Part 4 of 5: The Sacrifice of Propitiation

Posted By Thomas Perez. July 16th, 2011 at 7:55pm. Copyright 2011.

I. Introduction

The image of sacrifice was common to the worlds of both the Jew and Greco-Roman. It was exclusively a religious term, and the New Testament portrayal of the death of Jesus of Nazareth as a sacrifice–the largest category of usage in the NT descriptions of the Cross–fits neatly into these pre-existing understandings. Those who heard the message of the first evangelists would have been shocked at elements of the gospel portrayal of Jesus as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world”, but they would have easily understood the basic concept.

The image of redemption or liberation was different for the Jew and the Greek/Roman. The Greek/Roman would have seen it as a commercial term, dealing largely with slaves/servants/POW’s, and the Jew would have thought in terms of the exodus of the past, and the millennial hope of the future. The gospel message would have employed the Greco-Roman concept as an image to explain the work of Christ in freeing us from the consequences of our destructive choices, habits, behavior, and character. For the Jew, this would have evoked images of freedom from bondage, and a quiet reminder of the common Hope.

But with reconciliation we enter a shock zone–the terms are only used in the NT by Paul, and are at extreme distance from the usage of this word in the Greco-Roman and Jewish worlds of his day. For the Greek/Roman, this word was too personal and intimate a term to use of the relationship between man and the distant and official Gods, and for the Jew it was always God that needed reconciling–it was His wrath that needed “changing”, never ours…

The concepts of peace and harmony envisioned in this world are not a major part of OT thought (though elements can be seen here and there), and form the most profound and sweeping vision of the work of our Lord given in our bible. The Christian’s earnest hope is for that world ‘wherein dwelleth righteousness’ and it is this comprehensive hope that is the goal of Christ’s work in reconciliation.

The center of Paul’s thought?: “These far-ranging and distinctive ideas—covering cosmic, personal, societal and ethnic areas of our human story—are nevertheless part of a pattern, whose picture fills the tapestry. The various strands are closely textured and intricately woven together. Yet they are not aimlessly put into a frame. There is an emerging design and a coherent picture. And the most adequate and meaningful title for the result is, we submit, ‘reconciliation.'” [R.P. Martin, NT:DictPL, s.v. “Center of Paul’s Theology”]

The basic words here are: katallasso and diallasso, formed from allasso (“to make other than what is now”), from allos (“other”, cf. allegory).

The basic definitions of katalasso (the main word) given in the language lexicons:

“to reestablish proper friendly interpersonal relations after these have been disrupted or broken (the componential features of this series of meanings involve (1) disruption of friendly relations because of (2) presumed or real provocation, (3) overt behavior designed to remove hostility, and (4) restoration of original friendly relations) – ‘to reconcile, to make things right with one another, reconciliation.’ [Louw/Nida]

” change a person from enmity to friendship, reconcile” [Liddell/Scott]

“With the thought of ‘change’ predominating, this word can mean ‘to change,’ ‘to exchange,’ and ‘to reconcile’ or ‘reconcile oneself.’ [Kittel]. Dialasso is used only in Matthew 5.23f:

So if you are presenting your gift at the altar and remember there that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and first go and be reconciled to your brother. Then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms[or: “make friends”] quickly with your opponent while you are on the way to court, or your opponent may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. [ISV]

“In the NT it occurs only at Mt. 5:24… Here [it] means “to reconcile” in the sense of seeing to it that the angry brother, who neither seeks nor envisages reconciliation (v. 23), renounces his enmity. On the other hand, in BGU, 846, 10, the letter of an errant son to his angry mother, the [word] denotes the action of the mother renouncing her anger against the son who seeks reconciliation. [It] is thus a twosided process in which the hostility is overcome on both sides.” [TDNT]

II. The Primary New Testament Passages

Romans 5: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us…6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

II Cor 5: 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Col 1: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Eph 2: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do…11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. …14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit….19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

III. Greco-Roman usage of the word “reconcile” (katalasso)

“…generally denotes in classical Gk. the restoration of the original understanding between people after hostility or displeasure… It is not a term that can be used of propitiatory rites: in general the thought of a personal relationship to God is far removed from Gk. thought, as is also any forensic concept of a relationship with God” [NIDNTT, s.v. ‘reconciliation’]

 “The Parians reconciled them in the following manner. Their best men came to Miletus, and seeing the Milesian households sadly wasted, they said that they desired to go about the country. They then made their way through all the territory of Miletus, and whenever they found any well-tilled farm in the desolation of the land, they wrote down the name of the owner of that farm. [2] After travelling over the whole country and finding only a few such men, they assembled the people immediately upon their return to the city and appointed as rulers of the state those whose lands they had found well tilled. This they did in the belief that these men were likely to take as good care of public affairs as they had of their own, and they ordained that the rest of the Milesians who had been at feud should obey these men. [Herodotus, History 5.29; note: harmony of order by good rule and some required submission to it]

“at which he declared that the other party was offering him money if he would favor their pretensions; that he, however, preferred to receive from those now before him, and to entrust to them the administration of the city. On hearing this, they immediately contributed the money he asked, and gave it him. Thereupon he told the other party what he had received from them; and they in turn promised him at least an equal amount. Having thus taken the money of both factions, he effected a reconciliation between them. [Aristotle, Economics,1348b; note: this is a negotiator/mediator of some type, of questionable behavior, but one who apparently achieved success in reconciliation this way]

“Well, now listen; for I will unfold my meaning and no longer employ dark riddles. In the first place–to reproach you first with this–it was not of my own free will but by force that you took and wed me, [1150] after slaying Tantalus, my former husband, and dashing my baby on the ground when you had torn him from my breast with brutal violence. Then those two sons of Zeus, who were my brothers, came flashing on horseback to war with you; [1155] but Tyndareus, my old father, rescued you because of your suppliant prayers, and you in turn had me to wife…Once I was reconciled to you upon this footing, you will bear me witness I have been a blameless wife to you and your family, chaste in love, [1160] an honor to your house, that so your coming in might be with joy and your going out with gladness. And it is seldom a man secures a wife like this, though the getting of a worthless woman is no rarity [Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis 1157ff; note: this involved a return to an original state, based on the rescue action of the father]

“As they went on from there, they kept seeing tracks of horses and horses’ dung. To all appearances it was the trail of about two thousand horses, and the horsemen as they proceeded were burning up fodder and everything else that was of any use. At this time Orontas, a Persian, who was related to the King by birth and was reckoned among the best of the Persians in matters of war, devised a plot against Cyrus–in fact, he had made war upon him before this, but had become his friend again. [2] He now said to Cyrus that if he would give him a thousand horsemen, he would either ambush and kill these horsemen who were burning ahead of him, or he would capture many of them alive and put a stop to their burning as they advanced; and he would see to it that they should never be able to behold Cyrus’ army and get to the King with their report. [Xenophon, Anabasis 1.6.1; note: the contrast between the hostility of war and the intimacy and trust of friendship–but it still led to betrayal…]

“‘If I now address you, Sicilians, it is not because my city is the least in Sicily or the greatest sufferer by the war, but in order to state publicly what appears to me to be the best policy for the whole island. [2] That war is an evil is a proposition so familiar to every one that it would be tedious to develop it. No one is forced to engage in it by ignorance, or kept out of it by fear, if he fancies there is anything to be gained by it. To the former the gain appears greater than the danger, while the latter would rather stand the risk than put up with any immediate sacrifice. [3] But if both should happen to have chosen the wrong moment for acting in this way, advice to make peace would not be unserviceable; [4] and this, if we did but see it, is just what we stand most in need of at the present juncture. ..I suppose that no one will dispute that we went to war at first, in order to serve our own several interests, that we are now, in view of the same interests, debating how we can make peace; and that if we separate without having as we think our rights, we shall go to war again [Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 4.59; note: the merging of interests and harmony of goals]

“Well, he is departed, I repeat, bent on the purpose that is best for him–to be rid of his anger at the gods.” Sophocles, Ajax 744; note: this is the ONLY semi-religious usage in all of classical Greek, and it is more a matter of someone’s bitterness toward God than a real ‘issue’ within the relationship.]

Note some of the features:

Shared goals

Exchange of hostility for friendship/closeness

Two parties

Could involve a mediator

Might involve some subjugation of dissonant elements

God is not around…”[These words] play no essential part in even the expiatory rites of Greek and Hellenistic pagan religion, though they are used in a religious sense in Soph. Ai., 744. The relation between divinity and humanity does not have this personal nearness.” [TDNT, emphasis mine]

IV. Jewish usage of the Terms

A. With very minor exceptions, no Hebrew term in the OT is translated as ‘reconciliation’ in any of the modern English translations: NAS, NIV, NRSV (only I Sam 29.4), NAB (only 2 Sam 13:39), and NKJV (only 1 Sam 29.4 and Dan 9:24).

B. The intertestamental/Rabbinical writings do use these Greek words, only very rarely of God. When they DO use these terms of God, it is always in the sense of ‘appeasement’ or ‘soothing’ of God’s anger or wrath.

q The LXX only uses katalasso in four places:

1. In Jeremiah 48.39 (31.39 in LXX), the word is generally considered an incorrect reading.

2. May he open your heart to his law and his commandments, and may he bring peace. 5 May he hear your prayers and be reconciled to you, and may he not forsake you in time of evil. [2 Macc. 1:5, NRSV]

3. And if our living Lord is angry for a little while, to rebuke and discipline us, he will again be reconciled with his own servants.[2 Macc.7.33, NRSV]

4. After the sabbath they gave some of the spoils to those who had been tortured and to the widows and orphans, and distributed the rest among themselves and their children. 29 When they had done this, they made common supplication and implored the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants. [2 Macc. 8.28,29 NRSV]

q Josephus, writing after Jesus, uses both dia- and katallasso words, in both secular and religious contexts:

Diallasso:

1. Bell., 1, 320: Hereupon Herod was very angry at him, and was going to fight against Macheras as his enemy; but he restrained his indignation, and marched to Antony to accuse Macheras of mal-administration; but Macheras was made sensible of his offences, and followed after the king immediately, and earnestly begged and obtained that he would be reconciled to him. [note: two-sided, involved repentance, “enemy”, guilty is initiator.]

2. Ant., 16, 125: He also exhorted Herod to lay all such suspicions aside, and to be reconciled to his sons; for that it was not just to give any credit to such reports concerning his own children; and that this repentance on both sides might heal those breaches that had happened between them, and might improve that their good will to one another, whereby those on both sides, excusing the rashness of their suspicions, might resolve to bear a greater degree of affection towards each other than they had before. [note: two-sided, family relationship, ‘breaches’, “affection”]

3. Ant., 7, 295: If, therefore, said God, the king would permit such vengeance to be taken for those that were slain as the Gibeonites should desire, he promised that he would be reconciled to them, and free the multitude from their miseries. [note: God is the one who needs reconciling]

4. Ant., 7, 153: When the king was troubled at these messages, and sufficiently confounded, and said, with tears and sorrow, that he had sinned (for he was without controversy a pious man, and guilty of no sin at all in his whole life, excepting those in the matter of Uriah), God had compassion on him, and was reconciled to him, and promised that he would preserve to him both his life and his kingdom; for he said, that seeing he repented of the things he had done, he was no longer displeased with him. So Nathan, when he had delivered this prophecy to the king, returned home. [note: God was the object of reconciliation, and was responding to David’s repentance.]

5. Bell., 5, 415 However, there is a place left for your preservation, if you be willing to accept of it, and God is easily reconciled to those that confess their faults, and repent of them. [note: God is the object of reconciliation, caused/initiated by human honest/action.]

Katallosso:

1. Ant., 7, 184: and when the king had given his consent to what the woman had begged of him, she made this reply to him;—“I owe thee thanks for thy benignity to me in pitying my old age, and preventing the loss of my only remaining child; but in order to assure me of this thy kindness, be first reconciled to thine own son, and cease to be angry with him; (185) for how shall I persuade myself that thou hast really bestowed this favor upon me, while thou thyself continuest after the like manner in thy wrath to thine own son? for it is a foolish thing to add willfully another to thy dead son, while the death of the other was brought about without thy consent:”—(186) and now the king perceived that this pretended story was a subornation derived from Joab, and was of his contrivance; and when, upon inquiry of the old woman, he understood it to be so in reality, he called for Joab, and told him he had obtained what he requested according to his own mind; and he bid him bring Absalom back, for he was not now displeased, but had already ceased to be angry with him. (187) So Joab bowed himself down to the king, and took his words kindly, and went immediately to Geshur, and took Absalom with him, and came to Jerusalem. [note: one-sided, resulted in a change of state, family relations, anger]

2. Ant., 11, 195: But the king having been fond of her, he did not well bear a separation, and yet by the law he could not admit of a reconciliation, so he was under trouble, as not having it in his power to do what he desired to do: but when his friends saw him so uneasy, they advised him to cast the memory of his wife, and his love for her, out of his mind [note: marriage context, technical term.]

3. Ant., 5, 137: for she was averse to him, which did more inflame his passion for her, so that they quarrelled one with another perpetually; and at last the woman was so disgusted at these quarrels, that she left her husband, and went to her parents in the fourth month. The husband being very uneasy at this her departure, and that out of his fondness for her, came to his father and mother-in-law, and made up their quarrels, and was reconciled to her, [note: Gibeah story, marriage, quarrels, separation/alienation]

q The Rabbi’s use it in the same sense as Josephus (trained as a Pharisee): “These [Hebrew/Aramaic] words refer to the relations between men, and between God and men. God is subject to the reconciling action of men in prayer, sacrifice, etc.” [TDNT]

C. Summary Observations:

1. Reconciliation is not a theme in the OT

2. In religious contexts, the predominant post-OT Jewish view was that it was God who needed to be reconciled to humanity, and that His anger/hostility towards us could be removed/placated by acts of righteousness, supplication, and confession.

3. In non-religious contexts, the use of ‘reconciliation’ was the same as that of Greco-Roman patterns, involving removal of hostilities, repair of close/familial/companion relations, and alignment of lives toward a “more healthy” future.

V. The Core components of Reconciliation

q The goal: restoration of (original) peaceful interpersonal relations and harmony of lives

q The problem: enmity, hostility, dissenting elements, provocation

q The agent/subject: who does the ‘reconciling’? who makes the overture? Who removes the hostilities?

q The method: How are the hostilities removed? And how is the process initiated and completed?

q The participants and their responsibilities: God and us.

VI. The Goal of Reconciliation: Peace

A. Types of Peace

1. Peace in the OT is Shalom, meaning ‘well-being’ and/or ‘prosperity’. It is a different type of peace than that discussed in the NT and the Rabbinics, although the final Shalom is one of the promises of God to His loved ones.

2. Types of Peace in the New Testament

q In its widest sense as the normal (and original) state of all things.

“In 1 C. 14:33 Paul opposes to the confusion caused by prophecy at Corinth the consideration: “for God is not a God of disorder, but of peace” In contrast to disorder, peace is the normal state of things…The “healthy” or normal state which corresponds to the will of God is not to be limited to the soul or even to man. It extends basically to the universe as a whole. [TDNT]

q As the eschatological salvation of the whole man–the state of final fulfillment, the normal state of the new creation. (this would correspond to the Ultimate Shalom, and the New Creation “in which dwelleth righteousness”. No discord whatsoever.

q Peace with God (the main passages above focus on this)

q Peace between people (Rom 12:18: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men… Ro 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.. )

q The feeling of peace (Rom 15:13: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.)

B. Peace between persons/Persons

1. Example of marriage–Greek marriage documents use this word as a technical term for reconciliation between spouses

2. This peace is interpersonal and social: marriage, friends, families…It is the “community” side of eternal life (“life and peace” Romans 8.6)

3. As such, it is NOT simply the cessation of conflict, but as the examples showed, affection and love and warmth were integral components as well.

4. In these relationship settings, community of interest, shared goals, cooperative efforts, and similar ethics were effects of the reconciliation.

5. This was supposed to be the original, intended, or un-obstructed interrelationships–the original state.

6. An example of Moses (with a related Greek word):

When he was forty years old, his heart was moved to visit his brothers, the descendants of Israel. 24Because he saw one of them being mistreated, he defended and avenged the man who was being mistreated by striking down the Egyptian. 25He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was using him to rescue them, but they didn’t understand. 26The next day he showed himself to some of them while they were fighting and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why should you harm each other?’ 27But the man who was harming his neighbor pushed Moses away and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28You don’t want to kill me like you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’ [Acts 7.23ff; note: a mediator, “brothers”, not the original intended state, fighting]

7. This is a state of affairs, and not just a feeling (derived from that state):

“Reconciliation is the Pauline concept in which enmity between God and humanity, or between human groups, is overcome and peaceful relations restored on the basis of the work of Christ. This concept refers to an objective state of peace, not simply a feeling of peacefulness.

“In Romans 5:1–11 having peace with God (Rom 5:1) and being reconciled to God (Rom 5:10) are equated. Although many scholars believe that the sense of “peace” depends upon the OT sense of external or material well-being, the Greek sense denoting a time or state without hostility or war fits the context better. In Greek thought “peace” is a relational word which speaks of a state of objective well-being, leading to harmonious relations between people or nations.[NT:DictPL, s.v. “Peace, Reconciliation”]

C. Excursus: The importance of Peace in Rabbinical thought (the type of peace under discussion here)

1. The world was actually held together by God, as long as there was enough peace:

Rabban Simeon, son of Gamaliel used to say: on three things does the world stand: on justice, on truth and on peace, as it is said: judge ye truthfully and a judgment of peace in your gates. (M.Abot. 1.18)

2. The presence of discord would retard the advent of Messiah, since Elijah would need to resolve these first:

R. Joshua said: I have received a tradition from Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai, who heard it from his teacher, and his teacher [heard it] from his teacher, as a halachah [given] to Moses from Sinai, that Elijah will not come to pronounce unclean or to pronounce clean, to put away or to bring near, but to put away those brought near by force and to bring near those put away by force. The family of Beth Zerephah was on the other side of the Jordan. And Ben Zion put it away by force; and yet another family was there, and Ben Zion brought it near by force. Such like Elijah will come to pronounce unclean or to pronounce clean, to put away or to bring near. R. Judah says: to bring near, but not to put away. R. Simeon says: to conciliate disputations. and the sages say neither to put away nor to bring near, but to make peace in the world, for it is said, behold I send to you Elijah the prophet, etc., and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers. (M.Eduyoth 8.7)

3. A beautiful hymn in the Midrash Rabbah extols the greatness of peace (emphases mine):

“AND GIVE THEE PEACE (VI, 26), that is, peace when you come in, peace when you go out, peace with all men. R. Nathan says that in the text AND GIVE THEE PEACE, PEACE alludes to the peace of the royal house of David; as it says, That the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom (Isa. IX, 6). Rabbi says that it alludes to the peace of the Torah; as it says, The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace (Ps. XXIX, 11). Great is peace, since for the sake of peace the Holy One, blessed be He, altered a statement; for it says, Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old? (Gen. XVIII, 13). Great is peace, for the angel who spoke with Manoah changed his communication for the sake of peace; for he had said to the woman, Behold now, thou art barren, and hast not borne (Judg. XIII, 3), but he did not tell Manoah this. Great is peace, for the divine name which was inscribed with all holiness was ordered by the Holy One, blessed be He, to be blotted out in water for the sake of bringing about peace between a man and his wife. R. Eleazar says: Great is peace, for the prophets have implanted in the mouth of all people nought so much as peace. R. Simeon b. Halafta said: Great is peace, for no vessel can retain blessing so effectively as peace; as it says, ‘ The Lord will bless His people with peace.’ Likewise in the priestly benediction, at the end of the blessings, He concludes with peace, AND GIVE THEE PEACE. This is to tell you that blessings in themselves are of no avail unless peace goes with them. R. Eleazar Hakkappar says: Great is peace, for the seal of the whole of the Prayer is peace, and the seal of the priestly benediction is peace. Great is peace, for it was given to the meek; as it says, But the humble shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace (Ps. XXXVII, 11). Great is peace, for it outweighs everything. We say: ‘He maketh peace and createth everything.’ R. Eleazar, son of R. Eleazar Hakkappar, says that even if Israel serve idols and peace reigns among them, the Holy One, blessed be He, as it were, says: ‘ Satan shall not touch them ‘; as it says, Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone (Hos. IV, 17) On the other hand what does it say of them when they are at variance? Their heart is divided; now shall they bear their guilt (ib. X, 2). Thus peace is a grand thing and quarrelsomeness is hateful. Peace is a great thing, for even during war peace is necessary; as it says, When thou drawest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it (Deut. XX, 10), and as it says I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon… with words of peace (ib. II, 26), and it also says, Restore those cities peaceably (Judg. XI, 13). Great is peace, for even the dying need peace; as it says, But thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace (Gen. XV, 15), and as it says, Thou shalt die in peace (Jer. XXXIV, 5). Great is peace, for it was given to those who are repentant; as it says, Peace, peace, to him that is far off and to him that is near, saith the Lord that createth the fruit of the lips (Isa. LVII, 19).7 R. Meir says: Great is peace, for the Holy One, blessed be He, has created no fairer attribute than that of peace, which has been given to the righteous. Peace is a precious thing, since for all the deeds and meritorious acts which our father Abraham accomplished the only reward given to him was peace; as it says, But thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace (Gen. XV, 15). Likewise in the case of our father Jacob you find that he sought peace from the Omnipresent; for it says, So that I come back to my father’s house in peace, etc. (ib. XXVIII, 21). In the case of Aaron also you find that he was praised by the Omnipresent for nought so much as for peace; for it says, My covenant was with him of life and peace, etc. (Mal. II, 5). So also in the case of Phinehas you find that he was given peace as a reward; for it says, Behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace (Num. XXV, 12). You find likewise that the Torah was compared above all to peace; as it says, All her paths are peace (Prov. III, 17). Thus also you find that the Holy One, blessed be He, comforts Jerusalem above all with the promise of peace; for it says, And My people shall abide in a peaceable habitation (Isa. XXXII, 18). Similarly, He punished Ammon and Moab only by depriving them of peace; as it says, Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity, etc. (Deut. XXIII, 7). Israel, then, also are blessed every day with peace; for it says, AND GIVE THEE PEACE. [Midrash Rabbah, Numbers 11.7]

4. These factors MAY have been part of the motivation of Paul, in trying to unify Israel (by eliminating the Nazarene sect).

D. Summary

1. This peace is so much more than ‘internal calmness’

2. It involves a ‘return to Eden’ framework (e.g. “Re-conciliation”)

3. It involves the most significant and meaningful relationships among people.

4. It involves the static ‘absence of hostility’ but goes beyond that to the dynamic ‘unity of purpose and achievement’

5. It goes way beyond ‘absence of overt malice’ and includes warmth, affection, intimacy, and love.

6. It also requires and implies a change in the orderliness and ‘friendliness’ of the larger universe.

VII. The Problem that Reconciliation Addresses

A. The problem is alienation, enmity, hostility, provocation, and outright attacks

B. But the enemy, in this case, is US, not GOD! It is our hostility that is the problem:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (or ‘impious’). 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son (Romans 5)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. (Col 1; note: “mind” is probably an expression for “heart/life” there)

C. “Impiety” does not in itself have to be “god-conscious”; crimes against humans are called “impious” in the ancient world:

q “Thus not one of the charges brought against me has any foundation. But even if the probabilities, as distinct from the facts, point to me as the murderer, it is acquittal that I deserve from you far more than anything else; since first, it is clear that if I struck back, it was only because I was being deeply wronged; had that not been so, it would never have been thought likely that I was the murderer; and secondly, it is the murderers, not those accused of the murder, whom it is your duty to convict. [11] As I am completely cleared of the charge, it is not I who will profane the sanctity of the gods when I set foot within their precincts, any more than it is I who am sinning against them in urging you to acquit me. It is those who are prosecuting an innocent man like myself, while they let the criminal escape, to whom dearth is due; it is they who deserve in full the penalty which they say should he inflicted upon me, for urging you to become guilty of impiety. [12] If this is the treatment which the prosecution deserve, you must put no faith in them. I myself, on the other hand, as you will see by examining my past life, do not form plots or covet what does not belong to me. On the contrary, I have made several substantial payments to the Treasury. I have more than once served as Trierarch, I have furnished a brilliant chorus, I have often advanced money to friends, and I have frequently paid large sums under guarantees given for others; my wealth has come not from litigation, but from hard work; and I have been a religious and law-abiding man. If my character is such as this, you must not deem me guilty of anything sinful or dishonorable. [Antiphon, Speeches 2.2.10]

q “nobody, he thought, would proceed with the suit, and judgement would go by default; while in the event of his losing his case after all, he considered it better to have revenged himself for his defeat than, like a coward, to be ruined by the indictment without retaliating. And he knew very well that he would lose it, or he would not have thought the present trial the safer alternative. [9] Such are the motives which drove him to sin as he did. Had there been eyewitnesses in large numbers, we should have produced them in large numbers; but as the dead man’s attendant was alone present, those who heard his statement will give evidence; for he was still alive when picked up, and in reply to our questions stated that the only assailant whom he had recognized was the defendant. Inferences from probability and eyewitnesses have alike proved the defendant’s guilt: so both justice and expediency absolutely forbid you to acquit him. [10] Not only would it be impossible to convict deliberate criminals if they are not to be convicted by eyewitnesses and by such inferences; but it is against all your interests that this polluted wretch should profane the sanctity of the divine precincts by setting foot within them, or pass on his defilement to the innocent by sitting at the same tables as they. It is this that causes dearth and public calamity. [Antiphon, Speeches 2.1.8]

q “It is very rightly laid down that in cases of murder prosecutors must take especial care to observe justice in making their charge and presenting their evidence: they must neither let the guilty escape nor bring the innocent to trial. [2] For when God was minded to create the human race and brought the first of us into being, he gave us the earth and sea to sustain and serve us, in order that we might not die for want of the necessaries of life before old age brought us our end. Such being the value placed upon our life by God, whoever unlawfully slays his fellow both sins against the gods and confounds the ordinances of man. [3] For the victim, robbed of the gifts bestowed by God upon him, naturally leaves behind him the angry spirits of vengeance, God’s instruments of punishment, spirits which they who prosecute and testify without giving heed to justice bring into their own homes, defiling them with the defilement of another, because they share in the sin of him who did the deed. [Antiphon, Speeches 4.1.3]

q “Let us ask the fulfillment of these wishes both for the city and for the people, [355] and may the wisest of us cause her opinion to be accepted. But woe to those women who break their oaths, [360] who speculate on the public misfortune, who seek to alter the laws and the decrees, who reveal our secrets to the foe [365] and admit the Medes into our territory so that they may devastate it! I declare them both impious and criminal. [Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 352]

q “Furthermore, about the same date, Diopithes attacked Crobyle and Tiristasis and enslaved the inhabitants, laying waste the adjacent parts of Thrace. But his crowning act of lawlessness was the arrest of Amphilochus, the ambassador sent to negotiate for the captives; he subjected him to the severest torture and wrung from him a ransom of nine talents. And this he did with the approval of your Assembly. [4] Yet violation of the rights of heralds and ambassadors is regarded by all men as an act of impiety, and by none more than by you, if I may judge from the fact that, when the Megarians arrested Anthemocritus, your Assembly went to the length of excluding them from the celebration of the mysteries, and actually erected a statue before the city gates to commemorate the outrage. Yet is it not monstrous that you are now yourselves notoriously guilty of acts which, when you were the victims, excited in you such detestation of the perpetrators? [5] Again, your general, Callias, captured the cities on the Pagasaean Gulf, every one of them, though they were protected by treaty with you and were in alliance with me all merchants sailing to Macedonia he regarded as enemies and sold them into slavery. And for this you passed him a vote of thanks! So I am at a loss to say what difference it will make if you admit that you are at war with me, for when we were openly at variance, then too you used to send out privateers, enslave merchants trading with us, help my adversaries, and lay waste my territory.[ Demosthenes, Speeches 11-20 12.3ff]

D. This shows up in anti-god attitudes and behavior (e.g., apathy, stereotyping, moral presumption, moral convenience, avoidance, complacency, obstruction of justice or mercy) and in anti-person attitudes and behavior (e.g., elitism, manipulation, abuse, withholding cooperation, criminal behavior, blame-shifting, factionalism/divisiveness)…the various vice-lists of the NT and antiquity…

“Humans constitute themselves as God’s enemies not only by their sin but also by their disdain (the active sense of “enmity”) for godly things.” [ NT:DictPL, s.v. “Peace, Reconciliation”]

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