Galatians 4:4-5 ESV

"...God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons". [redeem/exagorase/I buy] My emphasis.

"Redeem", here, I understand implies "buying".

Galatians 2:20 ESV

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me".

I understand that gifts are not bought but received freely [no strings attached?].

What does "redeem" mean in Gal 4:5 in view that in Gal 2:20 he "gave" himself for me?

  • Thanks for letting me know you have asked this new Q. Visitors have arrived and I won't be able to answer until next Tuesday, so if you could keep your Q open till after I've answered, I would be appreciative.
    – Anne
    Commented Jan 25 at 19:56
  • +1. Good question. Such questions make us study more and deeper. Commented Jan 26 at 11:15

9 Answers 9


“As Paul defended himself in this way, Festus shouted at him, "You are mad, Paul! Your great learning is driving you mad!" (Acts 26:24; GNB).

As witnessed by the Roman Governor, Porcius Festus, Paul was a man of great learning. He is to the New Testament what Moses is to the Old Testament. Both were men of great learning. Paul got his best education at the University of Gamaliel. (God gave Moses 40 years of the best education in the world in the “White House” of Egypt, the then super power of the world).

Yet, of all the human authors of the Bible, Paul is the most misunderstood person in the world. Hence, throughout the centuries, the “faith vs. law” has continued to be the one topic that is being debated over very passionately.

One needs to be very careful when dealing with Paul, as advised by Peter (2 Pet 3:16). It indeed is very difficult to understand Paul. The first step, in my view, is to understand many of his “terms”.

What does the term “under the Law” mean?

People mistake “under the Law” to mean “under the obligation to keep the Law”! This is unscriptural.

Under Law means under the lordship of sin:

“For your sin shall not lord it over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14).

So one becomes “under Law”, when one becomes “under sin”.

That is, under Law = under sin.

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under Law” (Gal 5:18)

because you are not under sin!


Yes, “For the Law of the Spirit (remember “the Law is spiritual” – Rom 7:14) of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom 8:2).

Again, under Law = under sin = under the elements of the world (Gal 4:3; Col 2:20).

When we are under sin, we are “slaves of sin” (Rom 6:17) and we are “enslaved” to the elements of the world (Gal 4:3).

We are “sold under sin” (Rom 7:14).

Since we are “slaves of sin”, “enslaved” to the elements of the world, Jesus had to purchase/buy us out from such slavery.

“You were bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20); “You were redeemed with a price” (1 Cor 7:23); “He purchased through His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Christ purchased me with His own precious Life, hence He “gave Himself for me” (Gal 3:20).


So, “under Law” does not mean “under the obligation to keep the Law”.

“Under Law” means “under sin” and hence “under (the custody of) Law”. Only people who break the law come under the custody of law. They are “under arrest”.

So when the Scripture says, “you are not under Law”, it does not mean “you are not under the obligation to keep the Law”. It simply means you are not under sin, but under grace.

“What then? Shall we sin (sin is break of Law – 1 John 3:4) because we are not under Law, but under grace? Let it not be!” (Rom 6:15).


When we are under Law we are under sin, that is, we are sold to sin. So Jesus redeemed us means He purchased/bought us from sin (with His Life), as sons of God.

Since I could not buy my salvation but Christ bought it for me with His Life, it is an absolute free gift to me (with no strings attached).

(I doubt whether my answer came clear through).


Before getting into the meaning of the Greek words involved, please bear in mind this spiritual truth which must never be forgotten when thinking about the way the Bible speaks about buying:

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Isaiah 55:1. (See also verse 2 and Jesus' application of this in John 7:37-39.)

There are two distinct groups of Greek words in the writings of the Apostles, which have been translated 'redemption' in the A.V. One is agora, agorazo and exagorazo. (The Agora group hereafter.) The other is lutron, lutroo, antilutron, lutrosis, lutrotes and apolutroi.

These two groups of words mirror gaal and padah from the Hebrew scriptures. Unfortunately, the English of the A.V. does not make necessary distinctions between the two groups of words.

The Agora group - This aspect of redemption is part of a covenant that is proclaimed over the whole, present, Earth, to extend over the whole, new Earth. But the meaning of 'market-place' has become attached to agora, affecting related words, with doctrinal association and meaning. But if we stick to the scriptures to see the way the Holy Spirit applied such words, we learn that not once in 13 useages is there any association with buying, selling, bartering, produce, stalls, shops, traders, investors or money. Nor is there a single allusion to customers.

The go-to lexicon for one and a half centuries, Liddel and Scott, says this of agora:

"I. Any assembly and especially an assembly of the people opposite to The Council (Boule). II. The place of assembly used not only for public debating, elections and trials but also for buying and selling and all kinds of business."

Note how Young, in his Concordance, translates agorazo as "acquired at the Forum" (and note how it's not 'bought' nor is it 'the market'.) Page 57 of his Index-Lexicon to the New Testament. In all the many references in the Gospel accounts, not a single mention can be found of purchasing by customers or selling by traders. No allusion is made to stalls set up for that purpose. No items of produce are envisaged. Money never enters the picture.

With regard to agoraios, translators have had to deliberately introduce a very questionable association in order to try to enforce their interpretation as 'market place'. See Acts 17:5 & 19:38. The AV translates the first use as 'lewd fellows of the baser sort', but the word poneros does not mean either 'lewd' or 'base'. The second use of agoraois (in Ephesus) is given as 'the law is open'. The EGNT chooses to render this as 'courts are held'. Clearly, agoraois is a matter of proper, judicial process. But certain poneros persons involved in the judicial process may be employed to adversely influence genuine lawful procedures.

This is detailed to show that the agora and the agoraois speak of the place where men conduct their public affairs in the place of concourse. Yet a complete hash has been made with modern ways to translate agoraois, and then to misrepresent the word poneros. Much could be said to then show how exagorazo has departed even further from the meaning the Holy Spirit gives in the sacred writings. The true meaning is shown by the inspired record of Boaz exercising his right to redeem by going to the gate, sitting down there in public with ten elders, to conduct the business of redemption, there in the gate (Ruth 3:1-3). And thus was redemption made in reality, at the Place of the Skull, Golgotha. What occurred there in the hours of darkness has been publicly laid out in order by chosen Apostles. The documents of this transaction have been publicly available for 2,000 years. This thing was done, was witnessed and was documented fully, in the place of concourse.

As Ruth had been bound by law to her husband until he died, so she became free to be united to another, living husband. This is the mystery of Christ and his Church. If we be not dead with Christ, then are we not free to be in union with him. The right to redeem comes after the departure of the other who had claim. The redeemer possesses that to which he has redemption title, and the one with whom he has union also enjoys a secure inheritance. In union, after death, "it is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me. And the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."

When Paul wrote that some men 'purchased' to themselves a good degree, becoming deacons, clearly nothing was purchased with money, or with anything else. See Ephesians 1:11 & 14. The word peripoeio does not convey financial transaction. It is a matter of securing, by whatever means. Put that translation in to such texts instead of 'purchased', and see the significant difference: Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 Thess.5:9, 2 Thes. 2:14, Heb. 10:39.

Now, I have only delved into a few points. There is far more to be said about other words. I have taken the above largely from the book below, only getting up to page 23. There are another 105 pages to go, all on the crucially important matter of redemption, and restoration, and security in Christ; how this was gained for helpless sinners, and without any money being involved. It also goes into the Father, how he relates to all of this. But this site is not for copying out whole chapters in books. I simply encourage you to freely obtain this book from the website below, to do the subject justice.

Redemption and Restoration, Nigel Johnstone, published 2012, http://www.belmontpublications.co.uk


"What does "redeem" mean in Gal 4:5 in view that in Gal 3:20 he "gave" himself for me?"

First of all the outcome is to receive adoption as sons, according to a prophecy to Abraham.

This chapter is written to the Gentiles, explaining how they became the sons of Abraham according to a promise, not according to the law that came 430 years later.

In order that in Christ Jesus, the blessings of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we might receive the promise of the spirit through faith. Gal.3:14

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to His seed. God granted this promise of an inheritance, by means of a promise.

Going back to Galatians 3:10 is helpful to understand what it means to be under the authority of the Law and its consequence is death, if when one does not live up to it perfectly.

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” Galatians 3:10

5259 hypó (a preposition) – properly, under, often meaning "under authority" of someone working directly as a subordinate (under someone/something else). The law is the authority to pronounce a curse on anyone who does not comply to the law perfectly. It is a judgement of death.

So curses are a judgment from the authority of the law, and remember the law was given by the angelic realm that carries out the judgments.

Notice the following verse that the angels were the ones who put the law in place, and carried out the blessings and the curses. This law was only to be effective until...

The Seed should come to Whom He has promised,

Galatians 3:19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.

Acts 7:53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.

Hebrews 2:2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment...

Christ reclaims us out of the curse of the law, becoming a curse for our sakes, seen that it is written, accursed is everyone being hanged on a pole, that the blessings of Abraham may be coming into the nations in Jesus Christ, that we may be obtaining the promise of the spirit through faith. Galatians 3:13-14 CLT

Now, when the full-time came, God delegates, His Son, come of a woman, come under law, that he should be reclaiming those under law, that we may be getting the place of the a son. Gal. 4:-5 CLT

So this is the seed that was promised to Abraham.

Galatians 3:19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions,

until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made,

So now that the seed has come, the promises are once again in effect through the so. Seed who God made the promise to. We know that Seed is Christ,

Christ reclaims us out of the curse of the law, becoming a curse for our sakes.

Death is the ultimate effect of the law, yet it is also deliverance from the law. Knoch

For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

So Paul is explaining that Jesus is the seed of Abraham's promise. Jesus also was born under the law and fulfilled it completely, and he identified with us, and took on our sin, and therefore took the consequences which was death. He was hung on a tree and cursed by God

Now that's been done the law has done its work, and now we're going back to living like Abraham did without the law when the promise was made to him.

So Christ has reclaimed the promise that was given to Abraham, since he is the seed to whom the promise that came.

The concord literal Bible translates the word ◄ ἐξαγοράσῃ ► as reclaim instead of redeem.

This makes more sense since there is no buying back in this transaction. Jesus is the seed to what was promised, and He is reclaiming it and giving it to all of Abraham's seed.

reclaim: transitive verb To demand the restoration or return of (a possession, for example); claim again or back.

The law was only an escort.

Before this faith came, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law became our guardian to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. Galatians, 3:23

Israel, during the period of minority, was in bondage under the elements of the world. These rudiments or elementary, religious observances, while infirm and poor, and put in contrast with Christ were necessary to their education and served and an essential purpose in the progressive of revelation. But no one who knows the liberty of sonshiuwould tolerate their shackles for an instant.

In Israel, the assumption of the responsibilities and dignities of manhood, was a notable event in a man's life. In the life of the nation, this was signalized by the advent of God's Son.Who reclaimed them from the bondage of the law . Concordant commentary.

  • C.Stroud. Thanks for your edit. :)
    – Sherrie
    Commented Feb 4 at 22:13

The overall reason for the letter to the churches in Galatia was to clear up confusion caused by the Jews trying to convert new Christians (under Grace) to now follow Mosaic Law (in effect going backwards on God’s plan). In Gal 4 Paul is referencing the Law when he says the fullness of time (the fullness of the law). Making the point (in short) that the Jews had been under bondage to the Law, and sense they were in bondage, they needed to be redeemed. Also Gentiles were in bondage to sin, and similarly needed redemption.

God gave his Son to pay our sin debt. He is a gift to us because He was not ours to give. So He is a gift, costing us nothing. He is also then our redeemer because He willingly took our burden.

Galatians 3:13 - Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…

Galatians 5:1 - Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

  • Welcome to BH and thanks for the answer.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 25 at 21:51

The operative verb in Gal 3:13 and 4:5 is ἐξαγοράζω (exagorazó) and is most often translated "redeem" meaning to buy back. More correctly it refers to the act of manumission from slavery; ie, buying a slave with the purpose of setting him/her free. It is in this sense that redemption or manumission is a free gift because the slave has no money to purchase their freedom.

Freedom from What?

In the context of the NT, four different things are listed from which sinners are set free; that is, things from which sinners are "redeemed":

  • Freedom from the devil, Heb 2:14, 15
  • Freedom from death, 1 Cor 15:56, 57
  • Freedom from the power of sin that enslaves, Rom 6:22 (see also “Freedom”)
  • Freedom from the condemnation of the law, Rom 3:19-24, Gal 3:13, 4:5

The last of these is the subject of the OP's question.

Paul's point about manumission from the curse of the law in Gal 3 & 4 concerns the attitude of legalism that means then some want to earn God's salvation buy doing works of the law. Paul declares such an attitude to be a form of spiritual slavery to the law from which Christ redeems us.

[There is a wonderful irony in Paul's teaching that Christ redeems us from the curse of the law by making us "slaves of Christ", Eph 6:6, Rom 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1, Jude 1:1, etc. However, this is another question. See also John 8:36.]

APPENDIX - Manumission/Redemption

Two Greek words are translated “redeem” (“exagerazo” and “lutroo”) with almost exactly equivalent meanings. Both speak of Christ redeeming sinners as slaves (Luke 1:68, 24:21) by paying a ransom (Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45, 1 Tim 2:6, Heb 9:15), but, Scripture is silent about to whom the manumission fee was paid (it is only an analogue, metaphor or figure of speech!). 1 Cor 6:20, 7:23, Gal 3:13, 4:5, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 1:18, Rev 5:9.

This manumission idea emphasizes God’s free gift of salvation because both Greek verbs were commonly used to buy freedom for a slave or hostage, without any contribution of the slave. Perhaps the most touching example of redemption is contained in the enacted parable of Hosea and Gomer – see Hosea 3:1-3.

  • Thanks. "You say Scripture is silent about to whom....". Person goes into shop and gives/pays £1 "for" an item. Jesus came into this world and gave himself "for" me. The item does not get the £1 , the shop owner gets it. Is not the manumission paid to the owner of all- the Father above all?
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 26 at 14:23
  • 1
    ἐξαγοράζω Is used once in the LXX, Daniel 2:8, which has nothing to do with manumission. So if the OT is in mind, manumission is at best a secondary meaning. Commented Jan 26 at 18:21
  • @C.Stroud - There are some who (quite wrongly) suggest that it was actually the Father who paid the manumission fee (Jesus' life) to the Devil. That is blasphemous but it does highlight the problem of who paid whom? That is why I suggest that it is only a metaphor! The LXX of Dan 2:8 is actually saying that they were trying to "redeem time".
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 26 at 19:03

Galatians 2:20 NIV

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Jesus Christ willingly gave Himself for humanity. However, redemption has beneficiaries, it is not complete if those beneficiaries refuse to accept Christ into their lives and live without faith in the Son of God. Such individuals have not been freed from sin and are still slaves to it.

  • Thanks. I wonder if Jesus "gave himself for me" means gave himself to the father for me? Luke 23:46 "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" sounds like Jesus giving himself to the Father that we might have a saviour ie: "for us".
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 26 at 8:40
  • @C.Stroud - thank you for your enlightenment. I edit my answer to correct the relationship. Galatians 4:5 is challenging and allow me some time to study it. Commented Jan 26 at 15:32

The word "deem" means to judge; in earlier forms of English the judgment was called a doom, so Doomsday is Judgement Day. So, what sense can we make of "redeem"? Let's try the Collins Dictionary.

If you redeem yourself or your reputation, you do something that makes people have a good opinion of you again after you have behaved or performed badly.

IMHO, the key idea is the judge again (re-judge: judge differently, or perhaps, more mercifully). I suggest that "buying back" is a later meaning.

  • Welcome to BH and thanks for input. For your "I suggest" to work Bible references are needed. Good ideas but probably, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon for example or Vines Expository Dictionary of Bible words better than Collins.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 26 at 22:32
  • 1
    @C.Stroud I wasn't aware that the Bible purports to be an authority on English usage. I understand that the New Testament was largely complete by the end of the reign of Domitian (96 C.E). The English language isn't documented before the 6th century. Are you aware, perhaps, of some Biblical prophecies about English usage? "Thou shalt not end a sentence with 'with', unless that hast not anything else to end it with", perhaps?
    – user52565
    Commented Jan 27 at 1:51
  • Great! What "new" [kainen/Greek] means in Hebrews 8:8 is different from "new" [neas/Greek] in Heb 12:24. Vine's looks into the difference. As also legal meanings can vary from everyday meanings, see Stroud's Judicial Dictionary.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 27 at 11:14

It means that Christ paid a price in blood to have us freed from bondage to the elements of the world. It doesn't necessarily mean that He freed us from the law as if we were in bondage to it too, but rather we graduated from it. To be "under the law" is the same as saying, "to be under tutors." It was teaching us justification by faith rather than by deeds because whenever the law speaks, it proves you guilty as Paul said in Romans 3,

Romans 3:19-20 NKJV

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.

Now that "the cat's out of the bag," or rather that faith has been revealed (Galatians 3:23), why would we want to go back to being under the law? It was weak through the flesh because sin used the law to bring desires out in our flesh. But Jesus condemned sin in the flesh so that we wouldn't walk after it but after the Spirit. That's how he redeems us.

  • Welcome to BH and thanks for your answer. "to be under tutors"+1
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 26 at 22:19

While no goods or money are exchanged, a real transaction takes place in the redemption of each and every soul. “I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20, emphasis added). These words serve as a reminder that Christ gave his life for humanity in general by giving his life for each person individually. “He died for all, because He died for each” (MacLaren’s commentary on Gal 2:20).

To those who are under the law, the knowledge of sin that the law gives ultimately means a sentence of death (cf Rom 7:7-9). For death is the natural consequence of sin (cf Ez 18:4). St. Paul puts it best when he says that death is sin’s wages, wage being something that is earned. In other words, death is not a penalty that God imposes on man for sin (cf Ez 18:32). Rather, it is sin itself that kills us (cf Rom 7:11).

Romans 6:23 ESV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the context of this discussion, “redeem” refers to the fact that Christ died in our stead. A life for a life, only here God turns this standard of human justice on its head. Christ's act of redemption is a free gift of God’s love and, unlike the wages of sin, not something that can ever be earned.

  • 1
    @C Stroud In thinking about this question, I started with the assumption that death is what God demands as a payment/penalty for sin. "Redeem" would then a simple matter of Christ giving himself to God in order to buy back our life. However, I could not find clear Scriptural support for what I took to be a simple truth. Instead, what emerged was a complex picture of how death came into the world through sin (Prov 8:36, Ja 1:15, Eph 2:4-5, Ro 5:12), just as sin came into the world through man’s free will. Biased by our human notions of justice, I forgot to consider God’s perfect love and mercy.
    – Nhi
    Commented Feb 5 at 16:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.