[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQjtX7nvG5s&w=640&h=360]

Do we really need reminders to read God’s word? Consider how often we make notes to ourselves about things that are really important. Some people actually remember the birthdates of every friend and family member, but most of us use a calendar or some other way. If reading God’s word is as important to us as someone’s birthday, we will make great effort to remember!


There are several words that the Bible has filled with great meaning surpassing the common usage in language. As Christians, we’ve all come across certain words that have such special importance and appreciate that they deserve diligent study to grasp the lessons God is trying to teach us. We are also aware of the need to be careful in our study lest we end up with a corrupt idea of what God said.

A simple example is baptism. If you look up this word in most modern dictionaries you would find a definition that includes sprinkling or pouring water onto someone. We’ve all heard lessons that remind us that the word as actually used in the New Testament NEVER meant anything other than an immersion. Understanding God’s terminology is vital to obeying Him rather than some human.

One of God’s important words is redemption. Many Bible students have noticed that God intervenes in human affairs to both bless His faithful ones and to punish those who are unfaithful to Him. Few other words emphasize God’s intervention more than this one. It holds the key to how God changes us from the unfaithful, deserving only punishment, into those faithful ones that He blesses.

The Old Testament uses two words for this same concept of redemption. The first word used (first used in Genesis 48:16 and then Exodus 6:6) is ga)al. It means redeem especially in the sense of family law; to avenge; to lay claim to a person or something; to demand him back; to recover; to release a person from debt bondage (as Leviticus 25:48f). This is the word that would refer to the duty of a male relative to produce children to keep the family land inheritance and thus be the redeemer (cf. the story of Ruth). This is the word used for the avenger that kills the manslayer of his relative to redeem the guilt of the manslaughter. And this is the word used for reclaiming one’s own as God repeatedly redeems His people throughout the Old Testament.

The second word is padah. Originally the word was used of commerce as in paying the price for something to transfer ownership. It is with this in mind that God uses the word for the offering made to redeem the firstborn (cf. Exodus 13:11-15). With this history in mind the Psalmist extends the meaning to God’s redemption of us (cf. Psalm 31:5), even to redeeming us from the power of the grave (Psalm 49:15). If blood is required for the ultimate redemption, what awesome price could be paid for our redemption from death?

Now put the two words of God together. While padah tells of deliverance from bondage of another’s ownership, ga)al speaks more specifically of the kinsman doing the redeeming. Padah is used for the redeeming of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 13:15) and ga)al is used of Boaz as the kinsman-redeemer of Ruth (Ruth 3:12-13). Together they form the picture of the Savior. It is Jesus who serves as our kinsman-redeemer (as our elder-brother and firstborn among many brethren of Romans 8:29) and comes to our assistance by paying our debts thus delivering us from the bondage of sin into the ownership of God.

The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) usually translates both these words with the Greek word lutroō which means to release on receipt of a ransom. Matthew reminds us that this was the very purpose of Jesus coming, to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

Paul continues the lesson as he tells Titus that Jesus gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14). And Peter enhances the reminder of the price of redemption as he says: knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:17-19).

May we know and tell the story with the songwriter:

  • Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
  • Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
  • Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
  • His child and forever I am.

—Lester P. Bagley