Criswell Theological Review 4.1 (1989) 77-95.
Copyright © 1989 by The
PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF
RECONCILIATION IN 2 COR 5:11-6:2
DAVID L. TURNER
The passage which is the object of this study is one of the most
memorable sections of the NT. R. P. C. Hanson refers to it as "one of
the charters of the Christian ministry in the New Testament."l C. K.
Barrett calls it "one of the most pregnant, difficult, and important in
the whole of the Pauline literature."2 Calvin's comment on 5:18 is also
arresting: "Here, if anywhere in Paul's writings, we have a quite
remarkably important passage and we must carefully examine the
words one by one."3
While the present author is in sympathy with Calvin's remarks
about the necessity of carefully studying this remarkable passage, this
study does not examine its words one by one. Rather the goal is to
develop Paul's teaching on reconciliation in the literary context of
2 Corinthians. This necessitates careful attention to the syntax of 5:11-
6:2 and to the argument of the entire letter. There is also a brief
survey of reconciliation elsewhere in Paul, along with a concluding
theological synthesis of Paul's doctrine of reconciliation. The doctrine
of reconciliation involves individual, corporate, cosmic, and eschato-
logical dimensions which make it extremely challenging theologically.
1 R. P. C. Hanson, 2 Corinthians (Torch Bible Commentaries;
2 C. K. Barrett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (HNTC;
Harper, 1973) 163.
3 J. Calvin, The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians and the
Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (eds. D. Wand T. F. Torrance; Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) 77.
18 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
However, the real proof of our understanding of it is our competence
as agents of reconciliation in this hostile world.
Reconciliation in 2 Cor 5:11-6:2
The argument of 2 Corinthians is a hotly debated issue, mainly
due to major questions about the unity of the letter. Abrupt changes
in tone and subject manner in 6:14-7:1 and especially 10:1-13:10 have
caused many to believe that the letter contains interpolations, perhaps
involving the letters alluded to elsewhere in the Corinthian corre-
spondence (1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 2:4). While these and other related ques-
tions are not determinative of the exegesis of 2 Cor 5:11-6:2, the
positions adopted in answering them indirectly influence that exe-
gesis. This study will proceed on the assumption that 2 Corinthians is
a literary unity from the hand of Paul and that the abrupt changes
evident in the letter may be satisfactorily explained by the apostle's
emotional state and personal anguish over the Corinthians' spiritual
Another difficult question is the occasion of the letter in view of
Paul's earlier contact and correspondence with the Corinthians (Acts
18:1-18; 1 Cor 5:9; 2 Cor 2:4). This is related to the identity and views
of the party which was promoting the rift between Paul and the
Corinthians. One may suggest answers to this question by attempting
a “mirror reading” of the epistle (cf. 2 Cor 2:11; 3:1; 4:2-4; 5:12; 6:14;
10:1-2, 10-12; 11:3-4, 12-15, 18-23), but there is no agreement as to
whether this party emphasized gnosis, law, or a syncretistic blending
of many false ideas. It is clear that Paul viewed his opponents as false
apostles, messengers of Satan whose emphasis on fleshly show, rhe-
torical flourish, and self-commendation was antithetical to the mes-
sage and ministry of the true gospel.4
Despite these difficulties the epistle's argument is clear. In chaps.
1- 7 Paul is appealing to the Corinthians to recognize that his is a true
gospel ministry. Chaps. 8-9 comprise his instructions and encourage-
ment regarding the offering
for the saints in
had evidently been held in check up to this point erupt in chaps. 10-
13, where Paul feels compelled to boast about the authority and
4 For discussion of these problems, see the introductions to the exegetical com-
mentaries. There is a convenient summary in D.Guthrie, New Testament Introduction
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1970) 422-41. P. E. Hughes makes a good case for
the unity of the letter in Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans., 1962) xxi-xxxv. For an exegetical treatment of Paul's teaching on
the style of genuine ministry, see D.A. Black, Paul, Apostle of Weakness: Astheneia and
its Cognates in the Pauline Literature (New York: Peter Lang, 1984).
Turner: PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION 79
power of his ministry. This polemic is written sarcastically (cf. espe-
cially 10:1; 11:4, 19-21; 12:13, 16; 13:3) in order to get the attention of
the Corinthians and to convince them that he loves them and that he
seeks only their spiritual well-being (10:14-15; 11:2, 12; 12:14-15, 19).
In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul is in the middle of his appeal to the
Corinthians to recognize his personal integrity and apostolic authority.
This appeal and defense is developed in between references to time
Martin is correct in saying that this section is not a digression or a
rehearsal of the past. Rather
it is an extension of the same spirit he [Paul] had shown them in calling
them to repentance (2:2; 7:8-11) and obedience (2:9), and it is a fervent
yet reasoned appeal to any who were still unyielding to the pressure of
his earlier appeal and whose friendly attitude toward himself he still has
reason to doubt. The plea is a renewed call to them to leave their hostile
dispositions and suspicions of both his message and his ministry and
accept his proffered reconciliation, already given to the ringleader (2:5-
The section is intensely theological and strikingly personal, for Paul's
theology and his manner of ministry will stand or fall together. Paul
presupposes that it is impossible to separate the gospel message from
the messenger of the gospel.
Exegesis of 2 Cor 5:11-6:2
This pericope6 begins with the note that Paul's attempts7 to per-
suade people8 are motivated by awe of Christ's judgment seat (5:11).
Paul acknowledges that his life and ministry is an "open book" before
5 R.. Martin, 2 Corinthians (WBC 48; Waco, TX: Word, 1986) 137.
6 Helpful studies dealing with reconciliation and this passage include J. W. Fraser,.
"Paul's Knowledge of Jesus: II Cor V.16 once more," NTS 17 (1970-71) 293-313; R.
lanta: John Knox, 1981) 90-110; J. L. Martyn, "Epistemology at the Turn of the Ages:
2 Cor 5:16," Christian History and Interpretation: Studies Presented to John Knox (ed.
W. R. Farmer et al.;
McDonald, "Paul and the Preaching Ministry," JSNT 17 (1983) 35-50; M. E. Thrall,
"2 Corinthians 5:18-21," ExpTim 93 (1982) 227-32.
7 The present tense verb
as conative in force. Day in and day out, Paul is seeking to persuade people. Cf. C. K.
2 Corinthians, 163; and V. P.
Furnish, 2 Corinthians (AB 32A;
Doubleday, 1984) 306.
8 Hughes' idea that Paul is referring to persuading the Corinthians, not to evan-
gelism (2 Corinthians, 186), is too specific. It is doubtful that Paul would have granted
such a distinction between receiving the message and receiving the messenger of the
gospel. Rejection of the messenger calls into question the reception of the message (cE.
2:9; 6:1; 7:1; 8:8, 24; 9:3; 11:3-4; 12:20; 13:5).
80 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
God (cf. 1 Cor 4:4) even though it is necessary for him to persuade
people of his sincerity.9 He will not get involved in self-commenda-
tion (5:12; cf. 3:1-2; 10:12, 18; 12:19; but on the other hand cf. 4:2; 6:4;
12:11); he is not interested in outward appearance but in internal
integrity. Whether he is in an ecstatic state of mind before God or in a
serious state of mind before the Corinthians, they have no reason to
doubt his integrity (5:13).10
The prospect of appearing before Christ's judgment seat is a
strong motive, but it is not Paul's sole motive for ministry. In 5:14 he
explains (ga<r) that he is also controlled11 by the retrospect of Christ's
love12 demonstrated by his death. This constraint of the cross is due to
Paul's conviction13 that the death of Christ14 represented15 the death of
all. Further (5:15), the death of Christ means that those who live16
9 Plummer insightfully explains that the first de<. in 5:11 conveys the antithesis that
"God knows all about us through and through, but we have to persuade men to believe
in our sincerity." Cf. Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the
Second Epistle of
10 It is difficult to know the precise reason for his statement. Perhaps Paul used
both of these opposite mental states to defend his total integrity. Or perhaps the false
apostles were critical of Paul's participation in the xari<smata. Cf. 1 Cor 13:1-2; 14:1ff.,
especially vv 18-19.
11 The precise translation of sune<xei is disputed, though the general sense is clear.
In more concrete settings it can mean "to press" or "to crowd," but here the idea seems
to be "to constrain" or "to impel." Furnish (2 Corinthians, 309-10) opts for "to lay claim
to" due to usage in the papyri denoting legal obligation.
12 There is little doubt that h[ a]ga<ph tou? Xristou? emphasizes the love of Christ for
sinners (subjective genitive). Jean Hering's preference for the objective genitive (love
for Christ) is weakly supported. See his The Second Epistle of
Corinthians (London: Epworth, 1967) 41-42. Zerwick's argument for a "general" (others
use such terms as "comprehensive" or "plenary") genitive comprising both Christ's love
for Paul and Paul's resulting love for Christ is more plausible, but meanings plausible to
the reader are not necessarily meanings intended by the author. Contextually the
emphasis is upon God's initiative and grace, thus the subjective genitive is strongly
preferred. See M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1963) 13.
13 The aorist participle kri<nantaj should be viewed as causal.
14 The death of Christ on the cross (and the resurrection of his body) as the heart
of the gospel is repeatedly stressed in the Corinthian correspondence. Cf. 1 Cor 1:17 -18;
2:2; 5:7; 8:11; 10:16; 11:23-26; 15:3ff.; 2 Cor 4:10; 13:4.
15 Perhaps "represented" does not sufficiently stress the substitutionary nature of
our Lord's death. The debate over the precise meaning of u[pe>r pa<ntwn is well sum-
marized by Martin (2 Corinthians, 129-31), who favors a substitutionary understanding.
Hughes (2 Corinthians, 193-95) strongly argues for a substitutionary understanding. It is
quite clear that terminology such as "example" or "moral influence" cannot begin to
explain the thought of Paul at this juncture.
16 Systematic theologians have long debated the question of the extent or intent of
the atonement, and this passage is commonly brought up. Does the "all" for whom
Christ died constitute the whole human race or those who will eventually believe in
Turner: PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION 81
should live not for themselves but for the one who died for them and
again. The theological framework behind this is that the Adamic
order, characterized since the Fall by selfishness and death, has been
superseded by the order of the second Adam, characterized by selfless
living for Christ. Paul's ministry is characterized not by living for
himself but by living for the one who died for him and rose again.
Paul sees believers dying with Christ in the past and standing before
him at the future judgment. Therefore life in between these two
epochal events can never be the same again. Self-commendation and
pride in appearance cannot characterize those who are controlled by
love of their redeemer and future judge.
Second Corinthians 5:14-15 has stressed Christ's death as a repre-
sentative act and as an act of renewal. Due to Christ's representative
death, Christ-centered rather than self-centered living is required of
those who would identify with the gospel. Paul next in 5:16-17 de-
scribes two consequences of Christ's death.17 First, Christ's death
means that from now on a radically different way of viewing reality is
present. No one is to be viewed according to the old order with its
"fleshly" priorities and values;18 Even if Paul has known Christ in this
manner, those days are gone forever.19 Further (v 17), the former
fleshly worldview has been replaced by a distinctively Christian one.
him (the elect)? Similarly, are "those who live" human beings in general, or those who
through faith have come alive spiritually? These questions are somewhat foreign to
Paul's immediate agenda in this passage, which is to explain Christ's epochal death and
resurrection as the ultimate motivation for his ministry. The universality of Paul's
commission and message would seem to demand that the whole human race has been
impacted by the cross, and yet that every human being must come to terms with it
personally in order to experience its benefits.
17 Verses 16 and 17 both begin with w!ste, a particle of result or consequence. It
seems best to take both these verses as parallel consequences of 5:14-15 instead of
viewing v 17 as a consequence of v 16 (Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 314, 332).
18 The phrase kata> sa<rka describes a point of view dominated by the flesh, which
should be taken in its pejorative ethical sense (cf.
Rom 8:3-13; Gal 5:16-24). At
the fleshly worldview involved pride in external prestige and appearance, not in
internal realities of the heart (1 Cor 1:26, 29; 3:1-4; 2 Cor 1:12, 17; 5:12; 10:2-4; 11:18).
19 The combination of ei] kai> which begins v 16b concedes that Paul once viewed
Christ erroneously. As Harris states, "his sincere yet superficial preconversion estimate
of Jesus as a messianic pretender whose followers must be extirpated (Acts 9:1, 2;
26:9-11) he now repudiated as being totally erroneous, for he had come to recognize
him as the divinely appointed Messiah whose death had brought life." See M. J. Harris,
2 Corinthians (EBC. 10; Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1976) 353. Perhaps the "Christ
The view of Reitzenstein and existentialist sources that this text shows Paul's disinterest
in the Jesus of history is rightly debunked by W. D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism
82 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
Those who come to be "in Christ"20 by faith in the gospel are part of
a new order for the universe. The former Adamic order (ta> a]rxai?a) is
gone and a new order has come to exist.21 The cross has once for all
radically changed Paul's view of reality by its power to begin the
renewal of the universe by renewing individuals within it (5:16-17).22
This individual and cosmic renewal which has forever changed
Paul's view of life is not achieved without human instrumentality. In
5:17 Paul alludes to the divine origin of the new order23 and its
mediation through Christ, but he also clearly speaks of his own part in
the ministry of reconciliation. The mention of ministry returns to the
main theme of 2 Corinthians 2-7, the appeal to the Corinthians to
recognize Paul's ministry as authentic (cf. 3:7-9; 4:1; 6:3). Verse 17
describes the origin of reconciliation in the Father, the mediation of
reconciliation through the Son, and the actual accomplishment of
reconciliation through the ministry of Paul.
At this point it will be helpful to focus on the vocabulary and
conceptualization of reconciliation.24 When Paul describes his ministry
of the gospel as a ministry of reconciliation, he uses a familiar image
20 This is the characteristic Pauline expression for those who are in solidarity with
Christ by faith (cf. e.g., Eph 1:4, 7; 2:10). Thus there are individual, corporate, and
eschatological dimensions of this expression. Thro!lgh faith in the gospel individuals
enter the New Covenant community (I Cor 3:16-17; 2 Cor 3:1-18) of those who
already (though partially) experience the blessings of the age to come (I Cor 2:6-8;
7:31; 15:20; 2 Cor 1:22; 2:14).
21 Paul's thoughts on the new order may be based in part on Isa 42:9-10; 43:19;
48:6; 62:2; 65:17; 66:22; cf. Rev 21:1-2,5. The new order as a divine creation has already
been mentioned in 2 Cor 4:5-6. Despite satanic opposition (4:3-4), the God who
originally created light is now enlightening sin-darkened hearts as the gospel is being
preached. It is striking that Paul uses the creation motif to describe the new order in
Christ. For the Adam-Christ analogy elsewhere, see I Cor 15:20-22; Rom 5:12-21.
22 The phrase kainh> kti<sij in 5:17 (cf. Gal 6:15) may be translated "he is a new
creature" or "there is a new creation." Thus there are both individualistic, subjective
interpretations and corporate, cosmic, eschatological interpretations of the expression.
It is best to see the two as complementary, however the expression is translated.
Hughes (2 Corinthians, 201-2) puts it quite well: “As a man-in-Christ he [Paul] is in fact
a new creation--a reborn microcosm belonging to the eschatological macrocosm of the
new heavens and the new earth-for whom the old order of things has given place to a
transcendental experience in which everything is new. . . . Redemption in Christ is
nothing less than the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose in creation, so radical in its
effects that it is justly called a new creation."
23 The clause ta> de> pa<nta e]k tou? qeou? in 5:18 probably refers to the content of
5:16-17 about the new creation, not to the universe as God's creation (Barrett, 2 Corin-
thians, 115). For verbal parallels, see Rom 11:36; I Cor 8:6. For emphasis upon the
Father's activity in 2 Corinthians, see 1:21; 2:14; 4:6; 5:5; 7:6; 9:15; 10:13; 11:7; 13:4.
24 Helpful studies of the reconciliation word group may be found in NIDNTT,
s. v. "Reconciliation. . . katalla<ssw," H. Vorlander and C. Brown (3.166-76.); TDNT,
S.v. a]lla<ssw k. t. l. by F. Buchsel (1.251-59).
Turner: PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION 83
from human interpersonal relations. Anyone who undertakes a study
of soteriological reconciliation in the NT soon discovers that it is a
Pauline concept. Indeed Paul is the primary NT author to use the
katalla<ssw word group which is commonly associated with the
concept of reconciliation.25 The three key words are a]pokatalla<ssw
(Eph 2:16; Col1:20, 22), katallagh< (Rom 5:11; 11:15; 2 Cor 5:19), and
katalla<ssw (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18, 19, 20).26 Of course, the concept
of reconciliation is broader than anyone word group. Louw and Nida
state that "meanings involving reconciliation have a presuppositional
component of opposition and hostility, and it is the process of recon-
ciliation which reverses this presuppositional factor."27 Thus any NT
teaching which deals with God's gracious redemption as overcoming
the hostility of sinners and establishing peace is implicitly dealing
The use of this word group in extrabiblical Jewish literature is
strikingly different than its NT usage.28 Josephus uses the word
katalla<ssw to describe David's being asked to be reconciled to
Absalom.29 Also in 2 Maccabees God is implored to be reconciled to
his erring people
and the efficacy of their prayers.30 This contrasts with Paul's usage
here and elsewhere in that God is always the subject and never the
object of reconciliation. Human beings need to be reconciled to God,
not vice versa. God is the initiator and people are the receptors of
reconciliation. Though L. Morris tends to minimize this distinction,31
its validity will be supported in later discussion.
25 The simple verb a]lla<ssw, which means "to change" or "exchange," occurs in
nonredemptive contexts in Acts 6:14; Rom 1:23; 1 Cor 15:51, 52; Gal 4:20; and Heb 1:12.
The other occurrences of this word group outside of Paul involve reconciliation be-
tween human adversaries. See a]palla<ssomai in Luke 12:58, diala<ssomai in Matt 5:24,
and sunalla<ssw in Acts 7:26.
26 Katalla<ssw also occurs in 1 Cor 7:11 describing marital reconciliation.
27 J. P. Louw and E. A. Nida, eds. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testa-
ment Based on Semantic Domains (2 vols.;
Louw and Nida also include
the words ei]rhnopoie<w (
(Matt 5:9), mesi<thj (1 Tim 2:5), and a@spondoj (2 Tim 3:3) under the semantic domain
28 This is noted by Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 334-35; Martin, 2 Corinthians, 149;
Thrall, "2 Cor 5:18-21," 227.
30 2 Macc 1:4-5; 5:20; 7:18, 32ff.; 8:29.
31 L. Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (
1955) 192-98. Morris is concerned to show that God is not passive in relation to sin but
rather is actively wrathful against it. His wrath against sin must be satisfied. This of
course is true, but the fact remains that Paul uses the term "propitiation" (i[lasth<rion
Rom 3:25), not the term "reconciliation" to describe the satisfaction of God's wrath
84 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
Paul's description of the ministry of reconciliation is expanded in
5:19.32 This verse begins with the difficult double connective w[j o!ti
variously translated "namely" (NASB), "that" (NIV), "that is" (RSV),
"to wit" (KJV),
"for indeed" (DV), and
"what I mean is" (
of these are epexegetical translations implying that 5:19 further ex-
plains the thought of 5:18. Two other questions confront the exegete
of this verse. First, should the prepositional phrase e]n Xrist&? be
understood adverbially ("God was reconciling in Christ," NIV) or
adjectivally ("God-in-Christ was reconciling," KJV, NASB)? The first
option is preferable due to the usual usage of prepositional phrases as
adverbs, not adjectives. Further, Paul's emphasis is not upon incarna-
tion but upon reconciliation, and it is his habit to mention Christ as
the means of reconciliation (2 Cor
5:18; Rom 5:10;
second question concerns the periphrastic verbal construction h#n . . .
katalla<sswn (imperfect plus present participle). One wonders why
the simple finite verb was not used, and also why the progressive
aktionsart rather than the aorist (as in v 18) appears. Perhaps the best
answer is that Paul wished to emphasize here the element of contin-
gency in the ongoing process of reconciliation through the ministry of
the gospel. It is noteworthy that the middle clause of v 19, "not
counting their sins against them," also uses a progressive tense (logi-
zo<menoj, present participle) to describe God's reconciling action. Al-
though there is an historic, objective sense in which reconciliation was
finished at the cross, there is also the subjective actualization of that
objective truth as the gospel is preached and people believe.34
32 The following displays the similarity of these two verses:
18 A ta> de> pa<nta e]k tou? qeou? tou? katalla<cantoj h[ma?j e[aut&? dia> Xristou?
B kai> do<ntoj h[mi?n th>n diakoni<an th?j katallagh?j,
19 A' w[j o!ti qeo>j h#n e]n Xrist&? ko<smon katalla<sswn e[aut&?,
C mh> logizo<menoj au]toi?j ta> paraptw<mata au]tw?n
B' kai> qe<menoj e]n h[mi?n to>n lo<gon th?j katallagh?j.
The A and A' lines are quite similar except that the object of reconciliation ("us") in A
is expanded to "world" in A'. The B and B' lines are nearly synonymous except for the
terminology, with B having do<ntoj . . . diakoni<an and B' having qe<menoj . . . lo<gon. It is
obvious that the major expansion has taken place in line C, which describes reconcilia-
tion in terms used elsewhere of justification (Psa 32:2; Rom 4:8).
33 Paul also uses this combination in 2 Cor 11:21 and 2 Thess 2:2, but in these cases
the combination introduces statements which Paul does not totally affirm. Some who
believe that Paul is alluding to a traditional formula at this point translate ''as it is said"
(e.g., Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 317-18). But arguments that Paul is adapting tradition
throughout the passage (as, e.g., by Martin,
convincing. One thing is clear, the thought of v 18 is enlarged in v 19, making an
epexegetical translation such as "that is" preferable. See further BDF §396; and
T. Muraoka, "The use of WS in the Greek Bible," NovT 7 (1964) 65.
34 See Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 318; Hering, 2 Corinthians, 44; and Martin, 2 Corin-
Turner: PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION 85
Paul's statement in v 19 is that in Christ God was reconciling "the
world" (cf. Rom 11:15) to himself, not "us" as in v 18. While some
take the world as equivalent to "all" (people) in 5:14-15,35 it is more
likely that a cosmic meaning is intended. Though people are primarily
in mind (note the middle clause of the verse, "not counting their
trespasses against them,") Paul's thought cannot be limited merely to
human beings. Paul has been speaking of the new creation in Christ as
superseding the old creation ruined by Adam's fall (5:17). Thus it is
likely that he does not mean merely all people (believers?), or even
the Gentiles as opposed to merely
the universe as a whole. "All things" are in the process of being
reconciled through the cross of Christ. The effects of the second
Adam's obedience can be no less than the effects of the first Adam's
disobedience. As Adam's disobedience wreaked havoc throughout the
entire created order, so Christ's obedience will ultimately harmonize
the universe in the new heavens and new earth. The entire ko<smoj
will ultimately be at peace with God due to Christ's redemptive
mediacy (cf. Rom 8:18-21; Eph
1:10; Phil 2:9-11;
to be confused with soteric universalism, since many will only bow
the knee grudgingly. However, recognition of a sort of cosmic uni-
versalism is necessary if we are to grasp the glorious comprehensive-
ness of Christ's work of redemption. Paul seems to picture this process
of reconciliation elsewhere through a military motif (2 Cor 2:14;
10:3-5; Coll:13; 2:15). It is as if the decisive battle of the war has
already been fought, and it is only a matter of time until the defeated
foes lay down their arms. In God's wisdom the ministry of reconcilia-
tion already is calling his enemies to surrender. Ultimately this will
result in the total victory of the Lord Jesus Christ.36
In v 20 contemplation of the glorious truth of God's program to
reconcile the world to himself through the gospel of Christ brings
Paul to a conclusion (ou#n). In vv 20-21 Paul takes the general truths
which he has been explaining and applies them directly and specifi-
cally to the situation in
very mouthpiece of God, Paul pleads with the Corinthians in Christ's
behalf to be reconciled to God. Though some take this to be a sample
35 E.g., Barrett, 2 Corinthians, 177; C. Kruse, The Second Epistle of Paul to the
Corinthians (TNTC; Leicester/Grand Rapids: InterVarsity/ Eerdmans, 1987) 127.
36 For the cosmic view see, e.g., Hughes, who precisely comments, "The cosmic
rehabilitation is brought about through the salvation of sinful men" (2 Corinthians, 209).
37 The verb presbeu<omen (Cf. Eph 6:10) pictures Paul's ministry as the representa-
tive or legate of a king carrying out diplomatic or governmental business. That verb was
used to describe such activities for the Roman emperor in NT times. Cf. 1 Macc 14:22;
2 Macc 11:34.
86 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
of Paul's missionary preaching directed to no one in particular,38 it is
preferable to understand it as Paul's appeal to the Corinthians to
renew their peaceful relationship to God and his messenger.39 Though
it is true that the personal pronouns ("you") found in many English
translations do not occur in the Greek text of 5:20, the second person
plural ending of the imperative katalla<ghte implies that the Corin-
thians are its subject. Also, the presence of ou#n at the beginning of
5:20 implies that Paul is now drawing a new inference from his
previous general statements about reconciliation. Likewise, the urgent,
emotive, personal tone of 5:20 makes more sense if it is directed to the
Corinthians than if it is merely an example of what Paul would preach
if he had an audience for evangelism. Most importantly, the context
must be given its due. Since 2:14 Paul has been making an appeal/
defense to the Corinthians regarding his message and ministry. Their
rift with him carried with it ominous implications of defection from
the gospel. The messenger and the message cannot be separated, as is
underlined in Paul's warning in 6:1-2. Paul is God's ambassador,
speaking in Christ's stead. Rejection of the ambassador is tantamount
to rejection of the King of kings and calls into question the reception
of the King's message (cf. 2:9; 6:1; 1:1; 8:8, 24; 9:3; 11:3-4;12:20; 13:5).
The urgency of Paul's appeal for the Corinthians to renew their
relationship with God is underlined by the striking asyndetic addition
of v 21. Here Paul explains how reconciliation can be achieved: the
sinless Messiah became sin so that sinners might become righteous in
him (cf. Rom 3:21-22; 1 Cor 1:30; Phil 3:9). The language is once
more (cf. 5:19b) reminiscent of justification. Barrett's proposal of a
chiastic structure for this verse is unconvincing, but he is correct that
the verse "is set out in a carefully balanced pair of parallel lines."40
Through the years this striking statement has been the basis of a great
deal of theological debate as the relationship of Christ to sin was
pondered. Harris correctly comments that these words "defy final
exegetical explanation, dealing as they do with the heart of the
atonement."41 This passage reaffirms and defines the central truth Paul
has just alluded to in 5:14-15: the representative, substitutionary char-
acter of Christ's death.
The central problem of the verse is the meaning a[marti<an e]poi<h-
sen.42 How indeed was Christ "made sin"? Paul affirms in continuity
38 Hughes, 2 Corinthians, 210-11.
39 Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 350; Kruse, 2 Corinthians, 128; and especially Martin,
2 Corinthians, 155-56.
40 Barrett, 2 Corinthians, 179.
41 Harris, 2 Corinthians, 354.
42 Among many treatments of this problem, see especially L. Sabourin and
S. Lyonnet, Sin, Redemption, and Sacrifice (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1970)
Turner: PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION 87
with many NT passages that Christ "knew no sin"43 (cf. John 8:46;
Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet 2:22, citing Isa 53:9; 1 John 3:5). Nevertheless,
Christ identified himself with sinners in order to redeem them (Matt
3:13-17; Luke 23:40-41; Rom 8:3; Gal 3:13). Paul does not say that
God made Christ a sinner, but that he made (appointed?) him to be
sin. While some have argued that sin means "sin offering," it seems
better to view this as compressed, almost hyperbolic language in-
tended to say that Christ totally identified with sinners. Harris elo-
quently explains that it was Paul's intent
to say more than that Christ was made a sin-offering and yet less than
that Christ became a sinner. So complete was the identification of the
sinless Christ with the sin of the sinner, including its dire guilt and its
dread consequence of separation from God, that Paul could say pro-
foundly, "God made him. . . to be sin for us."44
The compressed statement of 5:21 regarding the substitutionary
basis of reconciliation now gives way to a direct appeal to the Corin-
thians in 6:1-2. The chapter division is unfortunate, since the flow of
thought runs uninterrupted from the profundity of Christ's identifica-
tion with sinners to the appeal for the Corinthians not to receive God's
grace in vain.45 Most scholars agree that sunergou?ntej; in 6:1 speaks of
Paul as God's coworker. This striking thought fits the context, espe-
cially the thought of 5:20 (cf. 1 Cor 3:9; 1 Thess 3:2). Paul does not
mean to lord this over the Corinthians since he uses the same word to
describe his relationship with them (2 Cor 1:24). Nevertheless, in his
apostolic vocation he is uniquely endowed for ministry (2 Cor 2:14;
3:4-6; 10:14; 12:11-12), and this heightens the obligation of the Corin-
thians to respond obediently. Coming as it does after 5:11-21, this
appeal is perhaps the most direct and urgent of the entire epistle.46
Paul urges (parakalou?men; cf. deo<meqa in 5:20) the Corinthians not
to receive the grace of God in vain (ei]j keno>n, cf. Gal 2:2; Phil 2:16;
43 Obviously this is not to say that Christ was intellectually unaware of sin. Here
the "knowledge" of sin refers to accepting or approving it, or having an intimate
relationship with it. The verb ginw<skw, and its Hebrew equivalent it", commonly
fixpress this idea (cf. Ps 1:6; Amos 3:2; Matt 7:23).
44 Harris, 2 Corinthians, 354.
45 Sources which recognize that the appeal of 6:1-2 belongs with the flow of 5:11-
21 include Barrett, 2 Corinthians, 182; Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 341; Harris, 2 Corin-
thians, 355; and Martin, 2 Corinthians, 160. Hughes (2 Corinthians, 211) makes too
much of a distinction between the appeals of 5:20 and 6:2. Hanson goes so far as to say
that Paul wrote 2 Cor 5:19-6:2 as "unostentatious midrash" because he had been
meditating on Isa 49:1-8. See A. T. Hanson, Studies in Paul’s Technique and Theology
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974) 167.
46 Furnish (2 Corinthians, 321, 338) states that the appeal of 5:20-6:2 connects
Paul's discussion of apostleship (2:14ff.) with a major section of appeals (5:20-9:15).
88 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
1 Thess 3:5). This expression has been taken in two different ways.
Some think that Paul warns the Corinthians so that their genuine
acceptance of the gospel will not be without beneficial purpose.47
However, Hering is correct that "acceptance of the gospel is an action
or state which continues."48 In this understanding genuine acceptance
of the gospel will be a persevering acceptance. If this is accepted,
Paul must be warning the Corinthians to consider whether their ac-
ceptance of the gospel has been superficial and counterfeit.49 In other
words, the offer and acceptance of God's grace is an ongoing process.
Though acceptance of this grace has a beginning, it must also have
continuance. This second option is to be preferred due to the solem-
nity and urgency of Paul's argument to this point, an urgency which is
emphasized further in the OT passage cited next in 6:2.50
The section under consideration began in 5:11 with the awesome
prospect of future judgment. This prospect caused Paul to have a
ministry characterized by integrity, one which the Corinthians must
obey. Now the prospect of future judgment should cause the Corin-
thians not to receive God's grace in vain. To emphasize this point
even further, Paul cites Isa 49:8 from the LXX. The appeal becomes
more urgent if it is realized that the eschatological "day of salvation"
is already present. The thought here relies upon Paul's new creation
emphasis in 5:14-17. The old order is past; the new order has dawned;
and the opportunity for salvation must be grasped now, at the "ac-
ceptable time," during the "day of salvation." Paul thus applies Isaiah's
oracle about the Servant and postexilic salvation to the gospel era of
messianic salvation (cf. Isa 61:1-2 in Luke 4:19).
Therefore the Corinthians are participants in the age of oppor-
tunity, and this heightens their accountability to Paul's appeal. They
must renew their original faith in the message and messenger of God's
47 Kruse, 2 Corinthians, 131.
48 Hering, 2 Corinthians, 46.
49 Martin, 2 Corinthians, 167.
50 Many lack understanding and appreciation of Paul's warnings due to a one-
sided and misguided emphasis upon the "eternal security" doctrine. It must be noted
that the NT generally promises security to those who are persevering in faith (John
10:27-30; Rom 8:25, 28; 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 1, 21, 25). God preserves those whose genuine
faith produces fruit (Matt 7:15-27). The urgent warning of 2 Cor 6:1-2 is not excep-
tional in the Corinthian correspondence (cf. 1 Cor 3:1-4, 16-17; 6:9-11; 8:11; 9:24-27;
10:12; 15:2, 10, 12, 14; 2 Cor 11:2-4, 20; 13:5-6) or in Paul's other epistles (cf. Gal 1:6;
4:19-20; 5:2, 4;
places strong emphasis upon the duty of believers to persevere in good works (cf. e.g.,
Rom 2:7; 8:25; 11:22; 12:1-2; Eph 2:10; 4:1; Phil 1:29; 2:12; Col1:10; Tit 2:7,14; 3:8, 14).
The cliche bears repeating with urgency: "Faith alone saves but the faith which saves is
Turner: PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION 89
reconciliation. Their hostility to the messenger is tantamount to hos-
tility to the message. Paul models God's reconciling activity by open-
ing his heart to them,51 and they must reciprocate (6:11-13).
Reconciliation Elsewhere in Paul
There are many scholarly works which present detailed studies of
the Pauline material on reconciliation.52 And of course the topic is
regularly treated by systematic theologians and ethicists. Here only a
brief survey of the major passages is possible.
Besides 2 Corinthians 5, four other Pauline passages53 speak di-
rectly of reconciliation. Rom 5:6-11 speaks of reconciliation as God's
loving act toward undeserving sinners in which Christ died for the
helpless enemies of God. Once this reconciliation has been received,
the believer may rejoice in his/her salvation from God's eschatological
wrath. Paul's words here take the form of two arguments, the first
"lesser to greater," and the second "greater to lesser." If dying for a
righteous or good man is praiseworthy, how much more is Christ's
death for helpless sinners (5:6-8)? This magnifies God's mercy in
providing reconciliation through Christ's death. Second, if Christ went
so far as to reconcile his enemies, will he not in the end save his friends
(5:9-11)? This provides assurance that God will ultimately complete
what he has begun in Christ. It is interesting to note the close
connection between justification and reconciliation in the protases of
51 Martin, 2 Corinthians, 166-67.
52 See, e.g., J. Dupont, La
reconciliation dans la theologie
Desclee de Brouwer, 1953); J. Fitzmyer, "Reconciliation in Pauline Theology," No
Famine in the Land: Studies in Honor of John L. McKenzie (ed. J. W. Flanagan and
ment Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1981) 486-92; E. Kasemann, "Some
Thoughts on the Theme The Doctrine of Reconciliation in the New Testament,'" The
Future of our Religious Past: Essays in Honor of Rudolf Bultmann (ed. J. M. Robinson
and R. P. Scharlemann;
New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974) 450-56;
of 'Reconciliation,'" Unity and Diversity in New Testament Theology: Essays in Honor
of George E. Ladd (ed. R. A. Guelich;
L. Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955)
R. Martin, Reconciliation: A Study of Paul’s Theology (
1981); J. Murray, "The Reconciliation," in Studies in Theology, Reviews (Collected
Writings of John Murray (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982) 4.92-112; H. Ridderbos,
Paul: An Outline of His
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975) 182-86; and V.
lor, Forgiveness and Reconciliation (London: Macmillan, 1941) 83-129.
53 The authenticity of Ephesians and Colossians as genuine epistles of Paul is
assumed in this study.
90 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
vv 10 and 11 respectively. Eschatological salvation is the consumma-
tion of redemption already begun. The "already" (justification and
reconciliation) assures believers of the "not yet" ("we shall be saved").54
In Rom 11:15 Paul turns again to the language of reconciliation in
his defense of the wisdom of God's plan for the Jews and Gentiles. If
the present national unbelief of
of the Gentiles, the marvelous outcome of
can only be described as life from the dead! Paul has been speaking
of his ministry to the Gentiles as a means of
jealousy (11:11-14). He goes on to illustrate the redemptive historical
process with the olive tree (11:16b-24). The phrase in 11:16 is katal-
lagh> ko<smou, and ko<smou is clearly an objective genitive describing
the worldwide opportunity for Gentiles to receive salvation through
faith in the Messiah of Israel. While reconciliation in Rom 5:6-11 was
something received individually (5:11; th>n katallagh>n e]la<bomen),
here in Romans 11 it has more of a corporate reference to Gentiles
having the opportunity to receive salvation. This opportunity results
in "the fullness of the Gentiles" receiving salvation, which in turn
spells the consummation of national
Corporate reconciliation is also the theme of reconciliation lan-
guage in Ephesians 2. Here Paul stresses the grace (2:5, 7-8), mercy
(2:4), and kindness (2:7) of God who reconciles (2:16) those who
deserve wrath (2:3). Here the state of alienation from God (2:1) is also
described as a state of satanic influence (2:2) and alienation from
God's Messiah, covenant promises, and covenant nation (2:12-13).
The enmity (e@xqra) or hostility removed by Christ's redemption is not
merely vertical but is also horizontal. The stipulations of the Mosaic
Covenant formed a barrier between Jews and Gentiles which Christ
abolished (2:14-15) when he created the church (1:22) as "one new
man" (2:15), and "one body" (2:16) in which equal access to God is
opened up to all who believe, Jew and Gentile alike (2:18). It is
54 This connection between justification and reconciliation in vv 10-11 may be
illustrated by the following arrangement of the clauses:
A poll&? ou#n ma?llon dikaiwqe<ntej nu?n e]n t&? ai!mati au]tou?
B swqhso<meqa di ] au]tou? a]po> th?j o]rgh?j.
A' ei] ga>r e]xqroi> o@ntej kathlla<ghmen t&? qe&? dia> tou? qana<tou tou? ui[ou? au]tou?:
B' poll&? ma?llon katallage<ntej swqhso<meqa e]n t^? zw^? au]tou?:
Both justification (A) and reconciliation (A') produce the assurance of future salvation
(B, B/). There is perhaps a shade of distinction between B and B' in that B states the
truth negatively and B' states it positively. Believers will be saved from wrath by and to
55 This interplay between
grasped by J. Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT;
1959, 65) 75-90.
Turner: PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION 91
noteworthy that Christ, not the Father as generally stated elsewhere in
Paul, is the subject of the act of reconciliation in 2:16. This is not a
point of tension or contradiction since the Father is acting to reconcile
through, his appointed Messiah.56 The experience of reconciliation
through Christ radically redefines vertical and horizontal human rela-
tionships as there is now peace between mankind and God and peace
between Jew and Gentile (2:14, 17). Both are built into one dynamic
dwelling of God through the Spirit (2:19-22).57
When one turns to Colossians there is less of the emphasis upon
Jew-Gentile equality which has just been noticed in Ephesians (but
see 1:27; 3:11). Rather, the stress can only be called cosmic. Paul is not
interested so much in individual reconciliation, or in redemptive his-
tory, or even in the corporate unity of Jew and Gentile in the body of
Christ. He is more concerned to point out that the reconciliation
wrought by Christ leaves nothing outside its impact. The entire uni-
verse, including both visible and invisible beings, has in some way
been reconciled by the blood of the cross (1:20).58 Paul's chief goal in
Colossians 1 seems to be the magnification of Christ as the all-suffici-
ent Lord of the universe. This truth is then applied more directly in
Colossians 2 to the false teaching which has endangered the church.
Thus, Paul speaks of Christ as creator and sustainer of the uni-
verse (1:16-17; ta> pa<nta) and as the head of the church (1:18). The
Father was pleased for divine fullness (cf. 2:9) to dwell in Christ and
to reconcile the universe to himself through Christ (1:19-20). Here the
familiar vocabulary of alienation (1:21) occurs again as the presup-
position of reconciliation, as Paul moves from the universe in general
to the Colossians in particular (1:22). It is striking that the emphasis is
primarily upon the reconciliation of the universe, especially the
supernatural powers (1:16, 20). This is evidently due to the false
teaching about the powers which has been troubling the Colossians
(2:8, 10, 15, 18, 20). They needed to know that not only did Christ
originally create the powers but also that subsequently his cross de-
feated them when they rebelled against their Creator. The term
reconciliation describes both the defeat of the evil powers (1:20) and
the redemption of the Colossians, who are now exhorted to stand firm
in their freedom from the defeated powers (1:23; 2:8, 16, 18, 20).
56 M. Barth, Ephesians 1-3 (AB 34; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974) 266.
57 For a careful study of the unity of Jew and Gentile see C. B. Hoch, "The
Significance of the syn-Compounds for Jew-Gentile Relationships in the Body of
Christ," JETS 25 (1982) 175-83.
58 For a careful study of this text see P. T. O'Brien, "Col. 1:20 and the Reconcilia-
lion of All Things," Reformed Theological Review 33 (1974) 45-53; as well as O'Brien's
Colossians; Philemon (WBC 44; Waco, TX; Word, 1982) 53-57,
92 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
While there are some who conclude that the reconciliation of
things involves the annihilation of evil powers and unbelieving human
beings,59 this seems to go beyond Paul's statements and to conflict
with other biblical truths. The doctrine of eternal punishment does
not conflict with the reconciliation of the powers and even of those
who reject Christ's redemption. Rather their defeat in the cross of
Christ leads to the pacification of the universe. Their eternal punish-
ment is the means by which eternal peace is achieved on the renewed
earth for the people of God (cf. Rev 21:7-8,27; 22:14-15).
To conclude the survey, a few lines of continuity between
2 Corinthians 5 and the other Pauline passages may be drawn. It is
clear that Paul's concept of reconciliation was related to his concept
of justification (2 Cor 5:19, 21; cf. Rom 4:8; 5:9-11). Barrett and
Davies opine that these two terms do not describe distinct acts but are
merely different ways of explaining freedom from sin.60 However,
despite some overlap it does seem that distinct truths are expressed
by reconciliation and justification. For one thing it has been rightly
suggested by Buchsel and Cranfield that reconciliation is the more
personal term of the two.61 Not merely a right legal standing but a
harmonious relationship of reciprocal personal love is the result of
reconciliation. Further, Ridderbos notes that the eschatological, cos-
mic scope of reconciliation is lacking from justification, which seems
to be concerned only with individual human beings.62
Another line of continuity is the necessity of reconciliation being
received individually by faith (2 Cor 5:20; cf. Rom 5:11). People are
not passive in the actualization of reconciliation on earth. There is a
ministry to be fulfilled, a message to be proclaimed, a Lord to be
received. The message is that people must be reconciled to God, not
that they are so already.63
Three other matters call for brief notice. The horizontal aspect of
reconciliation so emphasized in Ephesians 2 was threatened by Paul's
59 Recently this has been argued by P. E. Hughes, The True Image (Grand
Rapids/Leicester: Eerdmans/lnterVarsity, 1989) 405-6. Against others who attempt to
use this text to demonstrate universal salvation, O'Brien (Colossians, Philemon, 57) says
"Although all things will finally unite to bow in the name of Jesus and to acknowledge
him as Lord (Phil 2:10-11), it is not to be assumed that this will be done gladly by
all. . . .
60 C. K. Barrett, The Epistle to the Romans (HNTC; New York: Harper, 1957)
108; W. D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, 36. .
61 Buchsel, "a]lla<ssw," 255-56; C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical
Commentary on the
Epistle to the Romans
(2 vols.; ICC;
1975, 79) 1.267.
62 Ridderbos, Paul, 160-61.
63 Thrall, "2 Cor 5:18-21," 228.
Turner: PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION 93
strained relations with the Corinthians (2 Cor 5:20; cf. Eph 2:16). The
cosmic aspect of reconciliation found in Colossians 1 is connected in
Corinthians 5 with the renewal of all things (2 Cor
1:20). And finally, it is repeatedly evident that reconciliation is a state
which must be maintained by the believer's perseverance (2 Cor 5:20;
6:1; cf. Rom 11:22; Col1:23).
Conclusion: A Pauline Theology of Reconciliation
A brief synthesis now concludes this study. Though some despair
of the idea of a NT doctrine of reconciliation, that pessimism is
unwarranted.64 The doctrine can be elucidated by several contrasts
and by four perspectives. First by way of contrast, the literature on
the biblical theology of reconciliation indicates that Paul's teaching
may be explained as follows:
Reconciliation is both. . . and. ..
God's act A person's state
Extra nos In/pro nobis
Already Not yet
This grid for conceptualizing reconciliation attempts to show that it is
a duality. The sovereign work of God in Christ. accomplished recon-
ciliation objectively, but God also sovereignly planned to apply this
reconciliation to individuals through the work of the Spirit in the
proclamation of the message. Individual reception of the message
changes both vertical (Godward) and horizontal (humanward) rela-
tionships as peace permeates the whole of one's life. Those who
receive reconciliation have already received a taste, token, or guaran-
tee of God's future work in their lives and in the universe as a whole.
They also individually begin to model the kind of peaceful relation-
ships in every area of life which God has ordained for the eschaton.
Paul’s strained relationship with the Corinthians is a serious aberration
from this ideal, and he desperately desires to resolve the hostility.
tion in the New Testament,'" 49-51; J. A. Fitzmyer, "Reconciliation in Pauline The-
ology," 162-70. Kasemanns pessimism is largely corrected by Fitzmyer.
94 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
A second way of conceiving Paul's doctrine of reconciliation is
from the four perspectives of initiation, mediation, proclamation, and
actualization. First, God the Father is the initiator of reconciliation:
ta> de> pa<nta e]k tou? qeou? tou? katalla<cantoj h[ma?j e[aut&? dia> Xristou?
(2 Cor 5:18)
This emphasis on the Father as the ultimate source of reconciliation is
also seen in 2 Cor 5:19,
interpreted as a "divine passive"). Though the Father did not lack the
means to destroy all those who spurned his rule, his grace initiated a
plan to remove the hostility between himself and his incorrigible
Second, God the Son in his death on the cross is the mediator of
kathlla<ghmen t&? qe&? dia> tou? qana<tou tou? ui[ou? au]tou? (Rom 5:10)
Christ's redemption as the mediating dynamic of reconciliation may
also be noted in Rom 5:11, 2 Cor
and 2 Cor 5:19 (EV). The two passages which speak of Christ as the
subject of the verb "to reconcile" also speak of him as mediator of
reconciliation (Eph 2:16;
knew no sin as a substitute for sinners so that they might become
righteous before God. Christ identified with sinners so that there
would be a redemptive basis for sinners to be identified with God
through him. The cross did not merely provide an example by which
sinners were morally influenced to turn to God. Rather it provided a
sinless substitute for sinners by which they could approach a holy and
Third, the proclamation of reconciliation is carried out by Paul:
deo<meqa u[pe>r Xristou?, katalla<ghte t&? qe&? (2 Cor 5:20)
Paul had been divinely appointed to a ministry of reconciliation
(2 Cor 5:19). His consciousness of this apostolic commission stood the
test of the Corinthians' disobedience only because he understood that
as an ambassador of the reconciling God his message was the func-
tional equivalent of the very voice of God (2 Cor 5:20). Paul also
realized that the proclamation of this message
dom of God in redemptive history. In Rom 11:13ff. he shows how
resulted in the Gentiles experiencing reconciliation. He goes on to
explain that the Gentiles' reconciliation will
point of national reception of their Messiah, which will in turn bring
unprecedented blessing to the whole world.
Turner: PAUL AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION 95
Fourth, the actualization of reconciliation comes only when indi-
viduals hear the proclaimed message and receive it by faith:
kauxw<menoi e]n t&? qe&? dia> tou? kuri<ou h[mw?n ]Ihsou? Xristou?, di ] ou$
nu?n th>n katallagh>n e]la<bomen (Rom 5:11)
Individuals cannot experience reconciliation with God apart from
faith in the proclamation of the messianic mediation of the Father's
gracious initiative. As individuals respond to the message of reconcilia-
tion, they gain confidence that they are now at last in harmony with
the Creator of the universe who has begun a new creation in them
(2 Cor 5:17). Their destiny is no longer an unknown which causes
fear. Rather they gain confidence in the good will of their reconciler
and are assured (Rom 5:2ff.) that they will ultimately be saved by his -
life (Rom 5:10). The actualization of reconciliation has even greater
effects as reconciled individuals begin to live at peace with one
another in the community of the people of God. Local churches thus
become microcosmic examples of the ultimate eschatological shalom
which will some day characterize the macrocosm of the universe
when the Creator brings about new heavens and a new earth.
As has been often stated, believers today live "between the times"
of the first and second advents of Christ. The first advent mediated
the basis of reconciliation; the second will mediate its universal exten-
sion. In the meantime, may those who have experienced through the
gospel the end of hostilities and the beginning of peace with God
make every effort in their family, church, and societal duties to extend
the message of reconciliation by word and deed. Paul modeled this
reconciling lifestyle as he patiently served the Corinthians in obedi-
ence to his master who said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they
shall be called the sons of God" (Matt 5:9; cf. Jas 3:17-18).65
65 Kasemann said it well: "Cosmic peace does not settle over the world, as in a
fairy tale. It takes root only so far as men [and women] in the service of reconciliation
confirm that they have themselves found peace with God" ("Some Thoughts on the
Theme ‘The Doctrine of Reconciliation in the New Testament,’" 56).
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