In Ephesians 1:6-7, the apostle Paul writes this:
“. . . 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: 7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace . . .”
I want to draw your attention specifically to verse 7:
“. . . in whom [the Beloved] we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace . . .”
In this one verse, the apostle Paul summarizes the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is absolutely essential to grasp, because if you don’t grasp it, then you won’t truly understood what the Lord Jesus Christ was doing on the cross, and why He did it, and how it relates to you. Let’s examine it together.
First, notice the central idea of this verse — redemption. What is redemption? Think about how we use the word in every day life; we redeem cans, we redeem coins, we redeem ourselves. What is true of everyone of those situations? In the case of the cans and the coins, we are making use of things that are no longer useful to us, and receiving payment in exchange for them. When we “redeem ourselves”, we are making up for something that we’ve done wrong. In each of those cases, a payment is involved, but it’s a payment that is making up, or getting back something that was lost or wrong.
It’s the same with the redemption of our souls. If we believe in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we have our redemption through Christ’s blood. What does that mean? That Christ payed for us with His own blood. He redeemed us. We were enslaved to sin, and in bondage to God’s condemnation, wrath, and curse because of our sins, but Christ satisfied God’s condemnation, wrath, and curse through His blood. How did He do that?
Well, first of all, let’s ask what Paul means by “blood”. Does he literally mean that Jesus redeemed us through His physical blood? If Jesus had just pricked His finger, would the blood that would have been shed redeemed us? No, of course not. So, what does Paul mean by “blood”? Well, he has to be including the idea of blood because, otherwise he could have just said “death”. The reason he chose to use the word, “blood”, was because it is consistent with the teaching of the Old Testament, as stated in Hebrews, that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”. That was one of the points that was being made by the innumerable sacrifices that were made in the Jewish sacrificial worship — God’s wrath cannot be appeased without blood being shed.
However, there’s an even more specific point being made by using the word “blood”. It points to the manner of Christ’s death — crucifixion. That was the most brutal, shameful, and horrific form of death at the time that Paul wrote Ephesians, and it arguably still is. But, besides that, it was an extremely bloody form of death. Because Jesus had been whipped with a metal whip before His crucifixion, He was bleeding profusely even before He was nailed to the cross. Then, of course He would have had blood coming out of His wrists and feet from the nails, and His back would have been shredded as He moved up and down against the cross to breathe and rest. Part of the way in which Christ redeemed His people was by His physical suffering on the cross, since “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”.
Of course, using the word “blood” also implies a death, and that death was essential. “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). But how did His suffering and death redeem His people? Because His suffering and death on the cross was the payment that He made to the Father to buy His people from their enslavement to sin, God’s wrath, and His condemnation.
At this point I should make it clear what Paul is saying that Christ’s people were redeemed from.
Let me quote the apostle Paul again:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law . . .” – Galatians 3:13a
So, first of all, what law is he speaking of? Well, if you look at the context of this quote, Paul is clearly speaking of the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament. But no one is under that law now. Yes, however, there is a truth in this verse that transcends that fact, since this is how Paul finishes it:
” . . . having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree . . .”
You see, Christ was cursed on the cross, and that curse was the curse of the law. And what was the curse? Everything He suffered on the cross: physical suffering, physical death, and spiritual death as His Father forsook Him. Christ redeemed His people from all of those things. He payed the price in His blood to set them free from slavery to them.
Having seen that Christ redeemed His people through His blood, let’s go back to the first part of the verse: “in whom [the Beloved]”. I don’t think that we should miss the fact that Paul has just called Christ “the Beloved”. What does it mean that He is the Beloved? It means that He is the only beloved Son of the Father — He has always been the Father’s beloved Son — the Father has always loved Him, and He is the only One who is worthy of the Father’s fatherly love.
This makes it even more amazing when we go on to read that we have redemption through His blood. Whose blood? The blood of the Beloved Son of the Father. This shows us that God so loved His people that He gave up His only Beloved Son to death, and actually punished Him for our sins. When Christ was on the cross for 3 hours, He was still the Beloved, but He was temporarily the Cursed One of God, and it was this cursing that redeemed His people.
Now, what did this redemption do for Christ’s people? Paul says that it provided “the forgiveness of our trespasses”. First, let’s think about what he means by “trespasses”. What are they? What does it mean to trespass? Have you ever seen a sign that said “no trespassing”? What does it mean? It means that the owner of that property is telling you not to step over a line and touch his property. It’s similar in our relationship to God. He has given us rules to obey, and if we disobey Him, we are trespassing over His boundary line — we are stepping out of line, and entering territory that we have no right to enter. This is called sin — when we disobey God’s commands. Here, Paul calls it trespassing. And when we trespass God’s commands, we earn His wrath.
So, what does Paul mean by “forgiveness”? First, whose forgiveness is this? It is the forgiveness of the one who’s law has been trespassed, given to trespassers. What does it mean, though, for God to forgive? It means that He doesn’t give the trespasser what he deserves. And what do we deserve? Eternity in hell.
But why does Paul seem to say that redemption is synonymous with the forgiveness of trespasses? Because one logically follows the other. If we’ve been redeemed, or our ransom has been payed, through Christ’s bloody death, then we have the forgiveness of our trespasses. God doesn’t forgive us because of our faith, or because of our repentance — He forgives us because Christ has redeemed us through His blood. And how many of our trespasses has God forgiven His children? All of them. The moment that Christ died, He bought the forgiveness of His people from God the Father.
Finally, Paul says that believers’ redemption through Christ’s blood, the forgiveness of their trespasses, are all “according to the riches of His grace”. Whose grace is he speaking of? Well, we can tell if we read on:
“. . . 7 in whom [Christ] we have our redemption through his [Christ’s] blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which HE made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in HIM 10 unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in CHRIST . . .”
The “Him” in verse 7 is the Father, and you can see Paul’s consistency with this if you start from verse 3:
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: 5 having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of HIS GRACE, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved . . .”
You see, the main subject of this whole sentence is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So, the redemption of Christ’s people, and the forgiveness of their trespasses, are according to the riches of God’s grace, or undeserved favor.
What does Paul mean by this? Why does he use the word “riches”? Because the fact that God sent Christ to redeem His people through His blood, and to provide for the forgiveness of their trespasses displays riches of God’s undeserved favor. When God sent His Son to do these things, He poured out riches of His favor on His people. He has an endless supply of undeserved favor that He continually pours out upon His children, and makes them rich with it.
So, if you’re a believer in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, how does this verse apply to you?
- In the Beloved you have redemption through His blood. That means that He has redeemed your soul from the condemnation and punishment that you deserve from God. You’re now free from condemnation, from God’s wrath, and from eternal hell. Remember also that He bought you through His death, and you belong to Him, and He’s your Master. Also, remember that Christ suffered and died on a cross for 3 hellish hours to redeem you.
- You have the forgiveness of your trespasses through your redemption. This means that God is not, and never will, treat you as your trespasses deserve, since He did that to His Beloved Son. And God didn’t grudgingly or reluctantly forgive you, He forgave you gladly and joyfully and lovingly. And remember that God has forgiven all of your trespasses, including the ones you haven’t committed yet.
- God sent His Son to redeem you and to provide for your forgiveness because of the riches of His undeserved favor, not because of you. Remember that He has riches of grace for you, and He’s not withholding anything good for you, but is showering you with His undeserved favor because of who He is.
If you don’t know that you’ve been redeemed through Christ’s blood, and that your trespasses have been forgiven by God, you can know if you will change your mind and believe that God sent His divine Son to become a man, Jesus of Nazareth, that He punished Him because of our sins by crucifying and forsaking Him, and that He raised Him from the dead and made Him Lord of the universe. God commands you to change your mind and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, His death for our sins, and His resurrection as the only grounds of His forgiveness of your sins, and has promised that if you will, He will forgive you and give you eternal life.