Bible Reading: Colossians 1:9-14

Colossians 1:14, “In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

The term translated redemption means “a releasing on payment of a price.”  The term was used in secular Greek as a technical term referring to the money paid to buy back and set free prisoners of war or emancipate slaves from their masters.

Within the Roman Empire, slaves were sold at public auction or by private sale. Sometimes slaves stood on revolving stands, and around each slave for sale hung a type of plaque describing his origin, health, character, intelligence, education, and other pertinent information. Prices varied with age and quality, with the most valuable slaves fetching prices equivalent to thousands of today’s dollars. Slaves could be freed through a variety of means.  The owner could simply grant a slave’s freedom.  Sometimes that was done in a family or public ceremony.    Another way was for a master to make provision for his release upon his death—as prescribed in his will.  Someone could purchase a slave’s freedom.  Usually, the slave himself could not do that because they were not allowed to have money.

This is the sense of the term here.  The master in the spiritual realm is sin—and the one who stands behind all sin—Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8).  We are all born slaves to sin, having inherited that nature from Adam (Romans 5:12).  No one is exempt, as Jesus made clear: “Everyone who sins is a slave of sin (John 8:34).  

When Epaphras first brought the gospel to Colossae (his hometown), he brought it to such folks.  And it mattered not their physical estate.  There were, undoubtedly, rich men and poor, freemen and slaves, powerful and lowly—but they all shared this in common—they were all slaves to sin.  And they were helpless to do anything to rescue themselves.  No amount of human self-effort could work to subdue their sin-greedy desires.  No amount of external restraint—no chains or shackles—could stop them from doing that their hearts compelled them to do.  They were enslaved and there was no one—this side of heaven—who could affect their rescue.  But Jesus did what we cannot do.  His shed blood was the payment laid down in the slave market.  His resurrection proof positive that the payment was accepted!  His precious blood, having been shed there for us, has worked to set the sin captives free (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

We are emancipated slaves living amongst slaves.  The world, the flesh, and the devil are having their way with them.  We cannot redeem them—but Jesus can.  Harriet Tubman grew up a slave.  But then she gained her freedom.  She escorted hundreds of slaves from the south along the underground railroad.  Once in New York, she saw a freed slave being returned to his slave master under the Fugitive Slave Act.  As the guards were taking him away, Tubman ran to the man, threw her arms around him, and made herself a hostage too.  The guards beat her in an attempt to make her release the man, but she wouldn’t let go.  Finally, she was able to escape and led the slave to freedom.  Christ came down from heaven, at the cross He put Him arms around us, His blood provided to us a way of escape, and we’ve been set free by His efforts.  God has privileged us to go to the other slaves—to direct them to Christ—to show to them the way of freedom—in Him!


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

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

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long;
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song. [Refrain]

I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose law I delight,
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night. [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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