Exchanged for life by the true money changer

I am in the middle of a web development project for one of my freelance clients. He is involved in numerous endeavors and needs a “hub site” that features his personal branding and links out to the other projects, which include a handful of blogs and mens’ ministry organizations. One thing that he’s requested was a way to work a portion of this scripture passage from 2 Corinthians into the site:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 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. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (TNIV)

The specific passage my client is focused on is in verse 19: “he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” However, he doesn’t care for the word “reconciliation” (Greek: katallagē) and wanted to know if there were any other alternatives. The general meaning of katallagē is associated with the action of money changers, who exchange currency in foreign denominations for an equal value of currency in the local denomination.

c13_17911459My client would prefer a translation that places more emphasis on the meaning of the root, allassō, which means “to change” or “to transform”, e.g. God has given us the ministry of delivering a message of change — cf. Romans 12.2: “be transformed”. Unfortunately for my client, there appears to be near unanimity among English translations that “reconciliation” is the correct term for katallagē. The one exception was God’s Word translation:

He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. In other words, God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others.

If I may extend the metaphor of the money changers, our translations seem to be saying that while we are in our old (sinful) denomination or currency, we are unusable by God in his Kingdom – but once we are exchanged at the rate of grace, we are transformed into God’s currency to be spent in the world as part of his new creation. We have value and can be used to add value to the Kingdom by delivering the message of our transformation. Not to be buried in the ground, but invested so that our testimony might produce returns of increasing worth (cf. Matthew 25.14-18).

And who is our money changer and purveyor of grace? None but Jesus Christ.

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2.13-17 (TNIV)

It is not men who determine the worth and value of our lives, but Christ. Placing our lives in the hands of men is truly trusting our lives to “a den of robbers” (cf. Matt. 21:13, Jer. 7:11). It is no wonder then, that outside of Christ, we find little meaning, value or worth in life. This is the message that God has given us to deliver to the world — a message of true change, of being exchanged, a message of restoration and reconciliation to the Kingdom of God.

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