Redemption Redeem

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Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [1]

Finding its context in the social, legal, and religious customs of the ancient world, the metaphor of redemption includes the ideas of loosing from a bond, setting free from captivity or slavery, buying back something lost or sold, exchanging something in one's possession for something possessed by another, and ransoming.

The Old Testament . In the Old Testament, redemption involves deliverance from bondage based on the payment of a price by a redeemer. The Hebrew root words used most often for the concept of redemption are pada [פָּדָה], gaal [גְּאולִּים גָּאַל] and kapar [כָּפַר כָּפַר].

The verb pada [   Exodus 13:13;  34:20;  Numbers 18:15-16 ). Human firstborn were also redeemed, either by the substitution of an animal or by the payment of a fixed sum ( Numbers 18:16 ). The Levites are also said to be a ransom for the firstborn of Israel ( Numbers 3:44-45 ). Money was sometimes paid to deliver a person from death ( Exodus 21:30;  Numbers 3:46-51;  18:16; cf.  Psalm 49:7-9 ).

The verb gaal [   Leviticus 25:24-25;  Ruth 4:1-6;  Jeremiah 32:6-9 ).

The meaning of the third verb, kapar [   Exodus 21:30;  30:11-16 ).

As one who delivers his people, Yahweh is called Israel's "Redeemer, " especially in Isaiah where "redemption" is a key metaphor (41:14; 43:1; 44:6; 47:4). The paradigm of Yahweh's redemptive activity in the Old Testament is the historical deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, but the metaphor of redemption was also utilized by the prophets in relation to the Babylonian captivity.

Although most often found in relation to the redemption of God's people, the concept of redemption was also applied to individuals in distress ( Genesis 48:16;  2 Samuel 4:9;  Job 19:25;  Psalm 26:11;  49:15;  69:18;  103:4 ). The redemptive activity of God is most often described in terms of physical deliverance, but these redemptive Acts are not devoid of spiritual significance. There is only one explicit Old Testament reference to redemption from sin ( Psalm 130:8 ), the emphasis falling in the majority of references on God's deliverance from the results of sin.

The New Testament . By the first century a.d. the concept of redemption had become eschatological. Redemption of Israel from Egypt was but the foreshadowing in history of the great act of deliverance by which history would be brought to an end. In rabbinic expectation the Messiah would be the Redeemer of Israel, and the great Day of the Lord would be the day of redemption. It is possibly due to the nationalistic expectation that became attached to the concept of the coming Messiah-Redeemer that Jesus is never called "redeemer" ( lytrotes [Λυτρωτής]) in the New Testament.

Fundamental to the message of the New Testament is the announcement that Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of Israel's messianic hope and that, in him, the long-awaited redemption has arrived. Deliverance of humankind from its state of alienation from God has been accomplished through the death and resurrection of Christ ( Romans 4:25;  2 Corinthians 5:18-19 ). In the New Testament, redemption requires the payment of a price, but the plight that requires such a ransom is moral not material. Humankind is held in the captivity of sin from which only the atoning death of Jesus Christ can liberate.

Although the concept of redemption is central to the New Testament, the occurrence of redemption terminology is relatively limited. When reflecting on the work of Jesus Christ, New Testament writers more frequently utilize different images (e.g., atonement, sacrifice, justification). The concept of redemption is nevertheless conveyed in the New Testament by the agorazo and lyo word groups. These terms have in mind the context of a marketplace transaction with reference to the purchase of goods or the releasing of slaves. In using these words, New Testament writers sought to represent Jesus' saving activity in terms that convey deliverance from bondage. Most of these words infer deliverance from captivity by means of a ransom price paid. The noun "ransom" ( lytron [   Matthew 20:28;  Mark 10:45;  1 Timothy 2:6 ). Redemption language is merged with substitutionary language in these verses and applied to Jesus' death. Pauline usage of the noun "redemption" ( apolytrosis [   Romans 3:24;  8:23;  1 Corinthians 1:30;  Ephesians 1:14;  4:30 ), although substitutionary meaning is evident in  Ephesians 1:7 , where Christ's blood is depicted as the means of redemption.

Jesus conceived his mission to be that of the Son of Man, who came to offer himself in obedience to God's redemptive plan. He applied to himself the things said in the Old Testament of the Servant of the Lord concerning his rejection, humiliation, death, and resurrection ( Mark 8:31;  9:31;  10:33-34 ). Likewise, New Testament writers apply to him the Servant texts and terminology from the Old Testament (e.g.,  Matthew 8:17;  12:18;  Acts 4:27,30;  8:32-33;  Romans 15:21;  1 Peter 2:22-25 ). An important text with regard to Jesus' understanding of his redemptive work is  Mark 10:45 , in which Jesus declares that his mission not only includes self-sacrificial service, but also involves giving his life as a "ransom" for many. Thus, Christ's death is portrayed as the payment price for the deliverance of those held captive by Satan (the ransom metaphor must be understood in the light of Jesus' offering of himself in obedience to the Father, however, and not interpreted as a payment to Satan). As the means of redemption, the death of Jesus provides a deliverance that involves not only forgiveness of sin ( Ephesians 1:7;  Colossians 1:14 ), but also newness of life ( Romans 6:4 ). Even though Christ's redemptive work is perfect ( Hebrews 9:25-28 ), the redemption of the believer will not be complete until the return of Christ ( Luke 21:28;  Romans 8:23;  Ephesians 4:30 ).

The central theme of redemption in Scripture is that God has taken the initiative to act compassionately on behalf of those who are powerless to help themselves. The New Testament makes clear that divine redemption includes God's identification with humanity in its plight, and the securing of liberation of humankind through the obedience, suffering, death, and resurrection of the incarnate Son.

R. David Rightmire

See also Death Of Christ; Idea Of Revelation; Salvation

Bibliography . C. Brown, et al., NIDNTT, 3:177-223; F. Bchsel, TDNT, 4:328-56; I. H. Marshall, Reconciliation and Hope, pp. 153-69; L. Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross  ; J. Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied  ; H. E. W. Turner, The Patristic Doctrine of Redemption  ; V. Taylor, The Atonement in New Testament Preaching  ; W. Pannenberg, Basic Questions in Theology, 1:15-80; B. B. Warfield, The Person and Work of Christ .

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

A — 1: Ἐξαγοράζω (Strong'S #1805 — Verb — exagorazo — ex-ag-or-ad'-zo )

a strengthened form of agorazo, "to buy" (see Buy , No. 1), denotes "to buy out" (ex for ek), especially of purchasing a slave with a view to his freedom. It is used metaphorically (a) in  Galatians 3:13;  4:5 , of the deliverance by Christ of Christian Jews from the Law and its curse; what is said of lutron (RANSOM, No. 1) is true of this verb and of agorazo, as to the Death of Christ, that Scripture does not say to whom the price was paid; the various suggestions made are purely speculative; (b) in the Middle Voice, "to buy up for oneself,"  Ephesians 5:16; and  Colossians 4:5 , of "buying up the opportunity" (RV marg.; text, "redeeming the time," where "time" is kairos, "a season," a time in which something is seasonable), i.e., making the most of every opportunity, turning each to the best advantage since none can be recalled if missed.

 Revelation 5:9 14:3,4Purchase.

A — 2: Λυτρόω (Strong'S #3084 — Verb — lutroo — loo-tro'-o )

"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" (a) in the natural sense of delivering,  Luke 24:21 , of setting Israel free from the Roman yoke; (b) in a spiritual sense,  Titus 2:14 , of the work of Christ in "redeeming" men "from all iniquity" (anomia, "lawlessness," the bondage of self-will which rejects the will of God);  1—Peter 1:18 (Passive Voice), "ye were redeemed," from a vain manner of life, i.e., from bondage to tradition. In both instances the Death of Christ is stated as the means of "redemption."

B — 1: Λύτρωσις (Strong'S #3085 — Noun Feminine — lutrosis — loo'-tro-sis )

"a redemption" (akin to A, No. 2), is used (a) in the general sense of "deliverance," of the nation of Israel,  Luke 1:68 RV, "wrought redemption;"   Luke 2:38; (b) of "the redemptive work" of Christ,  Hebrews 9:12 , bringing deliverance through His death, from the guilt and power of sin. In the Sept.,  Leviticus 25:29,48;  Numbers 18:16;  Judges 1:15;  Psalm 49:8;  111:9;  130:7;  Isaiah 63:4 .

B — 2: Ἀπολύτρωσις (Strong'S #629 — Noun Feminine — apolutrosis — ap-ol-oo'-tro-sis )

a strengthened form of No. 1, lit., "a releasing, for (i.e., on payment of) a ransom." It is used of (a) "deliverance" from physical torture,  Hebrews 11:35 , see Deliver , B, No. 1; (b) the deliverance of the people of God at the coming of Christ with His glorified saints, "in a cloud with power and great glory,"  Luke 21:28 , a "redemption" to be accomplished at the "outshining of His Parousia,"  2—Thessalonians 2:8 , i.e., at His second advent; (c) forgiveness and justification, "redemption" as the result of expiation, deliverance from the guilt of sins,  Romans 3:24 , "through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;"  Ephesians 1:7 , defined as "the forgiveness of our trespasses," RV; so  Colossians 1:14 , "the forgiveness of our sins," indicating both the liberation from the guilt and doom of sin and the introduction into a life of liberty, "newness of life" ( Romans 6:4 );  Hebrews 9:15 , "for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant," RV, here "redemption of" is equivalent to "redemption from," the genitive case being used of the object from which the "redemption" is effected, not from the consequence of the transgressions, but from the trangressions themselves; (d) the deliverance of the believer from the presence and power of sin, and of his body from bondage to corruption, at the coming (the Parousia in its inception) of the Lord Jesus,  Romans 8:23;  1—Corinthians 1:30;  Ephesians 1:14;  4:30 . See also Propitiation.