What is “a ransom” as it appears in 1 Timothy 2:6?
First, let's look at what Greek word is being used. In Vine's Expository Dictionary under the section "Additional Notes", gives an interesting explanation for the word antilytron used at 1 Timothy:
Of special doctrinal importance are Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45, “to give His life a ransom (lutron) for (anti) many.” Here the substitutionary significance, “instead of,” is clear, as also with the compound antilutron in 1 Tim. 2:6, “who gave Himself a ransom (antitutron) for (huper) all”; here the use of huper, “on behalf of,” is noticeable. Christ gave Himself as a ransom (of a substitutionary character), not instead of all men, but on behalf of all.
A footnote in reference to 1 Tim. 2:6, gives additional insight to the word antilytron:
The Greek word here used, an·tiʹly·tron, appears nowhere else in the Bible. It is related to the word that Jesus used for ransom (lyʹtron) at Mark 10:45. However, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology points out that an·tiʹly·tron ‘accentuates the notion of exchange.’ Appropriately, the New World Translation renders it “corresponding ransom.”
So what do we learn from these two references? That Jesus' ransom is not just the 'payment' but also the conduit by which we can be redeemed from our sinful state.
If a prisoner is in a jail and a ransom is paid so that they can go free, what is there to stop them going free? If a ransom has been paid "for all" will not all walk out and go free?
As crazy as it may sound, there are some prisoners that don't want to be free. There are two reasons for this:
- They don't want to deal with the problems and responsibilities that they had prior to incarceration and choose to stay in prison (hence the reason for reoffending)
- They are so comfortable in the fact that they are given food, clothing and shelter that they would rather enjoy their laidback prison life.
Does a ransom paid guarantee freedom?
No. Paul tells us:
- "Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12 NWT)
- “If we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left.” (Hebrews 10:26; see also Hebrews 6:4-6 NWT)
For additional information on Jesus' ransom sacrifice see the following articles: