The Bible says God is our Redeemer, God has redeemed us, and we are redeemed by the blood:
“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone,“ Isaiah 44:24 (NASB)
“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 (NASB)
But what does “redemption” really mean? The idea of “redemption” or “to redeem” is not all that common in our modern language. Someone may seek to “redeem” themselves by performing a good deed after getting caught performing bad deeds. However, that is not at all the meaning of redemption in the Bible. This section explores the meaning of our redemption in Christ.
A good place to start, of course, is to look up the word “redeemed” in the dictionary: REDEE’MED, Ransomed; delivered from bondage, distress, penalty, liability, or from the possession of another, by paying an equivalent (Webster)
The Biblical definition of redeem is: “To secure the release of someone from slavery or captivity by the payment of a ransom”. The “ransom” is the payment (price) paid. The result is “redemption”, i.e., set free from slavery.
There is a Greek word for “ransom” is
λύτρον (lutron) noun ransom, redemption price
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (NASB)
There are at least four words in the Greek text that are translated “redeem” in the English. Each word in the Greek gives a different shade of meaning of what God has done for us in Christ through redemption.
λύτρωσις (lutrōsis) noun: to pay the price and to set free
Luke 1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
Heb 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us
ἀπολύτρωσις (apolutrōsis) noun: to ransom in full, to pay the price completely, once and for all
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
1Cor 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
Eph 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Col 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins
ἀγοράζω (agorazō) verb: Buy, purchase in the marketplace.
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20 (NASB)
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Revelation 5:9 (NASB)
ἐξαγοράζω (exagorazō) verb: to be taken out of the market place, that is, as a prized possession never to be bought and sold again. Taken out of marketability.
Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree
Gal 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons
If you look closely there are actually two sets of related Greek words, one set based on the verb λυτρόω (lutroō) and another set based on the verb ἀγοράζω (agorazō). The first is “to bring forward a ransom” or “to release on receipt of ransom” (Vine), or “To get something back into the possession of its rightful owner, rescuing something from the power of possession of an alien possessor” (Barclay). The second Greek word means to buy up or to purchase, “especially of purchasing a slave with a view to his freedom” (Vine). The first points to the actual deliverance or setting at liberty, whereas the second signifies the price paid, with a view to it.
When considering the idea of redemption, I believe we should first think of a price paid in order to purchase us. This is reflected in 1 Cor 6:19-20 “Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price (agorazō). Therefore glorify God in your body. (HCSB). The price paid was an infinite price, the price of His shed blood. “He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:12 (HCSB) Note that redemption is eternal, and “once for all”. The price paid was sufficient for all eternity. Also, the price paid was all God had to pay, as illustrated in the parables of the hidden treasure and priceless pearl: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46 (HCSB). We are the hidden treasure and the priceless pearl that God purchased with the death of His one and only Son, Jesus.
An additional aspect of redemption is that the price is a ransom price to purchase out of a slave market. We were slaves of sin: “But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. Romans 6:17-18 (HCSB) We were in bondage to the principle of law: “When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5 (HCSB). We were under the curse of the law: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed.” Galatians 3:13 (HCSB). Christ redeemed us from lawlessness (sin): “He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.” Titus 2:14 (HCSB)
God paid a price to purchase us out of the slave market, but to whom did He pay the price? Some of said to Satan but God never owed anything to Satan. The price God paid was the price demanded by God’s perfect justice. It is the price attached to our sin and rebellion against God. In the parable of the unforgiving slave in Matthew 18:21, the slave owed his king 10,000 talents. A talent could be considered the amount the average worker can save over a lifetime of work. In this parable it would take 10,000 lifetimes to save up enough to pay God for our debt. In reality paying our own debt in hell would take an eternity, or in other words, we can never pay the debt we owe God. The price God paid in the death of His Son Jesus was sufficient to pay our entire debt to His perfect justice.
Our redemption in Christ procures for us a number of things:
- Justification: “They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24 (HCSB)
- Forgiveness of sin: “We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” Ephesians 1:7 (HCSB). “We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.” Colossians 1:14 (HCSB)
- Adoption: “When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5 (HCSB)
- Cleansing: “He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works. Titus 2:14 (HCSB)
Each of these areas will be explored in more detail in subsequent sections. In summary, when you see that we have been redeemed and are presently redeemed, God is our Redeemer, and we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. When you see “redeem” or “redemption” in Scripture, think about God paying an infinite price to purchase us out from slavery, in His great love for us, never to be sold again.