Redemption through Jesus – Romans 3:22-25

Justification refers to God rendering a final verdict on the sinner. At the (future) final judgment, God will declare we are righteous, on the basis of the gracious gift of Jesus on the cross (in 3:20 the verb is future passive, although in the negative, no one will be justified by the Law). In other places, the same verb is in the perfect tense, looking back on the cross and its effects on the believer today. The verb in Romans 3 is in the present tense (present passive participle), we are being justified at the present time.

Image result for pay the ransomJustification is effected by God’s grace, as a gift. By definition, a gift is something given freely. If you try to pay for a gift, then it is no longer a gift and you run the risk of insulting the giver. By combining justification with grace (χάρις), Paul focuses attention on God as the one who bestows a gift on humans out of his gracious character. Grace is “God’s goodwill in action” often (but not always) in his gift of salvation (Kruse, Romans, 185).

Justification is also “through redemption in Christ Jesus.” The noun (ἀπολύτρωσις) is associated with paying a price in order to buy a slave or paying a ransom to win the freedom of a kidnapped person. There is an inscription dating before 100 B.C. which Moulton translated as “offering money for the ransom of other citizens, he showed himself gracious at every welcoming of those who from time to time safely returned.” (Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum15 325: τισὶν δὲ τῶν πολειτῶν ε[ἰς] λύτρα προτιθεὶς (sc. χρήματα) ἔδειξεν ἑαυτὸν πρὸς πᾶσαν ἀπάντησιν τῶν σωζομένων εὐομείλητον. See MM 554, Moulton, “Lexical Notes from the Papyri,” The Expositor VIII 1.3 (March 1911), 475-481).

In this case an offering of money was publically presented as an act of grace (a free gift) to redeem citizens who had been taken captive by “barbarian invaders.” We cannot know the motivation for this benefactor’s gracious act on behalf of his fellow citizens. Presumably he did this for his own glory since he had his gracious deed inscribed on a monument.

In this metaphor for salvation, God is like a gracious benefactor who paid for the ransom to gain the freedom of those enslaved to sin. All of humanity was in rebellion against God, in a sense “captured by the enemy.” Beginning in Romans 1:18 Paul described God’s wrath as deserved because humans have provoked God by their rebellion and hypocrisy, so that all people fall under God’s just wrath. Now in Romans 3:3, God acts on behalf of rebellious humanity and obtains their freedom from their real enemy.

14 thoughts on “Redemption through Jesus – Romans 3:22-25

  1. Thanks particularly for showing examples about how Paul fits into his contemporary context. On redemption, I hope that we should recognize metaphor and both its invitation and its limitations. Paul would know from Psalm 49 that we can’t pay our own redemption. In fact I think you will find the outline of Romans chapters 1 and 2 in Psalm 50. You are provoking me to reflect on this letter I have known for uncounted years. Perhaps I will write more…

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  2. The analogy of God being the gift giver really struck me. I’ve always known that God gave us a gift and all we had to do was accept it, but I am never good at just accepting a gift, especially one of this magnitude. God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die an innocent death for the sins of all of humanity. All we have to do is open our hands and hearts and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. Having God give Jesus as a propitiation of our sins is such an important concept to understand. This truth should impact us greatly. I was numb to this concept until the thought about us not simply accepting the gift was offensive to the gift giver. I realized how bad I am at just accepting gifts without thinking of what I “need to do” or “get them”. Just as Paul keeps reminding the church of Rome, we cannot earn our salvation or right standing with God by good works or by the Law. I need to stop thinking that I need to do certain things in order to accept this gift. Thanks for this simple yet powerful analogy of God and His justification.

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  3. “Justification is effected by God’s grace, as a gift. By definition, a gift is something given freely. If you try to pay for a gift, then it is no longer a gift and you run the risk of insulting the giver.”

    The idea of trying to repay God’s gift to humanity truly cheapens God’s grace. Good works should be a response to God’s love, not an action of repayment. The more we work with a repayment mindset in mind, the more we start to become like the older brother in the parable of the lost son. Near the end of Luke 15 the older brother says to his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29 ESV). The NIV translates, “served you” to, “slaving for you”. The more we feel like we’re “slaving” for God by repaying him with our good works, the more we’ll forget how truly amazing of Father is.

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  4. I think that this way of looking at salvation, the “gift-giver” aspect, is a great way to view all that God has done for us. I would like to agree with Nick with his statement, “Good works should be a response to God’s love, not an action of repayment.” I know that many people feel obligated to pay it back to God with their works, but as Christians today, we’re no longer the law and should strive to do the works as a showing of gratitude. This is where the idea of legalism comes in to play, however. I was enlightened by this posting and it is refreshing to remember.

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  5. A Christian experiences many powerful spiritual experiences in his or her lifetime. Many of these go unnoticed because of having head knowledge that is not fully believed. Justification can definitely be one of those. Justification is a process that is happening at the present moment (Moo, 85) that should shape and mold the way Christians live their lives. In fact it occurs the moment someone believes in Christ (Moo, 85) When Jesus went to the cross and sacrificed His body to save His persecutors, He exchanged His well-being for struggle. Through this act, His Children were set free from the weight of personal sin. How many people, including myself, live this life as a Christian who still believes he or she is under the power of sin and death? Christians who believe that they need to be the ones to save themselves will soon find out their folly. Doug Moo says, “We are put right with God through Christ’s faithful giving of himself to death for us and by our grateful acceptance of that gift in faith.” (Moo, 67) This “giving” of Himself is what separates Christ from other religious figures. He gave Himself to death so that others may benefit through His suffering. To think that the acceptance of this truth is all we need to do to receive freedom from sin sounds extremely simple and ridiculous. However, this is the truth and what incredible truth it is.

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  6. I agree that the fact that God is a gift giver shows his desire of nothing from us. It is an interesting thought of how we as humans will generally do the opposite. Think of holidays like Christmas, if you give someone a gift, there is almost a subtle hint of desiring a gift in return. As we talked about in class, some people even stash away potential “return” gifts for just such an occasion. But it is not so. God sent His son for us as a gift. The only thing that he really asked in return is that we accept His gift, there was no other condition for Jesus being sent to us. There was no “you can have Jesus if…” it was God seeing the need for that eternal sacrifice and giving Jesus up to us to take that place for us without the expectation of us sending Him anything in return.

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  7. It constantly amazes me how God works throughout the entire bible reconciling all people to himself. And he never gets anything in return. And like Ethan Partridge comments that all we have to do to gain salvation is to accept this free gift. Most people would accept free stuff so why don’t most people accept Christ’s sacrifice because it is free? When people do come with open hearts and realize that there is nothing they can do,(works), to gain salvation but that they believe and understand I don’t think we all process the entire meaning of the cross in one moment. A lot of people believe that Jesus is the son of God when they are little and have child-like faith, which Jesus himself says, in the synoptic gospels, is needed to enter the kingdom of heaven but when you are growing in your faith then you begin to understand what price was paid for you. I know that I didn’t start living out my relationship with Christ till my heart realize how much love God had for me to send his son to die. Even today verses can deepen my love for God, after reading Romans for years verses are still hitting me like a 2×4. When I think of all the ways that I still try to look like my good deeds outweigh my sin and that they justify me, I stand and continuously just thank God for paying the price because reality says that we will never measure up.

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  8. As you mentioned, justification “refers to God rendering a final verdict on the sinner.” We are justified through God’s gracious gift- Jesus Christ. We are justified only if we accept the gift of Christ. As stated, justification is also “through redemption in Christ Jesus.” Moo has a few great points on this idea of justification and redemption. He states,

    “As the sovereign Creator, God is always supreme over his creation. Never can any creature force him to act in any way. All that God does, he does of his own free will. And so his act of justifying sinners is one that he does out of his own free will. And his act of justifying sinners is one that he does out of his own loving nature, giving us as a gift what we never could learn or merit” (Moo, 83).

    Moo also states, “God justifies us through an act of ‘redemption’” (Moo, 83). The background for redemption and justification is very similar. The Greek word underlying redemption referred to the money that a slave would pay to get their freedom. The root idea is “price paid for release” (Moo, 83). Through Jesus Christ, God paid the ultimate price to get us out of our slavery; our slavery to sin.

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  9. Think of if I bought you a nice pair of merino wool socks. It would be ridiculous for you to try to figure out how much they cost and try to pay me back. It would however, be in good taste for you to write a thank you note and take care of the socks (i.e. don’t let the dog eat them).
    Salvation is far better than even the nicest socks, but the same principles of gift giving and receiving apply. Make your life a thank you note. Not a reimbursement check (it will bounce every time).

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  10. I believe that this metaphor for God’s redemption for us falls short. It assumes that we are prisoners of sin, which is true, but I feel that this only tells part of the tale. We are willing prisoners of sin. We chose to defect, we deserve a punishment. While our sin enslaves us, we also want it to enslave us. This makes our crime against God that much more heinous, and Christ’s sacrifice that much more heroic.
    I do agree that the metaphor is very good at demonstrating what a free gift our salvation is. We do not deserve his grace, yet He gives it to us without any way of us earning it back.

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  11. Jesus paid the ultimate price by setting us free from our captor; sin. When we do nice things for people, I think there may be an underline thinking we have as humans that those good deeds are paying Jesus back for taking his life for us, and not doing the good things out of the goodness of our heart. It does not matter how many good things we do on this Earth, we will never ever be able to repay Jesus back for taking his life for us. Even though there is nothing we can do to repay him, I think we can still do those good deeds, but we just need to have different intentions. We need to do them because we want to, and not by force or guilt. We should want to spread the love and joy of Jesus all around our community, and nation, the project does not matter, its the intentions and attitude we put behind the product.

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  12. I think it is important to look at salvation through Jesus Christ as God giving us a gift because He loves us and it isn’t necessarily something we have to, or really have the ability to pay it back in some form. In society today, if someone gives a gift it might be expected that the receiver give the giver something in return. That is not what God intended when He gave us righteousness because of our faith in Jesus Christ. We do not have to feel as though God is expecting us to do good works in order to pay back this salvation because there is no way for us to ever be able to pay back that gift. Romans 3:25-26 says that God sacrificed Jesus to show His righteousness, not to receive anything in return.

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  13. I love how everything God does, even if it seems contradictory, is completely righteous. We deserve God’s wrath because we are sinful humans and yet, God’s wrath is now covered by the death of Jesus. He is justified in wrath, and his mercy is also righteous. Jesus bought our freedom from sin through the cross and we can now be righteous in his eyes. Because we are free from the power of sin, Moo says that we no longer can live as if sin is still in charge. It no longer has any power over us because of Jesus and the cross. Jesus did not do this because we earned or deserved it but because he loves us.

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