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The most direct, but not the exclusive2 vehicle in the Greek of the New Testament of the idea which we commonly express in our current speech by the term "redeem" and its derivatives, is provided by a group of words built up upon the Greek term lu,tron, "ransom."3 The exact implications of this group of words as employed by the writers of the New Testament have been brought into dispute.4 It seems desirable therefore to look afresh into their origin and usage sufficiently to become clear as to the matter, and the inquiry may perhaps be thought to possess enough intrinsic interest to justify going a little farther afield in it, and entering somewhat more into details, than would be necessary for the immediate purpose in hand.
To begin at the beginning, at any rate, the ultimate base to which this group of words goes back seems to be represented by the Sanscrit LÛ, which bears the meaning of "to cut," or "to clip"; hence it is inferred that the earliest implication of the general Indo-European root LU was to set free by cutting a bond. The Greek primitive of this base, lu,ein, has the general meaning of "to loose," which is applied and extended in a great variety of ways. When applied to men, its common meaning is "'to loose, release, set free,' especially from bonds or prison, and so, generally, from difficulty, or danger." It developed a particular usage with reference to prisoners,5 which is of interest to us. In this usage, it means, in the active voice, "to release on receipt of ransom," "to hold to ransom"; and in the middle voice, " to secure release by payment of ransom," " to ransom" in the common sense of that word,6 passing on to a broader usage of simply "to redeem" (in which it is applied not merely to prisoners but to animals and landed property7) and even "to buy."8 It also acquired the serise of paying debts, and, when used with reference to wrong-doings, a sense of "undoing" or " making up for, " which is not far removed from that of making atonement for, them.9
Naturally, the usual derivatives and compounds are formed from lu,ein. Among the former the abstract active substantive, lu,sij, is especially interesting to us because among its various senses it reflects both of the usages of its primitive to which we have just called attention. It is used of a release, deliverance, effected by the payment of a ransom - a "ransoming."10 And it is used of a cleansing from guilt by means of an expiation - an "atonement."11 Little less interesting, however, are the nouns of agent, of which several are formed, bearing the general sense of "deliverer "- lu,sioj (lu,seioj), luth,r (lu,teira), lu,twr. Lu,sioj was used in the Dionysiac myth as an epithet of Dionysus,12 and in the Orphics a great part was played by the qeoi. lu,sioi.13 In the Second Book of the "Republic,"14 Plato makes Adeimantos, performing the office of advocatus diaboli, urge in favor of being wicked and reaping its gains, that the penalties of wickedness may very easily be escaped: the gods can be propitiated, and so we can sin and pray, and then sin and pray some more, - and if you talk of a dread hereafter, why, are there not mysteries and lu,sioi qeoi, to whom we can look for deliverance? The form luth,r obtained sufficient currency to render it possible for the Christian poet Nonnus, the paraphrast of John, to employ it as a designation of our Lord, whom he calls "the Deliverer of the whole human race (o[lhj Lutrh/ra gene,qlhj)."15 But Nonnus was somewhat precious in his choice of words.
The prepositional compounds are numerous and appear to have been in wide use to express the many modifications which the general notion of "loosing" was capable of receiving from them.16 We are naturally most interested in those of them which are employed of releasing men from chains or bondage, or broadly from other evils. Among these the special implication of avnalu,ein is that the release effected is a restoration. In evklu,ein - the exact etymological equivalent of the German Auslösung (or its doublet Erlösung, which has become the standing German designation of the Christian Redemption) - the emphasis falls on the deliverance which is wrought by the release in question, and this form tends to be employed when the idea of relief is prominent. It is, however, with avpolu,ein - in itself a close synonym of evklu,ein - that we are most nearly concerned. It is employed alternatively with the simple lu,ein, and like that term developed a discriminating use of the active and middle voices to express respectively releasing on the receipt or releasing by the payment of a ransom. Thus, like lu,ein, it came to mean not merely releasing but distinctively ransoming, and is used in that sense of the action of both of the parties involved.17
The particular derivative of lu,ein with which we are at the moment directly concerned - lu,tron - belongs to that class of derivatives usually spoken of as "instrumental," which denote the instrument or means by which the action of the verb is accomplished.18 The particular actions expressed by the verb lu,ein for the performance of which lu,tron denotes the instrument are those to which we have called especial attention above, - ransoming and atoning - the former regularly and the latter by way of exception. It commonly means just a ransom; infrequently, however, it means an expiation;19 and very rarely it passes over into the general sense of a recompense.20 "Lu,tron 'means of deliverance' (Lösemittel)," says Franz Steinleitner21 quite accurately, "is employed by the old writers almost universally (mostly in the plural) in the sense of the ransom (Lösegeld) paid or to be paid for prisoners, in accordance with the use of lu,ein for the liberation (Auslösung) of prisoners, especially by ransoming (Loskauf)." It is only a special application of this general sense when the word is found in use in inscriptions and papyri as the technical term for the manumission-price of slaves.22 Its occurrence on two late inscriptions of a piacular character found near Könes in Lydia, on the other hand, illustrates its less common use of a means, an instrument, of expiation.23 Both of these are, however, only special applications serving rather to illustrate than to qualify the essential meaning of the term as just the price paid as a ransom in order to secure release.24
The formation of lu,tron was not due to any serious need of a term of its significance. It has synonyms enough.25 Its formation must be traced to the natural influence of its primitive, lu,ein, dominating the mind when the idea of ransoming occupied it, and leading to the framing from it of derived vocables expressive of that idea. It "came natural" to a Greek, in other words, when he wished to say ransom, to say lu,tron, because when he thought of ransoming he thought in terms of lu,ein. This is an indication of the strength of the association of the idea of ransoming with lu,ein; but, after all, the idea of ransoming was connected with lu,ein only by association. It was not the intrinsic sense of that verb but only a signification which had - however firmly - been attached to it by usage. Accordingly the process of word-formation which began with lu,tron did not stop with it. It went on and built upon it a new verb with the distinctive meaning of just ransoming, - lutrou/n, lutrou/sqai, - which meant and could mean nothing but to release for or by a ransom.26 If lu,ein, by a convention of speech, had come to express the idea of ransoming, this remained a mere convention of speech: the word intrinsically meant nothing more than to loose, to release, and was used in this wider sense side by side with its employment in the sense of ransoming. But lutrou/n meant intrinsically just to ransom and nothing else, and could lose, not the suggestion merely, but the open assertion of specifically ransoming as the mode of deliverance of which it spoke, only by suffering such a decay of its native sense as to lose its very heart. He who said lutrou/n, lutrou/sqai said lu,tron, and he who said lu,tron not merely intimated but asserted ransom. The only reason for the existence of this verb was to set by the side of the ambiguous lu,ein (avpolu,ein) an unambiguous term which would convey with surety, and without aid from the context or from the general understanding ruling its use, the express sense of ransoming. We are not surprised to observe therefore that throughout the whole history of profane Greek literature lutrou/n, lutrou/sqai maintained this sense unbrokenly. Its one meaning is just "to ransom"; in the active voice in the sense of to release on receipt of a ransom, and in the middle voice in the sense of to release by the payment of a ransom. We could ask no better proof of this than that neither H. Oltramare27 nor Th. Zahn,28 both of whom have sought diligently, has been able to discover an instance to the contrary.
Of course the derivatives and compounds of lutrou/n, lutrou/sqai continue to convey the idea of ransoming. Impulse for forming them could arise only from a feeling out for unambiguous terms to express this idea. For the wider notion of deliverance the derivatives and compounds of the primitive, lu,ein( lu,esqai lay at hand. Not many derivatives and compounds of lutrou/n, lutrou/sqai seem, it is true, to have been formed, and those that were formed appear to occur only sparsely in profane Greek literature. Of the derivatives29 we need concern ourselves only with lu,trwsij; of the compounds30 only with avpolutrou/n( avpolutrou/sqai and its derivative, avpolu,trwsij.
Lu,trwsij is so rare in profane Greek that it appears to have turned up heretofore only in a single passage, Plutarch, "Aratus " XI. There we read of Aratus that "having a present of five and twenty talents sent him from the king, he took them, it is true, but gave them all to his fellow-citizens who wanted money, among other purposes for the ransoming of those who had been taken prisoners (ei;j te ta=lla kai. lu,trwsin aivcmalw,twn)."
vApolutrou/n (active voice) occurs somewhat more frequently, but avpolutrou/sqai (middle voice) and avpolu,trwsij are again very rare. How the active, avpolutrou/n is employed, may be seen from the following examples, which are all that the lexicographers adduce. Plato, "Laws," XI, § 919 A (Jowett, iv, p. 430) : He "treats them as enemies and captives who are at his mercy, and will not release (avpolutrw,sh|) them until they have paid the highest, most exorbitant and base price." The Epistle of Philip to the Athenians in Demosthenes 159, 15: "He put Amphilochus to ransom (avpolu,trwse) for nine talents." Polybius 2.6.6: "They made a truce with the inhabitants to deliver up all freemen and the city of Phoenice for a fixed ransom (avpolutrw,santej)." Polybius 22.21.8: "On a large sum of gold being agreed to be paid for the woman, he led her off to put her to ransom (avpolutrw,san)." Stephanus adds that Lucian somewhere says of Achilles that "he ransomed (avpolu,trwsaj) the body of Hector for a small sum."
For the middle, avpolutrou/sqai, only late passages are cited. Th. Zahn, however, remarks very properly,31 that while "the middle avpolutrou/sqai is very rare, and is not to be found in the Bible," it nevertheless "lies in essentially the same sense as the middle lutrou/sqai at the basis of the use of the passive in Zeph. iii. 1 (iii. 3),32 and in Plutarch, 'Pompey,' 24." In this passage of Plutarch33 we read that Helo who had been taken captive by pirates "was ransomed (avpelutrw,qh) with a great sum." In these passages avpolutrou/sqai is the passive of the middle, not of the active, sense. The lexicographers cite only two passages in which the middle is actually found. Polyaenus, a Macedonian rhetorician of the time of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, relates how Aristocrates the Athenian, entering a Spartan port in a ship disguised as peaceful, was able by this ruse to slay some and to abduct others as prisoners, which last, he adds, "Aristocles ransomed with a great sum (ou]j pollw/n crhma,twn vAristoklh/j avpolutro,sato)."34 That is the manuscript reading. Nevertheless the modern editors, adopting an emendation of Casaubon's, print vAristokra,thj for vAristoklh/j. By this correction the meaning of avpolutro,sato is transformed, and we are made to read it, "Extorted a great sum for their ransom": that is to say, the middle is given the active sense. This result is unacceptable in view of the regular middle sense preserved in lu,esqai( avpolu,esqai( lutrou/sqai implied for avpolutrou/sqai in the passive use noted above, and actually appearing in the middle avpolutrou/sqai elsewhere. It must be held questionable, therefore, whether the text of the passage has been rightly settled by the editors: we need a different subject or else a different voice for the verb. There can be no question that in the only remaining passage in which it is cited, the Emperor Julian uses avpolutrou/sqai in its expected middle sense, and as the general equivalent of lutrou/sqai. "Whom, then," he says,35 "are we to regard as a slave? Shall it be him whom we buy for so many silver drachmas, for two minae, or for ten staters of gold? Probably you will say that such a man is truly a slave. And why? Is it because we have paid down money for him to the seller? But in that case the prisoners of war whom we ransom (lutrou,meqa) would be slaves. And yet the law on the one hand grants these their freedom when they have come safe home, and we on the other hand ransom (avpolutrou,meqa) them not that they may become slaves, but that they may be free. Do you see then that in order to make a ransomed man (lutrwqe,nta) a slave it is not enough to pay down a sum of money . . .?"36
The noun avpolu,trwsij might express the action of either the active or the middle of the verb from which it is formed.37 Zahn remarks:38 "For the corresponding use of avpolu,trwsij" - that is to say for the use of it in a sense corresponding to the middle sense of the verb, "to secure release by paying ransom" - "it seems that undoubted examples are lacking. Polybius, 6.58.11; 27.11.3, uses dialu,trwsij in its stead, and most writers content themselves with lu,trwsij." This is already to say that the use of avpolu,trwsij in this sense has the support of its cognates; and certainly there is nothing in its own very rare usage to object. The lexicons give, it is true, only a single instance of the word's occurrence - Plutarch, "Pompey," 2439 - and in this instance it expresses the action of the active voice of the verb.40 "Music," we read, "and dancing and banquets all along the shore, and seizings of officers and ransomings of captured cities (kai. po,lewn aivcmalw,twn avpolutrw/seij) were a reproach to the Roman supremacy."41 Another instance, however, has turned up in an inscription from Kos of the first or second Christian century, in which the word expresses the action of the middle voice. The inscription is speaking of that form of manumission of slaves, very widely current after the period of the Diadochi and illustrated by a great number of inscriptions at Delphi, in which the slave really purchased his own liberty, but did so through the intermediation of priests so as ostensibly to be purchased by a god. The purchase money deposited in the temple for the purpose is called the lu,tron or lu,tra. In the inscription in question, those who perform the avpeleuqe,rwsij are instructed "not to make formal record of the avpolu,trwsij until the priests have reported that the necessary sacrifice has been made."42 Both Deissmann and Zahn apparently suppose that the paralleling of avpolu,trwsij here with avpeleuqe,rwsij empties it of its specific meaning. This is obviously unjustified: the transaction was a manumission (avpeleuqe,rwsij) which took place by means of a payment (lu,tron, lu,tra) and was therefore, more exactly described, a ransoming (avpolu,trwsij). We are clearly to interpret: those who make the manumission are not to record the sale until the whole transaction is actually completed; and the two terms are respectively in their right places.43
Throughout the whole history of the profane usage of the derivatives of lu,tron, we perceive, the intrinsic significance of lu,tron continuously determines their meaning.44 This was to be expected. The case is not similar to that of such a word as, say, "dilapidated" in English which readily loses in figurative usages all suggestion of its underlying reference to stones; or even to that of such a word as "redeem" itself in English, which easily rubs off its edges and comes to mean merely to buy out and even simply to release. The bases of these words are foreign to English speech and do not inevitably obtrude themselves on the consciousness of every one who employs them. Lu,tron was a distinctively Greek word, formed from a Greek primitive in everyday use, according to instinctively working Greek methods of word-formation, carrying with them regular modifications of sense. No Greek lips could frame it, no Greek ear could hear it; in any of its derivatives, without consciousness of its intrinsic meaning. This is, of course, not to say that the word could not conceivably lose its distinctive sense. But in words of this kind the processes of such decay are difficult, and illustrations of it are comparatively rare; especially when as in this instance, the terms in question stand out on a background of a far more widely current use of their primitive in the broader sense. A Greek might well be tempted to use lu,ein and its derivatives in the sense of lutrou/n and its derivatives; and in point of fact he did so use them copiously. But it would not be natural for him to reverse the process and use lutrou/nv and its derivatives in the sense of lu,ein. It may be natural for us, standing at a sales-counter, to say "I will take that," meaning to "buy"; but it would never be natural for us to say, "I will buy that," meaning merely to "take." In the group of words built up around lu,tron the Greek language offered to the New Testament a series of terms which distinctly said "ransom"; and just in proportion as we think of the writers of the New Testament as using Greek naturally we must think of them as feeling the intrinsic significance of these words as they used them, and as using them only when they intended to give expression to this their intrinsic significance. It is safe to say that no Greek, to the manner born, could write down any word, the center of which was lu,tron, without consciousness of ransoming as the mode of deliverance of which he was speaking.
The fact is not to be obscured, of course, that the writers of the New Testament were not in the strict sense Greeks. At the most Luke enjoys that unique distinction; and even he may have been in the wide sense a Hellenist rather than in the strict sense a Hellene. The rest were Jews: even Paul, coming out of the Diaspora, yet was able to speak in Aramaic; and apart from him and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, they were all of immediate Palestinian origin and traditions. Moreover they all had in their hands the Septuagint version of the Old Testament and may be thought to have derived their Greek religious terminology from it. We must, therefore, ascertain, we are told, how the group of words built up on lu,tron are employed in the Septuagint before we can venture to pass upon the sense in which they are used in the New Testament. And in turning to the Septuagint, it must be confessed, a surprising thing confronts us. Words of this group are certainly employed in the Septuagint without clear intimation of ransoming. This remarkable phenomenon is worthy of our careful and discriminating attention.
A considerable number of words of this group occur in the Septuagint - lu,tron, [avntilu,tron], lutrou/sqai( lu,trwsij( lutrwth,j( lutrwto,j( avpolutrou/n( ajpolu,trwsij( evklu,trwsij. Some of these, however, occur very seldom, and only one, lutrou/sqai, is copiously employed.
vAntilu,tron was printed in some of the early editions at Ps. xlviii. (xlix.) 9, but has been eliminated in the modern critical texts.
Lu,tron occurs nineteen times and always, of course, in the quite simple sense of a ransom-price. H. Oltramare gives a very good account of its usage.45 "Lu,tron, usually in the plural lu,tra, (= rpk, !wydp, hlag)46 designates an indemnification, a pecuniary compensation, given in exchange for a cessation of rights over a person or even a thing, ransom. It is used for the money given to redeem a field, Lev. xxv. 24 - the life of an ox about to be killed, Ex. xxi. 30 - one's own life in arrest of judicial proceedings, Num. xxxv. 31, 32, or of vengeance, Prov. vi. 35, - the first-born over whom God had claims, Num. iii. 46, 48, 51, Lev. xviii. 15, etc. It is ordinarily used of the ransom given for redemption from captivity or slavery, Lev. xix. 20, Isa. xlv. 13, etc."
The adjective lutrwto,j occurs only twice, in a single connection (Lev. xxv. 31, 32), in which we are told that the houses in unwalled villages and in the Levitical cities were alike at all times redeemable (lutrwtai. diapanto.j e;sontai: representing alag).
The compound active noun, evklu,twsij, occurs only a single time (Num. iii. 49): "And for ta. lu,tra . . . thou shalt take five shekels apiece . . . and thou shalt give the money to Aaron and to his sons as lu,tra of the supernumerary among them; . . . and Moses took the money, ta. lu,tra of the supernumerary, for the evklu,twsij of the Levites . . . and Moses gave ta. lu,tra of the supernumeraries to Aaron and his sons."
The compound verb, avpolutrou/n occurs twice, once in the active voice (Ex. xxi. 847 for the Hiphil of hdp) and once in the passive voice (Zeph. iii. 1 (3) for the Niphal of lag). In both instances the idea of ransoming is express; and, as Th. Zahn points out, the sense in which the passive is used in Zeph. iii. 1 (3) presupposes the middle, avpolutrou/sqai, in the sense of "to deliver by the payment of a ransom." Thus this verb bears the distinctive active and middle senses in the Septuagint which it and its congeners bear in profane Greek.
So far the Septuagint usage shows no modification of that of profane Greek. No modification can be assumed even with reference to avpolu,trwsij, the active substantive derived from avpolutrou/n( avpolutrou/sqai. This term occurs only in Dan. iv. 32 (29 or 30) LXX in a context which at first sight might mislead us into giving it the undifferentiated signification of just "deliverance." "And at the end of the seven years," we read, "the time of my avpolutrw,sewj came, and my sins and my ignorance were fulfilled in the sight of the God of heaven." The "deliverance" here spoken of, however, must be held to be defined by the preceding context as resting on a "ransoming." There is a manifest reference back from this verse to iv. 24 where the king is exhorted to pray God concerning his sins and "to redeem (lu,trwsai) all his iniquities with almsgiving."48 No doubt the emphasis is thrown on the result of the ransoming, on the deliverance in which it has at last issued. This is doubtless the reason why the compound term is used here - avpolu,trwsij, - the avpo, in which, signifying "away from," shifting the emphasis from the process to the effects. The two terms, lutrou/sqai, verse 24, and avpolu,trwsij, verse 32, are respectively in their right places.
When we turn to the verb lutrou/sqai itself and its two substantival derivatives, lu,trwsij and lutrwth,j, we find ourselves in deeper water.
Lu,twsij occurs eight times,49 representing the Hebrew bases lag and hdp, each four times. In four of its occurrences, it is employed in the simple literal sense of ransoming or redeeming (Lev. xxv. 29, 29, 48; Num. xviii. 16) ; and in yet another (Ps. xlviii. (xlix.) 8), -"the price of the redemption of his soul" - it is used equally of ransoming by a price, although now in the higher, spiritual sphere. In the remaining three instances an implication of a ransom-price is less clear: Ps. cx. (cxi), 9, "He sent redemption to His people; He commanded His covenant forever"; Ps. cxxix (cxxx), 7, "For with the Lord is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption"; Isa. lxiii. 4, "For the day of recompense (avntapodo,sewv) is upon them, and the year of redemption is at hand." Passages like these will naturally receive their precise interpretation from the implication of the usage of their more copiously employed primitive, lutrou/sqai.
Similarly the noun of agent, lutrwth,j, which occurs only twice (Ps. xviii (xix), 14; lxxvii (lxxviii), 35, representing lag) - in both instances as an epithet of God, "our Redeemer" - will necessarily receive its exact shade of meaning from the general usage of its primitive, lutrou/sqai.
This verb, lutrou/sqai, occurs some hundred and five times. It usually has at its base either lag (about forty-two times) or hdp (about forty times),50 and rarely qrp (five times). Sometimes, of course, there is no Hebrew base (Sir. xlviii. 20, xlix. 10, 1. 24, li. 2, 3; Zech. iii. 15; I Macc. iv. 11). It is employed in more than one shade of meaning.
First, it is used quite literally to express the redeeming of a thing by the payment for it of a ransom price. Thus, for example: Ex. xiii. 13, "Every one of an ass that openeth the womb, thou shalt exchange for a sheep; but if thou wilt not exchange, thou shalt redeem it; every firstborn of a man of thy sons, thou shalt redeem"; Levit. xix. 20, "If any one lie carnally with a woman, and she is a house-slave, kept for a man, and she has not been redeemed with a ransom (lu,troij) and freedom has not been given to her, . . . they shall not be put to death, because she was not set free"; Num. xviii. 15-17, "And everything which openeth the womb of all flesh, whatsoever they offer unto the Lord, from man unto beast, shall be thine; nevertheless the firstborn of men shall be redeemed with a ransom (lu,troij), and the firstborn of unclean beasts thou shalt redeem. And its redemption (lu,trwsij) is from a month old; the valuation (sunti,mhsij) is five sheckels, according to the sacred sheckel - there are twenty obols." In this simple literal usage the word occurs about twenty-seven times; but it seems to be confined to Exodus (six times), Leviticus (eighteen times) and Numbers (three times).51
Sharply differentiated from this literal usage is a parallel one in which lutrou/sqai is applied to the deliverance from Egypt. Here there is at least no emphasis placed on the deliverance being in mode a ransoming. The stress is thrown rather on the power exerted in it and the mind is focussed on the mightiness of the transaction. This is so marked that B. F. Westcott is led by it to declare,52 too broadly, of the use of lutrou/sqai and its derivatives in the Septuagint, that "the idea of the exertion of a mighty force, the idea that the 'redemption' costs much, is everywhere present." It is at least clear that the idea that the redemption from Egypt was the effect of a great expenditure of the divine power and in that sense cost much, is prominent in the allusions to it, and seems to constitute the central idea sought to be conveyed. The earliest passage in which this usage occurs is typical of the whole series: Ex. vi. 6, "Go, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, I am the Lord, and I will lead you forth from the tyranny of the Egyptians, and deliver (r`u,somai) you from your bondage and redeem (lutrw,somai) you with a high hand and a great judgment; and I will take you to myself for my people, and I will be to you a God and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God which bringeth you out from the oppression of the Egyptians." Other examples are: Deut. ix. 26, "And I prayed to God and said, O Lord, king of the Gods, destroy not thy people and thy portion which thou didst redeem, and didst lead forth out of Egypt by thy great might and by thy strong hand and by thy high hand"; Neh. i. 10, "And these are thy children and thy people, whom thou didst redeem by thy great power and by thy strong hand"; Ps. lxxvi (lxxvii) 15, 16, "Thou art the God that doest wonders, thou didst make known among the peoples thy power, thou didst redeem with thine arm thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph." This usage of the deliverance out of Egypt in might lies in the Pentateuch side by side with the former, occurring in Exodus (three times), and Deuteronomy (six times), and occurs on occasion in the later books.53
Similarly to its employment to express the fundamental national deliverance from Egypt in the divine might, lutrou/sqai is used of other great national deliverances in which the power of Jehovah was manifested. In "the praise of famous men and of our fathers which begat us," that fills the later chapters of Sirach, the word is employed repeatedly in this sense: (xlviii. 20), "But they called upon the Lord which is merciful and stretched out their hands towards him; and immediately the Holy One heard them out of heaven, and delivered them by the ministry of Esay"; (xlix. 10), "And of the twelve prophets let the memorial be blessed, and let their bones flourish again out of their place; for they comforted Jacob, and delivered them by assured hope"; (1. 22, 24), "Now, then bless ye the God of all, which only doeth wondrous things everywhere. . . . That he would confirm his mercy with us and deliver us at his time." The general point of view finds clear expression in I Macc. iv. 10, 11, "Now, therefore, let us cry unto heaven, if peradventure the Lord will have mercy upon us, and remember the covenant of our fathers, and destroy this host before our face this day: that so all the heathen may know that there is one that delivereth and saveth (sw,zein) Israel."
Among these great deliverances wrought for Israel, the chief place is taken, of course, by its second great cardinal emancipation - that from the Babylonian captivity. The employment of lutrou/sqai to express this deliverance is naturally comparatively frequent, and as naturally it shades insensibly into the expression of the Messianic deliverance of which this liberation (along with that from Egypt) is treated as the standing type. We may find the key-note struck, perhaps, in Jer. xxvii. (l.) 33, 34: "Thus saith the Lord, Oppressed have been the children of Israel and the children of Judah: all they that have taken them captive, together oppress them because they refuse to let them go. And their redeemer is strong, the Lord Almighty is his name; he shall judge judgment with his adversary, that he may destroy the land and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon. A sword is upon the Chaldeans and upon the inhabitants of Babylon! . . ." How close the eschatological application lies may be illustrated by Isa. li. 11-13 (9-11) : "Awake, awake Jerusalem and put on the strength of thine arm; awake as in the beginning of day, as the generation of eternity. Art thou not she that dried the sea, the deep waters of the abyss? that madest the depths of the sea a way for the delivered (r`uome,noij) and the redeemed to pass through? For by the Lord shall they return, and shall come into Zion with joy and eternal exultation." And we seem fairly on eschatological ground in Isa. xxxv. 9-10: "And there shall be no lion there, neither shall any of the evil beasts go up upon it, nor be found there, but the redeemed and the gathered on account of the Lord shall walk in it, and they shall return and come into Zion with joy and everlasting joy shall be over their heads."54
Not essentially different is the employment of the word to express the intervention of God for the deliverance of an individual either from some great specific evil or from evil in general - the term rising in the latter case fully into the spiritual region. A couple of very instructive instances occur in the Septuagint: Daniel iii. 88, "Bless ye the Lord, Ananias, Adzarias and Misael, hymn and exalt him forever; because he liberated (evxei,lato) us from hades, and saved (e;swsen) us from the bonds of death, and delivered (evrvr`u,sato) us from the midst of the burning flame, and redeemed (evlutrw,sato) us from the fire"; vi. 27, "I, Darius, will worship and serve him all my days, for the idols made with hands cannot save (sw/sai) as the God of Daniel redeemed Daniel." Quite similarly we read in II Sam. iv. 9 (and I Kings i. 29): "And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, . . . and said unto them, As the Lord liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity"; and in Ps. cxliii. (cxliv.) 9-10: "O God, I will sing a new song to thee, . . . who giveth salvation unto kings, who redeemeth David his servant from the hurtful sword" (cf. vii. 2-3). "I will thank thee, O Lord King," says the son of Sirach in his concluding prayer (li. 1 ff.), "and I will praise thee, O God my Savior (swth/ra), I give thanks to thy name, because thou hast become my defender and helper, and hast redeemed my body from destruction, and from the snare of the slanderous tongue, from the lips that forge a falsehood, and hast become my helper against my adversaries and hast redeemed me, according to the multitude of thy mercies and name, from the teeth of them that were ready to devour me, from the hand of those that seek my life, from the manifold afflictions which I had. . . . ."55 The Psalms afford a number of examples in which this individual redemption in the region of the spirit is spoken of. The note that sounds through them is struck in Ps. xxxiii. (xxxiv.), 23: "The Lord will redeem the souls of his servants, and none of them that hope in him shall go wrong."56
The redeeming power in all this range of applications of lutrou/sqai is uniformly conceived as divine. It is to God, the Lord God Almighty, alone that redemption is ascribed, whether it be the redemption of Israel or of the individual, or whether it be physical or spiritual. God and God alone is the Redeemer alike of Israel and of the individual, in every case of deliverance of whatever order. We hear in Sirach, it is true, of the Holy One redeeming Israel by the hand of Isaiah (xlviii. 20) ; and indeed, in a somewhat confused sentence, of the twelve prophets, or of their bones, redeeming Jacob (xlix. 10) - or are we to assume that God is understood as the nominative of the verbs and read: "But God comforted Israel and redeemed them by the faith of hope"? There are besides two negative statements which may seem to imply the possibility of a human redeemer. The one is found in Ps. vii. 2-3, and the other, - a very instructive passage - in Lam. v. 8.57 In Ps. vii. 2-3 David prays: "O Lord, my God, in thee do I put my hope, save (sw/son) me from all that persecute me, and deliver (r`u/sai) me; let him not seize my soul, like a lion, while there is none to redeem (lutroume,nou) or to save (sw,zontoj)." In Lam. v. 8 we read: "Slaves, have ruled over us: there is none to redeem (lutrou/menoj) out of their hand." In neither instance is it intimated, however, that a human redeemer could be found: despair is rather expressed, and the cry is for the only Redeemer that can suffice. It is only in Dan. iv. 24 that we find a clear reference to a human redeemer. "Entreat him concerning thy sins and redeem thine iniquities with alms" (LXX); "redeem thy sins with alms" (Theod.). Here the king is exhorted to ransom his own soul by his good works. This conception, however, cuts athwart the whole current of the usage of lutrou/sqai in the Septuagint elsewhere when it is a matter of spiritual redemption. How little such a point of view accords with that elsewhere connected with lutrou/sqai may be learned from Ps. xlviii. (xlix.) 8-10: "A brother redeemeth (lutrou/tai) not: shall a man redeem (lutrw/setai)? He shall not give to God an expiation (evxi,lasma) for himself or the price of the redemption (th.n timah.n th/j lutrw,sewj) of his soul though he labor forever and live to the end, so that he should not see corruption." The sense of o` lutrou,menoj in Prov. xxiii. 10-11: "Remove not the ancient landmarks and enter not into the possession of orphans, for he that redeemeth them is a powerful Lord, and judgeth thy judgment with thee," may be open to some question. It is probably the intention of the Septuagint translators to intimate that the poor are under the especial protection of the God who is the "redeemer" by way of eminence of the needy.
The emphasis put upon the power of God manifested in redemption which accompanies the entire usage of lutrou/sqai except in its literal sense, may tempt us to suppose that the notion of ransoming has been altogether lost in this usage. This is in point of fact widely taken for granted. B. F. Westcott, for example, writes:58 "It will be obvious from the usage of the LXX. that the idea of a ransom received by the power from which the captive is delivered is practically lost in lutrou/sqai &c." Such a statement is in any case fatally defective. It takes no account of the large use of lutrou/sqai in the Pentateuch in the purely literal sense (cf. Dan. iv. 24). It is doubtful, however, whether it can be fully sustained even with respect to the use of lutrou/sqai of the divine deliverance. No doubt, as has already been pointed out, the sense of the power of God exerted in the deliverances wrought by Him comes so forcibly forward as to obscure the implication of ransoming. This is pushed so far into the background as to pass out of sight; and not infrequently it seems to be pushed not only out of sight but out of existence. In a passage like Dan. iii. 88 LXX, for example, there seems no place left for ransom-paying; and the same may appear to be true of such passages as Dan. vi. 27 LXX, Lam. v. 8, Ps. vii. 2. Nor does the synonymy in which the word sometimes stands encourage seeking for it such an underlying idea: Ex. vi. 6, r`u,somai( lutrw,somai; Ps. vii. 2-3, sw/son( r`u/sai( lutroume,nou, sw,zontoj; Ps. lviii. (lix.) 2-3, evxelou/( lu,trwsai( r`u/sai; Ps. cv. (cvi.) 10 e;swsen( evlutrw,sato; Hos. xiii. 14, r`u,somai( lutrw,somai; Dan. iii. 88 LXX, evxei,leto( e;swsen( evrvr`u,sato( evlutrw,sato; Dan. vi. 27 LXX, sw/sai( evlutrw,sato; I Macc. iv. 10, 11, lutrou,menoj( sw,zwn.
Nevertheless, as Westcott himself perceives, there is an abiding implication that the redemption has cost something: "the idea that the redemption costs much," says he, "is everywhere present." Perhaps we may say that, in this underlying suggestion, the conception of price-paying intrinsic in lutrou/sqai is preserved, and in this the reason may be found why it appears to be employed only when the mind is filled with the feeling that the redemption wrought has entailed the expenditure of almighty power.
It is going too far, in any case, however, to say that the idea of ransoming "is practically lost in lutrou/sqai, &c." in their Septuagint usage - as, to be sure the insertion of the word "practically" may show that Westcott himself felt. Whatever may be the implications of lutrou/sqai when used to designate the intervention of God in His almighty power for the deliverance of His people, there is evidence enough to show that the feeling of ransoming as the underlying sense of the word remained ever alive in the minds of the writers. That could not in any event fail to be the fact, because of the parallel use of lutrou/sqai in its literal sense; we must not permit to fall out of memory that lutrou/sqai is employed in its literal sense in more than a fourth of all its occurrences in the Septuagint. Every now and then moreover the consciousness of the underlying sense of ransoming is thrown up to observation. This may be the case in a passage like Ps. lxxiii. (lxxiv.) 2: "Remember thy synagogue which thou didst acquire (evkth,sw = purchase) of old; thou didst redeem (evlutrw,sw) the rod of thine inheritance." It is more clearly the case in a passage like Isa. lii. 3: "Ye were sold for nought (dwrea,n) and ye shall not be redeemed (lutrwqh,sesqe) with money." There is an intimation here that no ransom price (in the sense intended) is to be paid for Israel; its redemption is to be wrought by the might of Jehovah. But it is equally intimated that a redemption without a price paid is as anomalous a transaction as a sale without money passing. That is to say, here is an unexceptionable testimony that the term lutrou/sqai in itself was felt to imply a ransom price. Another passage in point is provided by Ps. xlviii. (xlix.) 8: "A brother redeemeth (lutrou/tai) not: shall a man redeem (lutrw/setai)? He shall not give to God an expiation (evxi,lasma) for himself, and the price of the redemption (th.n timh.n th/j lutrw,sewj) of his soul, though he labor forever." To redeem is distinctly set forth here as the giving of a price which operates as an expiation: and the inability of a man to redeem a man out of the hand of God turns precisely on his inability to pay the price. Perhaps the most instructive passage, however, will be found in Isa. xliii. 1 ff.: "Fear not," Jehovah here says to His people, "because I have redeemed (evlutrwsa,mhn) thee. . . . I have made Egypt thy price (a;llagma) and Ethiopia and Soene in thy stead (u`pe.r sou/) . . . . And I will give men for thee (u`pe.r sou/) and rulers for thy head." Such passages as these, it surely does not require to be said, could not have been written by and to men in whose minds the underlying implication of ransoming had faded out of the terms employed. They bear witness to a living consciousness of this implication, and testify that, though lutrou/sqai and its derivatives may be employed to describe a redemption wrought in the almighty power of God, that was not in forgetfulness that redemption was properly a transaction which implies paying a price.
The broader use of lutrou/sqai (lu,trwsij( lutrwth,j) by the Septuagint of God's deliverance of His people, may not unfairly be said to throw the emphasis so strongly on the almightiness of the power manifested as to obscure, if not to obliterate, intimation of its mode as a ransoming. The assumption is frequently made that this usage is simply projected into the New Testament and determines the sense of all the terms of this group which are found in the New Testament.
This assumption is met, however, by the initial difficulty that the usage of the New Testament is not even formally a continuation of that of the Septuagint. The usage of the Septuagint in question is distinctly a usage of lutrou/sqai, and affects only it and, to a limited extent, its two immediate derivatives, lu,trwsij (Ps. ex. (cxi.) 9, cxxix. (cxxx.) 7, Isa. lxiii. 4) and lutrwth,j (Ps. xviii. (xix.) 15, lxxvii. (lxxviii.) 35), which could not fail to be drawn somewhat into the current of any extended usage of lutrou/sqai. The more proper usage of other members of the group, and indeed even of these members of it in a large section of their employment, remains untouched. On the other hand, the usage of the New Testament is characteristically a usage of avpolu,trwsij, an otherwise rare form, which appears never to occur - itself or its primitive, avpolutrou/n( avpolutrou/sqai, - whether in profane Greek,59 or in the Septuagint,60 or in writers directly dependent on the Septuagint,61 in any other than its intrinsic sense of ransoming. It would be plausible to suggest that the Septuagint usage in question is continued in the lu,trwsij of Luke i. 68, ii. 38 and lutrou/sqai of Luke xxiv. 21 where redemption is spoken of on the plane of Old Testament expectation. But the suggestion loses all plausibility when extended beyond this. It would be more plausible to argue that the form avpolu,trwsij was selected by the New Testament writers in part purposely to avoid the ambiguities which might arise from the Septuagint associations clinging to lutrou/sqai. The simple fact, however, is that the characteristic terminology in the two sets of writings is different.
This formal difference in the usages of the two sets of writers is immensely reinforced by a material difference in the presuppositions underlying what they severally wrote. Whatever may have been the nature of the expectations which the Old Testament saints cherished as to the mode of the divine deliverance to which they looked forward, the New Testament writers wrote of it, as a fact lying in the past, under the impression of a revolutionary experience of it as the expiatory death of the Son of God. It would have been unnatural to the verge of impossibility for them to speak of it colorlessly as to this central circumstance, especially when using phraseology with respect to it which in its intrinsic connotation emphasized precisely this circumstance. We must not obscure the fact that something had happened between the writing of the Old Testament and the New, something which radically affected the whole conception of the mode of the divine deliverance, and which set the development of Jewish and Christian ideas and expressions concerning it moving thenceforward on widely divergent pathways. It may sound specious when the Jewish eschatological conceptions are represented as supplying an analogy, according to which the New Testament phraseology may be understood. We may be momentarily impressed when it is explained that, as the Jews have set the Messiah as the great Deliverer (lawg) by the side of Moses, the first Deliverer (!wfarh lawg)and expect him, as Moses led Israel out of Egypt, to achieve the final Deliverance (hlag) and bring Israel home, without any interruption by an expiatory suffering and death, and merely by the power of his own personal righteousness,62 - so We must understand the New Testament writers, borrowing their language from the Jewish eschatology, to ascribe to Christ merely the Messianic deliverance, without any implication that it is wrought by an act of ransoming. But we can be only momentarily impressed by such representations. Between the Jewish and the New Testament conceptions of the Messianic deliverance there is less an analogy than a fundamental contradiction. There had taken place, first of all, on the part of the Christians what it is fashionable to speak of as a "predating" of the Messianic expectations: the redemption of God's people does not wait, with them, for the end-time, but has already been in principle wrought and awaits only its full realization in all its effects, in the end-time. And precisely what has already been wrought, contributing the very hinge on which the whole conception of the Messianic deliverance turns, is just that act of expiation which is wholly absent from the Jewish representation. If, in other words, the Jews looked only for a Deliverance, wrought by sheer power, the Christians put their trust precisely in a Redemption wrought in the blood of Christ. Of course so fundamental a difference could not fail to reflect itself in the language employed to give expression to the divergent conceptions. And that, again, may be, in part, the account to give of the adoption by the New Testament writers of the rare form avpolu,trwsij instead of the more current lutrou/sqai colored by Septuagint conceptions, to describe the redemption in Christ. That they conceived this redemption in terms of ransoming is made clear in any event by repeated contextual intimations to that effect.63
The attempts which have been made to construe the terms derived from lutrou/sqai, employed by the writers of the New Testament64 of the deliverance wrought by Christ, as inexpressive of their intrinsic implication that the deliverance intimated was in the mode of a ransoming, were foreordained to failure in the presence of general considerations like this. H. Oltramare's extended discussion in his comments on Rom. iii. 24 is often referred to as a typical instance of these attempts.65 This, however, is rather unfair to them. Oltramare's argument is vitiated from the beginning by failure to discriminate between the differing usages of the active and middle voices of the whole series of verbs, lu,ein( avpolu,ein( lutrou/n( avpolutrou/n by which the active means "to put to ransom" and the middle "to ransom." It loses itself speedily accordingly in mere paradoxes. Of course he cites no passages from the Greek authors in which any of these terms is employed without intimation of a ransom-paying: to all appearance such passages do not exist. He is compelled to rely entirely therefore on the Septuagint usage of lutrou/sqai mechanically treated. He allows, of course, that lutrou/sqai (with which he confounds also lutrou/n) "signifies properly and etymologically to release, to liberate an object by giving to its holder or to one who has rights in it, a sum in return for which he desists from his possession, or from his rights, to ransom, to redeem." He very strangely, because it thus signifies "to secure a release by paying a ransom," sets it in contrast with ajpolutrou/n which he represents as meaning "to put to ransom," without observing that he has thus set the purely middle use of the one over against the purely active use of the other. Thus he parcels out between the two verbs the distinctive usages which obtain between the active and middle of each of them." vApolutro,w," he says, "does not have the sense of the simple verb, 'to ransom' = redimere: we do not know a single example of it. The prefix avpo, (as in avpolu,w( avfi,hmi) so emphasizes the idea of liberating, delivering, that in profane authors, ajpolutrou/n signifies properly to release for a ransom, to hold to ransom." Even this is not all. For he now proceeds to conclude that "avpolu,trwsij designates therefore the action of releasing for a demanded ransom." "Its meaning is such," he continues gravely, " that if we absolutely insist on giving to avpolu,trwsij the sense of 'deliverance for ransom,' the expression dia. th/j avpolutrw,sewj th/j evn Cristw|/ vIhsou/ signifies 'by the release, the ransom-taking which is found in Jesus Christ' - that is to say that Jesus delivers us by demanding a ransom of us, far from by paying it for us." He sees but one way of escape from this conclusion. "Very happily," he concludes, "avpolu,trwsij is also used in the sense of deliverance, liberation, without any accessory idea of ransoming. All that it seems to have preserved of the radical is that it speaks principally of releasing from that which binds, confines, impedes, or shuts up." He has no evidence to present for this cardinal assertion, however, except the fact that Schleusner cites from the Old Testament the passage "cro,noj th/j avpolutrw,sewj h;lqe." As we know, this passage comes from Dan. iv. 32 LXX, where the context suggests that the deliverance had been purchased by almsgiving. To it Oltramare can add only certain New Testament passages in which he finds no accessory idea of ransoming notified. This is all quite incompetent.
Th. Zahn's discussion, distributed through his notes on the same passage, is free, of course, from such eccentricities, and constitutes in its several parts a careful presentation of all the evidence which can possibly be brought together for taking ajpolu,trwsij in Rom. iii. 24 in the undifferentiated sense of deliverance. No evidence, of course, for this sense of the term is adduced from the usage of any derivative of lu,tron by a profane author: and no decisive instance is adduced from any quarter of the use of the term itself in this undifferentiated sense.66 The force of the argument is dependent wholly on the cumulative effect of the discussion of the several terms lutrou/sqai( lu,trwsij( avpolutrou/n( avpolu,trwsij successively. In these discussions the more utilizable passages from the Septuagint are skilfully marshalled; certain New Testament passages in which there is no express intimation in the context that the deliverance in question is a ransoming (as if the form of the word itself and its appropriate usage elsewhere counted for nothing!) are added; and a few Patristic passages are subjoined. Despite the thoroughness of the research and the exhaustive adduction of the material, the whole discussion remains unconvincing. The reader rises from it with the conviction that an unnatural meaning is being thrust upon the term on insufficient grounds, and that, after all is said, "redemption" continues to mean redemption.
Much more formidable than either Oltramare's or Zahn's argument is that which is developed with his usual comprehensiveness and vigor by Albrecht Ritschl in the second volume of his great work on "Justification and Reconciliation."67 Ritschl begins by speaking of the use of lutrou/n and its derivatives by the Septuagint to render the Hebrew stems lag and hdp. These stems, he remarks, had originally, like the Greek terms, the sense of delivering specifically by means of purchase. This implication of purchase had been lost, however, in usage. Their etymological implication was similarly lost, of course, by the Greek terms which were employed to render them, through an assimilation to the Hebrew terms which they rendered. These Greek terms came to the New Testament writers, therefore, with this broadened sense; and the New Testament writers naturally continued to employ them in it. If they are sometimes used by the New Testament writers in connections in which the original sense of purchasing might seem to be intimated, it is nevertheless not to be assumed that their original sense has reasserted itself. It is more natural to read them in these passages too in the broadened sense in which they have been inherited from the Septuagint. Paul, for example, must be supposed to have had the Hebrew in mind when he cited from the Septuagint, and to have taken from it his religious phraseology. This would hold him, when he used the Greek words, to the sense which they have as renderings of the broadened Hebrew terms. Of course, it may be argued that the Apostolic use of these words is rather controlled by our Lord's declaration that He came into the world to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark x. 45). But there is really no proof that this saying was known to Paul, to say nothing of its having determined the sense in which he employed terms only remotely related to the word used. The impression is left on the mind, rather, that Paul has chosen the compound term avpolu,trwsij instead of the simple lu,trwsij of the Septuagint, because by it the idea of separation from, or liberation, is thrown into great emphasis: he wishes, in a word, to say not ransoming but deliverance.
The steps in this argument are the successive assertions that: (1) The Hebrew words lag and hdp had lost their original connotation of purchase; (2) The Greek words used to translate them must as a consequence have lost theirs; (3) The Septuagint usage of these Greek words must have extended itself into the New Testament; (4) The ordinary usage of these terms in the New Testament is in point of fact of this undifferentiated sort; (5) The instances of their use which do not seem of this sort must be nevertheless interpreted in harmony with this usage.
No one of these propositions is, however, unqualifiedly true. (1) Though the original senses of lag and hdp - to redeem and to ransom68 - are sometimes submerged in their figurative use, they are so far from being wholly obliterated that the words are copiously employed quite literally, and it is repeatedly made clear that even in the most extreme extension of their figurative use their etymological significance does not wholly cease to be felt. (2) The Greek terms fitted to these Hebrew terms seem to have been selected to render them because they were their closest Greek representatives in their literal sense. The use of these Greek terms to render the Hebrew is evidence therefore that they retained their fundamental meaning of redemption, ransoming; and though they naturally acquired from the Hebrew terms their figurative meanings when they were used to express them, there is no evidence that they ever really lost their native implications. It is misleading to speak of "the Septuagint usage" of these Greek terms, as if this "extended" usage were the only usage they have in the Septuagint. Lutrou/sqai, the most important of the Septuagint terms, is used in twenty-seven out of the one hundred and five instances in which it occurs in its literal sense of ransoming, redeeming; XuTpwais is used in five out of its eight occurrences in the sense of redemption, ransoming; all the compounds derived from lutrou/n are used solely in this sense. (3) In point of fact, the New Testament usage is not a "projection" of the Septuagint usage. The terminology of the New Testament is different from that of the Septuagint, and therefore the terminology of the New Testament was very certainly not derived from that of the Septuagint. Are we to suppose that the New Testament writers carried over the senses of the Septuagint terms without carrying over the terms which were the vehicles of those senses? The fundamental assumption, moreover, that the New Testament writers derived their whole phraseology from the Septuagint - Ritschl even speaks of Paul's "Greek speech, formed from the Septuagint" - cannot be justified. The Greek speech of the New Testament writers is the common speech of their day and generation and their terminology more naturally reflects a popular usage of the time. (4) It is not the fact that the ordinary usage of the derivatives of lu,tron in the New Testament is without modal implications. The contextual implications rather show ordinarily that the modal implications are present. (5) There is not only no reason why a broadened sense should be made normative for these derivatives and imposed upon them in defiance of their natural implication to the contrary, but in several instances they are so recalcitrant to it that it cannot be imposed upon them without intolerable violence.
A brief survey of the New Testament passages seems to be desirable in order to justify the last two of these remarks.69
Despite Ritschl's protest we must take our starting-point from our Lord's own description of His mission on earth as to give His life a ransom for many (Mt. xx. 28, Mark x. 45). This could not fail to determine for His followers their whole conception of the nature of His redemptive work.70 We cannot be surprised, therefore, to find one of them, echoing His very words, describing His work as a giving of Himself as a ransom (avnti,lutron) for all (I Tim. ii. 6). Nor can we profess to be doubtful of his meaning when the same writer, writing at nearly the same time, but using now the verbal form, tells us that "our great God and Savior gave Himself for us that He might redeem (lutrou/sqai) us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works" (Tit. i. 14); or when another of the New Testament writers, closely affiliated with this one, and writing at about the same time, reminds the Christians that they "were redeemed (lutrou/sqai), not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from their vain manner of life handed down from their fathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ" (I Pet. i. 18). There is in these passages an express intimation that the deliverance described by the verb lutrou/sqai as wrought by our Lord, was wrought in the mode of a ransoming. He gave Himself in working it. He gave His blood, as a lamb's blood is given at the altar. We cannot fail to hear here the echoes of His own declaration, that He came to give His life a ransom for many, or to perceive that the verb lutrou/sqai is employed in its native etymological sense of a deliverance by means of a price paid. It is not less clear that the noun lu,trwsij is used in the same natural sense in Heb. ix. 12, where, as in I Pet. i. 18, the blood of Jesus is compared with less precious things - here with the blood of goats and calves - and He is asserted, by means of this His own blood, to have "procured eternal redemption." No subtlety of interpretation can rid such passages of their implication of ransoming.
The specialty of the New Testament usage lies, however, not in these simple forms, but in the large use made of the rare compound substantive, avpolu,trwsij. This unusual form occurs seven times in the Epistles of Paul, twice in the Epistle to the Hebrews and once in the Gospel of Luke.71 The preposition avpo, ("away from") with which it is compounded, no doubt, calls especial attention to the deliverance wrought by the ransoming intimated; and we are prepared, therefore, to see this form used when the mind is directed rather to the effects than to the process of the ransoming.72 That does not justify us, however, in supposing the term to declare the effects alone, with a total neglect of the process, namely ransoming, by which they are attained. In point of fact, in a number of instances the deliverance declared is in one way or another distinctly defined by the context as having been obtained by the payment of a price. Thus, in Heb. ix. 15, we are told that this deliverance was wrought by a death; in Eph. i. 7 by the blood of Christ; in Rom. iii. 24 by His being offered as a propitiatory sacrifice.
The implications of the term being fixed by its usage in such passages, it is necessarily interpreted in accordance with them on the other occasions where it occurs. Some of these are so closely connected with these normative passages, indeed, as to be inevitably carried on with them in the same sense. Thus Eph. i. 14 must be read in connection with Eph. i. 7; and Col. i. 14 but repeats Eph. i. 14 and cannot bear a different meaning. From these passages, however, we learn that the effects of the ransoming intimated by avpolu,trwsij stretch into the far future and are not all reaped until the end itself. Thus the key is given us for the understanding of it in its "eschatological" application, as it occurs in Luke xxi. 28, Rom. viii. 33, Eph. iv. 30.73 In such passages the ultimate effects of the ransoming wrought by Jesus in His death are spoken of, not some new and different deliverance, unconnected with that ransoming or with any ransoming, and most certainly not some ransoming distinct from that. The mind of the writer is on the death of Christ as the procuring cause of the deliverance which he is representing by his employment of this term as obtained only at such a cost.
No doubt there are a couple of passages in which there is less to go upon. There is nothing in I Cor. i. 30, for example,74 which would independently fix the sense of the term as there used. But it is unnecessary that there should be, in the presence of so firmly established a significance for it. We must, of course, read it here in accordance with its etymological implications supported by its usage elsewhere: particularly in a writer like Paul whose whole thought of "redemption" is coloured through and through with the blood of Christ.75 And there is certainly no reason why we should not conceive the deliverance spoken of in Heb. xi. 35 as one to be purchased by some price which the victims were unwilling to pay. That is indeed implied in the declaration that they would not accept deliverance, because they were looking for a better resurrection. Does it not mean that they would not accept deliverance, on the terms, say, apostasy, on which alone it could be had? It is quite clear in sum that ajpolu,trwsij in the New Testament is conceived, in accordance with its native connotation, and its usage elsewhere, distinctly as a ransoming; and that that implication must be read in it on every occasion of its occurrence.
There remain, to be sure, three or four instances of the occurrence of the simple forms - lutrou/sqai Luke xxiv. 21, lu,trwsij Luke i. 68, ii. 38, lutrwth,j Acts vii. 35 - all in writings of Luke - which have the peculiarity of standing on the plane of the Old Testament dispensation, and of being consequently unaffected in their suggestions by the new revelation which had come in the ransoming death of Christ. When Zacharias blessed the Lord, the God of Israel, because in the promise to him of a son, He had "visited and brought redemption for His people" (Luke i. 68); when Anna spoke of God "to all those that were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke ii. 38); when the two disciples, on their journey to Emmaus, bewailed to one another the death of Jesus, because they had hoped that "it was He that should redeem Israel" - it is clear enough that we are still on Old Testament ground. The redemptive "death which Jesus was to accomplish at Jerusalem" is not in sight to illuminate and give precision to the ideas which inform the language. In these passages, belonging to the dawn of the new dispensation, the usage of the Septuagint may not unnaturally be thought to prolong itself. And this point of view may, no doubt, not unnaturally be extended to such a passage as Acts vii. 35, where Moses, thought of as a type of Christ, is called a "redeemer." Even this is not to say, however, that lutrou/sqai( lu,trwsij( lutrwth,j stand in these passages wholly without implication of ransoming. As they were written down by Luke, they doubtless were written down with Calvary read into their heart. As they were originally spoken they were doubtless informed with longings which though surer of the deliverance promised than instructed in the precise manner in which it should be wrought, were not without some premonitions, vague and unformed, perhaps, that it would be costly. Those who spoke these words were not mere Jews (as we might say) ; they were the "quiet in the land" whose hearts were instructed above their fellows. After all, the main fact is that in the Old Testament, and in these few echoes of the Old Testament usage "in the beginnings of the Gospel," before the light of the cross had shined upon the world, the great deliverance which was longed for from God, was spoken of, not in the use of terms which expressed merely deliverance - of which plenty to choose from lay at hand -but in the use of terms which enshrined in their heart the conception of ransoming.
Whatever we may think, however, of these few phrases preserved by Luke from the speech of men still only looking forward to the Gospel, they obviously stand apart from the general New Testament usage. That usage, whether of lutrou/sqai (Tit. ii. 14, I Pet. i. 18), lu,trwsij (Heb. ix. 12), or of avpolu,trwsij (Luke xxi. Rom. iii. 24, viii. 23, I Cor. i. 30, Eph. i. 7, 14, iv. 30, Col. i. 14, Heb. ix. 15, xi. 35), is very distinctly a usage in which the native sense of this group of words - the express sense of ransoming - is clearly preserved. We shall not do justice to the New Testament use of these terms unless we read them in every instance of their occurrence as intimating that the deliverance which they assert has been accomplished, in accordance with the native sense of the words in which it is expressed, by means of a ransom-paying.
It is not of large importance, but it is not without an interest of its own to observe how this group of terms is used in the earliest Patristic literature. Three currents of inheritance unite here, and the effect is naturally to impart to the resultant usage a certain lack of consistency and sureness. There was the general Greek tradition, which gave to all the members of the group the uniform connotation of ransoming. There was the Septuagint modification of the simple terms, which wrought the more powerfully because the Septuagint supplied a rich body of quotable passages that were everywhere employed as vehicles of Christian faith and hope. And there was the New Testament usage in which the deliverance wrought by Christ is distinctly presented as a ransoming, but in which also a certain tendency is manifested to throw the emphasis on the effects of this ransoming and especially on its ultimate effect in delivering us from the wrath of God at the end-time. We can observe the influence of all these currents at work.
In the first age, to be sure, there is no very copious use made of this group of terms. Only lu,tron( lutrou/sqai and lu,trwsij occur, for example, in the Apostolic Fathers; and they only sparingly.
Lu,tron occurs twice and in both instances, of course, in its natural sense of "ransom." "Thou shalt work with thy hands," says Barnabas (xix. 10), commanding diligence in business, "for a ransom for thy sins." And in the Epistle to Diognetus, the greatness and power of God in our salvation is beautifully praised because "in pity He took upon Himself our sins and Himself parted with His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy for the lawless, the guiltless for the evil, the just for the unjust, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal."
Lutrou/sqai occurs nine times. In some of these occurrences, it has reference to human rather than divine acts. One of these is I Clem. lv. "Many among ourselves have delivered themselves to bondage that they might ransom others." The native notion of ransoming intrinsic to the verb is here expressed very purely. This note is less clearly struck in Hermas, "Mand.," viii. 10. Hermas is giving a catalogue of Christian duties. "Hear now what follow upon these," he says: "To minister to widows, to visit the orphans and the needy, to ransom the servants of God from their afflictions, to be hospitable." And the note of ransoming appears to have sunk into silence in another passage of Hermas ("Vis.," iv. 1, 7). Pursued by a dreadful beast, he says, "And I began to cry and to beseech the Lord that He would deliver me from him." Dependence appears to be put on the might of God.
In none of these instances is there reference to the great normal deliverance which the redemption of God is. This is spoken of, however, in Ignatius' Christ-like prayer for the persecutors of his friends (Phil. ii. 1): "May those who treated them with dishonor be redeemed through the grace of Jesus Christ." And it is spoken of also in Barnabas' exhortation (xix. 2): "Thou shalt glorify Him that redeemed thee from death." Neither passage gives clear intimation of how the redemption spoken of is supposed to be wrought. Nor indeed does the earlier passage in Barnabas (xiv. 4-8) in which, within the space of a few lines, he uses lutrou/sqai of the saving work of our Lord no less than four times. We quote Lightfoot's version with its odd variations in the rendering of the term: "Even the Lord Jesus, who was prepared beforehand hereunto, that, appearing in person, He might redeem out of darkness our hearts which had already been paid over unto death. . . . For it is written how the Father chargeth Him to deliver us from darkness. . . . We perceive, then, whence we are ransomed. Again the prophet saith, . . . 'Thus saith the Lord that ransomed thee, even God."' The citation at the end is from Isa. xlix. 6 ff. where the Septuagint has o` r`usame,noj. Why Barnabas substitutes o` lutrwsame,noj is a matter of conjecture. Possibly it was inadvertent. Possibly it was due to his having already written lutrou/sqai three times, and he adjusts his text to the language of the passage into which he brings it. Possibly he substitutes a term which more exactly describes what Christ actually did - Christianizes Isaiah's language, in a word. In the only remaining passage in which lutrou/sqai occurs in the Apostolic Fathers, II Clem. xvii. 4, it is used in the so-called "eschatological sense," illustrated in the New Testament by Luke xxi. 28, Rom. viii. 23, Eph. i. 14, iv. 30, Col. i. 14: "The Lord said, 'I will come to gather together all the peoples, tribes and tongues.' And He means by this the day of His epiphany, when, coming, He shall redeem us, each according to his works."
The only other form which occurs in the Apostolic Fathers is lu,trwsij and it occurs only twice (I Clem. xii. 7, Did. iv. 6, cf. Barn. xix. 10 as v.r. for lu,tron). In Did. iv. 6, the Christians are being exhorted to almsgiving, and quite after the Jewish fashion (cf. Dan. iv. 24 Theod.) the exhortation takes the form: "If thou hast aught passing through thy hands, thou shalt give a ransom for thy sins." Almsgiving is a means of securing deliverance: it is the purchase-price paid for immunity from deserved punishment. In I Clem. xii. 7, the scarlet thread which Rahab hung out of the window is declared to have showed beforehand that "through the blood of the Lord there shall be redemption unto all them that believe and hope in God." Here also the sense is distinctly that of ransoming, and the price paid for redemption is noted as Christ's blood.
This is rather a meagre showing for the currency of the language of redemption in the first age of the Church. The Apostolic Fathers are notable, however, for poverty of doctrinal content: perhaps it is only natural that this doctrine too finds only occasional allusion in them. We receive no impression that lutrou/sqai and its derivatives are employed as technical terms, as established vehicles of a definite doctrine. They appear to be cursorily used in the several senses and applications in which they would naturally suggest themselves to writers of the varied inheritance of these first Christians. The term which comes nearest to a technical term in the New Testament - Paul's avpolu,trwsij - does not occur here at all. And the terms that do occur are dealt with freely and librate in their suggestion between the two extremes of a strict ransoming and an undifferentiated deliverance - with the balance falling, as was natural, in the direction of the stricter signification.
When we advance to the next age - the age of the Apologists - we meet with similar phenomena, though for a different reason. Apologies are no more natural receptacles of doctrinal terms than practical letters. No single term of our group of words occurs in a single Apology of this epoch. The whole period would be barren of these terms were it not that the Dialogue between Justin and Trypho happens to have been written in it. It this Dialogue, lutrou/sqai appears seven times, and lu,trwsij( lutrwth,j and avpolu,trwsij each once. Here it will be observed, first in Christian literature, is our Lord called "Redeemer" (lutrwth,j). And here first in uninspired Christian literature does Paul's avpolu,trwsij reappear - and it does not appear here of Christ's redemption of His people to which usage Paul had consecrated it, but only of the redemption of Israel through Moses.
It is clear that the mind of this writer is not on these terms as technical terms for the Christian salvation, described in its mode. Of the ten passages in which they occur six are citations from the Old Testament: xix. 6 (Ez. xx. 12, 20), "That ye may know that I am God who redeemed you" (LXX: "who sanctifieth you"); xxvi. 3 (Isa. lxii. 12), "And he shall call it a holy nation, redeemed by the Lord"; xxxiv. 5 (Ps. lxxii. 14); "He shall redeem their souls from usury and injustice"; cxix. 3 (Isa. lxii. 12), "And they shall call them the holy people, redeemed of the Lord"; xxvi. 4 (Isa. lxiii. 4), "For the day of retribution has come upon them, and the year of redemption (lu,trwsij) is present"; xxx. 3 (Ps. xviii. (xix.) 15), "For we call him Helper and Redeemer (lutrwth,j)." In two more of them the allusion is not to the Christian redemption but to the Deliverance of Israel from Egypt: cxxxi. 3, "Ye who were redeemed from Egypt with a high hand and a visitation of great glory, when the sea was parted for you"; lxxxvi. 1, "Moses was sent with a rod to effect the redemption (avpolu,trwsij) of the people; and with this in his hands at the head of the people he divided the sea."
Only two passages remain in which Justin uses lutrou/sqai at his own instance of the Christian redemption.
The first of these is lxxxiii. 3. Here Justin is commenting on the Jewish attempt to interpret Ps. cx. 1 ff. of Hezekiah: "The Lord saith to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thine enemies my footstool. He shall send forth a rod of power over Jerusalem, and it shall rule in the midst of thine enemies. In the splendor of the saints before the morning star have I begotten thee. The Lord hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." He asks scornfully, "Who does not admit then, that Hezekiah is no priest after the order of Melchizedek? And who does not know that he is not the redeemer (lutrou,menoj) of Jerusalem? And who does not know that he neither sent a rod of power over Jerusalem, nor ruled in the midst of her enemies; but that it was God who averted from him the enemies after he mourned and was afflicted? But our Jesus. . . ." The reference to Jesus here is only indirect and the exact nature of the redemption spoken of is not clear.
The other passage, lxxxvi. 6, is clearer. It runs: "Our Christ by being crucified on the tree, and by purifying us with water, has redeemed us, though plunged in the direst offences which we have committed, and has made us a house of prayer and adoration." Here it is from sin that we are said to have been redeemed, both from its guilt and from its pollution. The redeeming act is seen in the crucifixion; while the cleansing by baptism is associated with that as co-cause of the effect. The whole process of salvation is thus included in what is called redemption; the impetration and application of salvation alike. There is a price paid; and there is a work wrought. So broadly does Justin conceive of the scope of lutrou/sqai.
We need not pursue the matter further. With Justin we are already a hundred years later than the New Testament usage. We perceive that, under the varied influences moulding its usage, the idea of redemption in the early fathers is at once very deep and very broad. It has not lost the implication of ransoming with which it began,but it embraces the whole process of salvation, which, beginning with our ransoming by the precious blood of Jesus, proceeds with our purification from sin, to end only with our deliverance from the final destruction and our ushering into the eternal glory. The breadth of the reference is interestingly illustrated in the opening words of the beautiful letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne in Gaul. It is the New Testament word avpolu,trwsij which is used here. "The servants of Christ residing at Vienne and Lyons in Gaul," the letter begins, "to the brethren throughout Asia and Phrygia who hold with us the same faith and hope of redemption, peace and grace and glory from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."76 "Who have the same faith and hope in the redemption that we have" - oi` auvth.n th/j avpolutrw,sewj h`mi/n pi,stin kai. evlpi,da e;contej.
Adolf Harnack77 warns us against supposing that the terms swthri,a( avpolu,trwsij and the like refer always - or regularly - to deliverance from sin. "In the superscription of the Epistle from Lyons, for example," he says, "it is manifestly the future redemption that is to be understood by avpolu,trwsij." Harnack's fault lies in introducing an illicit alternative. It is not a matter of either the redemption from sin or the future deliverance from wrath. Both are embraced. The writers of the letter speak not only of the common hope of redemption, but before that of the common faith in redemption: "to all that have the same faith and hope in redemption that we have." It is a redemption that has taken place in the past and that extends in its effects into the farthest future, of which they speak.
It was just this comprehensiveness of redemption, meeting all our needs here and hereafter, that filled the hearts of the fathers with adoring gratitude. They did not think of eliminating the fundamental ransoming in which it consisted on the one side, because their outlook on its effects extended on the other to the final deliverance from the wrath of God. There is therefore a marked tendency among the fathers to speak of Christ's work as double, past and future. Christ came, says Origen,78 "in order that lutrwqw/men kai. r`usqw/men from the enemy" - not for the one or the other, but for both. "Christ endured death for our sakes," says Eusebius,79 "giving Himself as a lu,tron kai. avnti,yucon for those who are to be saved by Him." He died as a ransom certainly: but the salvation purchased by this ransom-price works itself out steadily in its successive stages unto the very end. This is the key to the "broad" use of lutrou/sqai and its derivatives of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.80