"East to West" received 78 adds in its first week, a record at Christian radio. The song peaked atop five chart formats, as well as at number twenty-five on the BillboardBubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. It ranked at number six on the decade-end BillboardHot Christian Songs chart and at number seven on the decade-end BillboardHot Christian AC chart. Additionally, it ranked inside the top fifteen on both the 2007 and 2008 year-end Hot Christian Songs and Hot Christian AC charts.
"East to West" is a contemporary Christian song lasting four minutes and twenty-six seconds. It was written in common time in the key of F♯ minor at a tempo of 73 beats per minute. The vocal range in the song ranges from the low note of D4 to the high note of F♯5.  Lyrically, "East to West" deals with the concept of forgiveness, and the doubt that God forgives and forgets all sin. Casting Crowns' lead vocalist Mark Hall explained that: "We have a hard time with the concept of forgiveness. We cut ourselves and it heals, but the scar remains. Sometimes we think God treats sin like we would if we were God, and that he handles forgiveness like we would. We know he forgives, but we can't accept that God chooses to forget and relinquishes his right to avenge. That's what we're singing about in 'East To West'". In a separate interview, Hall elaborated on that theme, commenting that: "I see forgiveness as God giving away His right to revenge in my life. He loved me so much that He’s choosing to remember that against me no more, all because of Jesus".
Upon the release of The Altar and the Door, "East to West" met with positive to mixed critical reception. Kevin McNeese of New Release Tuesday regarded the song as a "powerful song and moment", while Steve Morley of United Methodist Communications commented that the song "offers grace for the journey" and "emphasizes the sin-crushing power of Jesus’ death and resurrection". Andree Farias of Christianity Today was more negative, opining that the song took too long to reach its climax.
"East to West" received 78 radio adds in its first week, a record at Christian radio. It debuted at number fifteen on the BillboardHot Christian Songs chart and advanced to number one in its seventh week on the chart. in total, "East to West" spent forty-three weeks atop the chart The song spent a total of nineteen weeks at the top spot, tied with Brandon Heath's "Give Me Your Eyes" for the second most weeks at number one in the history of the Hot Christian Songs chart. "East to West" also topped the BillboardHot Christian AC chart and the Radio & Records INSPO chart. It spent thirteen weeks atop the Radio & Records Christian AC Monitored chart and a record fourteen weeks atop the Radio & Records Christian AC Indicator chart. "East to West" also peaked at number twenty-five on the BillboardBubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. In 2012, "East to West" was certified Gold by the RIAA, signifying sales of over 500,000 digital downloads.
"East to West" was ranked at number eight on the 2007 year-end Hot Christian Songs chart and at number nine on the 2007 year-end Hot Christian AC chart, as well as at number twelve on the 2008 year-end Hot Christian Songs chart and at number fourteen on the 2008 year-end Hot Christian AC chart. It ranked at number six on the decade-end Hot Christian Songs chart and at number seven on the decade-end Hot Christian AC chart, Casting Crowns highest-ranking song on both decade-end charts.
^"Singles Charts Archive Search". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 30 January 2012. Note: User must manually input the correct search information to obtain the sourced information. Type in "Casting Crowns" in the "Artist" category, "East to West" in the "Single Title" category, and select "Hot Christian Songs" in the "Single Chart Name" category. Then, select "All weeks" in the "Date" category and press "Submit"