Jesus is our Ransom
The word “ransom” refers to the price actually paid in the transaction of redemption, the price paid to release the slave.
The distinction and relationship between redemption and ransom may be defined as follows. Redemption is the act of purchasing the one out of the slave market, while ransom is the price paid in the redemptive act.
- Kopher meaning “to cover” figuratively “to expiate, condone, to placate or conceal”.
Figuratively, “ a redemptive price”. Translated “bribe, pitch, ransom. Satisfaction, sum of money” (Ex.30:12; Job 33;24; 36:18; Psa 49:7; Prov.6:35; 13:8; Isa.43:3; Hos 13:14).
- (a) Lutron meaning “something to loosen with a redemption price. Translated “ransom” (Mat.20:28; Mark 10:45)
(b) Antilutron meaning “a redemptive price”. Translated “ransom” (1 Tim.2:8)
Kevin Conner in ‘Foundations of Christian Doctrine’ further clarifies the meaning of ‘ransom’:
“Man is in bondage to sin and Satan. He needs deliverance and emancipation from Satan’s dominion, into which he was sold by Adam. He cannot redeem himself. There is no price man can pay to free himself. The Lord Jesus Christ paid the price of redemption. Christ’s death on the cross provided the ransom price. That price is the precious blood of Jesus. We have been purchased with the blood of God. Jesus gave Himself as the ransom price and fulfilled in His death all that was typified in the Old Testament concerning the redemption of the soul. He gave “His life a ransom for many.””
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28
Illustration of prices paid
The London Times publishes the prices paid for art objects in all of the salesrooms of the world. If a picture is sold in New York or Paris or Rome or London, the Times gives the full details of the sale. Suppose you are standing outside of a great auction room in London, and you hear a clerk say, “He paid $25.00 for a picture, another man paid $600,000.00 for one.” You know quite a lot about the two pictures: The twenty-five-dollar picture, may be anyone of 10,000 little dogs done by amateur artists who paint sunsets, trees and seascapes, hoping to get paid for them. The six hundred thousand dollar picture was it a Gainsborough, Rembrandt, Reubens, Franz Hals, Millet, Michelangelo, or Raphael? You can judge the painting by the price that is paid for it.
We can judge ourselves by the price Christ paid for us, the depths into which He had to reach in order to save us. Christ died for our sins, and when I learn the price that was paid for our redemption, I form conclusions that are justified from other portions of the Scripture how great was my sinfulness, the depths of my nature and the height of His love.
Timeless Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching, Donald Grey Barnhouse
To whom was this ransom paid? And why?
Knowing that a redemptive price has been paid in full by Christ Jesus the question naturally arises, “To whom was the ransom paid?”
Some of the early church fathers (Irenaeus, Origen for example) interpreted that the ransom was given to Satan, who was considered to have a valid claim upon mankind because of man’s sin. Scripture does not countenance this view however.
As the ISBE points out:
“In one sense men may be said to have sold themselves to Satan, but they had no right to sell, nor he to buy, and Christ ignores that transaction and brings “to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (He 2:14).” The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Wm.B.Eerdmans,
A real ransom price was indeed paid, but not to satan.
The ISBE again tackles this question and answers as follows:
“Our mind demands an answer to the question to whom the ransom was paid, it does not seem at all unreasonable to think of the justice of God, or God in His character of Moral Governor, as requiring and receiving it. In all that Scripture asserts about propitiation, sacrifice, reconciliation in relation to the work of Christ, it is implied that there is wrath to be averted, someone to be appeased or satisfied, and while it may be enough simply to think of the effects of Christ’s redeeming work in setting us free from the penal claims of the Law — the just doom of sin — it does not seem going beyond the spirit of Scripture to draw the logical inference that the ransom price was paid to the Guardian of that holy law, the Administrator of eternal justice.”
Following the payment of the ransom price, described by some as ‘redemption by price’, comes the second phase of this glorious deliverance and emancipation, ‘redemption by power’. Just as the Passover lamb provided the price for the deliverance of the children of Egypt on that fateful night, what followed as a result was the redemption by power when the Strength of God’s miraculous hand brought them out with great shouts of victory.
So it is with us. Christ has paid all legal costs necessary for our redemption from slavery and bondage to sin, and following this we experience the power of the Holy Spirit in the born again experience and the infilling of the Holy Ghost: Redemption by price, followed by Redemption by power.
Scriptures concerning “ransom”
Matthew 20:28; I Timothy 2:6; Acts 20:28 (also Isaiah 43:3; Hosea 13:14; Psalm 49:7)
Jesus Is Our Substitute
The word “substitution” means “to put in the place of another, or in behalf of another, to exchange, or interchange.”
The Latin word “substitute” was used as a military word, where a person was engaged to serve in the room of another; or one delegated by Law to act for another.
Just as in the Old Testament the innocent animal took the place of the guilty sinner, so in the fulfillment of that type, Jesus Himself became our substitute as the Lamb of God offered up for our sins on the cross.
Consider the following examples of sacrificial substitutes:
- The animal which died to provide the coats of skin for Adam and Eve (Gen.3:21; 4:4).
- The sacrificial victims Noah offered (Gen.15:7-17).
- The ram caught in the thicket by its horns and offered by Abraham “in the stead of” Isaac. (Genesis 22)
- The temple sacrifices also illustrated this principle, where innocent animals took the place of the offerer (Lev 1-7,16; Num 19,28-29).
These were only temporary measures however, awaiting the permanent exchange which was to take place at the cross.
The following statement by H R Willmington concisely presents this amazing truth:
“Thus, Christ became on the cross what he was not—namely, sin—that we might become what we were not—namely, righteous. The Son of God became the Son of man that sons of men might become the sons of God.” Willmington’s Guide to the Bible
Through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross:
- The just died for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18)
- The righteous died for the unrighteous (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- The Godly (God Himself) died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6)
- The Innocent died for the guilty
- The Perfect One died for all imperfect ones
- The sinless died for the sinful
- The Son of God died for the sons of satan (1 John 3:10)
Whereas under the Old Covenant the lamb died on behalf of the shepherd, in the New it was the Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11)
We were indeed under a death sentence. After a lifetime of slavery to a thankless master called sin, all we had to look forward to as our payment was death, the final degradation (Romans 6:23). We deserved to die, and our natural father Adam had sold us into the hands of sin and satan for as many generations as ever would be.
Christ owed nothing to sin. He was the sinless One, the only one who had never bowed His knee to this tyrannous master, and whose heritage did not sell Him into the hands of the slave master.
He and He alone was in a position to take our place, for He had no debt of His own to pay, and take our place He did.
Our perfect substitute.
Romans 5:8; Galatians 2:20; 1 Peter 3:18; Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:4-6