What is meant by redemption and redeemed in the Bible?
The words redemption and redeemed occur almost eighty times in the Bible. They occur more often than many believers realize. That means anyone who reads the Bible regularly will encounter these words eventually. Therefore, the question we are interested in is, “What is meant by redemption and redeemed in the Bible?” Before we discover the meaning of these words in the Bible, we should note that redemption is the noun form of the verb redeemed. We should also note that redemption can be defined as the act of buying back something. In the New Testament, redemption and redeemed usually refers to what Christ accomplished when He died on the cross. Christ’s blood defeated the power of sin and rendered Satan powerless in relation to death.
Slaves to Sin and Death At Birth
The Bible tells us that at birth every person is born a sinner (Psalm 51:5). We are sinners not because we did something wrong but because that is the inherent nature of every human. As a result, we sin because we are sinners. One sin proves we are sinners. Scripture teaches that we also are slaves of sin (Romans 6:16-17, 18, 20; 2 Peter 2:19). We do not like the idea of being a slave to anything, but that does not change this fact that we are. Jesus told a crowd that,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” John 8:34 (NASB)
Then in verses 35-36 Jesus said that He came to set us free from sin.
Hebrews 2:15 also teaches us that believers were once subject to the power of death. That occurred because we are sinners (Romans 3:23), and Romans 6:23 says that sinners will die. Consequently, instinctively we fear death. Hebrews 2:14-15 says,
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:14-15 (NASB)
Redemption Through Christ’s Blood
When Jesus died on the cross, He made it possible for individuals to have the guilt of their sins removed and to be released from their death sentence. The biblical meaning of redemption is that Christ paid the price so that those who believe in Him can be freed or redeemed from sin and death. Mark 10:45 refers to the price that Jesus paid as a ransom. His life was the ransom,
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (NASB)
A ransom is the price paid to redeem someone. The ransom price for the forgiveness of sin and release from death was and is Christ’s blood. So, we have redemption through Christ’s blood (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7). 1 Peter 1:18-19 says this way,
Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19 (NASB)
Scripture teaches that when a person believes in Christ and trusts Jesus Christ to forgive their sins, they are redeemed. They have redemption. They are freed from sin and death and become slaves to God (Romans 6:20, 22). They are also slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18).
In addition, Jesus’ death removed the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13; 4:4-5). The law can no longer condemn us (Romans 8:1). Believers are no longer subject to the law. However, that does not mean we are not to obey the moral commands in the law. The point is that the provisions of the law cannot condemn believers.
In Revelation 5, the angels in heaven sing a new song that is directed to Jesus. In the song they say this about Jesus Christ.
Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Revelation 5:9 (NASB)
Redeemed From the Presence of Sin
Scripture also says that believers have been rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to Christ’s kingdom. Why? The answer is because we have redemption. Therefore, a believer’s sins are forgiven.
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14
In addition, believers have eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12). They have redemption at the moment of saving faith and the redemption continues (Romans 8:23). Scripture also says that some day we will experience our final redemption (Luke 21:28). Ephesians 4:30 says,
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 (NASB)
Notice that believers are sealed for the day of redemption, that is, the day they enter heaven.
In summary, the meaning of redemption in the New Testament is that Christ’s life or blood was the ransom price so that anyone who believes in Christ will be freed from sin and the bondage to death. Redemption is granted to us at the moment of saving faith, and believers continue to be redeemed until they enter heaven. At the moment of saving faith, believers are forgiven of their sins, freed from slavery to sin, and released from the penalty called death.