“Who Gave Himself a Ransom”

“The man Christ Jesus … gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” —I Timothy 2:5,6

IN THE Old Testament, the Hebrew word generally translated ransom is “kohpher,” which has the primary meaning of a covering. One of the interesting uses of the word kohpher was by the Prophet David in Psalm 49:7: “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” The context of the psalm elaborates on the fallen, hopeless, condition of the human race and the quoted part of the scripture seems to recognize that to be released from this hapless state and receive a covering for their sins and weaknesses, it was going to require someone who was qualified to die in the sinner’s place.

In our theme text, the Greek word translated ransom is “antilutron,” which means a redemption price or a price to correspond. The Apostle Paul tells us that Adam was not deceived; he was a willful sinner and justly condemned to death. He lost his right to life, with no promise for a subsequent life. The scripture simply states that “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”—Gen. 3:19

All of mankind inherited Adam’s condemnation; all are sinners and, therefore, none of them could stand before God in the sense of justifying themselves. This being so, neither could any one of them justify another. This brings us to the use of the word ransom in the New Testament. Adam was created perfect in the Garden of Eden and until he sinned he was perfect. In order for Adam to be ransomed, it required an exact corresponding price to take his place in death. There was no man on the earth who could qualify except the man Christ Jesus. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Thus he was able to give himself an acceptable ransom for Adam, and hence for all who inherited Adam’s condemnation, which will be testified in due time.

To fully understand the transaction, it is necessary to appreciate why the apostle, in our theme text, specified that Jesus was a man. He was not always in the likeness of men. In his pre-human existence the Scriptures refer to him as the Logos, “the beginning of the creation of God.” (Rev. 3:14) The account in Colossians 1:15-20 states that before he was made flesh the Logos was associated with the Father as his instrument in the creation of all things that are in heaven and in the earth. This great spirit being was willing to give up his glory in the spiritual realm. He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”—Phil. 2:7,8

The father of Jesus was God, not Adam. He, therefore, did not inherit adamic condemnation, but was born into the world as a perfect human being. When, at the age of thirty, he presented himself to John the Baptist at the river Jordan, Jesus was the exact corresponding price for the perfect man, Adam, who had sinned in the Garden of Eden. One of the beautiful prophecies concerning the attitude of Jesus as he presented himself at Jordan is found in Psalm 40:6-8, which reads: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” When it was revealed to Jesus that the animal sacrifices, which were a part of the Law Covenant, did not accomplish reconciliation with God, but were really a foreshadowing of himself—that he was the one pictured in those sacrifices—he gladly yielded himself to do God’s will.

The Apostle Paul, in elaborating on this prophecy, states in Hebrews 10:8,9: “Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the Law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” In other words, the ordinances of the Law requiring animal sacrifices as a typical atonement for sin were done away with and Jesus established a new arrangement by complying with God’s will and offering himself. This sacrifice is the real atonement for sin. (See also Heb. 9:12, Col. 2:14) In Hebrews 10:12 this thought is expressed by the apostle, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.”

This is not all there was to God’s new arrangement. When Jesus agreed to take Adam’s place in death, he agreed that his flesh—his being as a man—would take Adam’s place in the dust of the earth forever. This, of course, meant that Jesus, as a man, must go out of existence. But God’s plan required that Jesus was to be the Mediator of the New Covenant. It was to be under the terms of this covenant that the world of mankind would receive the benefits of the ransom price. (Heb. 8:9-13) How was this to be accomplished? We learn that it was done in a most direct and effective manner. At the river Jordan Jesus was begotten by the Spirit to a new life. The account of his baptism as recorded in Matthew 3:16,17 reads: “Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

This new life to which Jesus was begotten eventuated in his birth by means of a resurrection from death to the divine nature—the plane of life enjoyed by God himself. This is confirmed in Hebrews 10:12 which says that after he had offered himself he “sat down on the right hand of God.” This exaltation to the divine nature was not automatic, or else the transaction that was to provide the ransom price could have been completed when Jesus offered himself to be baptized by John in the river Jordan. God, in his wisdom, required that Jesus be tried and tested to the point that there could never be any question concerning his loyalty and faithfulness to the Heavenly Father and his divine principles. Therefore, for three and one-half years he was subjected to the contradiction (opposition) of sinners against himself.—Heb. 12:3

The Apostle Paul speaks of this period of testing and proving, as for the purpose of perfecting the new spirit-begotten mind of Jesus. In Hebrews 5:8,9 we read: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author [cause or means—margin] of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Jesus, before his spirit-begettal at Jordan, was a perfect man. We are told that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God … neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Cor. 2:14) Therefore, when Jesus was spirit-begotten, his mind was given the capacity to discern and appreciate spiritual things. The hidden mysteries and secrets of God’s plans and purposes were revealed to him. (I Cor. 2:10) When, in the account of Jesus’ baptism, it is stated that the “heavens were opened unto him,” we find that the word “heavens” is translated from a Greek word having the implied meaning of “the Gospel” (Strong’s Concordance), or previously hidden secrets concerning the kingdom of heaven. Jesus became the steward of the Gospel message and was given the responsibility of proclaiming it.

In a prophecy concerning his responsibility to proclaim the glad tidings, we read: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Isa. 61:1,2) As we read the account given to us in the Gospels concerning the ministry of our Lord, we are impressed with his dedication and his singleness of purpose. He was faithful under difficult and trying circumstances, even to his death on the cross. Because of this faithfulness he was resurrected and exalted to the divine nature. (Phil. 2:9) The Apostle Paul, in his trial before King Agrippa, explained “that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”—Acts 26:23; I Cor. 15:20

When Jesus died on the cross he provided the ransom price for father Adam and all of his descendants. But the value of his sacrificed life was not immediately applied for Adam, nor has it yet been applied to effect the release of mankind from adamic condemnation. The Heavenly Father designed that this great thing of value should be used in a very specific way. This brings us to a consideration of what the Apostle Paul meant when he stated in our theme text that Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” (I Tim. 2:6) The word “testified,” according to Professor Strong, means “evidential” or “evidence given.”

The manner in which the ransom price is used or made effective is included in the general thought of the “philosophy of the ransom.” Specifically, it is referred to by Bible Students as the “sin offering.” It is the sin offering because it shows how the only meritorious offering for sin that could ever be given is used by the Heavenly Father to bring about the eventual eradication of sin.

In Hebrews 9:24 the Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus did not enter “into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” This is an obvious reference to the Day of Atonement rituals, performed as a part of the Law Covenant arrangement, which the apostle states were “figures of the true.” The details of this very special day for the nation of Israel are described in Leviticus, chapter sixteen. In the account we learn that Aaron, the high priest, took the blood of the bullock, which represented his own blood or life poured out, and went with it into the Most Holy and sprinkled it upon the Mercy Seat to make an atonement for sins for himself and for his house. Jesus did likewise in the antitype. When he appeared in the presence of God for us, the merit of his sacrificed life—or the ransom price—was applied on behalf of the church of the firstborn of the Gospel Age. It is important to note that the merit of Christ’s sacrifice was not applied, at that time, on behalf of the world of mankind but only for the footstep followers of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul describes this phase of God’s plan of redemption as a mystery, “even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:26,27) These enlightened ones have been justified by the blood of Christ in order that they may have the privilege of sharing in the suffering and death of our Lord, with the hope that, if faithful, they may also share with Jesus in the privilege of dispensing blessings to the world in the kingdom.—Rom. 12:1; Rom. 8:16,17; II Tim. 2:10-12

At the end of the Gospel Age, when the last of these footstep followers of Jesus has gone beyond the veil, the merit of Christ’s death—the ransom price—will be released and will then be available to be applied in the Millennial Age on behalf of the balance of the human race. In the type, or figure, this was pictured by the sacrifice of the Lord’s goat, which typified the sacrifice of the church of the Gospel Age. The account states that exactly the same thing was done with the blood of the goat as was done with the blood of the bullock. But it is important to note that the blood of the Lord’s goat was applied for the sins of the people, which pictured the second application of the efficacious blood of Christ. So with the faithful footstep followers of Jesus, when the last members have been tried, tested, and found faithful their sacrifice will be ended, and the merit of Christ’s sacrifice—the ransom price—will be available to be applied on behalf of the people.

The world of mankind will have abundant evidence then that the benefits of the ransom have been made available to them when through the “blood of the covenant,” the New Covenant is inaugurated. It is then that Christ and his church—those who were developed during the Gospel Age—will, under the terms of the New Covenant, bring blessings to all the families of the earth. The Apostle Paul, quoting from Jeremiah’s prophecy, describes this wonderful day: “He [Jesus] is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. … For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel [and all of mankind] after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”—Heb. 8:6,10-12

And so we praise the Lord for the Apostle Paul’s assurance that “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”—I Tim. 2:3-6

Dawn Bible Students Association
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