Job 19:25-27:
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

There are two notable prophesies in the Old Testament that refer to Jesus as redeemer. The one above describes how Job looked forward to the coming of his redeemer who would raise him from the dead. The redeemer who would stand upon the earth is Jesus. Isaiah also foresaw Jesus’ coming and spoke of it.

Isaiah 59:20:
And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.

“Redeemer” in the Old Testament is a participle of the verb gā’al, meaning “redeem, ransom, do the part of a kinsman.” A kinsman had the responsibility to help his relatives who were in any difficulty or danger. If a close relative lost his property to a debtor, it was the responsibility of a kinsmen to redeem it. If a relative was murdered, his kinsmen were responsible to avenge his death. If a relative was in prison or in slavery, a kinsman was obligated to pay whatever was necessary to get him released.

We find two excellent examples of this in Abraham and Boaz. When Abraham’s nephew, Lot, is taken prisoner in Genesis 14, Abraham rescues him. Later when Lot was threatened by the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 18-19, Abraham intercedes for him, taking personal responsibility to protect his kinsman.

Probably the most endearing story in the Bible that illustrates this is the relationship between Ruth, Naomi and Boaz (Ruth 1-4). Naomi and her husband travel to Moab during a famine. While in Moab, Naomi’s husband and both of her sons die. Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, return as poverty-stricken widows to Naomi’s home in Bethlehem. Ruth is reduced to gleaning behind the harvesters, picking up whatever stray wheat stalks are left.

“It just happens” that she is gleaning in the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s husband. In various translations he is called “kinsman-redeemer” (NIV), “near kinsman” (KJV), or “next-of-kin” (NRSV). Boaz loves Ruth and takes on this role of kinsman-redeemer, not only purchasing back Naomi’s dead husband’s property but also marrying Ruth to bear children to continue in his dead kinsman’s line, a custom sometimes referred to as levirate marriage.a

In the New Testament, Jesus is our ransom and redeemer who redeems us from the power of sin. Like the archetype Boaz, Jesus becomes our kinsman-redeemer. He is one of us and willingly paid the ransom necessary to purchase our freedom.

Mark 10:43b-45:
But whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom [lutron] for many.

I Timothy 2:5-6:
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
6 who gave himself as a ransom [antilutron] for all….”

A ransom (lutron) is the “price of release” especially the ransom money for the manumission of slaves. Very similar is the rare word antilotron, “ransom.” God redeems us with His own Son as the ransom price. Jesus is one of us; he becomes our kinsman, our brother. With the shedding of his blood, he redeems us (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12) He buys back his kin who have fallen so far into debt that they cannot ever possibly redeem themselves.

In most English translations, the actual title Redeemer occurs only in the Old Testament, but the concept of Jesus as our Redeemer appears throughout the New Testament. For example, the men on the road to Emmaus tell their companion, “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel. . .” (Luke 24:21a). Paul also tells the Galatians that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law. . .” (Galatians 3:13; 4:5). He also explained to Titus that Jesus “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). “Redeemer” calls to mind the technical terms of money paid to free someone, especially one who pays a ransom price. How wonderful that Jesus is both our redeemer and the ransom paid for us.

By Wayne Clapp