Earl E. Robertson
Xenia, Ohio

Redemption has been a household word to the people of God for more than three thousand years. The word has experienced various uses in its application. Originally, in the Old Testament, this was a sweet word to the oppressed in the redemption of their land or property. Provision was made for the redemption of houses, lands, and cities (Lev. 25:25-34). These rights were recognized by Boaz in buying the field of Naomi and Ruth (Ruth 4:4-9). Five shekels for each of the children of Israel were paid to redeem them (Num. 3:44-51). This system was practiced in Nehemiah 5 also. It seems from the foregoing verses that the idea of deliverance, in a general sense, was the way the word was used in the Old Testament.

Frequently the Israelites were in fierce battle or bondage and they made their appeal unto God for deliverance. He redeemed them delivered them (Deut. 9:26; 2 Sam. 7:23; 1 Chron. 17:21; Is. 52:3-6). Over and over again God redeemed and delivered his people from plagues, calamities, and misfortunes. God did this because He had claim to Israel and therefore as their Father sustained a dutiful relationship to them.

It is somewhat surprising, perhaps, to the New Testament student to see that redemption is so little associated with sin in the Old Testament. A reference to such is made in Psalms 130:8.

In the New Testament we have the word apolutrosis, which "redemption" translates, used some ten times. Jesus used it first (Luke 21:28), and Paul the other nine times. The word is defined, "orig. buying back a slave or captive, making him free by payment of a ransom" (Arndt-Gingrich Lexicon, p. 95). Everett F. Harrison says in Baker's Dictionary of Theology, p. 439, "No word in the Christian vocabulary deserves to be held more precious than Redeemer, for even more than Savior it reminds the child of God that his salvation has been purchased at a great and personal cost, for the Lord has given himself for our sins in order to deliver us from them."

So, there is a releasing in redemption. The aim in redemption is to beget in men life like that in Christ (Gal. 2:20). Since "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23), redemption became necessary. A price had to be paid to loose men. The blood of bulls and goats could not do it (Heb. 10:4), so "a death having taken place for redemption" for all: both those under the first Testament as well as we who are called (Heb. 9:15).

The idea in atonement supplying power for redemption is seen in the expression "death for redemption." The Genitive preposition eis (for) shows the intent of Jesus' death ... in order to loose men from their transgressions. Transgression of truth produces sin (I John 3:4). Jesus came into this world, in flesh, not only to declare all the attributes of God (John 1: 18; 1 Tim. 3:16), but to be poured out a sin offering (Heb. 10: 5, 10, 12, 14). The offering of his life for atonement declares God just and the justifier of all who believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:24-26).

It must be observed, however, that redemption must not be looked upon in such fashion as to make it enjoyed without response by those who would be redeemed. Redemption is not received passively the receiver must act. We are aware of the fact that couched in ransom is the idea of pay for deliverance, whether the individual is willing to be delivered or not. The natural assumption is that any in prison or slavery would welcome ransom; however, such an assumption cannot be made concerning those who love and live in sin. Yes, some men love sin (John 3:19), but "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (I John 1: 5). Men must will to do the will of God (John 7:17).

New Testament authority affirms redemption is "in Christ" (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1: 14). This is true because "in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily," which makes us "complete in him" (Col. 2:9, 10). Being instructed that such a wonderful price has been paid to atone for sin, and learning that redemption is "in Christ," one must then read that baptism puts one "into Christ" (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3). Without the baptism authorized by Christ, no sinner can enjoy the redemption "in Christ," because baptism is the act commanded by the Lord in which God translates the penitent believer into the kingdom of Christ. This act brings into existence a new relationship between the individual and the Lord; Christ becomes his Lord and. Master, and he a servant under Jesus' authority.

God has shown his mercy to sinners through atonement ... the possibility of relief from guilt through the death of Christ (Heb. 2:9; Rom. 5:12-18). Christ's resurrection is the basis of our deliverance from the power darkness and the reason for a new life; it is the ground of our justification (Rom. 3: 25). We are justified by Christ (Gal. 2:17), and have assurance of a righteous judgment because of the resurrection of Christ (Acts 17:31). And Christ's second coming brings complete fulfillment to us who "groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23). Of this passage brother Moses E. Lard wrote: "The words sonship, (adoption, E.E.R.) and deliverance are in apposition, and signify the same thing. The sonship will consist in the deliverance of our bodies from the grave. From this it will be seen that the word sonship is applied to two very different events in the life of the redeemed. It is applied, first, to our entrance into the family of God at our conversion. This family and the kingdom of God are the same. We therefore enter it by being born of water and of the Spirit. Sonship, is applied, secondly, to our entrance into the glorified family of God. This family and the everlasting kingdom will be the same. Into that family we shall enter by being born from the grave. From a grave in water we emerge into the first kingdom; from a grave in the earth, into the second. Hence, though the two events denoted by sonship stand wide apart, and are entirely distinct, they yet resemble each other very closely, so much so, indeed, that the same word is very properly used to express them both" (Commentary, 1875 edition, page 274).

Yes, a loosening! From sin with all its consciousness, awareness, and consequences through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and, too, the loosening of the body from all decay and canker.

"Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed thro' His infinite mercy, His child, and forever, I am." This wrote Fanny J. Crosby, in her song, "Redeemed."

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 7, pp. 4-6
December 17, 1970