Redemption (theology)

Redemption is an essential concept in many religions, including Judaism and Christianity. The English word "redemption" means 'repurchase' or 'buy back', and in the Torah referred to the ransom of slaves (Exodus 21:8) as one example.[1]


Main article: Jewish eschatology

In Judaism, redemption (Hebrew ge'ulah) refers to God redeeming the people of Israel from their exiles, starting with that from Egypt.[2] This includes the final redemption from the present exile.[3]

The concept of redemption is however a legal and transactional one in the Torah Halakha, including various sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem:

The concept also applies to redemption of real property such as fields [9] and houses,[10] stock animals, such as donkeys,[11] produce,[12] and specific items such as tefillin.[13] It also means the liberation of an estate in real property from a mortgage.

Redemption also applies to individuals or groups: an Israelite slave,[14] an Israelite captive,[15] and the firstborn son[16] pidyon haben, (Hebrew: פדיון הבן) or redemption of the first-born son,[17] is a mitzvah in Judaism whereby a Jewish firstborn son is redeemed from God by use of silver coins to a kohen.[18] It is from these three cases that the concept of exilic redemption is derived because the People Israel are considered God's 'firstborn' derived from Jacob, who are God's slaves [19] forever, but are currently held captive, even while they reside in the modern state of Israel.

In Hasidic philosophy parallels are drawn between the redemption from exile and the personal redemption achieved when a person refines his character traits, though there is no source for this in the Talmud. Rather the Messianic Redemtionis linked to observing Shabbat,[20] Jewish prayer,[21] and the promise of redemption for those looking toward Mount Zion,[22] the last being the original cultural source of 'zionism'. As such, the original intent of 'zionism' was the Redemption process by which the Land of Israel that has been pledged to the People Israel[23] is reclaimed, accomplished through a payment of the debt owed to God[22] as a fulfillment of the conditions set out in the Torah.


As a Christian theological foundation, redemption (Greek: apolutrosis) refers to the deliverance of Christians from sin.[24] It assumes an important position in salvation because the transgressions in question form part of a great system against which human power is helpless.[25] In Christian theology, redemption is an element of salvation that broadly means the deliverance from sin. Leon Morris says that "Paul uses the concept of redemption primarily to speak of the saving significance of the death of Christ."[26] In the New Testament, the redemption word group is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity.[27] In Christian theology, redemption is a metaphor for what is achieved through the Atonement;[27] therefore, there is a metaphorical sense in which the death of Jesus pays the price of a ransom, releasing Christians from bondage to sin and death.[28] Most evangelical theologians and Protestant denominations, however, reject Origen's argument that God paid the ransom price of redemption to Satan.[28]


In Islam, redemption is achieved through being a Muslim and doing no action that would forfeit one's identification with Islam,[29] being of sincere faith (iman) and doing virtuous actions.[30] Muslim sinners need only turn to a merciful God in repentance and carry out other good deeds, such as prayer (salah) and charity, for redemption.[31][32] As a result of this view of redemption, Muslims have attacked alternative views on redemption, especially the Christian doctrine of original sin.[29]

A similar concept in Indian religions is called Prāyaścitta, which it is not related to theological sense of sin, but to expiation and personal liberation from guilt or sin.[33][34]

See also

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Redemption (theology)


  1. Demarest, Bruce (1997). The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation. Wheaton: Crossway Books. p. 176.
  2. Babylonian Talmud, Trctate Rosh HaShanah, 11b
  3. for example Talmud Yerushalmi, Tractate Berachot, 2c "(mid.)
  4. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Chullin, 35b
  5. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Moed Katan, 12a
  6. for example Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Temurah, 31a
  7. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Arachin, 30b
  8. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shevuot, 11b
  9. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Arachin, 14b
  10. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Arachin, 33a
  11. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bechorot, 5b
  12. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Succah, 40b
  13. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Gittin, 45b
  14. for example Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Kiddushin, 18a
  15. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Batra, 8a
  16. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bechorot, 31b
  17. Eugene Joseph Cohen Guide to ritual circumcision and redemption of the first-born son Volume 1 - 1984 "The Redemption of the First-Born - A mother's first-born is to be dedicated to the service of God, in accordance with the verse, "Sanctify the first-born who opens the womb."1 This sanctification was the result of an historical event."; Michele Klein A Time to Be Born: Customs and Folklore of Jewish Birth 2000 Page 224 "They have attributed healing properties to the stick.54 REDEMPTION OF THE FIRST-BORN SON A first child has special significance for both parents, and this was as true in biblical times as today, but then only when the child was male"; Mark Washofsky Jewish living: a guide to contemporary reform practice 2001 Page 148 "Redemption of the First-born Son (Pidyon Haben)- In Jewish tradition, the first-born son is to be "redeemed" from God. This originates in the belief that God "acquired" the Israelite first-born by sparing them from makkat bekhorot," ; Ruth Langer To Worship To Worship God Properly: Tensions Between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism (Monographs of the Hebrew Union College Series) 2005 Page 73 "Redemption of the First Born."
  18. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bechorot, 51b
  19. Vayikra 25:55
  20. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat, 118b
  21. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot, 4b
  22. 1 2 Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ketubot, 75a
  23. Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Batra, 119a
  24. Morris, Leon (1962). Redeemer, Redemption, 'The New Bible Dictionary'. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 1078–1079.
  25. "Redemption." Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College. July 2, 2009.
  26. Morris, Leon (1993). 'Redemption' Dictionary of Paul and his Letters. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. p. 784.
  27. 1 2 Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, 177.
  28. 1 2 Grudem, Wayne (1994). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Nottingham: InterVarsity Press. p. 580.
  29. 1 2 Hava Lazarus-Yafeh (1981). Some Religious Aspects of Islam: A Collection of Articles. Brill Archive. p. 48. ISBN 9789004063297.
  30. Yahiya Emerick (1 Nov 2011). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Islam, 3rd Edition. Penguin. ISBN 9781101558812. Salvation and redemption: Islam says our sincere faith and virtuous actions get us into heaven, not just a one-time conversion moment.
  31. Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub. "The Idea of Redemption in Christianity and Islam". BYU. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  32. Chawkat Georges Moucarry (2001). Faith to Faith: Christianity & Islam in Dialogue. Inter-Varsity Press. p. 110. ISBN 9780851118994.
  33. Robert Lingat (1973). The Classical Law of India. University of California Press. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-0-520-01898-3.
  34. Bhikkhu Nyanatusita (2014). Analysis of the Bhikkhu Patimokkha. Buddhist Publication Society. p. 86. ISBN 978-955-24-0405-4.
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