What is the ransom?
How was it provided?
What can it mean for you?
How can you show that you appreciate it?
WHAT is the greatest gift you have ever received? A gift does not have to be expensive to be important. After all, the true value of a gift is not necessarily measured in terms of money. Rather, when a gift brings you happiness or fills a real need in your life, it has great value to you personally.
2 Of the many gifts you could ever hope to receive, there is one that stands out above all others. It is a gift from God to mankind. Jehovah has given us many things, but his greatest gift to us is the ransom sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 20:28) As we will see in this chapter, the ransom is the most valuable gift you could possibly receive, for it can bring you untold happiness and can fill your most important needs. The ransom is really the greatest expression of Jehovah’s love for you.
WHAT IS THE RANSOM?
3 Put simply, the ransom is Jehovah’s means to deliver, or save, humankind from sin and death. (Ephesians 1:7) To grasp the meaning of this Bible teaching, we need to think back to what happened in the garden of Eden. Only if we understand what Adam lost when he sinned can we appreciate why the ransom is such a valuable gift to us.
4 When he created Adam, Jehovah gave him something truly precious—perfect human life. Consider what that meant for Adam. Made with a perfect body and mind, he would never get sick, grow old, or die. As a perfect human, he had a special relationship with Jehovah. The Bible says that Adam was a “son of God.” (Luke 3:38) So Adam enjoyed a close relationship with Jehovah God, like that of a son with a loving father. Jehovah communicated with his earthly son, giving Adam satisfying assignments of work and letting him know what was expected of him.—Genesis 1:28-30; 2:16, 17.
5 Adam was made “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27) That did not mean that Adam resembled God in appearance. As we learned in Chapter 1 of this book, Jehovah is an invisible spirit. (John 4:24) So Jehovah does not have a body of flesh and blood. Being made in God’s image meant that Adam was created with qualities like those of God, including love, wisdom, justice, and power. Adam was like his Father in another important way in that he possessed free will. Hence, Adam was not like a machine that can perform only what it is designed or programmed to do. Instead, he could make personal decisions, choosing between right and wrong. If he had chosen to obey God, he would have lived forever in Paradise on earth.
6 Clearly, then, when Adam disobeyed God and was condemned to death, he paid a very high price. His sin cost him his perfect human life with all its blessings. (Genesis 3:17-19) Sadly, Adam lost this precious life not only for himself but also for his future offspring. God’s Word says: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Yes, all of us have inherited sin from Adam. Hence, the Bible says that he “sold” himself and his offspring into slavery to sin and death. (Romans 7:14) There was no hope for Adam or Eve because they willfully chose to disobey God. But what about their offspring, including us?
7 Jehovah came to mankind’s rescue by means of the ransom. What is a ransom? The idea of a ransom basically involves two things. First, a ransom is the price paid to bring about a release or to buy something back. It might be compared to the price paid for the release of a prisoner of war. Second, a ransom is the price that covers, or pays, the cost of something. It is similar to the price paid to cover the damages caused by an injury. For example, if a person causes an accident, he would have to pay an amount that fully corresponds to, or equals, the value of what was damaged.
8 How would it be possible to cover the enormous loss that Adam inflicted on all of us and to release us from slavery to sin and death? Let us consider the ransom that Jehovah provided and what this can mean for you.
HOW JEHOVAH PROVIDED THE RANSOM
9 Since a perfect human life was lost, no imperfect human life could ever buy it back. (Psalm 49:7, 8) What was needed was a ransom equal in value to what was lost. This is in harmony with the principle of perfect justice found in God’s Word, which says: “Soul will be for soul.” (Deuteronomy 19:21) So, what would cover the value of the perfect human soul, or life, that Adam lost? Another perfect human life was the “corresponding ransom” that was required.—1 Timothy 2:6.
10 How did Jehovah provide the ransom? He sent one of his perfect spirit sons to the earth. But Jehovah did not send just any spirit creature. He sent the one most precious to him, his only-begotten Son. (1 John 4:9, 10) Willingly, this Son left his heavenly home. (Philippians 2:7) As we learned in the preceding chapter of this book, Jehovah performed a miracle when he transferred the life of this Son to the womb of Mary. By means of God’s holy spirit, Jesus was born as a perfect human and was not under the penalty of sin.—Luke 1:35.
11 How could one man serve as a ransom for many, in fact, millions of humans? Well, how did humans numbering into the millions come to be sinners in the first place? Recall that by sinning, Adam lost the precious possession of perfect human life. Hence, he could not pass it on to his offspring. Instead, he could pass on only sin and death. Jesus, whom the Bible calls “the last Adam,” had a perfect human life, and he never sinned. (1 Corinthians 15:45) In a sense, Jesus stepped into Adam’s place in order to save us. By sacrificing, or giving up, his perfect life in flawless obedience to God, Jesus paid the price for Adam’s sin. Jesus thus brought hope to Adam’s offspring.—Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22.
12 The Bible describes in detail the suffering that Jesus endured before his death. He experienced harsh whipping, cruel impalement, and an agonizing death on a torture stake. (John 19:1, 16-18, 30; Appendix) Why was it necessary for Jesus to suffer so much? In a later chapter of this book, we will see that Satan has questioned whether Jehovah has any human servants who would remain faithful under trial. By enduring faithfully in spite of great suffering, Jesus gave the best possible answer to Satan’s challenge. Jesus proved that a perfect man possessing free will could keep perfect integrity to God no matter what the Devil did. Jehovah must have rejoiced greatly over the faithfulness of his dear Son!—Proverbs 27:11.
13 How was the ransom paid? On the 14th day of the Jewish month Nisan in 33 C.E., God allowed his perfect and sinless Son to be executed. Jesus thus sacrificed his perfect human life “once for all time.” (Hebrews 10:10) On the third day after Jesus died, Jehovah raised him back to spirit life. In heaven, Jesus presented to God the value of his perfect human life sacrificed as a ransom in exchange for Adam’s offspring. (Hebrews 9:24) Jehovah accepted the value of Jesus’ sacrifice as the ransom needed to deliver mankind from slavery to sin and death.—Romans 3:23, 24.
WHAT THE RANSOM CAN MEAN FOR YOU
14 Despite our sinful condition, we can enjoy priceless blessings because of the ransom. Let us consider some of the present and future benefits of this greatest gift from God.
15The forgiveness of sins. Because of inherited imperfection, we have a real struggle to do what is right. All of us sin either in word or in deed. But by means of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, we can receive “the forgiveness of our sins.” (Colossians 1:13, 14) To gain that forgiveness, however, we must be truly repentant. We must also humbly appeal to Jehovah, asking his forgiveness on the basis of our faith in the ransom sacrifice of his Son.—1 John 1:8, 9.
16A clean conscience before God. A guilty conscience can easily lead to hopelessness and make us feel worthless. Through the forgiveness made possible by the ransom, though, Jehovah kindly enables us to worship him with a clean conscience despite our imperfection. (Hebrews 9:13, 14) This makes it possible for us to have freeness of speech with Jehovah. Therefore, we can freely approach him in prayer. (Hebrews 4:14-16) Maintaining a clean conscience gives peace of mind, promotes self-respect, and contributes to happiness.
17The hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth. “The wages sin pays is death,” says Romans 6:23. The same verse adds: “But the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” In Chapter 3 of this book, we discussed the blessings of the coming earthly Paradise. (Revelation 21:3, 4) All those future blessings, including life everlasting in perfect health, are made possible because Jesus died for us. To receive those blessings, we need to show that we appreciate the gift of the ransom.
HOW CAN YOU SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION?
18 Why should we be deeply grateful to Jehovah for the ransom? Well, a gift is especially precious when it involves a sacrifice of time, effort, or expense on the part of the giver. Our heart is touched when we see that a gift is an expression of the giver’s genuine love for us. The ransom is the most precious of all gifts, for God made the greatest sacrifice ever in providing it. “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son,” says John 3:16. The ransom is the most outstanding evidence of Jehovah’s love for us. It is also proof of Jesus’ love, for he willingly gave his life in our behalf. (John 15:13) The gift of the ransom should therefore convince us that Jehovah and his Son love us as individuals.—Galatians 2:20.
19 How, then, can you demonstrate that you appreciate God’s gift of the ransom? To begin with, get to know more about the Great Giver, Jehovah. (John 17:3) A study of the Bible with the aid of this publication will help you to do that. As you grow in knowledge of Jehovah, your love for him will deepen. In turn, that love will make you want to please him.—1 John 5:3.
20Exercise faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Jesus himself said: “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life.” (John 3:36) How can we exercise faith in Jesus? Such faith is not shown by words alone. “Faith without works is dead,” says James 2:26. Yes, true faith is proved by “works,” that is, by our actions. One way to show that we have faith in Jesus is by doing our best to imitate him not just in what we say but also in what we do.—John 13:15.
21Attend the annual observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal. On the evening of Nisan 14, 33 C.E., Jesus introduced a special observance that the Bible calls “the Lord’s evening meal.” (1 Corinthians 11:20; Matthew 26:26-28) This observance is also called the Memorial of Christ’s death. Jesus instituted it to help his apostles and all true Christians after them to bear in mind that by means of his death as a perfect human, he gave his soul, or life, as a ransom. Regarding this observance, Jesus commanded: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) Observing the Memorial reminds us of the great love shown by both Jehovah and Jesus in connection with the ransom. We can show our appreciation for the ransom by being present at the yearly observance of the Memorial of Jesus’ death.*
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
- The ransom is Jehovah’s means to deliver humankind from sin and death.—Ephesians 1:7.
- Jehovah provided the ransom by sending his only-begotten Son to earth to die for us.—1 John 4:9, 10.
- By means of the ransom, we gain the forgiveness of sins, a clean conscience, and the hope of everlasting life.—1 John 1:8, 9.
- We show that we appreciate the ransom by getting to know more about Jehovah, by exercising faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, and by attending the Lord’s Evening Meal.—John 3:16.
1, 2. (a) When does a gift have great value to you personally? (b) Why can it be said that the ransom is the most valuable gift you could ever receive?
3. What is the ransom, and what do we need to understand in order to appreciate this valuable gift?
4. What did perfect human life mean for Adam?
5. What does the Bible mean when it says that Adam was made “in God’s image”?
6. When Adam disobeyed God, what did he lose, and how were his offspring affected?
7, 8. A ransom basically involves what two things?
9. What sort of ransom was required?
10. How did Jehovah provide the ransom?
11. How could one man serve as a ransom for millions?
12. What was proved by Jesus’ suffering?
13. How was the ransom paid?
14, 15. To receive “the forgiveness of our sins,” what must we do?
16. What enables us to worship God with a clean conscience, and what is the value of such a conscience?
17. What blessings are made possible because Jesus died for us?
18. Why should we be grateful to Jehovah for the provision of the ransom?
19, 20. In what ways can you show that you appreciate God’s gift of the ransom?