1. Introduction
   a. Bondage
   b. Redeemer
   c. Ransom
   d. Freedom
2. Forms of redemption in ancient times
   a. Manumission (the freeing of slaves)
      i. In the Old Testament
      ii. In the Greek world
   b. Prisoners of war
   c. The ox owner
   d. The inheritance
3. Redemption in Christ
   a. Bondage to sin
      i. The choice to sin
      ii. Facing up to the reality
   b. Impossibility and promise
   c. The Redeemer and the ransom
   d. Freedom
      i. Manumission
      ii. Prisoners of war
      iii. The ox owner
      iv. The inheritance

1. Introduction

Before we can understand the Biblical concept of Redemption as it applies to Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, we must understand the basic meaning that the word brought to the mind of most ancient people. Like a lot of words within today’s Church, Redemption has come to be used as a specifically religious term, but in ancient times it was primarily secular - a word that was in everyday usage - and, then, secondarily, it was used to describe God’s dealings with mankind, whether we think of ‘God’ as the Person revealed to us in the Bible or of other belief systems.

Although the use of the word has largely gone out of fashion in common everyday language, the concepts are still very much with us, but the word doesn’t conjure up any complete understanding of the concepts behind the word.

Redemption, then, had four basic characteristics

a. Bondage

Something or someone was in bondage.

The freedom that was once available to them was non-existent or, at least, extremely restricted, so that a return to the original state of affairs was required for them to experience ‘freedom’, even though that ‘free’ state may still have had limitations imposed that had previously existed before the bondage came about. That is to say, redemption does not win absolute freedom but is specific in its work.

There have been many religions through the ages who’ve seen their earthly circumstances as being restrictions upon the freedom of expressing themselves, of demonstrating the ‘real’ them. Some have even gone so far as to end this life suddenly in order that they might have, what they suppose to be, a freer life elsewhere.

But, when you think about it, all men and women have some form of restriction placed upon them whether self-made (fidelity to the marriage vow, only having the time available to do one thing and not another) or obligatory (we can’t live forever or fly to the moon).

Death brings no real solution if, when you enter it, you find yourself subjected to restrictions imposed upon you by the One who created all things. Far better that, in this life, we restrict ourselves to be pleasing to Him and then find release and freedom for eternity when we die.

In secular usage of the term bondage, though, we’re primarily thinking about the bondage that’s a restriction placed upon an individual’s freedom in this life, usually by other men and women, but which also contains the possibility that the bondage may be removed by a completed work of redemption.

b. Redeemer

One who would get involved in the liberation of what was in bondage.

The redeemer could even be the one that was in bondage, as we shall see, but usually it was another, independent person. The redeemer is, in more common terms a ‘buyer’ or a ‘purchaser’ who must pay a price (the ransom - see the next point) to secure the release of an object or person. But we shouldn’t think that, for instance, the purchasing of an item in a department store or corner shop is a demonstration of redemption for there’s no freedom that the item is being brought into that existed before it was offered for sale.

The price paid by the redeemer secures a freedom that was in existence before the bondage was imposed upon it - this can’t be said of articles for sale.

c. Ransom

A price paid by the redeemer to cancel the bondage that existed.

It was usually a ‘monetary’ payment but it could be material objects (such as quantities of certain crops or land - the type of monetary system that we now have rarely existed in those days) or even, on rare occasions, a person’s life.

In ancient times, human sacrifice played a major part of the religion of cultures who had a distorted concept of the character of God and who used to offer sacrifice as the ultimate price to secure favours from their gods, more especially when the harvest or crops failed and when it was understood to be a sign that the gods were displeased with their worshippers.

In that way, so it was thought, the blood sacrifice (the ransom) bought for them a release from the anger of the god and a freedom that had previously been experienced.

d. Freedom

What had been a bondage was removed and the individual person or object was restored into its original freedom, its primary state. It didn’t bring a newness of situation but a restoration.

This is quite important. Though we may see many people throughout the world being brought into situations that are a better expression of freedom, redemption primarily concerned itself with the restoration of what was once available, not of bringing about a newness of experience that had previously been unknown.

However, when we go on to look at the redemption that has been secured through Christ on the cross, the fulness of the freedom available will be seen to be that which existed only for the first man and woman on the earth, before the first sin was committed. But, even so, aspects of that freedom will be restored that had been lost to individuals in their own lives.


Summarising, then, the action of the redeemer by paying the ransom effected freedom from bondage, a release. Here we have the concept of redemption in one short sentence using the four keywords that are characteristic of it.

These characteristics are evident in the following examples in section 2 - taken from ancient times - and which the people understood as accomplishing redemption.

2. Forms of redemption in ancient times

We shall be returning to all these examples of manumission under part d and there, hopefully, show how the cross of Jesus Christ has paid the price (the ransom) for each of them. For now, though, it’s only necessary to show the differing forms that redemption took in the ancient world before we look at how the Bible talks about the cross of Christ being a type of redemption.

a. Manumission (the freeing of slaves)

i. In the Old Testament
Lev 25:47-55

When a Jew became poor and sold himself into slavery, one of his brothers (and various other members of the family) had the right to redeem him out of slavery with a price that was based upon a consideration of how long it was until the next year of Jubilee. If the slave prospered, he also had the right to redeem himself (see my notes on ‘Jubilee’ for an extensive explanation of this year).

Even if the slave wasn’t to be redeemed, upon the next Jubilee, the slave had to be set free with no ransom being paid (this shall be looked at under the subject - very simply, ‘Jubilee’ referred to every fiftieth year in the Jewish calendar when a special type of release took place).

Therefore, the price that the master was to pay for the initial purchase of the slave would have been estimated according to the number of years that were still to pass before that year.

ii. In the Greek world

In the Greek world, slaves (whether born in slavery or bought into it) were allowed to buy their freedom via the intermediary of a pagan god. Having saved up the ‘redemption-value’, the slave would deposit the money in a pagan temple which would then use it to buy that slave from his master on behalf of the god of the temple.

The slave was bought ‘for freedom’ (this being a translation of the technical term that was used) and not to become just another menial servant in the temple service - this was expressly stated when the transaction took place.

Inscriptions within the temples themselves have survived which are records of such transactions. One such inscription is reproduced in Morris and runs

‘Date. Apollo the Pythian bought from Sosibius of Amphissa, for freedom, a female slave, whose name is Nicaea, by race a Roman, with a price of 3 minae of silver and a half-mina....The purchase...Nicaea hath committed unto Apollo, for freedom. Names of witnesses follow’

Of course, manumission wasn’t a compulsory obligation, some preferring to stay under the protection of their master, but many slaves availed themselves of their right to redeem themselves ‘for freedom’ with a ransom price.

Having been ‘bought’ by a god, there were certain duties that the freed slave was then obligated to perform on certain occasions, but that’s not to say that their slavery was transferred to the god of the temple.

b. Prisoners of war (POWs)

When war was ended, the victors would carry away captive prisoners of war - warriors and rulers of the opposing side captured in battle.

Many of these POWs were put to forced labour, becoming slaves within the foreign nation. However, others, by their very appearance, weren’t suited to the menial drudgery of service for they were the rulers and royalty, the leaders and older ruling men.

To increase the spoils of war, the victors would make it known in the opposing camp that they had ‘such and such’ a person and were willing to release him for a certain sum. This sum was known as the ransom.

If the losing camp was able to raise this amount (and it depended entirely on how well they thought that the captive was thought of in their home territory as to how much they would ask), they swapped it for their comrade.

He was ‘redeemed’ out of the enemy’s hands to be a free citizen in his own land.

c. The ox owner
Ex 21:28-32

If an ox had been accustomed to gore in the past, but the owner hadn’t taken any action to remove the possibility that it might take human life, then, if it should kill, the owner of the ox was to be held accountable for the life of the one that the ox had killed - the punishment of death rested upon him.

However, a ransom might be laid upon him (even though this was not obligatory - the first consideration was death) and it was to be paid.

Though it doesn’t say who exactly it was to be paid to, we imagine that it must have been some relative or other who was either directly related to the deceased person or who was the head of the family or tribal unit. In this way, the ox owner redeemed himself from the condemnation of death that rested upon him - he was as free as he was before the incident took place.

d. The inheritance
Lev 25:25-28

When a Jew became poor and sold his inheritance (which had been given to him as an everlasting inheritance), his next of kin had the right to redeem the property with a price based upon the time left until the next year of Jubilee (see above and also the subject ‘Jubilee’). If the Jew prospered whose property it was, he had the right to redeem it himself.

The actual Scripture lays an obligation upon the brother and the individual. Though we’ve spoken of both of them above as ‘having the right’ to redeem the land, the passage actually says that the brother ‘shall come and redeem’ (Lev 25:25) and the subsequent instruction to the Jew who sold it doesn’t appear to give him any choice in the matter (Lev25:26-27).

The reason was that property wasn’t exchangeable absolutely but was an eternal inheritance to be freed to its rightful owner upon payment of the ransom as soon as that ransom was able to be paid or, if it had not been ransomed before, at the year of Jubilee.


The chart below shows, in table form, the forms of redemption as detailed in section 2. In each example, a single label summarising the type of bondage is written in block capitals.

3. Redemption in Christ

Having seen how the ancients understood the concept of redemption, we now look at what the Bible talks of as the redemption we have in Christ before returning to the last section to see how Christ has paid the price for each situation previously described.

a. Bondage to sin

i. The choice to sin

When Cain became angry that the offering he’d brought to the Lord had been unacceptable whereas the offering of his brother Abel was accepted, God spoke directly to him warning him (Gen 4:6-7) that

‘...sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it’

The language is that of sin being like a wild animal, waiting at the door of Cain’s life, which must be tamed and mastered. But the story of mankind both here and in subsequent generations is that we’ve never mastered it. The same is true today as it was all those years ago - when man has found himself in a situation where he gets angry because one person has more favour than another, the normal reaction is to plot to ‘put down’ the other. Though only on very rare occasions would most of us scheme murder, the mind is the battle zone where such actions are plotted (Mtw 5:21-22).

There’s a freedom of choice in every sin committed - even though mankind has the resources (the will and the determination) to take authority over sin, we often choose to submit our will to it and so become its slave, bringing more sin into the world by the outworking of our own free choice.

Written to believers but equally applicable to all men and women, Rom 6:16 reads

‘If you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness’

When we submit our wills to the way of sin, it becomes our master and we its slave. It’s not enough to simply say just that we are by nature sinners (Cp Mark 7:15 - the ‘sinful nature’ or ‘flesh’ was dealt with by Jesus on the cross when we were crucified with Him - see also my notes on Baptism for an explanation of Rom 6:6), but that even when we have a free choice, we sin.

Just as a slave is one who obeys the will of a master, so a sinner is one who obeys the will of sin. Sin becomes a person’s master because it has its way in a person’s life - that is, a person chooses sin’s will for themselves.

This is a voluntary slavery and nothing that’s forced upon us. Even though we like to think of ourselves as victims of circumstance and plead that we had no choice in the matter but to ‘sin’, the real crux is that, in every circumstance, we were unwilling to pay the consequences that would have been brought upon us if we had chosen the ‘right way’, if we had chosen righteousness.

ii. Facing up to the reality

If we have the Law (that is, if we are ‘religious’, if we have a belief system and a life that’s based upon even some laws and regulations that are Biblical) we do not keep it (Rom 2:21-24). Even people who’ve never read the Bible and do not therefore know what God has said, have a ‘morality’ that they like to think that they live up to - but of which they often fall short.

In prison, where we would think that most people have no morals, there’s still a form of moral code in the life of even the grossest individual (in the world’s eyes). But, still, what little we think we are, we fail to be.

But, further than this, if we don’t have the Law (if we have no recognised moral code by which we live our lives), even the ‘light’ we perceive about God we don’t live up to (Rom 1:18-21ff). When individuals look around themselves and perceive what’s plainly evident to them, they still suppress that truth and replace it by an image that doesn’t resemble either the nature that we were created in or the nature of God (which, when all’s said and done, are one and the same).

So, Paul can say with conviction (Rom 3:23 - in one of his ‘greatest hits’!) that

‘...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’

and that (Rom 3:9)

‘...we are all under the power of sin’

Man’s great problem is not that he’s living in bondage but that he won’t accept that he’s in bondage.

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles about the truth setting them free (John 8:31-34), they retorted with the statement (v.33)

‘...we are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to anyone...’

not realising the bondage to sin that Jesus had in mind. Therefore, He replied by pointing out (v.34) that

‘...everyone who continues in [so the meaning] sin is a slave to sin’

By their reaction to Jesus’ words it’s obvious that the Jews present refused to acknowledge the truth about themselves as individuals and corporately as a nation. But the scenario is not one that just belongs to ‘then’ - each of us would like to see Jesus’ teaching as pointing to ‘him’ or ‘her’ but certainly not to ‘me’ or ‘us’ because that convicts us of the situation that we’re in and begins to wake us up to the fact that we need to change. Johntask writes

‘Man’s greatest to know what is his greatest need’

That is, man needs to face up to the reality of his dilemma and not to rely upon any false hopes or ideals, neither to mask the truth of his situation and try to rely upon false words, lies and deceit.

Some people rely on doing good (hoping that somehow their good deeds may outweigh the evil they do) or even on not being as bad as another (and we can always find some poor bloke who’s a greater sinner than we are) - but all such arguments are lacking in a recognition of individual human responsibility, and lacking in a dependence upon the work of Christ.

Man’s dilemma, then, is not just that he’s subject to the bondage of sin, a bondage that he cannot permanently break free from, but that it’s necessary for him to acknowledge it before Christ who’s able to minister redemption to him in the situation.

The work of the Holy Spirit of ‘conviction of sin’ is of primary importance as a forerunner to a person being ‘born again’ - man’s response to God’s work of conviction must be repentance, a turning away from sin (see my notes on ‘Repentance’) but this can only be achieved if there’s an acknowledgement of that individual’s state.

b. Impossibility and promise

In the examples in section 2, we saw that in OT times there were instances when a man was able to redeem both himself and his possessions out of bondage. With regard to sin, however, this is an impossibility even though Judaism tried to obtain it by works of the Law (Rom 9:30-32).

Ps 49:7-9 tells us that

‘ man can redeem the life of another, or give to God the price of his life. For the ransom of his life is costly and can never suffice that he should continue to live on forever and never see the pit’

It hardly seems necessary to quote any further Scriptures, this being unambiguous and straightforward - though there may be occurrences where a man may redeem himself on earth by paying a price to another man for something that has happened, when we come to look at our relationship with God, there’s nothing that man can pay that will redeem him from the sentence that hangs over him.

But, if there was no possibility of self-redemption from sin, there was in the OT the promise that God would redeem His creation from out of sin’s bondage that had been inflicted upon it.

So, further on in the psalm previously quoted, we read the sons of Korah stating quite unequivocally (Ps 49:15) that

‘God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me’

even though just how God is going to do it is not explained to us. Nevertheless, what they felt was going to certainly happen, has now been made known (Heb 11:39-40).

And in Hosea 13:14 (quoted this way in the NT in I Cor 15:55) we read God saying

‘I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol, I shall redeem them from death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction?’

These verses speak of a redemption from the grave, from death, and don’t directly refer to sin - but (I Cor 15:56)

‘the sting of death is sin...’

and (Rom 5:12)

‘...sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned’

Death is spoken of as a direct consequence of sin in the Romans’ verse and we find the same in James 1:14-15 which states that

‘...sin when it is full grown brings forth death’

The promise of a redemption from the bondage of sin necessarily deals with death, for it’s in death that sin finally triumphs and keeps us eternally absent from the presence of God. But, more than this, if sin is to be defeated, the curse of physical death must be broken (Gen 3:19).

To defeat death, therefore, sin must be dealt with.

c. The Redeemer and the ransom

In this section, we’re going to simply look at the passages that use redemption imagery to speak of the death of Christ and so begin to understand how the work of the cross can be taken to have been a ransom paid that’s acceptable to God that frees men and women from sin and its consequences.

There are three words that are spoken of as being the ransom (blood, death and life) and we’ll list these first (my italics throughout) before going on to discuss their relevance.

i. Blood
Jesus shed His blood.

Eph 1:7-8 - ‘In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses [that is, sin], according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us’
Rev 5:9 - ‘...[the Lamb] was slain and by Thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation...’
I Peter 1:18-19 - ‘ were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers [that is, legalistic observance/Oral law = self-redemption]...with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot’
Acts 20:28 - ‘...the Church of God which He purchased with the blood of His own Son’

ii. Death
Jesus died on the cross.

Heb 9:15 - ‘...a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant [that is, the people before Christ came]’

The penalty of sin, under the Law, is death - spiritual and physical. Jesus took that death upon Himself, so paying the price for our freedom.

iii. Life
Jesus gave His life.

Mark 10:45 - ‘...the Son of man give His life as a ransom for many’


‘Blood’, ‘Death’ and ‘Life’ are the three words that are used to describe the sacrificial offering of Christ to God on the cross. ‘He shed His blood’, ‘He gave His life’ and ‘He died on our behalf’ are three phrases which are synonymous - if you lay down your life by the shedding of your blood, you die. They’re so integrated in their meaning that we’re virtually saying the same thing no matter which one of the three words that we choose to use.

Jesus owned no land or property that we know of (though, as head of Joseph’s family, there may have been a small allocation of land where they grew some crops), neither did He have any riches or personal possessions that were of any great worth, so He gave the one thing that He did have in exchange for mankind’s salvation - Himself.

We read, therefore, that (Titus 2:14) Jesus

‘...gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity’

Jesus had nothing else to give us but Himself. Jesus is both our ransom and our Redeemer and, more than this, redemption is only found in Him even though we may try and find it elsewhere and in different people who now exist or who have existed throughout history (Rom 3:23-24, Acts 4:12).

Therefore, this believer’s claim is quite shocking in our modern society that likes to court the favour of many gods and see in each and every religion a way to God that’s both relevant and acceptable. The Bible says ‘not so’ and becomes offensive to a lot of its readers.

On the cross, Jesus was made to be sin even though He knew no sin - He knew what sin is but He knew no sin by experience, He hadn’t committed sin (II Cor 5:21).

When Jesus cried out (Mtw 27:45-46)

‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’

He was spiritually separated from the presence of God (Mtw 27:45-46), cut off out of the land of the living (Isaiah 53:8), taking the punishment that our sin deserved and paying the price that we should rightly have paid as a consequence of our sins.

Concluding, then, the fourfold concept of redemption that we looked at in section 1 can be used to match the work of Christ on the cross as shown on the chart above as

Bondage - sin
Redeemer - Jesus
Ransom - The blood, death and life of Jesus
Freedom - From sin

We should note in closing that theologians throughout history have sought to theorise on who the ransom (Jesus Christ) was paid to, many arriving at the conclusion that it was satan.

But, while the Bible makes use of redemption imagery to explain one aspect of the accomplishment of the cross, it makes no mention as to whom payment was made. ‘The ransom was paid’ is all that the Scriptures tell us and, indeed, that’s all that can be said - to go further is to stray into speculation that will draw us into error.

The question is very much like the question that’s also often asked about Jesus concerning whether there was ever a possibility that, being God, He could have sinned. But the question is invalid for all that the Bible tells us is that Jesus didn’t sin and we can go no further than this.

d. Freedom

We must now go back to our original consideration of ancient examples of redemption and see how the Bible says that the freedom obtainable through them was a type of that which is now available in Christ.

To save repeating too much from the previous section, it may be advisable to quickly reread the relevant definitions.

i. Manumission
Freedom from the rule of a master (sin)

Using the phraseology of the Greek world of slavery, Paul writes (Gal 5:1)

‘For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand fast therefore and do not submit yourselves again to a yoke of slavery’

where the ‘yoke of slavery’ mentioned is a reference to the legalistic observance of a written code - that is, self-redemption. Just as the pagan temple bought a slave ‘for freedom’, so the imagery is the same - God has bought a people (I Cor 6:20, 7:23, II Peter 2:1) ‘for freedom’.

Yet, just as the Greek slave was obligated to perform certain duties and functions towards the god that had bought him, so we also have become slaves of God, responding to His love in Christ through our initial commitment to give our lives over to Him but also from that moment onwards being obedient to the will of Him who bought us.

Therefore Paul writes (Rom 6:18) that

‘...having been set free from sin, [we] have become slaves of righteousness...’

and that (Rom 6:22)

‘ have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God...’

It’s very easy to read passages like these from a modern viewpoint and so fail to miss the depth of what Paul is actually trying to convey to us. We can think of freedom in abstract or real terms but don’t often make the connection that the culture that it sprang from already had a procedure in place that Jesus became the ultimate solution for.

Though the NT writers never did campaign to abolish physical slavery in their day (and they would probably not have got very far had they done so!), they nevertheless did proclaim that the real slavery of mankind is to sin and that true freedom can only be experienced when it’s dealt with through the cross of Christ.

So, if we’re ‘in Christ’, then we’re free from sin (the master) and free from any effort on our part to redeem ourselves and yet, at the same time, obligated to be obedient to the God who bought us out of that state.

ii. Prisoners of War (POWs)
Freedom from out of the hand of the enemy (sin)

Mankind’s enemy is sin, which separates us from the reality of God’s presence and everything that goes with Him (Isaiah 59:2). It’s often asserted that satan is the real enemy but, in the context in which we’re considering redemption, he shouldn’t be misconstrued as such.

Here, we’re talking not about who would tempt us to sin, but the outcome of our own free will which isn’t his doing - that would be to give him too much power (for a discussion of how mankind has now got authority over satan, see the notes on ‘Creation/Restoration of Creation’ part 2 point 3).

Having been set free by Christ from sin’s power and dominion over us, we’re back on God’s side and back in God’s army, residing in His camp. When Jesus says (Luke 4:18)

‘He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives’

we should realise that the Greek word for ‘captive’ used here means ‘prisoner of war’, not just someone who’s ‘bound up’ as can be seen from the use of the same root word in Luke 21:24 (Vines comments that the literal meaning of the word is ‘one taken by the spear’ which brings the meaning home to us with an economy of words).

Having said what we have about satan above, we should note that the enemy who takes captive must also be satan but only in the secondary sense that he only has power over mankind as a result of sin. Through temptation he entices us to sin that he may gain an advantage and bring his authority and leading into our lives (see also under section iii below) but, first and foremost, that which brings us into captivity is sin.

A POW is also a type of slave, so much of the teaching that comes under the previous heading ‘manumission’ is equally applicable here.

iii. The Ox owner
Freedom from the condemnation of death (sin)

The ox owner stood under the condemnation of death because he knew that what was in his possession had the potential to kill, but he took no action to prevent the event from happening.

Death is not an experience to be welcomed if we live in sin (that is, if we continue to do things that are offensive to God) for (I Cor 15:56)

‘the sting of death is sin’

But, because sin is dealt with in Jesus Christ, we who once were afraid to die need no longer be fearful (Heb 2:14-15 - note that satan is out to destroy mankind. Temptation is his weapon and a response from an individual produces sin which is his intention and purpose. Therefore he can be said to have ‘the power of death’, for sin is death’s power. By this verse, it has been taught that satan rules over a kingdom ‘below’ and that he receives the souls that follow him upon death. However, this is a distortion of the Biblical record which tells us that both satan and those who do what is displeasing to God shall be rewarded in one and the same place with no distinction being made between the two - Revelation chapter 20).

Therefore, being set free from the fear of physical death, we can echo the words of Paul when he says (Rom 8:1) that

‘there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...’

Why is this? Because we have redeemed ourselves by works of the Law? No, certainly not!

The answer lies in Rom 8:22 where we read that

‘...the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death

where the highlighted words refer us back to the legalistic observance of a written code, self-redemption, that we found ourselves serving under before acknowledging that we couldn’t redeem ourselves from the consequences of our own actions.

Because Christ has fulfilled the just requirements of the Law by taking the penalty upon Himself, there no longer need rest the condemnation of death upon our lives. We can be free to ‘look forward’ to the day of our death because its ‘sting’ (our sin) has been dealt with.

iv. The inheritance
Freedom from an exile away from the inheritance (the result of sin)

It was by sin that we lost the inheritance in the garden. It’s by one Man’s obedience that we receive back what is rightfully ours in Christ.

Col 1:12 tells us that

‘...the Father...has qualified us to share in the inheritance of saints in light’

and Heb 9:15 proclaims to us that

‘...those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance since a death has occurred which redeems them...’

which, yet again, uses the redemption imagery to tell us a further truth about our new position.

By dealing with sin, God ransomed us from the one thing that bound us into an existence away from His presence in Christ. We’re free to participate in His eternal inheritance with all the saints (where the Biblical meaning of the word ‘saint’ is ‘all who have been called and set apart to serve God’ - that is, every believer), though the effect of previously committed sin upon our lives needs also to be dealt with.

As Charles Wesley put it in the hymn ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’

‘...He breaks the power of cancelled sin...’

and can be summarised as a fulfilment of the OT concept of the ‘Year of Jubilee’ (see the study on ‘Jubilee’ for an exposition of this facet of Jesus’ work on the cross).

But it’s sin that lies as the foundation stone that needs dealing with in a person’s life by Christ before the subsequent structure of bondage that has been built upon it can be dealt with.


Concluding this study on redemption, we should realise not just that the Bible presents Jesus as the Redeemer who pays Himself as the ransom to redeem mankind from the bondage of sin but that, when the early Church tried to express the work of the cross in realistic terms to the society in which they lived, they did so in language that was secular and didn’t employ purely religious terms that were specifically christian and which the ordinary man in the street would have failed to understand.

In each and every generation, the challenge of presenting the Gospel to society is not to use language that’s largely ignorant of everyday English usage but to use words and concepts that mean something to the normal man in the street.