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In Paul's preaching of the Gospel, he states believers have redemption:

Romans 3:21-26 (ESV):

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The word used is ἀπολύτρωσις which is also used in Luke, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Hebrews.

Luke and Hebrews also speak of redemption using a different word, λύτρωσις:

Luke 1:68:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people

Luke 2:38:

And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Hebrews 9:12:

he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

What is curious is λύτρωσις is used in the LXX, yet ἀπολύτρωσις is unique to the New Testament. It as if there is an aspect of redemption which New Testament writers understood differently from those who translated the LXX.

How does redemption, ἀπολύτρωσις as used in the New Testament differ from λύτρωσις as used in the LXX?

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  • Apo is just a prefix, it doesn't make a difference. The question is unclear in assuming there's a radical difference in the nature of redemption or atonement in the NT. The difference is explained in Hebrews epistles
    – Michael16
    Nov 18, 2023 at 6:03
  • This question was at risk of appearing like systematic theology rather than hermeneutics. I gave this an edit to more clearly bring this on topic, but it might even be better to remove the references to Luke and Hebrews.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 18, 2023 at 7:35
  • ἀπολύτρωσις is just a "strengthened" form of λύτρωσις - both are used almost interchangeably.
    – Dottard
    Nov 18, 2023 at 8:22
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    @curiousdannii I object to your changing the question so substantially. 1) it was not off topic because it arose from specific verses (which were included) and it is clearly a biblical topic, whether it touches on systematic theology or not. 2) by changing the main question you rendered my answer moot. Nov 18, 2023 at 16:55
  • 1
    @DanFefferman See my comment to yours. I agree with you and ask your forgiveness for my initial question which was poorly worded. Nov 18, 2023 at 17:16

3 Answers 3

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In the old covenant writings you have a line of 2 different people's. Both came from Abraham. One was carnal Israel with the law and the other spiritual Israel under grace. It is not the physical descendents of Abraham but the spiritual that are the heirs. The church existed before Pentecost as the church in the wilderness. Hebrews 11 gives the names of people in this wilderness church. The sin of David was forgiven because David was a Christian with the Holy Spirit, his repentance is recorded in Psalm 51:11 and only the church has the Holy Spirit and is in the first resurrection, as David, Abraham and others in Hebrews 11. The truth is that grace through faith was in existence before the law. The law given to carnal Israel was only a shadow without substance consisting of physical works that symbolized spiritual reality brought by Jesus Christ.

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  • Answers to this question really need to focus on the Greek or details of Romans, rather that giving a general explanation of redemption.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 18, 2023 at 7:36
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"How does redemption in the New Testament differ from the Old?" {this was the main question when I constructed my answer.} This is a very different question from the issue of ἀπολύτρωσις vs. λύτρωσις in the LXX and NT. Since my Greek is weak, I will address only the main question. It boils down to this: in the NT, redemption is basically synonymous with atonement and personal salvation from sin. In the OT often means simply deliverance or salvation/rescue without the connotation of atonement.

Redemption in the Old Testament

An example of "redemption" without atonement in the OT is this:

When someone sells a dwelling in a walled town, it can be redeemed up to a full year after its sale—the redemption period is one year. (Leviticus 25:29)

Here, no one has sinned, either against God or his neighbor. It is a simple matter of a law allowing a property to be bought back after its sale for a period of one year. There are also laws enabling slaves to be redeemed and for a person to be redeemed from a legal punishment.

Another difference between the NT and OT concepts of redemption is that in the OT, the term often refers to national salvation, either from an enemy or from sin, while in the NT it refers only to salvation of an individual from sin. Here is an example of national salvation from sin:

More than sentinels for daybreak, 7 let Israel hope in the Lord, For with the Lord is mercy, with him is plenteous redemption, 8 And he will redeem Israel from all its sins. (Psalm 130)

The only time this sense of redemption is found in the NT is at a moment (on the road to Emmaus) before the Pauline sense of the term has been introduced:

We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. (Luke 24:21)

To be sure, the concept of personal redemption can also be found in the OT:

6 Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, Lord, God of truth. 7 You hate those who serve worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord... You will not abandon me into enemy hands, but will set my feet in a free and open space. (Psalm 31)

Redemption in the New Testament

In the New Testament, especially in the teaching of Paul and those who followed him, redemption is specifically about being saved from personal sin and its consequences: death and eternal punishment:

All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed... (Romans 3)

Conclusion: the difference between the OT and NT concepts of redemption is that in the OT the term is used more broadly, referring to buying something back, freeing someone from an obligation or legal punishment, delivering a person or the nation from their enemies, or saving either the person or the nation from sin. In the NT (except Luke 24:21) redemption refers exclusively to atonement and personal salvation from sin.

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  • The "main question" is off topic as it's really systematic theology. It would be better not to answer questions like that in the future.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 18, 2023 at 7:37
  • @curiousdannii .. The main question has been changed now, rendering my answer off the mark. I do not think the original question was off topic. It was a question that arose directly from the text and it is clearly a biblical topic. I'd appreciate being informed a written rule that answers to such question may not touch on systematic theology. Nov 18, 2023 at 17:01
  • Answers can use systematic theology. The problem was that the question title didn't really match the question body, and the question title wasn't really an exegetical question. Note that the question body was not modified at all.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 18, 2023 at 22:06
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Daniel. 4:34 LXX

καὶ ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν ἑπτὰ ἐτῶν ὁ χρόνος μου τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως ἦλθε καὶ αἱ ἁμαρτίαι μου καὶ αἱ ἄγνοιαί μου ἐπληρώθησαν ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἐδεήθην περὶ τῶν ἀγνοιῶν μου τοῦ θεοῦ τῶν θεῶν τοῦ μεγάλου καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος εἷς ἐκάλεσέ με ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ λέγων Ναβουχοδονοσορ δούλευσον τῷ θεῷ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τῷ ἁγίῳ καὶ δὸς δόξαν τῷ ὑψίστῳ τὸ βασίλειον τοῦ ἔθνους σού σοι ἀποδίδοται

And at the conclusion of the seven years, the time of my redemption arrived, and my sins and ignorances were fulfilled before the God of heaven. I pleaded regarding my ignorances to the God of gods, the great God, and behold, an angel from heaven called me, saying: Nebuchadnezzar, serve the God of heaven, the Holy One, and give glory to the Most High. The kingdom of your people is restored to you, for it is given to you.

The Greek term "ἀπολυτρώσεως" (apolytroseos) in Daniel 4:34 LXX is related to the idea of redemption or liberation. In this specific context, King Nebuchadnezzar is speaking about the end of a seven-year period during which he was afflicted with insanity as a form of divine punishment. After the completion of this period appointed by God, there was a redemption or liberation for Nebuchadnezzar. The word "ἀπολυτρώσεως" indicates that, following this time of affliction, there was a rescue, a release, or a redemption from the adverse situation in which Nebuchadnezzar found himself.

Most scholars agree that the authentic letters of Paul were written before 70 A.D., so the use of the word ἀπολυτρώσεως in Rom. 3:24; 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7, 14; 4:30; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:15; 11:35 is not directly related to the Destruction of Jerusalem. However, this is not the case with its occurrence in Luke 21:28.

Pliny the Younger's letter to Trajan, adversaries of Christians, provides valuable insights into the treatment of Christians in certain regions during the Roman Empire.

Pliny made it clear that Christians were not the target of systematic or widespread persecution. They were only judged and punished when local reports were filed. The requirement for a formal and identified report indicates that there was no active search or hunt for Christians; instead, a reactive process based on specific accusations was in place. The prohibition of anonymous reports also suggests a caution on the part of authorities to prevent abuse or false accusations. This indicates that merely being a Christian was not sufficient to trigger an investigation or punishment; there was a need for a specific report based on activities deemed harmful or illegal. The statement that Christians were executed only when presented in court and confessed their faith highlights the importance of confession as a crucial element in the judicial process. This may indicate that the Roman State was more concerned with political loyalty than religious beliefs per se. Those who denied the charges could receive pardon, demonstrating a certain flexibility in judicial decisions. The British historian Ste. Croix reports the idea that the recommended course of action was "accusatory" rather than "inquisitorial." This means that the initiative to prosecute Christians did not come from Roman governors but from local accusers, known as informers. This distinction emphasizes that Christians were not direct targets of authorities but rather of local individuals seeking to suppress or eliminate the Christian presence in their communities. Pliny's view of the treatment of Christians cannot be simplified as widespread persecution. Christians, at least in this specific context, seem to have enjoyed a certain freedom as long as they were not the subject of local reports. However, when faced with accusations, the outcome could be execution unless they renounced their faith. This complex dynamic highlights important nuances in the relationship between the Roman Empire and Christians at that time.

In Acts 24, the narrative recounts an episode involving the apostle Paul during his imprisonment in Caesarea. The high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus to present charges against Paul before Governor Felix. They accused Paul of being a troublemaker, causing disturbances, and leading a heretical sect. These events are part of the broader narrative in the Acts of the Apostles, which records the early events of the spread of Christianity after the death and resurrection of Jesus. When Paul had the opportunity to defend himself, he denied the accusations and stated that his faith was grounded in the resurrection of the dead.

In Acts 15:5, a controversy arises with some members of the Pharisee sect who had embraced the faith, arguing that it was necessary to circumcise the converts and order them to observe the law of Moses. The Apostle Paul uses the term ἀπολυτρώσεως to describe the freedom gained by uncircumcised Christians through the Council of Jerusalem, in opposition to the converted Pharisees.

Subsequently, the same term is employed in Luke 21:28 to denote the freedom of Christians in the face of Rome, contrasting with the Jewish religious system that oppressed followers of Christ (Christians accused the Jews of having murdered the Messiah). In this context, the emphasis is on the liberation of Christians from the constraints imposed by the Jewish religious system, providing them with significant emancipation within the Roman Empire, as seen in Pliny's Letter to Emperor Trajan.

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