My good friend, Pastor Bruce Brock writes:
A good way to understand “redemption” is to look at the biblical words used for it. There are three Greek words and two Hebrew words.
1. Agorazo (Gk) describes a marketplace, an “agora” where all kinds of goods were purchased. This suggests Christ’s saving work was his purchasing us for Himself in the world’s “marketplace”.
2. Exagarazo (Gk) closely related to the first with the addition of the prefix, “ex” which means out of. Christ has bought us out of the marketplace with the idea that the person purchased might never have to return there again. 1 Pet 1:18-19
3. Lytrosis has to do with freeing a slave by paying for him. Jesus has freed us from sin’s slavery by His death. Jesus has redeemed us and purchased us by His blood.
A rich understanding of the redemptive work of Christ is seen in the Old Testament.
1. Kopher means “a ransom price.” It refers to the redemption of a person who, apart from that redemption would die. If your animal killed someone and you knew that animal was dangerous, you could forfeit your life. Old Testament law provided a way the owner could come to an agreement with the relatives of the deceased, and it would be possible for him to pay a ransom price. This ransom price was called the “kopher”.
a. Jesus ransomed us from not only sin’s power; He delivered us from death which is the punishment God established for transgressions.
2. The last word we will look at is go’el which means “kinsman-redeemer”. Here was a principle of Jewish law that property should remain within a family if possible. So, if a Jewish person lost his or her share of the land through debt or some other means, an obligation evolved on a near relative (if there was one) to buy the property back again. This close relative was a “kinsman” and if willing and able to purchase the property and restore it to the family, he became a “kinsman-redeemer. In some cases, where there was no male heir to inherit the property, the duty of the kinsman extended to marrying the widow in order to raise up an heir.
There were three qualifications in order to be a kinsman-redeemer:
a. He had to be a close relative (a stranger would not do).
b. He had to be willing to take on this responsibility (nobody could be compelled to do this work).
c. He had to be able to pay the ransom price (he had to have sufficient means at his disposal).
RUTH: A ROMANCE OF REDEMPTION. All three conditions of the kinsman-redeemer were fulfilled in our Lord Jesus. The book of Ruth makes these truths vivid. It is the story of Ruth and her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz.
In redeeming us, Jesus fulfilled similar qualification: 1) He became our kinsman by the incarnation, being born in this very town of Bethlehem, 2) He was willing to be our Redeemer, because of His great love for us, 3) He was able to redeem us, because He alone could provide an adequate redemption price by dying. Job 19:25-27
The redemption of Ruth may not have cost Boaz a great deal, at the most money; but our redemption cost Jesus Christ His life.