For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:19)
"God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." That is an amazing statement. Amazing from the point of view of the fact of what happened. Amazing too theologically and by inference as to the nature of God. But before we go too deeply into the inferences let's investigate what it means in terms of interpreting the words.
There are two possibilities: That God was by Christ (en Christo), by means of Christ, by the agency, or mediatorship of Christ. Or it may mean that God was united to Christ, and manifested Himself in him. The phrase, "in Christ", may be either joined with the word "God", thus "God was in Christ reconciling". Meaning He was in Christ drawing the scheme, fixing the method of reconciliation; His thoughts were employed about it, then afterward He was in Him at the moment of reconciliation. Or the phrase is joined with the word "reconciling", thus, God "was reconciling in Christ", that is, by Christ. Thus God's means of reconciliation was through Christ. God, in accord His purposes sent his Son to make peace and laid our sins, and the chastisement of our peace upon Him.
My own interpretation of this verse is that God was integrally involved in the work of reconciliation, not only being represented by Christ in the work of redeeming mankind but God the Father as part of the Godhead was part of the redemptive work of Christ by which reconciliation of man with God was made possible again. Some see God as being separate from Christ at the moment of redemption but there is a degree to which God the Father was more intimately involved than that. Look at the translation from the Amplified Version. "It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor). Note too this verse from Col 2:29. " for in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily". God the Father was actively involved in the process of reconciliation as was Jesus the son.
"Was reconciling” implies the time when the act of reconciliation was being carried out, when “God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us.” The compound of “was” and the participle “reconciling,” instead of the Greek imperfect may also imply the continuous purpose of God, from before the foundation of the world, to reconcile man to Himself, whose fall was foreseen. The expression “IN Christ” for “by Christ” may be used to imply additionally that God was IN Christ (Joh_10:38; Joh_14:10).
Theologically it has implications. The first step towards restoring peace between us and God was on God’s side. The change therefore now to be effected must be on the part of man, God the offended One being already reconciled. It is man, not God, who now needs to be reconciled, and to lay aside his enmity against God. This needs to be pondered deeply. Take it away and suck on it long and hard.
There is another shocking element to this verse yet to be stated. "And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation." After all of this reconciliation going on, God the Father then takes the importance of all of this and gives the message of that same reconciliation to the recipients thus entrusting them with the message of reconciliation for other people. Oh my goodness God, wouldn’t you want to keep the message of reconciliation within the Godhead to protect it. To ensure that the message remains intact and pure. "No," the Father says, "I choose to give the message of reconciliation to those to whom it belongs." "I have done My part", says God, "now it is up to them." It is now their move. Wow.
God's favour is a gift, not a reward because you're better than others. Never wear it as a badge of superiority. Bob Gass
Only as people who have tasted the joy of forgiveness can we find the inner motivation to give it. Bob Gass
Why is receiving forgiveness so difficult? Because it's hard to acknowledge that without your forgiveness I'm still affected by what happened between us. I need you to help set me free and make me whole again. Bob Gass