REDEMPTION FREES US FROM THE BONDAGE OF CAPTIVITY TO JOYFULLY SERVE CHRIST
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 bondage of sin and of the rule of Satan (2:1-3). We must understand this bondage to appreciate our redemption.
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 fueled up and sitting on the runway cleared for takeoff, ready 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.
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 independent free wills in the sense that they will never choose 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.
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 of sin have been torn off; now willingly live as slaves of Christ, enjoying full rights as mature sons of God.
Benjamin Merkle: Paul moves from God’s predetermining choice before time to his work of redemption in the course of history. This verse is structurally parallel to verses 11 and 13, as each begins with “In him.” The redemption believers have is “in him,” that is, “in the Beloved” (v. 6). The Greek word translated “redemption” indicates release or liberation from imprisonment or captivity. It occurs 10 times in the NT, seven of those times in Paul’s writings (cf. Rom. 3:24; 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:14; 4:30; Col. 1:4; cf. also Heb. 9:15; 11:35).
The concept of redemption is found also in the OT, where it describes both the release of slaves from bondage (Ex. 21:8; Lev. 25:48) and the deliverance of God’s people from slavery in Egypt (Deut. 7:8; 9:26; 13:5; 1 Chron. 17:21). In verse 7 Paul specifically indicates that our redemption in Christ is “through his blood”; the means by which redemption is procured is the sacrificial death of Jesus.
The redemption believers receive is then equated with “the forgiveness of our trespasses.” Forgiveness implies an offense requiring just punishment. Here, Paul uses “trespasses” instead of the more common word “sins,” though the parallel passage in Colossians 1:14 uses “sins.” The believer’s redemption is presented as the fulfillment of a “new exodus” prophesied in the OT. In other words, the redemption Christians receive is the fulfillment of what was typified when Israel was redeemed from Egypt. And just as Israel’s exodus from Egypt was accompanied by the institution of the Levitical system so that Israel could atone for their sins, so also the believer’s redemption in Christ from sin is accompanied by full and final forgiveness.
Grant Osborne: picturing a ransom payment made to bring about freedom from bondage, whether from slavery or for a prisoner of war. It refers both to the payment made and to the deliverance from bondage it produced. Christ’s blood sacrifice on the cross became a ransom payment that purchased us from the bondage of sin and from the curse of the law (Gal 3:13), producing our salvation and effecting the forgiveness of our sins.
Clinton Arnold: In the larger context of Ephesians, redemption is not only to be defined in terms of forgiveness. Eph 2:1–3 makes it clear that believers now have freedom from the three forces that once held them in bondage and destined them to death, that is, the power of “the age of this world,” “the ruler of the realm of the air,” and the “flesh.” Believers have also been redeemed from “darkness” and the resultant alienation from God (4:18). Ultimately, their experience of redemption exempts them from condemnation on the future day of judgment (4:30).
Bruce Hurt: In Christ, or in union with Christ we have or more literally “are having” this blessing. It is not merely in a blessing that exist as a future possession, but it is ours by virtue of our faith in Christ. The redemption is “in Christ” not only as the source but also as the sphere in which they (and we) live (we have obtained redemption [through the payment to set the captives free] in Him, in Christ, and we now and forever live in the “atmosphere” of the light, truth and power of that same eternal redemption [He 9:12+]. It’s as if the “redemption” Christ has provided is now the “air” in which we as believers live and breath and have our being, if that helps you understand the picture of “in Him“.)
I. THEOLOGY OF REDEMPTION
“we have redemption”
A. Definition of Redemption
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
B. Jewish Background of Redemption
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 block where He purchases slaves and removes them from the auction block and the market place forever.
C. Redemption Viewed as a Present Possession for Us (The Saints)
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 possession. Redemption is ours as a present possession. This is the concept 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.
Klyne Snodgrass: Redemption is seen here as a present possession, although the emphasis elsewhere is future (e.g., 1:14; 4:30). This tension between the present and the future is one of the most consistent parts of Christian thinking. All of the Christian faith is a blend of the now and the not yet, of what we already possess in Christ and what we still await.
II. REDEMPTION ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH HIS BLOOD =
THE MEANS OF REDEMPTION AND THE RANSOM PRICE
“through His blood,”
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.
R.C. Sproul: The contemporary view is that God doesn’t really take sin seriously. Yes, he acknowledges that evil is evil, but what he does with evil is that he simply forgives it. The means of redemption, however, is the blood of Christ. Nothing could speak louder about how seriously God views the problem of the alienation that exists between us and him because of our rebellion through our sin. An atonement was made, a blood sacrifice was offered, and that becomes the basis of the forgiveness of sin. So redemption is accomplished through the atonement of Christ.
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.
III. THE MAIN RESULT OF REDEMPTION = THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR TRESPASSES
“the forgiveness of our trespasses,”
Andrew Lincoln: The forgiveness of trespasses is in apposition to “redemption through his blood” and so depicts the primary way in which believers experience their liberation at present. They can be assured of the cancellation of their offenses against God and thereby of a restored relationship with him.
A. The Meaning of God’s 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.
“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.
B. The Measure of God’s Forgiveness
“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.
Clinton Arnold: It is used in the OT to refer to the riches of King Solomon, which excelled beyond all of the kings of the earth (1 Kings 10:23).
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.