The Cross and Redemption


“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7)1 is among the best summary statements on redemption. The basic nuts and bolts are that a relative (in whom) with resources (riches) pays a ransom price (blood) to release (redemption) an individual from a form of slavery (sins) and brings them into real liberty (forgiveness). Payment and deliverance are the dominant ideas.

The main thrust of redemption in the New Testament is that of legal deliverance from sin. Justification (a legal term) is accomplished through the instrumentality of redemption (Rom 3:24). The sister epistles concur, renaming redemption – the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14) – deliverance of a forensic form. This means the ransom price was paid to God to satisfy His justice.


The timeless picture of redemption is in Exodus where Israel was enslaved: the Passover lamb was the ransom, and deliverance was effected. The legal aspect is not that prominent, but the scales of justice can be seen, since God slays the firstborn son of every Egyptian for refusing to let His firstborn go free (Exo 4:22,23). Redemption, therefore, has a legal basis and legal ramifications. This is why God could later claim every firstborn male as His own.

The predominant imagery in Exodus is redemption by blood and by power. The former emphasises the payment made; the latter highlights deliverance wrought. The book of Ruth typifies Christ as the person who accomplishes redemption. He is the kinsman redeemer (Rut 3:12, gaal), the mighty man of wealth (2:1), who is able and willing to redeem (4:4-6). In remembering our Redeemer, we say with Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left [us] this day without a kinsman” (4:14).

The ransom price to buy Israel was the blood of the Passover. Peter sees the fulfilment of this type, saying that we have been redeemed with “the precious blood of Christ … a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1Pe 1:19). The blood of Christ was the currency to release slaves from sin. John says that the Lamb has “redeemed [agorazo] us to God by [his] blood” (Rev 5:9). Agorazo has the idea of a financial transaction in a marketplace. The Lamb of God at the cross entered the slave market of sin to pay the ransom price and release captive sinners. He is the Ransom and the Redeemer.

The blood of the lamb set off a chain reaction. Israel had been legally bought but had to be powerfully released. The chains had to be snapped, which is why the Exodus narrative emphasises the sublime power of God in deliverance. It was by “strength of hand” that the Lord released them (Exo 13:3,14,16). This mighty deliverance is variously described as executing judgment against all the gods of Egypt, smiting the land of Egypt and spoiling the Egyptians (12:12,13,36). This earth-shattering deliverance climaxes at the Red Sea, when “the LORD overthrew the Egyptians … and all the host of Pharaoh …; there remained not … one of them” (14:27-30). The power of redemption is breathtaking; the world of Egypt was decimated, their gods were shattered, its tyrant was crushed, and its slaves walked out. All this finds fulfilment in the resurrection of Christ, when He routed demonic armies, decapitated Satan’s tyranny and liberated sinners.


Redemption leads every saint to worship. “Sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea …. Thou in thy mercy … hast redeemed [us]” (15:1,13).


Redemption does not stop with salvation. Israel was under new ownership after Egypt (13:2,13;  22:29; 34:20). This is a shadow of the Christian’s position in the dispensation of grace; we were once slaves to sin but are now slaves to the Lord – this is true freedom. We have been bought with a price; “therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1Co 6:20).

The Lord owned all of Israel’s 22,273 firstborn sons (Exo 13:13,15; Num 3:43) but substituted them for a priestly tribe (Num 3:45). Redemption led to a purchased priesthood. Similarly, we have been redeemed and constituted priests, a peculiar people, to “shew forth the praises of him who hath called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1Pe 2:9).


Silver is the currency of redemption (Exo 30:11-16; 38:25; Lev 5:15), and Israel had an opportunity to buy their sons back – “all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem” (Exo 13:13). This climaxes again in Numbers where Israel had to pay 1365 shekels as redemption money for their sons (Num 3:49-51). They had to learn experientially the true value of their own deliverance. The redemption money (likely silver) was according to the shekel of the sanctuary. This one-off payment (vv40-51) and the ongoing payment as sons were born (Exo 30:12,16) were banked into the Levitical system and show that the house of God was built upon and maintained by silver. The silver sockets and bars reminded Israel of redemption. Similarly, the forgiveness of sins is written large into the fabric of the local assembly, since God has “purchased [it] with his own blood” (Act 20:28). Each member is blood-bought and should be treated as such.

Silver affected the religious life of Israel and also its day-to-day life. Silver trumpets, the voice of the Lord to a redeemed people, sounded to direct their movements, warn them of danger and stimulate their praise (Num 10:1-10). It directed and ordered their entire lives. In an era full of empty noise, may we follow the clarion call of God’s Word through this wilderness.


There is a difference in the Bible between being bought, or purchased, and full redemption. The Lord Jesus at the cross purchased all that had been lost to sin. He has bought false teachers (2Pe 2:1) and, by extension, all of mankind. They are not saved but are owned by Him, through legal purchase, meaning He has the right to judge them in a future day. He has purchased the field (the world), the treasure (Israel) and the pearl (the Church) (Mat 13:44-46). So vast was the work of the cross that all belongs to Christ. He will come and liberate all of these in a future day.  This global liberty, where all is set free, is seen in the year of Jubilee (Lev 25). This chapter pictures the consummation of redemption in the Millennium where land, people, property and slaves are all released. It has significance for Israel, since that people and their land will be liberated and saved in the Millennium (Lev 25:10,54). Redemption is larger than Israel, however, since its effects will span the globe – “the creation itself shall be set free from the servitude of the corruption to the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:21 YLT). Sin, the dictator, will be broken, and all the world will be at rest. Praise God for redemption!

1 Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.