A Note on "Ransom"
A wealth of Hebrew
understanding pertaining to "redemption" lies behind lutron
("ransom"), a concept deployed by Jesus himself.
Note the three major
Hebrew words for "redemption":
1] pdh (padah)
2] kpr (kippur)
3] g'l (goel)
Redemption is a mighty act of God bringing deliverance from oppression,
as in the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt and the house of bondage, and also
as in deliverance from the power of death.
It stresses both a
redemption out of the oppression of evil and out of the judgement of God upon
it, but with a special emphasis on
the cost of redemption
through the substitutionary offering of life,
the dramatic nature of the
redeeming act as a sheer intervention (a "rescue mission") on the part
of God in human affairs.
It is an act of
redemption from unlawful bondage,
stripping the enthraller of usurped authority and vaunted right.
(There is no
suggestion of a ransom being paid to
someone. This is a secular concept
of redemption not found in scripture.)
This term speaks of the sacrificial aspect of redemption, the sacrifice
by which propitiation is effected and the barrier of sin and guilt between God
and humankind done away with (expiated.)
God is always the
subject first and the object only secondarily (lest it appear that something
other than God can avert God's wrath.)
The emphasis here is
atonement as judgement upon the wrong through the offering of life, as well as
restoration to favour and holiness before God.
This term speaks of redemption out of destitution or forfeited rights or
bondage, undertaken by an advocate who is related to the person in need either
through kinship or covenant love.
Here the focus is on
the person of the redeemer, the "goel."
The redeemer claims the cause of the person in need as his own cause.
In the older
testament all three overlap. All three are used to speak of the redemption of
Israel out of Egypt. All three are
also used in Isaiah 40 (the promise of a new exodus when God will redeem his
people through his anointed servant, the servant mediating the covenant, being
afflicted with the judgements of God, and bearing the iniquities of the people
as he is made an offering for sin.) The
newer testament doesn't make systematic use of these three, but they are all
taken for granted and woven together in the apostles' understanding of Jesus