Howard A. Barnes, Bromborough, Merseyside
Redemption is freedom fallowing payment. In the Bible, the emphasis is usually placed upon the deliverance and freedom gained following redemption. At times, however, the stress is upon the price paid, or on emancipation from the old life, or sometimes on freedom to a new life. The specific parallels in contemporary situations were buying out of a slave market with a view to freedom, and releasing on receipt of a ransom paid (to loose).
The foundation of its employment in the New Testament is its Old Testament usage. There we learn that lives could be ransomed, Exod. 21. 30, or not ransomed, Num. 35. 31 (where the word 'satisfaction' means ransom). Property that had been lost to a family could be redeemed, as for instance in Jeremiah's case. He was asked to, 'Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it . . . for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself, Jer. 32. 7, 8. Interestingly redemption is here linked to inheritance, as we shall see below, and Ruth 4.
In spiritual things, redemption by human means is impossible, 'None . . . can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (for the redemption of their soul is precious)', Psa. 49. 8. Happily, divine redemption can be known and enjoyed, 'But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave', v. 15.
The nation of Israel was redeemed by God to Himself, 'from Egypt, from the nations and their gods', 2 Sam. 7. 23. National redemption for Israel was foreseen to be needed by the Psalmist, 'with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities', 130. 7, 8.
2 National Redemption in the New Testament
Surprisingly, in Luke, the gospel to the Gentiles, many of the references to national redemption for Israel are collected. Zachariah prophesied at the birth of the Saviour that the Lord God of Israel, 'hath visited and redeemed his people', 1. 68. This was good news for those who, like Anna, 'looked for redemption in Jerusalem', 2. 38. Later, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus confided in the risen Lord that their hopes of imminent national redemption had been dashed, 'we were hoping that it had been he which was about to redeem Israel', 24. 21 (as the Newberry margin). Freedom from the Roman yoke by God's power, not by political means or by human military might, was no doubt in view.
3 Present Spiritual Redemption in the New Testament
The Jews were to learn of a much more important redemption. The apostle Paul reminded the Galatians that saved Jews were 'redeemed from the curse of the law' and that God had 'sent forth his Son ... to redeem them that were under [the power of] the law', 3. 13; 4. 4, 5. They were liberated from the curse and power of the law into liberty in Christ, see also Rom. 7. 14.
However, the Lord Jesus' work was not limited to the Jews, for He came 'to give his life a ransom for many', Matt 20. 28; Mark 10. 45. Now 'there is no difference' because both Jewish and Gentile believers are 'justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus', Rom. 3. 24; they can say that Christ has been 'made unto us . . . redemption', 1 Cor. 1. 30. They have been 'accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood', Eph. 1. 7. And they can speak of 'our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works', Tit. 2. 14. What a wonderful freedom, but what a price, as the writer to the Hebrews says, 'death having taken place for redemption', 9. 15, JND, and as Peter says 'ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [empty way of life] . . . but with the precious blood of Christ', 1 Pet. 1. 18. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that 'by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption', Heb. 9. 12, that we 'might receive the promise of eternal inheritance', 9. 15. This freedom is eternal and will never be rescinded. The believer is made free by the truth, John 8. 32; is free from sin, Rom. 6. 18, 22; free from the law, Rom. 8. 2, because Christ has made us free, Gal. 5. 1, John 8. 36; but we are, 'as free, and not using our liberty as a cloak of maliciousness', 1 Pet. 2. 16.
4 Redemption - the Future Aspect
Many New Testament doctrines have a future aspect promised, and this is certainly so with redemption. There is a freedom to be entered into never possible down here in this age. Even the future saints of the tribulation are encouraged by the Lord Jesus to 'look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh', when soon they would 'see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory' to release them from their suffering and to usher them into the freedom of the millennium, Luke 21. 27, 28.
We too in our turn are looking for liberation, for 'we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption . . . the redemption of our body', Rom. 8. 23. With these new bodies we shall enjoy a new freedom; but not us alone, 'Because the creature [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God', 8. 21. Even now the Holy Spirit within us is described as the 'Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest [pledge] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession', Eph. 1. 14. Not only is the Holy Spirit the pledge, but He is also the seal, for 'ye are sealed unto the day of redemption', 4. 30. We have been paid for and marked out with God's seal but we are yet to be collected, and taken into complete freedom!, John 8. 36.
5 The Present Practical Application
While redemption, as we have considered it so far, is something that has been carried out for believers, there is a form of redemption to be carried out by us, 'as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil'. Further we are to, 'walk in wisdom towards them that are without, redeeming the time', Eph. 5. 16; Col. 4. 5. Our time has to be redeemed (bought up), otherwise it is lost to us, held by the enemy. If we do not pay the price for our time, we cannot put it to work for the Lord who has redeemed us.
'Redemption, oh wonderful story,
Glad message for you and for me'.