Ransom and Atonement

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark. 10:45).

Another way the New Testament looks at the Atonement is to view it as a cosmic victory of Jesus over Satan and his kingdom. Passages like Hebrews 2:14 tell us that when Christ died on the cross, He destroyed the power of the evil one.

The Atonement and its relation to the kingdom of Satan has been a hot topic in the history of Christian theology. One other view that has circulated in church history is that Christ’s death was a ransom paid to Satan. When Christ died, He paid a price to Satan in order to secure our release from bondage to Satan’s kingdom.

There are several problems with this view. First of all, the Bible does not speak of us owing Satan anything. Secondly, it gives Satan much more power and credit than he deserves. Finally, it neglects the biblical idea that any debt we owe is a debt owed to God.

Sinners are in bondage to Satan. But they are only in bondage because God has allowed them to be. The bondage mankind finds itself in is part of the punishment for sin. Payment is owed to God, not the Devil.

The Bible does view the Atonement as a ransom paid (see Mark 10:45). But it is a ransom paid to God the Father. There is no negotiation between the Devil and the Lord for the release of the captives. Rather, we are redeemed by having Christ crush the head of the serpent after He pays the ransom to God. And tomorrow we will look in more detail at how this ransom is paid.

This article was published by Ligonier Ministries.

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