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Redemption - Theology from the Slave Market

Julian Spriggs M.A.

In every-day use, redemption meant the payment of money to liberate someone from captivity. It was especially associated with the slave market, when a slave was purchased and then set free, or otherwise to buy back prisoners of war. Throughout the NT it is used to describe the way salvation was achieved, by the payment of a ransom to liberate believers from a life of bondage from which they could not rescue themselves (Mk 10:45, Gal 3:13, Heb 9:15). It also shows the great personal cost to God of our salvation. The price was the death of Christ (Eph 1:7, 1 Pet 1:18, Heb 9:12). Because purchasing means a change of ownership, redemption also therefore strongly implies the lordship of Christ over the life of a believer, who now belongs to God, as a servant or slave of Christ (1 Cor 6:19), which is true freedom. The purpose of redemption is to create a people dedicated to God (Titus 2:14, Rev 14:4).

In the gospels, the term is only infrequently used. Jesus summarised the purpose of his ministry to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:45). His earthly ministry would conclude with him voluntarily dying on the cross, which would bring life and freedom from the bondage of sin to those who respond to him in faith, thus making a link to the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.

In his birth narratives, Luke uses redemption to describe the popular hopes of Israel for deliverance from foreign powers (Lk 1:68, 2:38). This was the association familiar to Israel in Old Testament times. Jesus, however, will redeem his people from the greater power of the devil and the bondage of sin.

The doctrine of redemption is particularly developed by Paul in his letters. In Galatians, Paul states that believers were in bondage to the law and therefore under a curse, but Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse himself, by dying on a tree (Gal 3:13). This clearly shows Christ died as a substitution for us, taking the penalty we deserved. He redeemed those under the law, so we might be adopted as children (Gal 4:5), showing the freedom and privileges we have in Christ. In Romans 3, he brings together justification, redemption and propitiation in a powerful statement describing the work of the cross. Believers are declared not guilty, the price is paid to set them free, and a sacrifice has been made to satisfy the wrath of God. In his doxology proclaiming the spiritual blessings in Christ, Paul includes redemption through his blood (Eph 1:7), again stating that the death of Christ bought our freedom. Christ gave himself to redeem us from iniquity in order that we may belong to him and be zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14), again showing that the price was paid to release us from sin, as well as the purpose of redemption - to belong to God and serve him.

Paul also speaks of a future redemption. In the future, the body will set free from its bondage to decay (Rom 8:23) on the day of redemption (Eph 4:30), when the body will also be included in the salvation we already enjoy.

The author of Hebrews contrasts the temporary redemption achieved through the repeated sacrifices of bulls and goats under the old covenant with the eternal redemption attained through Christ shedding his own blood in order to establish the new covenant (Heb 9:12,15).

Peter states that Christians were redeemed from the futile ways of their ancestors with the precious blood of Jesus, not with silver or gold (1 Pet 1:18-19). Redemption was not possible through things valuable to mankind, but needed the shedding of blood of the perfect sacrifice of God’s own Son.

In Revelation, the lamb is worthy to be praised because he ransomed saints from every tribe and people on the earth, and made them to be a kingdom and priests before God (5:9-10). Thus the result of redemption is royal and priestly service to God. Later, the 144,000 who have been redeemed as first-fruits from the earth (14:3,5) follow the lamb wherever he goes and are blameless. The redeemed are set apart and now belong to God, turning away from falsehood and evil.


D. Guthrie. New Testament Theology. IVP 1981. Pages 476-481.
E.F. Harrison: Redeemer, Redemption in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. ed. W.A. Elwell. Baker 1984
G.E. Ladd. A Theology of the New Testament. Eerdmans 1974. Pages 474-476.
L. Morris. New Testament Theology. Zondervan 1986. Page 317.
J. Murray: Redeemer, Redemption, in International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (ISBE). ed. GW Bromiley. Eerdmans 1986
H.N. Ridderbos: Kingdom of God, Kingdom of heaven in Illustrated Bible Dictionary ed. JD Douglas. IVP 1986

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

New Testament History

Articles which give additional information about the history and culture of the first century, giving helpful background knowledge for the Gospels and Paul's travels.

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey.

More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Early Church Fathers

These are a series of pages giving biographical information about some of the more significant early church fathers, such as Irenaeus, Origen and Tertullian, as well as some important groups and events in the first centuries of the church.

Artifacts in the British Museum relevant to Biblical studies

These are a series of pages describing artifacts in each gallery of the British Museum, which have a connection with the Bible.

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Historical documents

These are a series of pages containing historical documents which give helpful information for Biblical studies. These include Hittite suzerainty treaties with a similar structure to the Book of Deuteronomy, different lists of the New Testament books and quotations from Josephus and other ancient writers.

Life Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.