Forgiveness vs reconciliation. A big difference.

Forgiveness and reconciliation in the Bible | animated video series | a B.C. comic

Issue 109


I was reading Genesis 33. There were two brothers, Esau and Jacob, who were separated from each other because of what one had wrongfully done to the other. After many years, Esau forgave Jacob for betraying him, and he wanted to reconcile with Jacob. To have a fraternal relationship again.

Jacob welcomed the forgiveness tentatively but didn’t accept the reconciliation. 

It wasn’t an upfront rejection. Jacob “accepted” Esau’s invitation [to go together to a place] in words but not in his heart. In fact, he went the other direction from where he agreed to meet Esau!

There are a few views of Jacob’s reasons for not wanting to go with Esau. It could be God asked Jacob to return to his land, and that place doesn’t include where Esau asked him to go. It could be Jacob is still carrying the guilt of what he had done to Esau—and did not fully trust that Esau won’t turn around and take revenge on him.

It wasn’t mentioned in the Bible if the two brothers ever meet again. 

I couldn’t help but think of some relationships where forgiveness was offered, but the reconciliation didn’t happen. Reconciliation felt like a natural step (and a given) after forgiveness, no?

So, I read up further about forgiveness vs reconciliation. Seeking clarity between the both. And how to move from forgiveness to reconciliation

Here is what I’ve learnt about the key difference between forgiveness and reconciliation

Forgiveness doesn’t require the other party’s involvement. You can choose to forgive.

Reconciliation needs both sides to be willing and to work on it.

Suddenly 💡, I saw a connection of that in application to God’s forgiveness for man:

What Jesus did on the cross on Good Friday is an offer of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Where once, man’s wrongdoings separated them from God, Jesus’ death was the price paid for man’s wrongdoings (regardless if it’s minor or major).

Jesus chose to die for all our wrongdoings; past, current, and future. It has nothing to do with whether we believe it or not. It has nothing to do with our goodness. And it has nothing to do with how much or how little any of us deserve forgiveness. 

“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” - Romans 5:8 NIV.

Through Jesus, reconciliation with God is possible. And it’s offered. 

However, reconciliation requires both parties to be willing. 

There’s an offer and acceptance. 

God offered and still offers forgiveness and reconciliation, but each of us has to make our own decision—being given free will—to reject or accept the reconciliation


🔎 What is the Bible and more…

“What is the Bible” is part of this informative animated series which explores the origins, content, and purpose of the Bible.

Quick facts about the Bible

The Bible has 66 books: the Old Testament has 39 books, the New Testament has 27 books.

It’s not the work of a single person. But a collection of works from 40 people—a wide variety from shepherds, fisherman, to kings.

The Bible was written over 15 centuries.

Although the Bible was written by 40 different people, in different places (and continents), over 15 centuries, and with a gap of 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament (with no web search availability then), both the OT and the NT still pointed to and recorded a cohesive fact about the birth, death and resurrection of the Messiah—Jesus.


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