by James M. Flanigan, N Ireland.
In days gone by when slavery was a wide-spread common practice, the slave market would have been a familiar sight. In these markets men, women and children were sold by auction much as cattle and sheep are sold today. This resulted so often in a lifetime of slavery from which escape was virtually impossible.
Picture some kind and benevolent stranger, unfamiliar with the slave market, being shown around by a friend. The cruelty of it all shocks and offends him. His attention is drawn to some little one, a forlorn and lonely little figure waiting to be auctioned to an unknown master. The stranger’s heart goes out to the child, whose future is bleak and may well be a future of bitter hardship with an unfeeling and callous owner. He asks his companion, “Can nothing be done to save this helpless little one from her sad plight?” The reply is, “O yes! You could buy her! Then she would be yours and you would have the right to release her”.
The auction begins. Someone bids, and the stranger bids. Other bids follow, bid after bid, and each time the stranger bids a higher price. At last the bidding ceases. The stranger’s bid has been successful and the child becomes his property. With what trepidation and fear of the unknown the little one would face her new master. But there is no need to fear. Away from the noisy atmosphere of the slave market he gently explains to her that he has bought her to release her. He has bought her in the market and out of the market. He has paid the ransom price and redeemed her out of her bondage. She is no longer a slave. She is free! She might well look at her benefactor and love him and exclaim, “My redeemer”! He had paid the price that the market demanded and through him she had been emancipated from slavery. Liberated! Redeemed! And indeed she may well wish to stay with him and be the grateful servant of one so kind as he.
Paul appreciated this as he wrote of himself that he was, “Sold under sin” … in captivity to the law of sin … “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me?” Joyfully he adds, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” Rom.7.14,24,25. A Redeemer has paid the redemption price, not with silver and gold but with precious blood, as another apostle explains in 1 Pet.1.18,19, and the helpless sinner is free. Paul writes again, “Ye are bought with a price” 1 Cor.6.20, and then repeats exactly the same words in 1 Cor.7.23. Does he have the same thought in mind when he says to another “who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us …” Tit.2.14? And again, writing to the Galatians he says, “The Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me” Gal.2.20. Notice however, that both Peter and Paul are afterwards happy to describe themselves as “bondslaves” of Jesus Christ, 2 Pet.1.1; Rom.1.1. They are, with all who love the Lord Jesus, content to be in a willing bondage of love to Him who has redeemed and delivered them.
There are two intriguing things in any study of Redemption. One is that such an apparently simple and beautiful subject can become so complicated and difficult. The other is that such a complicated and difficult subject can be so beautiful and so simple! The lovely word “Redemption” occurs some twenty times in the English Version of our Bible commonly known as the A.V. or K.J.V. Nine of these occurrences are in the Old Testament and eleven are in the New. Redemption of course implies a redeemer, and the word “redeemer” is found eighteen times in the Old Testament but never in the New. The cognate word “redeem” occurs more than fifty times, only two of which are in the New Testament, in Gal.4.5 and Tit.2.14. The associate word ‘redeemed’ may be found more than sixty times, but again most of these are in the Old Testament, only seven of them being in the New. “Redeeming” occurs only in Ruth 4.7, Eph.5.16, and Col.4.5.
If all this seems rather complex, then, to complicate the matter just a little more it must be observed that these familiar English words are actually translations of several different Hebrew and Greek words, the only consistency being with the word “redeemer” which is always a translation of the Hebrew word go’el (Strong 1350), and this must be explained later. Again it must be noted that these original Hebrew and Greek words are often translated by yet other different English words, such as “ransom”, “deliverance”, “buy”, and “bought”.
The complexity of such a variety of Hebrew, Greek, and English words may be eased however, by noticing that there is a common strand which runs through all. To quote the helpful definitions of well-known Bible Dictionaries, the words simply mean, “the purchase back of something that had been lost, by the payment of a ransom” (Easton). Or, “to release by paying a ransom price … especially of purchasing a slave with a view to his freedom” (W. E. Vine), as in our opening illustration. It will be appreciated that a detailed consideration of such a variety of words in the original tongues, with such an array of English renderings, would be a mammoth task. It will however, be necessary to consider some of these words, but it would not be at all profitable if a cold academic approach should rob us of the wonder of our redemption and the joy of knowing Christ as our Redeemer. Every believer in the Lord Jesus knows that while theology and doctrine have their rightful place, redemption is in a Person, a Redeemer.
In connection with this latter it is interesting to note that the expression “My Redeemer” is found only twice in our Bible. Believers love to quote it and speak of it, and how heartily they sing of it –
- My Redeemer! O what beauties
- In that lovely Name appear;
- None but Jesus in His glories
- Shall the honoured title wear.
- My Redeemer!
- Thou hast my salvation wrought.
- (Author unknown)
Yet indeed it occurs only twice in Job 19.25 and Ps.19.14. Job and David, in their day, are united in extolling the lovely title. David had been speaking much in that Psalm about sin. There were sins of ignorance. There were secret sins. There were presumptuous sins and great transgressions. Where can he look for help? In the closing verse of his Psalm he lifts his eyes Godward, exclaiming, “O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer”! Job has a problem too, not so much about sin as about suffering and sorrow, of which he has had more than his share. He has lost so much of his family, his wealth, and his health. Those presuming to be his friends were but ‘miserable comforters’, and even his wife had failed to understand. Like David, he looks away from it all, saying, “I know that my Redeemer liveth”. Whether it is deliverance from sin or release from sorrow, these early saints have found the answer – My Redeemer! The saint today rejoices in the same. In Christ there is a present deliverance from sin, from its penalty, its power and its bondage. One day, when the Redeemer comes, there will be deliverance altogether from the sorrow and suffering of earth. How good to be able to look up, and look on, and say, with David and Job, “My Redeemer”!
Perhaps the most familiar of the Hebrew words in any study of Redemption is the word go’el (Strong 1350), occurring more than one hundred times in the Old Testament. It is variously translated “revenger” Num.35.19; “avenger” Deut.19.6; “kinsman” Ruth 3.12; “redeemer” Job 19.25 and elsewhere. In its adjectival form “redeemed”, it may be found in Isa.35.9, and as “ransomed” in Isa.51.10. These latter references of course are not by any means exhaustive, there are many other occurrences of the word ‘redeemed’ and the diligent student of the subject ought to consult and compare them all.
The first occurrence of go’el is in Gen.48.16. The patriarch Jacob is old and dying and Joseph has brought his two sons to him to be blessed. Jacob stretches out his hands upon them and says, “The Angel which redeemed [go’el] me from all evil, bless the lads”. This has created a problem for some readers in that go’el really does seem to imply a kinsman relationship, as so often in the Book of Ruth, and so the question arises, “Who then is this Angel who has redeemed Jacob from evil?” That He must be a divine Person seems obvious, forming a trinity with the other two mentions of God [Elohim] in the preceding verse. The God of his fathers, the God who had shepherded him all his life, is the Angel who has redeemed the patriarch. This must then be what is known as a Christophany, a ministry of Christ before His incarnation. It is anticipatory of One who would voluntarily take of flesh and blood that He might be our Kinsman-Redeemer. There are other such references to the Angel of the Lord, as in Gen.16.7; 22.15; 31.11; Ex.3.2. These are only examples. There are over fifty more references, ten of them in the Book of Numbers, all in chapter 22, and twelve in the Book of Judges.
“Go’el” however, is most prominent in the delightful little Book of Ruth where it is found more than twenty times in four short chapters. As W. E. Vine writes, “The Book of Ruth is a beautiful account of the kinsman-redeemer. His responsibility is summed up in Ruth 4.5: What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.”
Three things were necessary in a go’el, a kinsman redeemer. He must have the right, the ability, and the willingness to play his part. Our Redeemer has all of these qualities. He has the right for He is indeed our kinsman. The miracle of the Incarnation has brought the Son of God into our world as a Man. He has truly become a Man amongst men. With a Manhood unique and impeccable, but real nevertheless, He has entered into kinship with us and therefore has Kinsman-Redeemer’s rights. He has too, the ability and the power. All the necessary resources are His to pay the heavy ransom price and redeem those in bondage. That unnamed kinsman in the Book of Ruth may have had both the right and the ability, but for some reason he did not have the willingness and his rights were forfeited to Boaz. The privileges and duties of a near kinsman are detailed in several verses in Deuteronomy chapter 25, as also in Leviticus chapter 25 which states “And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession. But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee: and in the jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession” Lev.25.24-28. Jehovah had ordained that both persons and properties may be redeemed, and this was a foreshadowing of the great Kinsman who would come to redeem everything which the first man had forfeited by his sin.
- Thy sympathies and hopes are ours,
- We long O Lord to see
- Creation all, below, above,
- Redeemed and blessed by Thee.
- (E. Denny)
The second occurrence of go’el is in Ex.6.6 and gives us further insight into the story of redemption. “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God” vv.6,7. Jehovah then adds, “And I will bring you in unto the land” v.8.
This is the only reference to go’el in the Book of Exodus but thereafter the Children of Israel are known as a redeemed people and subsequently there are some twenty-two occurrences of go’el in the Book of Leviticus. Jehovah, from the heights had both seen and heard. He had seen the afflictions and heard the groanings of the nation. The people were in a sad and bitter bondage and in Ex.6.6-8 He gives them that seven-fold promise.
- I will bring you out from under the burdens
- I will rid you out of their bondage
- I will redeem you
- I will take you to me for a people
- I will be to you a God
- I will bring you in unto the land
- I will give it to you for an heritage.
The people of course did not at this time know that their redemption would be bought at a price. Perhaps Moses himself did not know until the time recorded in Exodus chapter 12. For every redeemed household a lamb would be slain, blood would be shed, a life would be given as the price of their redemption. All the essentials of a later redemption plan would be enshrined in the selection and slaying of the Passover lamb and the sprinkling of its blood. The lamb must be without blemish, an active male of the first year. At the appointed hour the lamb would be killed. With a bunch of hyssop its blood must be placed on the two side posts and on the upper door post of their dwellings, and inside, sheltered by the blood, the people would eat of the roast lamb with loins girded and feet shod, ready to depart out of Egypt, redeemed!
How many a Gospel preacher has revelled in this story, this ancient foregleam of the Lamb of God. As the Passover Lamb had to be without blemish, so our Redeemer, Himself the Lamb, was absolutely without blemish, and His sinlessness was not because of some monastic existence. He was not cloistered away from the defilement of the world around. He was active as “a male of the first year”, living in Nazareth for thirty years, walking its streets, attending its synagogue, doing business with the men of Nazareth as a carpenter in the town. Much of the detail of those early Nazareth years has been divinely hidden, but from Himself we learn that He was always ‘about His Father’s business’ Lk.2.49, and from an opened heaven we learn that the Father had found delight in Him Lk.3.22. He was indeed “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” Heb.7.26. He was truly without blemish, impeccable, incomparable, and incorruptible.
- His stainless life, His lovely walk,
- In every aspect true,
- From the defilement all around
- No taint of evil drew.
- (M. Wylie)
At the end of thirty wondrous years He was slain. Peter, who knew Him well, writes to believers whose past lives had been spent in the ceremonials and rituals of Judaism. “Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold … but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory;” 1 Pet.1.18-21. Paul concurs with this, saying, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” 1 Cor.5.7.
The redemption of Israel then, from the slavery of Egypt, purchased by the blood of the lamb and accomplished by the arm of the Lord, is an eloquent foreshadowing of our redemption by the blood of the Lord Jesus.
In the A.V. of our New Testament the word “redemption” occurs eleven times, “redeemed” occurs seven times. “Redeem” occurs only twice, Gal.4.5 and Titus 2.14, and “redeeming” also occurs twice in Eph.5.16 and Col.4.5. Some of these have been referred to in the Introduction. As has been mentioned earlier, the noun ‘redeemer’ is not found in the New Testament. Again, as with the subject in the Old Testament, these New Testament English words are not always the translation of the same Greek word. These words, with their varied meanings, must be considered and explained. Four English words therefore, are the translations of the following Greek words, the meanings of which will greatly help us to a fuller understanding of the great truth of redemption.
Agorazo (Strong 59).
This word, occurring more than thirty times in the New Testament, is only three times translated “redeemed”. Its basic meaning is ‘to buy’, and it is consistently rendered “buy” or “bought” in the AV. It is the word that Paul uses in 1 Cor.6.20 and 7.23 where he writes “Ye are bought with a price”. Three times however, always in the Book of the Revelation, agorazo is translated “redeemed”.
- In Rev.5.9 “they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
- In Rev.14.3 “they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.”
- In Rev.14.4 “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men.”
It will be readily apparent from these references that a price has been paid for the redemption enjoyed by so many. That purchase price has bought our Lord’s rights to take the sealed book from the hand of the throne-sitter in Revelation chapter 5. It has purchased too, the deliverance of a future faithful remnant of Israel in Rev.14.3 and it has purchased the praise and adoration of this remnant in Rev.14.4.
Exagorazo (Strong 1805)
It will be immediately obvious of course, that this word is a combination of agorazo, which we have just considered, and the preposition ex which precedes it. ‘Ex’ simply means ‘out of’, and the preposition has been incorporated into the English vocabulary, so that we might be quoted a price for goods ‘ex works’ or ‘ex warehouse’, or a dispute may be settled ‘ex curia’, out of court. If agorazo then means ‘to buy’, exagorazo means ‘to buy out of’, and W. E. Vine’s comment is most helpful. He defines exagorazo as a strengthened form of agorazo, ‘to buy’ denoting ‘to buy out’ especially of purchasing a slave with a view to his freedom. As has been noted in the illustration with which this paper commences, a slave might have been purchased in the slave-market simply to become the slave of another master, but how much better to have been bought out of the market, out of slavery, emancipated, set at liberty on the payment of a ransom price, redeemed!
Paul uses this word four times in his Epistles. On two occasions however it is not associated with that redemption which is under consideration just now. In Eph.5.16 and also in Col.4.5 he speaks of “redeeming the time”. He means of course that since the days are evil, and since unbelievers all around are critically watching the lives of the saints, we must, during whatever years may be left to us, buy up every moment. Out of the time which is granted to us we must buy up time for the work of the Lord and for the building up of testimony for Him. Time will be bought at a price. That price may be a foregoing of the social round of things so as to be alone with the Lord or to be busy in His service. It may be the sacrificing of things that are otherwise legitimate so as to be occupied in the study of His Word. It may mean, as they say, the burning of the midnight oil. Somehow a price must be paid if we are to redeem the time, buying up the moments for Him.
In Gal.3.13; 4.5, this word exagorazo must have been especially precious to Jewish believers. These saints had known what it was to be in bondage. How they would rejoice to say with Paul, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law”. Every sincere and thoughtful Jew would have lived and laboured under this heavy yoke. The law demanded what he could not give. It required perfection and the man was under a curse who could not rise to its demands. But Christ had redeemed such. He had bought them out of the realm of bondage and had imparted a new freedom for them to serve God out of love and gratitude for their redemption.
It must not be thought however, that this excluded Gentiles who had likewise been redeemed. Paul’s words in Galatians may indeed have had a direct bearing on the converted Jew but the comments of the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary concerning Christ who has redeemed us are worth quoting in full, “The ‘us’ refers primarily to the Jews, to whom the law principally appertained, in contrast to the Gentiles … But it is not restricted solely to the Jews … for these are the representative people of the world at large, and their law is the embodiment of what God requires of the whole world. The curse of its non-fulfilment affects the Gentiles through the Jews; for the law represents that righteousness which God requires of all, and which, since the Jews failed to fulfil, the Gentiles are equally unable to fulfil. Gal.3.10, “As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse:” refers plainly, not to the Jews only, but to all, even Gentiles (as the Galatians), who seek justification by the law. The Jews’ law represents the universal law which condemned the Gentiles, though with less clear consciousness on their part, Rom.2.1-29. The revelation of God’s wrath by the law of conscience, in some degree prepared the Gentiles for appreciating redemption through Christ when revealed. The curse had to be removed from off the heathen, too, as well as the Jews, in order that “the blessing, through Abraham, might flow to them”. With this Barnes agrees, writing that it is “The curse which the law threatens, and which the execution of the law would inflict; the punishment due to sin. This must mean, that He has rescued us from the consequences of transgression in the world of woe; He has saved us from the punishment which our sins have deserved. The word ‘us,’ here, must refer to all who are redeemed; that is, to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The curse of the law is a curse which is due to sin, and cannot be regarded as applied particularly to any one class of men. All who violate the law of God, however that law may be made known, are exposed to its penalty.” He adds, “The world is lying by nature under this curse, and it is sweeping the race on to ruin.”
Rom.3.19 confirms that the requirements of the law are demanded of all men. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Note the scope of the statements, “Every mouth stopped … all the world guilty.” The Jew may be more advantaged, and therefore more responsible, but nevertheless the Gentile sinner is equally under the curse of the law unless redeemed. “The wages of sin is death” is a universal sentence, as is “The soul that sinneth it shall die” Rom.6.23; Ezek.18.4,20. All men therefore, Jew and Gentile alike, need a redeemer.
The believer rejoices to say with Paul, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us:” Gal.3.13 J.N.D., A.S.V., R.S.V. He has bought us out from under the curse of a broken law. At what a cost has the Lord Jesus voluntarily become our Redeemer from that curse. O the shame of hanging upon a tree! Deut.21.23. That He who knew no sin should be made sin for us is the price of our redemption, 2 Cor.5.21. He was numbered with the transgressors, hanged on a tree like the malefactors beside Him, and with our iniquity laid upon Him, Isaiah chapter 53. The spotless Lamb of God, ever most holy like the sin offerings of old, Lev.6.25,29 was forsaken of God as the willing substitute paying the price of our redemption.
- His the curse, the wounds, the gall,
- His the stripes – He bore them all;
- His the dying cry of pain
- When our sins He did sustain.
- (J. Cennick)
Can we wonder that the Psalmist should say, “The redemption of the soul is precious” Ps.49.8? It is as precious as the One of whom it is written, “Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious” 1 Pet.2.7.
Apolutrosis (Strong 629)
This is the usual word translated “redemption” in the New Testament. Nine times it is so rendered and once it is rendered “deliverance” Heb.11.35, which latter word helps us to understand its basic meaning. Strong’s definition is rather brief. Thayer’s more expanded definition is helpful, “to redeem one by paying the price; to let one go free on receiving the price: a releasing effected by payment of ransom; redemption, deliverance, liberation procured by the payment of a ransom”.
As might be expected, apolutrosis often has to do with the deliverance of the believer from the penalty of sin, as in Rom.3.24 “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” or as in Eph.1.7, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace;” and as in that similar verse Col.1.14, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins”.
There is however, another interesting usage of apolutrosis. Much as we presently enjoy our redemption through the blood of Christ, His work of redemption for us is not yet complete. Paul speaks of “the day of redemption” as something yet future Eph.4.30. He writes also of “the redemption of our body”, saying, “We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” Rom.8.23. That day of the final redemption will see “the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” Eph.1.14.
Many believers are still in the body, living and witnessing in an evil adverse world. Many suffer in the body for their testimony to the Saviour and many suffer the common ills and sicknesses of life. Some suffer the limitations and infirmities of advanced years, and so many have had the grief and pain of bereavement. While we remain in the body we may expect hardships of various kinds. There will be sorrows and tears, but one day the Redeemer will come. He has purchased His Church at a heavy price and He will come to redeem His purchased possession. It is His peculiar treasure and He will come to claim it. That will be “the day of redemption” and the “redemption of our body”.
Some may ask however, what of those of our fellow-believers who have predeceased us? Many have died and been buried. Well, it was exactly to clarify their position on the day of redemption that Paul wrote to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians. We must not sorrow for them like as others sorrow who have no hope. We who are alive when the Redeemer comes will not have any precedence over our friends who have died. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord … Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” 1 Thess.4.15-17: 1 Cor.15.51, 52. That will be the day of redemption, when we shall be released from the bodies of our humiliation, bodies in which we have suffered and sinned. Our redemption will then be complete.
How many a lonely tombstone bears that silent inscription ‘Redeemed’. The word is both retrospective and anticipative. Looking back, the buried saint has indeed been redeemed, bought out of the slave market of sin and united, with all sins forgiven, to Christ the Redeemer. For many years some had lived in the conscious enjoyment of their redemption, the joy of forgiveness. But looking onward and upward, in holy and intelligent anticipation, the best is yet to be. The bodies of all those saints who have died await the day of redemption, to be resurrected and caught up to glory. How blessed to anticipate the redemption of the body! No more sinning! No more suffering! No more weariness! No more loneliness! Redeemed!
- Our pain shall then be over,
- We’ll sin and sigh no more:
- Behind us all our sorrow,
- And nought but joy before,
- A joy in our Redeemer,
- As we to Him are nigh,
- In the crowning day that’s coming
- By and by.
- (D. W. Whittle)
Lutroo (Strong 3084); Lutrosis (Strong 3045).
These are cognate words with apolutrosis and they raise an interesting question with regard to redemption which must be addressed. W. E. Vine’s definitions, abbreviated, are as follows:
- lutroo, “to release on receipt of ransom” (akin to lutron, ‘a ransom’), is used in the middle voice, signifying “to release by paying a ransom price, to redeem”:
- lutrosis ‘a redemption’, is used in the general sense of ‘deliverance’.
Now all this raises a question which is often asked, “If there was a price to be paid, to whom was it paid? If some of these words which have been quoted, as agorazo and lutron, appear to demand the payment of a ransom, then to many it seems reasonable to enquire, who then received the ransom?” It is an old question, and, as A. McCaig writes in the International Bible Encyclopaedia, “The question ‘Who receives the ransom?’ is not directly raised in Scripture, but it is one that not unnaturally occurs to the mind, and theologians have answered it in varying ways.
- Not to Satan. – The idea entertained by some of the Fathers (Irenaeus, Origen) that the ransom was given to Satan, who is conceived of as having through the sin of man a righteous claim upon him, which Christ recognizes and meets, is grotesque, and not in any way countenanced by Scripture.
- To divine justice. – But in repudiating it, there is no need to go so far as to deny that there is anything answering to a real ransoming transaction. All that we have said goes to show that, in no mere figure of speech, but in tremendous reality, Christ gave “His life a ransom”, and if our mind demands an answer to the question to whom the ransom was paid, it does not seem at all unreasonable to think of the justice of God, or God in His character of Moral Governor, as requiring and receiving it.”
Although these answers may be interesting and thought provoking, yet there is a sense in which the question itself is not relevant. As W. E. Vine and others point out, the verb lutroo is in the middle voice and therefore does not seem to require another party. To illustrate, a man may be offered advice and stubbornly refuse it, and afterwards say, “I paid the price”. Another may see a warning sign and ignore it and then say in his difficulties, “I paid the price”. A man may be given medication for an illness and neglect to take it, and then say as he admits his neglect, “I paid the price”. For many of earth’s achievements and honours there is a price to be paid, and in the spiritual realm men like Paul and the martyrs who followed paid the price for their faithfulness. To whom were these various prices paid? It is not a valid question.
So the Lord Jesus became our surety and substitute, and paid the price. He voluntarily “gave Himself a ransom for all.” 1 Tim.2.6. At Golgotha He paid the price in the giving of His life and the shedding of His blood, and secured our release. He is our Redeemer.
Those who are described as “the ransomed of the Lord” Isa.35.10 are deeply indebted to Him who has redeemed them. He has asked for nothing, and they have contributed nothing, toward the cost of their redemption. The Redeemer has paid it all. However, having been redeemed there is now a solemn obligation resting upon them to live for Him who has paid their ransom. This should not be a duty. It is not a grievous burden imposed but a gracious privilege granted, to live for Him who died for us. As one of His servants once said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice is too great for me to make for Him” (C.T. Studd).
“Ye are not your own” says Paul “Ye are bought with a price:”, and then he adds “therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Cor.6.20. The obvious implication is that we now belong exclusively and by right to Him who has bought us and our lives must be lived for His glory. Sadly, there was much to grieve Him among the Corinthians. There was moral and doctrinal evil and there were social and class divisions in their midst. This was all a denial of His claims to whom they now belonged. Body, soul, and spirit belonged to the Redeemer. They should, for Him, be living lives of holiness. The redemption price which He had paid both deserved and demanded it. Notice the “therefore” which Paul uses. Their holiness was not optional. “Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God”.
Again he uses the same expression, “Ye are bought with a price” and now adds, “be not ye the servants of men” 1 Cor.7.23. Adam Clarke comments, “Some render this verse interrogatively: Are ye bought with a price from your slavery? Do not again become slaves of men.” It will be agreed of course, that our redemption does not release employees from obligation to employers. Nor did it release Christian slaves from service to their masters, hateful though the principle of slavery might be. Whether in the course of normal secular employment or in the bondage of slavery believers have a duty to their masters. How greatly it would affect all service, both of paid workers and of slaves, to remember Paul’s exhortation, “He that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant” 1 Cor.7.22. Notice Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” Eph.6.5,6. To the Colossians his exhortation is just the same, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” Col.3.22-24. The believer therefore may serve men most acceptably and loyally, remembering always that in serving men he is serving God. We must never become slaves of men in matters of religion, tradition, superstition, or ceremonialism. Our supreme loyalty is to our Redeemer. We belong to Him. We are “the redeemed of the Lord” Ps.107.2; Isa.51.11; 62.12.
From all these considerations therefore, it will be evident that redemption is not just a subject for what men call ‘systematic theology’. It is a warm, vibrant truth and experience. It brings joy and gladness to the heart of the believer, it produces meaning in the life, it settles the past and assures the future, and above all things it brings glory to the Redeemer Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ.