SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM

I. OLD TESTAMENT

A. There are primarily two Hebrew legal terms which convey this concept.

1. Ga'al (BDB 145 I, KB 169 I), which basically means "to free by means of a price paid." A form of the term go'el adds to the concept a personal intermediary, usually a family member (i.e., kinsman redeemer). This cultural aspect of the right to buy back objects, animals, land (cf. Leviticus 25,27), or relatives (cf. Ruth 4:14; Isa. 29:22) is transferred theologically to YHWH's deliverance of Israel from Egypt (cf. Exod. 6:6; 15:13; Ps. 74:2; 77:15; Jer. 31:11).  He becomes "the Redeemer" (cf. Job 19:25; Ps. 19:14; 78:35; Pro. 23:11; Isa. 41:14; 43:14; 44:6,24; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7,26; 54:5,8; 59:20; 60:16; 63:16; Jer. 50:34).

2. Padah (BDB 804, KB 911), which basically means "to deliver" or "to rescue."

a. the redemption of the firstborn (Exod. 13:13-15 and Num. 18:15-17)

b. physical redemption is contrasted with spiritual redemption (Ps. 49:7,8,15)

c. YHWH will redeem Israel from their sin and rebellion (Ps. 130:7-8)

B. The theological concept involves several related items.

1. There is a need, a bondage, a forfeiting, an imprisonment.

a. physical

b. social

c. spiritual (cf. Ps. 130:8)

2. A price must be paid for freedom, release, and restoration.

a. of the nation of Israel (cf. Deut. 7:8)

b. of the individual (cf. Job 19:25-27; 33:28; Isaiah 53)

3. Someone must act as intermediary and benefactor. In ga'al this one is usually a family member or near kin (i.e., go'el, BDB 145).

4. YHWH often describes Himself in familial terms.

a. Father

b. Husband

c. Near Kin Redeemer/Avenger Redemption was secured through YHWH's personal agency; a price was paid, and redemption was achieved! 

II. NEW TESTAMENT

A. There are several terms used to convey the theological concept.

1.  Agorazō (cf. 1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; 2 Pet. 2:1; Rev. 5:9; 14:3-4). This is a commercial term which reflects a price paid for something. We are blood-bought people who do not control our own lives. We belong to Christ.

2. Exagorazō (cf. Gal. 3:13; 4:5; Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5).  This is also a commercial term.  It reflects Jesus' substitutionary death on our behalf.  Jesus bore the "curse" of a performance-based law (i.e., Mosaic Law, cf. Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 2:14), which sinful humans could not accomplish.  He bore the curse (cf. Deut. 21:23) for us all (cf. Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:21)!  In Jesus, God's justice and love merge into full forgiveness, acceptance, and access!

3. Luō, "to set free"

a. Lutron, "a price paid" (cf. Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). These are powerful words from Jesus' own mouth concerning the purpose of His coming, to be the Savior of the world by paying a sin-debt He did not owe (cf. John 1:29).

b. Lutroō, "to release"

(1) to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21)

(2) to give Himself to redeem and purify a people (Titus 2:14)

(3) to be a sinless substitute (1 Pet. 1:18-19)

c. Lutrōsis, "redemption," "deliverance," or "liberation"

(1) Zacharias' prophecy about Jesus, Luke 1:68

(2) Anna's praise to God for Jesus, Luke 2:38

(3) Jesus' better, once offered sacrifice, Heb. 9:12

4. Apolytrōsis

a. redemption at the Second Coming (cf. Acts 3:19-21)

(1) Luke 21:28

(2) Romans 8:23

(3) Ephesians 1:14; 4:30

(4) Hebrews 9:15

b. redemption in Christ's death

(1) Romans 3:24

(2) 1 Corinthians 1:30

(3) Ephesians 1:7

(4) Colossians 1:14

5. Antilytron (cf. 1 Tim. 2:6). This is a crucial text (as is Titus 2:14) which links release to Jesus' substitutionary death on the cross. He is the one and only acceptable sacrifice, the one who dies for "all" (cf. John 1:29; 3:16-17; 4:42; 1 Tim. 2:4; 4:10; Titus 2:11; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 John 2:2; 4:14).

B. The theological concept in the NT.

1. Mankind is enslaved to sin (cf. John 8:34; Rom. 3:10-18,23; 6:23).

2. Mankind's bondage to sin has been revealed by the OT Mosaic Law (cf. Galatians 3) and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matthew 5-7).  Human performance has become a death sentence (cf. Col. 2:14). 

3. Jesus, the sinless lamb of God, has come and died in our place (cf. Mark 10:45; John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21).  We have been purchased from sin so that we might serve God (cf. Romans 6).

4. By implication both YHWH and Jesus are "near kin" who act on our behalf.  This continues the familial metaphors (i.e., father, husband, son, brother, near kin).

5. Redemption was not a price paid to Satan (i.e., Medieval theology), but the reconciliation of God's word and God's justice with God's love and full provision in Christ.  At the cross peace was restored, human rebellion was forgiven, the image of God in mankind is now fully functional again in intimate fellowship!

6. There is still a future aspect of redemption (cf. Rom. 8:23; Eph. 1:14; 4:30), which involves our resurrection bodies and personal intimacy with the Triune God (see Special Topic: The Trinity).  Our resurrected bodies will be like His (cf. 1 John 3:2).  He had a physical body, but with an extra dimensional aspect.  It is hard to define the paradox of 1 Cor. 15:12-19 with 1 Cor. 15:35-58.  Obviously there is a physical, earthly body and there will be a heavenly, spiritual body. Jesus had both!

 

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