A REPLY by A. E. Knoch
by Arthur W. Pink
WE now come to the grandest of all God's revelations, the reconciliation of the universe, and we are actually asked to believe that this refers to things, not to persons! This assertion has been made before. We have thought it so ridiculous that it seemed best not to notice it, leaving it to expose its own folly. This has been the wisest course, for honest hearts who heard it were led to conclude that, if such an absurdity is necessary to sustain the point, the contrary must certainly be true. How can things be reconciled?
The few phrases in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as reconciling the house, have been properly changed to atoning in the Revision. As the theological definition is "the act of bringing God and man into agreement," it is evident that our brother boldly ignores all the good and great men he has been lauding, without even an explanation. Were they all wrong? He must prove, hot assume, that reconciliation is confined to things. He cannot produce a single passage to substantiate it. The very next verse tells us the Colossians were reconciled. Were they inanimate things?
We shall notice one other passage which Mr. Knoch claims in support of his scheme of Universalism, and that is Col.1:20: `And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.' In connection with this verse the impious audacity of Mr. Knoch appears in its boldest form. With regard to his distorted interpretations of the scriptures which have already been before us, we have shown how he is guilty of reading into them what is not there, and how that he is obliged to interpolate phrases of his own for which there is absolutely no warrant. But here he dares to offer a translation which entirely changes the meaning of the words used by the Holy Spirit in the original. On page 169 of `The Divine Mysteries' we find him rendering Col.1:20 as follows: `And through Him to reconcile the universe for Him (when peace is made through the blood of the cross) whether that on earth or that in the heavens.'
Before indicating what we believe to be the real meaning of this verse, we call attention to two of the changes made by Mr. Knoch. First, he changes `all things' to `the universe;' and second, he alters the `having made peace' to `when peace is made.' Now the Greek here for `all things' is `ta panta.' Panta signifies `all things,' ta is the article in the neuter gender, so that ta panta means `the all things.' When this expression occurs on the pages of the New Testament close attention must be paid to the context, so as to gather its scope from the setting where it is found. Whether or not there is anything in the meaning of these Greek words `ta panta' which obliges us to render them `the universe' we leave it to our readers to judge for themselves, by the occurrence of them in the following passages: `I am made the all things to all men, that I might by all means save some' (1 Cor.9:22). `If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, the all things are become new' (2 Cor.5:17). `But speaking the truth in love may grow up into Him in the all things, which is the head, even Christ' (Eph.4:15). The words we have placed in italics in these three passages correspond exactly with the Greek for `all things' in Col.1:20. Let any one attempt to substitute `the universe' in 1 Cor.9:22,--`I am made the universe to all men,' or in 2 Cor.5:17--`Old things have passed away, behold, the universe is become new;' so with Eph.4:15. Thus, not only is there nothing in the Greek expression `ta panta' which obliges us to translate it `the universe,' but its usage in the New Testament demonstrates the utter absurdity and impossibility of such a rendition.
A Faulty Foundation for a False Argument
This certainly looks serious, for here we have no appeal to human authority, but to the Scriptures themselves. This is the real way to go about determining the meaning of ta panta! If we find, upon investigation, that all of the passages which have this phrase are like those given it would be well for us to revise our rendering, and acknowledge our mistake. But there is some subtle reservation in the twice emphasized "obliges," which arouses our suspicion that all is not just as it should be. It is evident that his conscience is uneasy and demands a loophole through which to escape in case his facts are checked.
Thus we see that two of the texts do not even have the phrase in question! Do these "exactly correspond?" Is this the way that truth is to be established? These are false witnesses against the truth. O, why should one of God's servants fall so low? May God forgive him this wrong!
In the third instance (Eph.4:15) the phrase actually occurs, but the grammatical usage is entirely different. We are considering ta panta as the direct object of the verb, in the phrase reconciles the universe. Anyone can see that it will not do to translate Eph.4:15 this way, for that would be "should be growing the all." The A.V. gets around this by changing to the dative, "may grow up in all things." But this would be tois pasi or en tois pasin in the Greek, hence the C. V. prefers "we all should be growing" because ta panta may be the subject as well as the object of the sentence.
Worse evidence could scarcely be found. In fact, in culling out texts to prove his contention he was forced to choose those which were spurious because the others, which are authentic, are against him! But why did he suppress them? He well knew that few readers of Our Hope could or would look up the other passages. It is very sad!
But we do not wish to hide behind the errors of others. Their wrong, does not make us right. There are passages where the phrase the all cannot be rendered by "the universe," and we need only refer our readers to the CONCORDANT VERSION to show that we, too, hold with our dear brother that there is nothing in the phrase itself which obliges us to render it so. Why, then, do we do it?
The word all, as used in the Greek original, is quite a study in itself. In the concordance made for the CONCORDANT VERSION every form of the word has been classified and special usages have been grouped together. All is sometimes used as an adjective and sometimes as a noun. When used as an adjective it is limited by the noun it modifies, as "all men." When used as a noun it is limited only by its context.
The all is used as a noun and is further classified as to whether it is the subject or the object of a sentence. Gathering together the occurrences which have the all as their object we have a magnificent cluster of passages which shame the brilliancy of Orion, and compass the uttermost realms of space as well as farthest stretches of time.
In English, "the All" means the Universe
We do not wish to be sticklers for any form of phraseology and are quite willing to withdraw the phrase "the universe" just as soon as it is shown to be wrong. But we believe that few will find fault with the following renderings, in which "the universe" is used to distinguish the simple "all" from "the all." These passages actually are the same in every way in the Greek and have the same usage in English, hence should be rendered alike.
Now whenever He might say that all has been subjected, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who is subjecting the universe to Him. 28 Now whenever the universe may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself, also, shall be subject to Him Who subjects the universe to Him, that God may be All in all (1 Cor.15:27, 28).
...He makes known to us the secret of His will...to have an administration, the complement of the eras, in which the universe is to be headed up in the Christ--that in the heavens as well as that on the earth--even in Him in Whom our lot is cast, being designated beforehand according to the purpose of the One Who is operating the universe in accord with the counsel of His will..." (Eph.1:9-11).
...God, Who creates the universe...(Eph.3:9).
He Who descends is the Same Who ascends, also, above all the heavens that He should complete the universe (Eph.4:10).
...Who will transfigure the body of our humiliation, to conform it to His body glorious, in accord with the operation which enables Him to subject even the universe to Himself (Phil.3:21).
...and through Him to reconcile the universe to Him (Col.1:20).
Who, being the Effulgence of His glory and the Emblem of His assumption, as well as carrying on the universe by His powerful declaration...(Heb.1:3).
`Thou dost subject all underneath his feet.' For in the subjection of all to him, He left nothing unsubjected to him (Heb.2:8).
For the universe Thou dost create....(Rev.4:11).
Happily one of the passages gives a divine discussion of the very point at issue. The fifteenth of first Corinthians defines all as in itself so unlimited in its scope as to include God Himself! Only the nature of the case leaves God outside of its range. What English expression means just this? In German we would follow the Greek literally and say das All. But in English the universe is the exact equivalent of the divine definition here given, even to the point that it may or may not include the Deity. Any dictionary will confirm this.
This is the passage which our beloved brother should have quoted to show the meaning of the phrase. There is no question of its right to a place in the text. It is in exact grammatical accord. The usage is the same. It specifically defines the very point at issue, which is that the all, unless limited by the context, includes the universe. What motive would have prompted the deliberate omission of this passage? Is not this the offense he seeks to cover with the word "obliges?"
But we cannot consider such priceless pearls of truth strung on the phrase ta panta without pausing to view their amazing beauty. We are led from the beginning to the consummation, from the creation to the reconciliation. He creates, He carries on, He operates, He subjects, He reconciles. Did He create a fragment? Then He will reconcile a few. Does He operate a fraction? Does He subject a selection? Is His headship confined to His followers? Then reconciliation is restricted to a residue.
If Christ Creates All, He also Reconciles All
But if God creates all and operates all and subjects all, then He reconciles ALL. Rob Him of the brightest gem in His diadem and you filch the rays from all the rest.
And so with every one of these marvelous activities of God and Christ. Rob them of their universality and they are shorn of their splendor, they sink into a dread and dark eclipse. One thread of thought will suffice. If all is not eventually subjected to the Son, then rebellion will never cease. God will be in constant and eternal conflict with His creatures. Christ will be proven powerless to perform the task assigned to Him. The creature is stronger than the Creator!
It will be noted that we do not render Heb.2:8 the universe. The reason is obvious. In this context the scope of the passage is limited to the future inhabited earth (Heb.2:5). Had it not been so confined, we should have been fully justified in the usual rendering. In Colossians, the passage in point, the conditions are the opposite. Instead of limiting the all to the earth, it is expressly amplified so as to include both earth and heaven lest we should be led to confine it to this sphere.
The most important conclusion is yet to be stated. We ourselves could not produce a more powerful argument for the truth than is furnished by this incident. Why, the suppression of a dozen passages which disprove his point is enough for any honest heart! But the tragic faculty of ferreting out all the texts which are inapplicable or spurious absolutely assures us that the one who chose them is seeking a foundation for that which is false. He, rather than we, has put this point beyond the possibility of appeal! We thank him for his efforts.
The other change which Mr. Knoch has made from `hath made peace' to `when peace is made' is, if possible, even worse.
As no reason or evidence is given why "when peace is made" is so impossibly worse than "hath made peace," we will not take the space to repeat what we have already set forth on page 19 of "The Greek and English Indefinite." The rendering we gave was the result of weeks of careful study and compilation of hundreds of passages in which the indefinite participle occurs. Examples were found where its action was in the past, as here, and examples were found where the action is in the future, as "what shall I do to inherit eternal life" (Luke 18:18)? When all the evidence is considered, there can be no doubt that this indefinite participle is timeless. It records a fact, not an act. In the CONCORDANT VERSION the when has been omitted because the simple participle "making peace" carries the indefinite sense sufficiently without it. Besides all this, "having made peace" calls for a different form of the verb, ending in -koos.
At the time this is written we are working on the translation of Heb.7:27. Speaking of the sacrifice of Christ, we read, "this He does once, when offering up Himself." Was the sacrifice after "having offered" up Himself? This is surely incorrect, for the offering up was the sacrifice. Hence the indefinite participle is here rendered, "when offering."
"Now in order to arrive at a proper understanding of Col.1:20 several things in it need to be carefully weighed--any one of which is sufficient to show the falsity of Mr. Knoch's interpretation.
"First, the Greek verb which is rendered in the 1611 version `to reconcile' is in the aorist, and refers, therefore, to a past action. The reconciliation of verse 20, so far from pointing forward to some far distant hour in the future, refers to something already accomplished."
The Aorist is Not a Past Tense
Once more we must make allowances for those who study grammars about the Greek rather than the inspired text itself. The statement that the aorist is a past tense may be "proven" by a reference to most elementary Greek grammars, but it cannot be shown in the Scriptures themselves. Great scholars, as Weymouth, say it is not past. As we have a complete pamphlet on this subject, we refer our readers to "The Greek and English Indefinite," which shows that this form is just what its Greek name says it is. It is not a past tense, but indefinite. One example will suffice for those who wish to bow to the authority of God's Word. Paul wrote to the Romans concerning the saints of the Circumcision, "for if the nations participate in their spiritual things, they ought also to minister to them in carnal things" (Rom.15:27). The word for to minister is in the aorist, exactly the same as to reconcile. How could Paul urge the saints to minister to them in the past? Was it "already accomplished?" This is an aorist, or indefinite form, and includes the past, present and future.
Second, as already quoted above, in the Greek the `all things' is prefaced by the definite article--`the all things.' The usage of the article limits the `all things.' It serves both to define and confine the `all things' spoken of.
This statement is so vague that we will supply an example in order to determine whether "the" really limits the simple all. That it is used to define it, we have indicated by translating the all, the universe, and without the, simply all. In 1 Cor.15:27 (quoted above) all occurs both with and without the the, as follows: "now whenever He might say that all has been subjected, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who is subjecting the all to Him." What difference is there between the limits of all and the all in this passage?
There is none at all. Both include the universe with the evident exception of God Himself. This missile, thrown at a venture, is a boomerang. The truth is not driven to such expedients. Only the false needs such arguments.
Third, Col.1:20 is speaking of the reconciliation of `things,' not persons. It may be replied that `all things' includes persons. Our reply would be, Not so here. If every passage where `panta' and `ta panta' is examined, it will be found that in the vast majority of instances the reference is strictly to `things,' not persons--(cf Matt.19:26; 21:22, etc., etc.). In the very few cases where persons are included the Holy Spirit has been careful to indicate this by a specific amplification, as for instance in 1 Cor.3:21,22 and in Col.1:16. But where `all things' stands alone (no persons being named in the words immediately following) persons are always excluded. What `the all things' in Col.1:20 is we are told in the remainder of the verse--`whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven;' for the `things in heaven' compare Heb.9:23.
The Greek "Neuter" is Indefinite
In a previous quotation it is said that "Panta signifies `all things,' ta is the article in the neuter gender, so that ta panta means 'the all things.' "Such a slip as this may be pardoned when we reflect that it is usual, in elementary Greek grammars, to call the indefinite gender "neuter." In English the neuter gender cannot be used of either masculine or feminine objects. The Greek has no form like this. The so-called "neuter" applies to both persons and things. We do not need to study Greek grammar to satisfy ourselves on this point. Any of the passages already quoted will show that ta panta is not confined to things. What sense can there be to the subjection of all things to the Son except God? Our dear brother surely does not wish to tell us that God is not a Person (1 Cor.15:28)! Is Christ's headship to be confined to things (Eph.1:10)? Does not God's creation include persons (Eph.3:9)? Does God make all things alive (1 Tim.6:13)? The single phrase panta ta ethnee, "all the nations," completely destroys the contention that panta is neuter (Mat.28:19; Luke 21:24; 24:47; Rom.16:26; Rev.12:5; 14:18). Nations are not composed of things only, but of persons. So also, "all the demons" (Luke 9:1). Panta is indefinite, referring to either persons or things.
Besides, how can things be reconciled? Our brother himself sees this, for in his fifth objection he insists that only those who have been alienated can be reconciled. Those passages in the Hebrew Scriptures which speak of reconciling the house (Ezek.45:20, etc,) are mostly mistranslations of the word otherwise rendered atone. Heb.9:23 speaks of cleansing, not reconciling. The basis of the reconciliation is the peace made by the blood of the cross. Has He made peace for things? Both of the two other occurrences of reconcile, apply to persons.
The very next verse applies it to the Colossians: "And you, being once estranged and enemies in comprehension, in acts of wickedness, He now reconciles..." (Col.1:21) "that He should create the two, in Him, into one new humanity, making peace; and should be reconciling both with God in one body through the cross" (Eph.2:15,16).
Let us try another test. Having disposed of the fallacy that only things are referred to, it is easy to see that the reconciliation of the Colossians, in the next verse, is a part of the all to be reconciled. When did it occur in their case? Was it when the Son of God died for them? No. It was after they had been estranged. It was not until they "obtained the conciliation" (Rom. 5:11). "To reconcile" is still future for all who have not yet been called, and for that great host who will not enjoy it until the consummation.
For the sake of those who know no Greek, we must explain that the original knows nothing of things on earth or things in heaven. It is simply the article the. Any argument based on it is built upon a weakness in translation.
Fourth, it should be carefully noted that nothing whatever is said in Col.1:20 about the underworld--`the things under the earth' being omitted by the Holy Spirit. If the reconciliation of `the universe' was comprehended in the expression `the all things' then, most assuredly, would the remainder of the verse have read, `whether things in earth, or things in heaven or things under the earth, seeing that the concluding clauses are obviously a definition and description of what is to be `reconciled.' That `things under the earth' (cf Phil.2:10) are not mentioned here is conclusive proof that the underworld is excluded from the reconciliation.
There can be no question in the mind of anyone who understands English that the word whether never introduces a definition or description of any kind. But perhaps the translation is wrong, and our brother uses the word as it is in the Greek. Let us consider a few examples.
1 Cor.12:13 For in one spirit we all are baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free...
"Whether...or" Amplifies, It Does Not Limit
No one can read this and say that the spirit is limited to Jews and Greeks, slaves and free. It includes them. "Whether" amplifies a statement. It insists that it is true in either alternative. Reconciliation is true whether in heaven or on earth. It removes limits.
Suppose we inject the idea of limitation into 2 Cor.5:10 "that each may be requited for that which he puts into practice through the body, whether it is good or bad. It verges on silliness to say that this restricts the investigation to our good and bad acts only!
Test Eph.6:8 the same way, "...whatever good each one may do, for this he will be requited by the Lord, whether slave or free." Those who are neither slave nor free will not be rewarded in that day!
Take 1 Cor.3:22. Without the necessity of mentioning everything which might be enumerated, we are given an overwhelming sense of universality. "...for all is yours, whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or the present, or the future--all is yours, yet you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." The continued repetition of or tends to enlarge our vision so we shall not miss the all-embracing scope of the first statement.
Coming closer to the context, what limitations shall we put on Col.1:16? "Seeing that the universe in the heavens and on the earth is created in Him--the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or sovereignties or authorities--" Is the invisible creation of the Son of God confined to these specially named forms of government? We note that "powers" (Eph.1:21) are lacking in this list. Are they outside of its scope? May God forgive such treasonable insinuations! He knows we would not suggest them except to expose their falsity.
Finally, we will take a passage of exactly the same scope as Col.1:20. In 1 Cor.8:5,6 we read, "For even if so be that there are those being termed gods, whether in heaven or on earth, even as there are many gods and many lords, nevertheless to us there is one God, the Father, out of Whom all is, and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom all is, and we through Him. "Who would even suppose that the scope of this passage is limited to heaven and earth? The gods in the sea and in the underworld are outside its consideration! These places did not come from God or through our Lord! We would like to see a single Scripture in which the phrase heaven and earth is used that does not convey, to all honest and rational minds, the idea of a complete inclusion of all there is. Until its application to the reconciliation of all was noted, no one dreamed of giving it any other force. From the first of Genesis to the twenty-first of Revelation it includes all.
Fifth, that the reconciliation cannot be absolute or universal is unequivocally established by the fact that every creature in the universe needed not to be "reconciled," for the simple reason that every creature has not been "alienated" from God. The unfallen angels have never been at enmity against God, and, therefore, peace needed not to be made for them. Hence, as there is one class of God's creatures who cannot be "reconciled" there can be no such thing as a universal reconciliation.
If we must reason, here is a premise on which we can agree. Only those at enmity with God can be reconciled. Hence things cannot be included, for they can not harbor enmity. As the Scriptures know nothing of "unfallen angels," this is only another case of the rejection of God's Word because of a theological tradition. There is no Scriptural ground whatever for excluding any part of the universe from the benefits of the death of God's beloved Son.
Sixth, it should also be noted that the reconciliation of `things in earth' and `things in heaven' is not universal, for it does not say `all things in earth,' or `all things in heaven.' As a matter of fact all `things in earth' have not been reconciled, nor will they be. One of the `things' in earth is the sea, and this, we learn from Rev.21:1, is to be done away with, for there we read, `And there was no more sea'--that which so often separated the saints from one another during "the time of their earthly pilgrimage will be `no more.' Mr. Knoch himself has felt the force of this and in his characteristic serpentine fashion has sought to wriggle out of it. On page 244 of `The Divine Mysteries' he says: `It is a notable fact that the word aretz (earth) does not include the sea. So that the statement, `In the beginning Elohim created the...earth,' gives us to understand that there was no sea on the primeval earth. In the new earth we are told, `And there was no more sea' (Rev.21:1). So that an earth as God made it and as He will yet have it has no seas.' This is a fair sample (illustrations could easily be multiplied indefinitely) of the subtle but evasive methods which he follows when fairly cornered. What has the `primeval earth' got to do with the subject? Whether it had any sea or had no sea is altogether beside the question. It is not the "things" of the primeval earth which need "reconciling," but the "things" of the present earth which have been defiled by sin. This earth has `seas' and the fact that they are not among the `things' reconciled refutes his contention of universal reconciliation.
The thought that the sea is one of the "things" in the earth which need reconciling is quite a novel one. We were not aware of its enmity to God. However, as it is to vanish in the new earth, it does not affect the matter in hand. We willingly and cheerfully acknowledge that the sea itself will not be reconciled to God!
But the dead in the sea will be reconciled, for the sea will give up the dead in it before it is done away with (Rev.20:13). After that they certainly will be included in the phrase "on earth or in the heavens." This is bordering so closely on the ridiculous that we forbear. Are ships "on earth" when they sail the sea? Are submarines? "On earth" includes the sea. The Son glorified the Father "on the earth" (John 17:4). Shall we conclude that He was out of fellowship when He walked upon the sea (Mark 6:48)? The conviction of all sober Bible students that "heaven and earth" includes all, is fully confirmed by a close study of every occurrence.
Seventh, what follows in verse 21 unequivocally fixes the scope of verse 20. Here we read, `And you, that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled.' Two things should be noted: first, the `and you' (persons) is in designed contrast from `the all things' of verse 20; second, `yet now hath He reconciled' points a further contrast. Mr. Knoch has been quick to seize upon this (while complacently ignoring the first contrast) and argues that the present reconciliation of the Colossian saints is contrasted with the yet future reconciliation of the `universe'(?). But, as a matter of fact, the antithesis is of quite another nature. The `yet now' (present) is set over against the past (accomplished) reconciliation of the previous verse, where the verb is in the aorist tense. In proof, we ask our readers to weigh carefully the use of this same term in the following scriptures:
`For when we were in the flesh (judicially), the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law,' etc. (Rom.7:5,6). `That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel....but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ' (Eph.2:12,13). `Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints' (Col.1:26)--(cf also Rom.7:21,22; 1 Cor.5:9; 2 Cor.8:22). In all of these "now" points a contrast from the past, not the future. It is so in Col.1:20,21. We conclude, then, our comments upon this passage with words borrowed from Sir Robert Anderson: `All this leads to the unmistakable conclusion that `the reconciliation of all things' is not a hope to be fulfilled in the coming eternity, but a fact accomplished in the death of Christ.
Our authority for complacently ignoring the "contrast" between "and you" and "the all things" is the introductory conjunction. And cannot introduce a contrast. If such had been intended, yet, or but, would have been used. It shows beyond question that things includes the Colossians.
If we have ever based a contrast between the present reconciliation of the Colossians and the future universal reconciliation on the word now we are heartily ashamed of it and retract it without qualification. We cannot find any place in our writings where we have done this. The contrast is clearly between the past estrangement and present reconciliation of the Colossians themselves, and has no reference to the universal reconciliation.
Conciliation is One-Sided . . .
Sir Robert Anderson's unmistakable conclusion was not based on the point here presented, but on a study of the word katallassoo, conciliate, showing that it was a one-sided change. This meaning he transferred to apokatallassoo, reconcile, notwithstanding the fact that the added prefix transformed it into a two-sided change. In other words, his unmistakable conclusion was founded on the mistake of failing to distinguish between the things that differ. His study of conciliation was very good, and a great advance in the truth. But he should not have allowed himself to ignore the vital distinction between conciliation and reconciliation. That all may be able to consider this important point for themselves we give all of the occurrences of these two words:
katallagee, DOWN-CHANGE, conciliation Rom. 5:11 Through Whom we now obtained the conciliation. Rom. 11:15 if their casting away is the conciliation of the world. 2 Cor. 5:18 the dispensation of the conciliation 2 Cor. 5:19 the word of the conciliation katallassoo, DOWN-CHANGE, conciliate Rom. 5:10 being enemies, we were conciliated to God Rom. 5:10 being conciliated, we shall be saved by His life 1 Cor. 7:11 let her remain unmarried or be conciliated to her husband 2 Cor. 5:18 yet all is of God, Who conciliates us to Himself through Christ 2 Cor. 5:19 God was in Christ conciliating the world to Himself 2 Cor. 5:20 We are beseeching for Christ, "Be conciliated to God!"
. . . Reconciliation is Mutual
Sir Robert Anderson's deductions from these passages was that conciliation (miscalled reconciliation) was on one side only. God is conciliated. We receive it. This is the essence of the gospel for this era of grace. We do not differ from him in this. Rather, we commend and thank him. But when he seeks to carry this point over to the fuller form, we must protest. Reconciliation is more than conciliation. The latter is one-sided, the former is mutual.
apokatallassoo, FROM-DOWN-CHANGE, reconciliation Eph. 2:16; and should be reconciling both with God Col. 1:20; and through Him to reconcile the universe to Him Col. 1:21 And you...He now reconciles.
The conciliation is concerned with God's attitude toward the world. There is no estrangement on His side. The message of the gospel is not "be reconciled!" for that would imply a change on God's part. We beseech men to be conciliated, to lay aside their enmity as God has done His. The result of mutual conciliation is reconciliation.
In Ephesians the estrangement is between Jew and gentile. Both were at enmity. A change was needed on both sides. Hence they are reconciled. Conciliation was effected at the cross, reconciliation occurs when we obtain the conciliation. Hence the Colossians were reconciled (1:21). This leaves the one passage in point. Does He conciliate the universe or does He reconcile it? Which word is used?
As the word for conciliation is not used the "unmistakable conclusion" is that it is not "a fact accomplished in the death of Christ." The time element in both Ephesians and Colossians shows that it was after Paul's ministry that the reconciliation was accomplished. Jew and gentile were not reconciled at the death of God's Son. It was not until Paul's Roman imprisonment and the casting aside of Israel that this reconciliation was possible.
The Colossians were once estranged. They continued to be estranged long after the death of Christ. When this estrangement ended, they were reconciled. This was not a fact accomplished on Calvary.
No other conclusion is possible but that the reconciliation of the universe, though founded on the peace which comes through the blood of His cross, is not a mere conciliation, but a full reconciliation to be accomplished only when all estrangement between God and his creatures is done away.
In concluding this section of our defense we desire to record our sorrow that necessity has compelled us to expose the false dealing of our brother in choosing discredited texts to prove his position, and in deliberately suppressing those which disprove it. It is really painful to be drawn into a discussion concerning the reconciliation of things, for we feel that no sober, intelligent saint wishes to descend to such unprofitable inanities.
Our only consolation lies in the thought that, if such arguments are the best that can be brought against the truth, they alone should be sufficient to convince all of God's grand purpose to reconcile the universe through the blood of His cross.
In brief, what has God said,
HE RECONCILES THE UNIVERSE
or, He reconciles some things?
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