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We live in an age of terrorism where the taking of hostages is a frequent occurrence. We understand what it is like to be a hostage; we identify with the hostages in their joy of release and appreciation of freedom.

God says that we all enter this life as hostages — under the dominion and bondageof sin and of the rule of Satan (2:1-3). We must understand this bondage to appreciate our redemption.

Illustration #1:

Can you imagine our Secretary of State being sent over to a hostage situation (remember Iran … remember the crew of the downed spy plane in China … ) with containers full of ransom money and a huge military evacuation plane fueld up and sitting on the runway cleared for takeoff, rready to fly the hostages to freedom. Now picture the hostages refusing all help, crying “Yankee Go Home”, and willingly staying in captivity.

Of course, Satan is a lot more crafty than any terrorist or political foe:

1) He has the advantage of willing captives –

We are sinners by nature; we are at home in the realm of Satan. Even though we were created by a perfect God who has the rights of prior ownership and allegiance — who made Adam and Eve in His own likeness and then watched them become entrapped in sin — all the time working out His perfect plan of redemption.

2) He is supported by the power of peer pressure and the desire to conform to this age –

In a typical hostage situation, it is only a few that are held captive compared to the rest of the world. In the spiritual realm, it is the vast majority that are held captive. Broad is the way that leads to destruction and many take that route. The whole concept of Holiness has at its root the idea of being different and being separated from the world and from sin and dedicated to God and His purposes.

3) He makes captivity attractive –

Satan’s captives are not sitting around blindfolded in some dungeons — fully aware of the wrath of God hanging over their heads and the lake of fire that awaits them. But while his captives are enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season, they do have spiritual blindfolds on.

4) The beauty of the situation from Satan’s perspective is that his hostages (and perhaps even Satan himself) don’t think they are in bondage — they don’t realize that they are in danger of eternal separation from a holy God in the fires of hell.

In fact, they make a big deal about how free and independent they are: free spirits; free thinkers; in control of their own destiny; “I do it my way” …

The truth is that all men are owned by someone. You cannot separate salvation from Lordship. If people are honest they must admit that there are specific sins that have dominion over them (anger, etc.).

Key Question: Whom are you going to have for your Master?

Back to our illustration: We know that the hostages in the spiritual realm do not have free wills in the sense that they will never coose to get on the plane to freedom apart from God’s election and His predestinating them to adoption as sons and His working in their lives so that they come to choose to trust Christ.

Illustration #2:

Can you imagine the hostages being loaded on the plane and ferried back to the U.S. to be reunited with their family and to be given the opportunity of freedom and the abundant life; but then sitting around in their room at home, overcome by fear — paralyzed and continuing to live as captives.

Too often this is our position. God wants to shout at us this morning: “You Are Free!” Your sins have been forgiven; the chains ofsin have been torn off; now willingly live as slaves of Christ, enjoying full rigts as mature sons of God.


To bring back into rightful ownership (restoration to one who possesses a more fundamental right or interest) by the paying of a price, or ransom

Buying back a slave or a captive; making him free by the payment of a ransom

Deliverance from bondage (any difficult situation) as a result of the payment of a ransom

This Greek word is an intensified form that emphasizes the separation from the former state — the finality of our redemption — never again to be brought into bondage


In the LXX, this same Greek word is connected with the Year of the Jubilee (Lev. 25:10). The land belonged to the Lord. The Israelites only possessed the right to use the fruit of the land. If a family forfeited this right because they incurred debts and had to sell the property (imagine the sadness) the parcel of land was returned to the original family at the Year of Jubilee, which came every 50 years. Prior to this automatic restoration, the land could be redeemed (vs. 25). The nearest kinsman had the responsibility to do this (vs. 26 — cf. story of Ruth and Boaz) and there is a price involved.

Also used of the release of people from slavery.

Other Greek words picture Christ coming into the marketplace and over to the slave auction blcok where He purchases slaves and removes them from the auction block and the market place forever.



Importance of the context in Ephesians —

– Redemption is the focal point of history = the coming of Christ to redeem His people — (Gal. 4:4-5);

– Redemption is the focal point of our spiritual blessings;

– Redemption secured the adoption of sons;

– Redemption is the focal point of the work of the Triune God on our behalf

Summers: “The tense of the verb ‘have’ speaks of the present reality of the possesion. Redemption is ours as a present possession. This is the conception found throughout the New Testament. It is not to deny that there is a sense in which the future will reveal many things relative to our redemption.”


= the means of redemption and the ransom price

There is no deliverance without the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22).

Contrast with the OT sacrificial system — where you could cover sins for a year on the Day of Atonement — but these sacrifices were only types and shadows of the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God

When you look at what redemption cost Christ, surely He doesn’t want us to continue in bondage to sin.

We can’t add anything to the work of Christ — no purgatory awaiting us where we will suffer for our sins; Christ made a once for all sacrifice for all time.

Blood sacrifices are not pleasant — messy, smelly — reminding us of our sins.

Transition: But while God wants us to remember our sins to appreciate the great price that Christ paid, He also wants us to forget our sins just as He has provided complete forgiveness.


A. “Forgiveness”

to send forth; send away; a dismissal; release

Sin thought of as an obligation; like a bad debt that we just can’t get rid of no matter what we do.

Separated from us as far as the east is from the west; we did not just get off on some technicality — but God’s justice and holiness and righteousness were satisfied.

B. “Trespasses”

“a false step, a blunder”

Literally: “a fall beside” — deviation from uprightness and truth and holiness

cf. the self-righteous Pharisees who don’t think they take any false steps.


“according to the riches of His grace”

That which God possesses in abundance; boundless — like God’s love, mercy, kindness.

Not a stingy, begrudging God, but a loving heavenly Father who wants to shower us with spiritual blessings.

We don’t have to worry that our sin will outstrip God’s gracious forgiveness.

Summers: “Paul’s meaning is that we have the forgiveness of trespasses in proportion to the riches of God’s grace. Our forgiveness is not in proportion to our merit.”


We now have the liberty to serve Christ (Rom. 6:15-18; 1 Cor. 6:18-20; titus 2:14). The higher our conception of God’s holiness and deeper our sense of personal sinfulness, the greater our appreciation of the riches of His grace that were necessary to provide such redemption.