What Does Ransom Mean in the Bible?
A “ransom” is a price paid to redeem, loose, set free, or release.
In both the Old Testament and New Testament the Hebrew and Greek words for “ransom” are cast against the background of complete helplessness.
Each finds human beings captured, held captive by the power of forces they cannot overcome.
Only by the intervention of a third party can bondage be broken and the person freed.
In the Old Testament, the price for redeeming, the ransom, was paid for slaves (Leviticus 19:20), for captives (Isaiah 45:13), and for the ransom of a life (Exodus 32:30).
In the New Testament, the ransom provided by Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, liberates the believer from the misery and penalty of their sins and from the slave market of darkness. (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).
What Were We Ransomed From?
Redemption does not involve a price paid to Satan. Rather, the ransom is offered to God—to satisfy His justice and wrath against sin (Romans 5:9).
The price paid was Christ’s own life—as a blood atonement (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).
This, then, is the meaning of the cross: Christ subjected Himself to the divine punishment against sin on our behalf.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4‑5 NKJV
Suffering the brunt of divine wrath in the place of sinners was the “cup” Jesus spoke of having to drink, and the baptism He was preparing to undergo in Matthew 20:22.
New Testament passages make it clear that Jesus’ life is the ransom, or price of redemption for the human spirit.
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28 NKJV
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 NKJV
The redemption price, the “precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect,” was paid to release people from “the empty way of life” received from the forefathers.
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. 1 Peter 1:18‑20 NLT
According to the Bible, redemption is a release “from all wickedness”.
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:14 NKJV
The redemption that Jesus accomplished by his blood is an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12), intended to so cleanse us that we may “serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Thus, redemption in the New Testament focuses on the condition of the believer, who had been locked in a wicked and empty way of life, and on the price of redemption, the blood of Christ.
What Happens After You Have Been Ransomed?
After you have been ransomed, you are truly set free. You have been purchased at a price.
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 NKJV
Think of the value God puts on you, to pay for you with His own son.
Who the Son sets free, is truly free!
You are truly free. Nothing can hold you captive any longer. Nothing can conquer you without your consent.
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36 NKJV
The result of redemption is a genuine commitment to serve God out of love and thankfulness. (1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 6:20 KJV).
The redeemed believer is given a place in the family of God and is called to live a life that reflects the rule and reign of God (Romans 8:12‑14).
Only the Scriptures, of all the world’s religious writings, portrays the relationship between human beings and God in terms of redemption.
All other “gods” require sacrifices to appease them. In Christianity alone, God became the sacrifice to redeem His people. Even the Old Testament sacrifices were just a type and shadow of the final sacrifice, the true lamb of God who is Jesus Christ.
Redemption reveals a helpless humanity; and redemption affirms a God whose love drives Him to take part by paying the price needed to win our release from Satan, sin, and the flesh.
In the forgiveness made possible by the ransom of Christ, God kindly enables us to worship Him with a clean conscience despite our imperfections (Romans 4:5; Hebrews 9:13‑14).
The ransom is the most outstanding evidence of God’s love for us.
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:8‑9 NLT; KJV).
It is because we have in Him our redemption through His blood that we can be delivered out of the power of darkness.
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:13,14).
Born again believers, or ransomed believers, are the only people on the face of the planet who are no longer under the dominion of darkness. We are free!