Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds
Today’s Passage: Romans 5:1-11
Wait, what’s that strange book on the table? Why is the scripture passage a printout from a spiral-bound workbook instead of Jackson’s dad’s well-worn, possibly leather-bound Bible with handwritten notes in the margins? You would be forgiven for having forgotten it, but that’s right, folks: the Triad study is back! Just as a refresher, the Triad study is a program put together by Hope Church, in which three dudes or three ladies go through a curriculum and meet weekly to grow in the Christian faith and be discipled by Jesus together. When they complete the Triad study, the idea is that they each can start a new Triad with two new people, thereby multiplying disciples. And after an intermission of roughly half a stinkin’ year, we are returning to the study to get back on that horse. You can catch all the Triad study entries via this link.
Anyway, this week’s focus, as indicated by the section header in the book and workbook, is “Reconciliation,” and the passage is Romans 5:1-11. And sure enough, you can find the word in the text, three distinct times:
For if while 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. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (10-11)
And given that we’re going to be camping out in this passage for the rest of the week, it’s important to understand the basic term in question. What is reconciliation? Merriam-Webster’s defines it as “the action of reconciling; the state of being reconciled,” which is why we’re going to consult the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines it much more informatively as “the restoration of friendly relations.” Reconciliation is a particular form of restoration: it’s restoring a relationship.
And if you thought you’re going to get out of here without a look into Strong’s Greek Concordance, you haven’t been following Chocolate Book for very long. Paul’s Greek word of choice here is καταλλαγή, katallagé, which comes from two other words. The root word is ἀλλάσσω, allassó, meaning “change, alter, exchange, transform,” (i.e. make into something different) and it carries the prefix kata, which here acts as an intensifier emphasizing completion. In its earliest Greek uses, predating Paul by a wide margin, katallagé was used for currency exchanges. In such transactions, money became an entirely different kind of money.
Over time, it came to mean a reconciliation between parties as well. Reconciliation, like money changing hands or a particular value being changed from one currency to another, changes your position with reference to the other party. As Paul points out, our sin had previously established our position as enemies of God, but by enduring the penalty for our sin on the cross, Jesus Christ changed our position. We became “justified (i.e. made righteous) by His blood” (8). In this exchange, we went from being enemies of God to becoming his friends. Reconciliation is the ultimate “and now for something completely different.”