Word Study - katallasw
“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10, NKJV)
Our goal is to determine the meaning of katallasw within its biblical context. Remember, word studies must always be based on the original language, not simply on the English text. Ultimately the context must determine the precise meaning of the word consideration.
We have selected the word “reconciled” from Romans 5:10. Our word is actually used twice in this particular verse.
First, I have compared nine translations and one paraphrase of Romans 5:10.Two of these translations were thought for thought translations. They are commonly referred to as dynamic-equivalence translations. They stand in juxtaposition to word for word translations. The two dynamic translations that I used are the New International Version and the New Living Translation. As for as literal or word for word translations I compared the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, the Revised Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, and the New English Bible. I also compared one paraphrase of the New Testament – the Philips Modern English Bible.
Second, I discovered that all nine translations and the one paraphrase translated the Greek Word katallasw as “reconciled.” They did not vary in their selection of an English word. Not one translation or paraphrase utilized sought to use or substitute a synonym.
Assuming the accuracy and integrity of the translators, it appears that we can conclude that to be reconciled is “to change” or “to be changed,” or, “to be returned to favor.” This doesn’t tell us much but what the hey? It’s a start!
Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1969) defines reconcile as: 1.a. to restore to friendship, harmony, or communion. B: adjust, settle <differences>, 2: to make congrus <an ideal with reality> 3: to cause to submit to or accept.
Please note that I am not actually defining the Greek word at this point. I am simply attempting to gain insight into its English equivalent.
According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible our writer, the Apostle Paul used this same word four (4) other times in the New Testament
· 1 Corinthians 7:11 – “But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.”
· 2 Corinthians 5:18, 20 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”
· Colossians 1:21 – “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.”
These additional texts help shed light on the meaning of our word. Paul used katallasw the same way in each passage. In other words, it has the same meaning each time Paul used this word.
Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament (page 333) tells us that “reconciled” in Romans 5:10 translates the Greek Word katallasw. It means to change, exchange, as coins for others of equal value; hence to reconcile (those who are at variance) It means to return to favor with, be reconciled to, one.
It is used to mean where one ceased to be angry with another and receives him into favor. God cease to be offended and grants his favor anew to those whose sins he pardons.
It is implied and understood that God is angry with sinners and there is hostility between God and sinners. However, God through Christ makes peace with sinners, He is said to pardon them, and to receive them into His favor, thus ending the hostility.
Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (page 513) says “properly denotes “to change, exchange (especially of money); hence of persons “to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile.” With regard to the relationship between God and man, the use of this and connected words shows that primarily “reconciliation” is what God accomplishes, exercising His grace towards sinful man on the ground of the death of Chris tin propitiatory sacrifice under the judgment due to sin.
Romans 5:10 expresses this in another way: “…that we were enemies” not only expresses man’s hostile attitude to God but signifies that until this change of attitude takes place men are under condemnation exposed to God’s wrath. This stresses the attitude of Gods favor toward us.
Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament (page 61) tells us that the verb form of katallasw means primarily “to exchange; and hence to change the relation of hostile parties into a relation of peace.” “In the Christian sense, the change in the relation of God and man affected through Christ.”
So, while we were enemies with God a change in relationship took place in order for us to have “peace” with God. Once there was a sinful opposition to God and a holy opposition of God towards sinners, there is now peace brought about by God through Christ. Now that we are reconciled the enmity that God has toward sinners is removed enabling God to be propitious and apply the work of Christ to the heart of sinners.
Reconciliation means that the ground of difference has been removed. Reconciliation does not mean that God simply “clears” the guilty. Satisfaction must be made towards His indignant hatred of sin and to satisfy His offended holiness. God does judge our sin; the full penalty for our sin is extracted. God imputed our sin to His Son and His Son paid the full penalty and experienced the fullness of God’s wrath against sin. Reconciliation is an act of God whereby God acts to change the existing relationship between God and man because the grounds, our sin, has been transferred to His dear Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.