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All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise marked.
In modern society, the word redeem isn’t very common. Although many people are in debt, they don’t use the word redeem when talking about paying off debt. It seems to be a bit old and out of style. However, it’s a very important word when talking about God. He is truly our Redeemer and has paid an incredible price for us to have a wonderful relationship with Him. Therefore, it’s necessary to take a look at what the definition of this word redeem means in the original Bible languages.
What Does The Word ‘Redeem’ Mean In Hebrew?
ga’al- to deliver, redeem, act as a kinsman, avenge. The basic use of this word had to do with the deliverance of people or things that have been sold for debt. For example, in Leviticus 25:25-26 ga’la is used in such way: . If a poor man sold himself to another Israelite (or even a foreigner among them), then the nearest relative to that man had the responsibility to redeem him (buy him back). The person who redeemed their family member is known as a kinsman. Also, following the ‘eye for an eye’ theory, a redeemer was called the “avenger of blood” when taking on the responsibility of executing his brother’s murderer (found in Deuteronomy 19:6).
There’s a book in the Bible that beautifully displays the responsibility of a kinsman-redeemer. In Ruth, Boaz redeemed Ruth and Noami because their husbands had passed away. The kinsman redeemer was expected to act in such a way in order to preserve the property, life, integrity, and family name of their relative.
There are moments in the Old Testament when this word is used to describe God.
“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”
“You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation.“
“You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph.“
“Then they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer.“
In the Book of Isaiah alone, ga’la is used speaking of the Lord 13 times. He redeemed them from Egypt, Babylon, and is known as Israel’s redeemer.
“Are You not the One who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep;
That made the depths of the sea a road
For the redeemed to cross over?”
“Go forth from Babylon!
Flee from the Chaldeans!
With a voice of singing,
Declare, proclaim this,
Utter it to the end of the earth;
Say, “The Lord has redeemed
His servant Jacob!“
“Fear not, you worm Jacob,
You men of Israel!
I will help you,” says the Lord
And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.“
geullah- (right of) redemption. This term is used to describe the deliverance of a person or property that has been sold for debt. Thankfully, the Law required that land and properties be protected under the “right of redemption”. The price for redemption was determined by the amount of remaining years until the year of jubilee.
padah- to redeem; ransom. Padah suggest that releases from an undesirable situation can be affected by some sort of intervention or substitutionary action. For example, in the following scripture Jonathan is saved through the people intervening his situation.
“But the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.”
peduwth- ransom or redemption.
“He has sent redemption to His people;
He has commanded His covenant forever:
Holy and awesome is His name.“
In Biblical times, there were many moments for people to buy back property, land, or even people that they had sold in order to gain some money. Therefore, the word redeem was used to describe the act of buying back something that was previously lost. Close relatives were given the responsibility of buying back the property of their lost loved ones. This is how we get the story of Ruth and Boaz. Also, the Lord is the Redeemer of Israel in the sense that He saved them from slavery many times.
What Does The Word ‘Redeem’ Mean In Greek?
exagorazo- a strengthened for of agorazo (to buy) and suggest the phrase “to buy out.” This word is especially used when referring to purchasing a slave with his future hinting toward freedom. Agorazo mean to purchase. However, the slave is still unsure of what the future hold and has a new master. Exagorazo implies a slave will be bought out by a new owner and won’t be sold again.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.“
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.“
lutroo- to release on receipt of ransom; to release by paying a ransom price; to redeem.
“who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,“
-1 Peter 1:18
In both of the scriptures above, Christ’s death is stated as the means of redemption. Also, exagorazo doesn’t signify the full redemption. It states the price paid in the hope of full redemption. Lutroo means the actual deliverance that sets one free.
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price tag for our souls: the death on a cross. His sacrifice resulted in His people being bought back into the family of God. We can now have a close, intimate relationship with the Lord and are free from many of the things that once held us captive.
“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
-1 Corinthians 6:20