Slaves and slavery evoke images in our minds – from our own early years as a nation and stretching back to ancient times.
Listen to Wm. Barclay the liberal commentator of England a generation ago, who writes:
“A slave was not a person; he was a living tool. A master had absolute power over his slaves. ‘He can box their ears or condemn them to hard labour–making them, for instance, work in chains upon his lands in the country, or in a sort of prison-factory. Or, he may punish them with blows of the rod, the lash or the knot; he can brand them upon the forehead, if they are thieves or runaways, or, in the end, if they prove irreclaimable, he can crucify them.’ Pliny tells how Vedius Pollio treated a slave. The slave was carrying a tray of crystal goblets into the courtyard; he dropped and broke one; on the instant Pollio ordered him to be thrown into the fishpond in the middle of the court, where the savage mornay eels tore him to pieces. Juvenal draws the picture of the mistress who will beat her maidservant as her caprice and the master who ‘delights in the sound of a cruel flogging, deeming it sweeter than any siren’s song,’ who is never happy ‘until he has summoned a torturer and he can brand someone with a hot iron for stealing a couple of towels,’ ‘who revels in clanking chains,’ The slave was continually at the mercy of the caprice of a master or a mistress.
“What made it worse was that the slaves were deliberately held down. There were in the Roman Empire 60,000,000 of them and the danger of revolt was constantly to be guarded against. A rebellious slave was promptly eliminated. And, if a slave ran away, at best he would be branded with a red-hot iron on the forehead, with the letter F — standing for fugitivus, runaway — and at the worst he would be
crucified to death.”
Now, you may ask — what does slavery have to do with the Doctrine of Redemption?
V. 7 Apolutrosis or “redemption” carries with it the sense of “ramsom, buying back, deliverance, or paying the price for a slave”
So, Paul says Christ paid for the ransom of some slaves.
But, who are the slaves? We were, as all are who ever lived.
Note what God says:
1. We are all under the sentence of death (Rom. 6:23).
2. In the Scripture men are spoken of as slaves with regard to sin (Rom. 6:17), to men (1 Cor. 7:23), corruption (Rom. 8:20), the rudiments so elemental spirits of the world (Gal. 4:3), while the Gentiles are said in addition to be slaves to their gods (Gal. 4:8).
3. Humans apart from God’s intervention walk in Satan’s course (Eph. 2:1). -1 Jn. 5:19 whole world
So, lost sinners are slaves under sentence of death following Satan’s course.
What happens then?
(1) Christians are ransomed/redeemed from the death sentence or “law of death” -Rom. 8:2 -1 Cor. 15:54
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-2 Tim. 1:10 -1 Jn. 3:14
(2) Christians are freed from the “law of sin” -Jn. 8:34-36 -Rom. 6:6, 18, 22 -1 Jn. 3:6-8
Now, Paul in Eph. 1:7, 14; 4:30, uses a term “redemption” for a process vividly familiar to ordinary daily life in ancient times – slaves and servants meet in every town of any size. Are put on the block and sold and 60,000,000 humans were the rest weren’t.
The fullness of this word’s meaning grips our souls…
Once and for all, John 19:30, Christ said it is finished! He paid the price. Listen as G. A. Deissmann brings out the force of the redemption terminology for an ordinary man of the first century thus: “A Christian slave of Corinth going up the path to the Acrocorinthus about Eastertide, when St. Paul’s letter arrived, would see towards the north-west the snowy peak of Parnassus rising clearer and clearer before him, and everyone knew that within the circuit of that commanding summit lay the shrines at which Apollo or Serapis or Asclepius the Healer bought slaves with a price, for freedom. Then in the evening assembly was read the letter lately received from Ephesus, and straightway the true God was present in spirit with His worshippers, giving them freedom from another slavery, redeeming with a price the bondmen of sin and the law — and that price no fiction, first received by Him out of the hard-earned denarii of the slave, but paid by Himself with the redemption-money of His daily new self-sacrifice, rousing up for freedom those who languished in slavery.
Morris adds: There is no need to water down the language of the biblical writers, to reduce their colourful metaphors to a uniform drabness. They did not intend ransom to be taken as a full and
sufficient statement of what the atonement was and did, but as far as it goes it gives a picture of one aspect of that great work. It is a metaphor which involves the payment of a price which is plainly stated in several places and understood in others to be the death of Christ. From the very nature of the imagery this involves a substitutionary idea; instead of our death there is His, instead of our death there is His, instead of our slavery there is His blood.
The Old Testament joins in portraying the manuals of Redemption.
Remember, Hosea the preacher was married to a harlot. • He loved her in spite of her utter unfaithfulness. • Finally she is reduced to slavery and Hosea’s loving bid wins her purchase. • This beautiful story is in the third chapter. The key is v. 1 “even as Lord loves…” • After she becomes his slave purchased at the slave market. She must obey him. • Let me ask you to look at this loving husband and his pitiful wife he purchases — think of John 3:16, “For God so loved…” How much?
So much that He personally went to the slave market of sin where we were exposed to all the world as slaves to say condemned.
Facing God’s wrath: -And Christ bought us out of that curse with His own life. -He took us out of that curse with His own life. -He took us out of slavery forever to exhibit us as for all eternity being to praise of His glory!
To what? Rom. 6:18. Now to be slaves of righteousness!
So that’s the portrait! What is the application to life right now? We must let God dawn upon our hearts the full intent and do His righteousness.
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James Orr well stated this truth at the turn of the century in the Dictionary of Christ and the Gospel, p. 480.
“…The mind is now turned, above all, to the Person by whom redemption is effected to His sacrifice as the means of redemption and to the necessity of faith in Him as the condition of salvation. In this new perspective, the whwole state of salvation and every blessing included in it are viewed as the fruit of Christ’s redeeming death. An immediate effect is forgiveness (Acts 2:__, 13:38; Rom. 4:6-8; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14, 1 Jn. 1:9, 2:12; Rev. 1:5, etc. But Christ redeems also ‘out of this present evil world’ (‘delivers,’ Gal. 1:4) ‘from all iniquity’ (Tit. 2:14), ‘from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers,’ etc. (1 Pet. 1:18).
Also, redemption is: from all evil Gen. 48:16 the bondage of the law Gal. 4:5 the curse of the law Gal. 3:13 the power of sin Rom. 6:18, 22 the power of the grave Ps. 49:15 all troubles Ps. 25:22 all iniquity Ps. 130:8; Tit. 2:14 death Hos. 13:14 destruction Ps. 103:4
What else? Acquires for us: justification Rom. 3:24 forgiveness of sin Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14 adoption Gal. 4:4, 5 purification Tit. 2:114 Described: as precious Ps. 49:8 plenteous Ps. 130:7 eternal Heb. 9:12
Manifests the: power of God Is. 50:2 grace of God Is. 52:3 love and pity of God Is. 63:9
Finally, they who partake of: are the property of God Is. 43:1; 1 Cor. 6:20 are first-fruits unto God 1 Cor. 6:20 are a peculiar people 2 Sam. 7:23; Tit. 2:14 with 1 Pet. 2:9 are sealed unto the day of Eph. 4:30 are zealous of good works Tit. 2:14 walk safely in holiness Is. 35:8, 9 alone can learn the songs of Rev. 14:3, 4 heaven commit themselves to God Ps. 31:5 have an earnestness of the Eph. 1:14, with 2 Cor. 1 completion of 1:22 wait for the completion of Rom. 8:23 pray for the completion of Ps. 26:11; 44:26 praise God for Ps. 71:23; Rev. 5:9 should glorify God for 1 Cor. 6:20 should be without fear Is. 43:1
Take Hymnbooks, #557, “Redeemed”. Let’s sing the first stanza. Stand.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Maybe you will have trouble with the next verse if you can’t say you are: happy, peaceful, complete
Rather, you are: defeated, struggling and undone
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Come to Christ as your redeemer today.