What Does Redemption Mean In The Bible? Christian Definition of Redemption

What does the word redemption mean?  Redeemed from what?  Here is a biblical definition of redemption.

A Secular Definition of Redemption

If you went up someone on the street and ask them what the word redemption meant, they might give you a different definition than someone who is a believer in Christ.  The secular definition of redemption is the act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake.  Other definitions include repurchasing something or making a deliverance or rescue.  Some include the idea of making something or someone better or more acceptable.  Under the umbrella of this word, we could also include the exchanging of something by using something else of value.   Many years ago stores used to give out S & H Green Stamps. You could save these up until you had enough to exchange them for something of value.  When you brought in a sufficient number of them you could use them to redeem something of value.  That is essentially the secular meaning of redemption but the meaning of redemption in Scriptures has a considerably more important meaning as we will later read.

Redeemed From What?

Maybe Romans 5:6-8 can give us an idea about what we must be redeemed from; “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Paul continued “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Rom 5:10-11).  According to the Scriptures, we have to be reconciled unto God and this is only possible “by the death of His Son” and this reconciliation was done through Jesus, by His death on the cross.  Why was this reconciliation really necessary?  It was necessary because we were enemies of God because of our sinfulness (Rom 5:8, 10).  Jesus was clear about this in John 3:36b saying “whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”  That is why Jesus said that we must “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  We are all in need of redemption from the death penalty which our sins had earned us since  we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect standard (Rom 3:23; 6:23).

What is Redemption?

The word “redemption” is frequently mentioned the Old and the New Testament but in Luke 1:68 the writer says that John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah said  “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.”  The Greek word used for redeemed is “lytrōsis” and has a literal meaning of “a ransoming, deliverance” or “a rescue” and that is exactly what Jesus has done by giving His own life over 2,000 years ago at Calvary.  Paul says that “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Rom 5:9).  When Paul says that we are saved from God’s wrath, he reveals that it was by Jesus’ shed blood that were not only rescued or redeemed but we were justified by this spilling of His blood.  As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that is was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  The way sinners can be justified, redeemed from Gods’ wrath, and then made the necessary “righteousness of God” was by Jesus becoming sin for us.  What are we saved from ultimately?  Is it our sins? Is it from hell? Is it so that we can enter heaven?  In the end, we are actually saved or rescued from God’s wrath.  God placed the wrath that was due us upon Jesus so that if we repent and trust in the Savior, God will look at us as having the same righteousness as Jesus has.

A Costly Redemption

Not one of us can really estimate what price that Jesus paid for redeeming us.  We know that Jesus suffered excruciatingly at Calvary. In fact the very word “excruciating” comes from the root word crucifixion.  We should also understand that the Father suffered in this redemption too because He had to endure the suffering of His One and Only Unique Son, Jesus Christ.  We often only think about what Jesus suffered but if you are a parent, can you imagine the suffering that the Father must have endured as well?  Surely this was also tremendously painful for the Father too.   Peter writes that “because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet 2:21) and “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:23-24).


My question for you is have you been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God? If not, you still have the wrath of God abiding on you (John 3:36b).  Today, if you will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, don’t reject this appeal again because your heart will become hardened even more every time you reject His call (2 Cor 6:2).  You will someday reach a point where you can no longer hear His voice and the ultimate decision of yours to reject Him will result in an eternal separation from God (Rev 20:12-15).  There is still time, before He returns, to claim Him as your only way to be saved (Acts 4:12) and call Him your Savior, otherwise He will be your Judge.

Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon

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  • PDave

    Thanks for this concise definition of redemption.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you sir. I am sorry I missed replying sooner. Please forgive me.

  • What a great article! Such a powerful concept! Such a powerful work our Savior has done on the cross for us! I must share this with my friends on my blog!


    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you so much Lillian. Amen to Jesus’ work on the cross. Paid in full!

  • creepyTexan

    Sounds very cut and dry. So you just have to agree to believe the terms and all the rest is hunky dory, sounds like a good business plan. I do however appreciate knowing more about this perspective-thank you.