Rediscovering Redemption

Chronicling the work of Redemption in the lives of Followers and Leaders. Articles, research and meditations from the writings of Dr. Joseph J. Bucci. Get blog updates by following Joe on Twitter @Re_Redemption

Joseph J. Bucci

Defining a New Concept: Redemptive Leadership – (Part 1)

In the Bible, redemption is considered from the perspective of the process and how it transforms persons who allow the process to work in them (Elwell, 2001).  Finding its context in the social, legal, and religious customs of the ancient world, the metaphor of redemption includes the ideas of loosing from a bond, setting free from captivity or slavery, buying back something lost or sold, exchanging something in one’s possession for something possessed by another, and ransoming (Elwell, 2001).

In the Old Testament, the redemptive activity of God is most often described in terms of physical deliverance, but these acts carry great significance from a management perspective, in terms of building loyalty and the surrender of an individual’s or group’s predisposition to pursue their own direction and instead to rely on God for His guidance and direction.  In Baker’ Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, there was noted only one explicit Old Testament reference to redemption from sin.  The remaining references to redemption were focused on God’s deliverance and restoration from the results of sin or what has been defined here as terminal behavior, apart from the clear directives given (Elwell, 2001).  Most references to redemption are found in relation to the deliverance of God’s people.  But many times the concept of redemption was applied to individuals in distress (Gen 48:16; 2 Sam 4:9; Job 19:25; Psalm 26:11; 49:15; 69:18; 103:4).  This redemptive activity can be cited to cause those involved to be more determined to pursue a positive and productive path despite resistance.  It also caused those affected to feel accepted and gain a sense of purpose, to be thankful for second chances, and to be committed to a long-term relationship of learning and continual reliance on God.

When we move to the New Testament, there are two complementary themes to redemption: the release from enslavement and the payment of a price for that release (Palma, 1993).  In the New Testament there are three Greek words from two root words used to represent redemption (MacArthur, 2005).  


 The first Greek words come from the same root word – “agorazo” and its compound form – “exagorazo.”  Both those words are translated “redemption” in the New Testament.   In usage – “But false teachers also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought (agorazo) them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Pet. 2:1).  The Greek word, “agorazo” means to buy, to purchase, or to acquire ownership by payment of a price.  This is a common word in the Greek, yet it is also one of the great words in Scripture used to describe a believer’s redemption by Jesus Christ.  The Greek root of both is agora, which means “marketplace.”  How appropriate to consider this root in our search for redemptive opportunities with our workers in the marketplace.

The other Greek word used in the New Testament for redemption is “lutroo/apolutrosis.”  In usage – “In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).  The Greek word translated “redemption” here in Ephesians 1:7 (apolutrosis) is an intensified form of lutroo, which refers to paying a price to free someone from bondage.  In the Roman Empire during New Testament times if a person wanted to free a loved one or friend who was a slave, they would buy the slave for themselves and then grant the slave their freedom.  The owner would testify to that deliverance by a written certificate. The root word “lutroo” was used to designate such a transaction (MacArthur, 2005). 

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