that God needs no reconciliation, because He is immutable. But remember that, God remaining immutable, and the sinner changing, God's relation to the sinner changes. "God is love," but love to good is hatred to evil. If you are evil, then God is your enemy. "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you."
2. The way in which the text speaks of the reconciliation of God to us is, "Not imputing their trespasses"; for the atonement is made when God no longer reckons the sinner guilty. God is reconciled to humanity in Christ; then to us through Him; "God was in Christ." It was a Divine humanity. To that humanity God is reconciled: there could be no enmity between God and Christ: "I and My Father are one." To all those in whom Christ's Spirit is God imputes the righteousness which is as yet only seminal, germinal — a spring, not a river; a righteousness in faith, not a righteousness in works.
II. THE WORK OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY — THE RECONCILIATION OF MAN TO GOD. Distinguish Christ's position from ours. It was Christ's work to reconcile God to man. That is done for ever; we cannot add anything to it. That is a priestly power; and it is at our peril that we claim such a power. Ours is ministerial. We can offer no sacrifice. "By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Therefore the whole work of the Christian ministry consists in declaring God as reconciled to man, and in beseeching, with every variety of illustration, and every degree of earnestness, men to become reconciled to God. All are God's children by right; all are not God's children in fact. All are sons of God; but all have not the Spirit of sons, whereby they cry, "Abba, Father." All are redeemed, all are not yet sanctified.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;