The key word in this verse is “apokatallaxay (apokatallaxh).The stem of this word in Greek is amplified by two prefixes. The basic idea is “change.” When the prefixes “apo” (from) and “kata” (according to) are attached it gives us the idea of reconciliation. The various English translations are nearly unanimous in rendering this word “reconcile.”
There are four great reconciliation passages in the Bible: Romans 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18ff; Eph 2:16; Col 1:19ff.
The concept of a reconciliation includes:
1) Recovering something that has been lost. People are what has been lost. Those who have never trusted in Christ as Savior are lost in terms of their eternal destiny. Those who have become Christians may have lost their intimacy with God. They may have “lost their saltiness,” as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount.
2) Rectifying a broken relationship. There is an estrangement to be repaired. In this case, what has been repaired is the estrangement that occurred in the Garden when man first sinned and drove a wedge between himself and God. When man is reconciled to God, he reverts the relationship to perfection, as it was in the Garden where there were no Jews or Gentiles.
3) Readjusting to the proper order. The proper order of a person’s life should be: 1) God, 2) family, and 3) everything else.
Notice that man is always reconciled to God – not the reverse. Anytime that man and God are separated, it is the man who went astray. Anytime a reconciliation takes place, it is the man who returns. God does not move.
Before we could look up our bank balance online, we had to keep a check register and at the end of the month we had to reconcile our records with the statement from the bank. The backs records did not move. If there was an error, it was on our end.
Also notice that there are two dimensions to reconciliation mentioned here. First and foremost, man has to be reconciled to God. When men are reconciled to God, they are also reconciled to each other. The two groups here are Jews and Gentiles. Even in religion, there was a literal wall in the temple beyond which no Gentile could go upon pain of death. No racial bigotry in our day compares to the prejudice that existed between these two groups yet in Christ, the wall between them is broken down (v14). True peace is only possible through Christ and among those who are first at peace with God.
When life gets out of order, when God seems far instead of near, when a relationship with God is broken, it is time for a change. Get back to peace – be reconciled to God.