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Is monetary imagery of Jesus' salvation work Scriptural?

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  • Is monetary imagery of Jesus' salvation work Scriptural?

    Do the Scriptures use monetary and debt imagery in these ways:
    1) We owe God a debt and Jesus paid it for us or
    2) We owe the devil a debt and Jesus paid it for us?

    It really doesn't seem that way to me. 3) is possible, and much less clear-cut:

    3) Jesus redeemed (monetarily) us slaves.

    That we have obtained redemption through Jesus' work I do not question. But I do wonder if it's using the monetary sense of redemption. Consider: in the main Jewish story of redemption, of deliverance, of the freeing of the slaves, God does not give Pharaoh something of similar value to the Jews slaves in exchange for taking them out. No, when God redeems his people (Exodus 6:6) Pharoah and his are defeated, not given something in exchange.

    Hence, when the NT writers speak of redemption (ἀπολύτρωσιν), are they using it in a monetary sense?

    (NB: I am not arguing that monetary imagery is valid or accurate, but that it doesn't seem Scriptural. Constructive discussion only, with contextual use of the Scriptures, please.)

  • #2
    I have some difficulty seeing this as a scriptural/nonscriptural issue. It is an analogy. Money really has nothing to do with it beyond the visible analogy.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
      I have some difficulty seeing this as a scriptural/nonscriptural issue. It is an analogy. Money really has nothing to do with it beyond the visible analogy.
      My question is whether money or debt is actually used in Scripture. It is quite common to find people saying that "Jesus paid our debt for us", my intention behind this thread is to investigate whether such a description is Scriptural.

      Comment


      • #4
        Seeing as how I just responded in a similar manner on a similar topic, I will simply parrot old Athanasius and say that the Scriptures point to the debt being paid to death; Jesus was a ransom to death (and Satan, since Satan holds the power of death) for our behalf. So, number 2 I suppose.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Just Some Dude View Post
          Seeing as how I just responded in a similar manner on a similar topic, I will simply parrot old Athanasius and say that the Scriptures point to the debt being paid to death; Jesus was a ransom to death (and Satan, since Satan holds the power of death) for our behalf. So, number 2 I suppose.
          Scriptural evidence, please.

          Comment


          • #6
            Good question. It was an aspect of the atonement that I wondered about too. God sent Adam into the world to teach him about faith, just as God sent Israel to Egypt for the same reason. He placed attractive candy in front of Adam, He gave Joseph a dream, acts that set off a chain of events culminating in captivity.

            In a way, God owes the captors because:

            They spent in infrastructure for His children
            They cared for His children
            They tutored His children

            The world is like military school, where rebellious children are sent, to be tamed! However, the products of military schools are citizens who are not exactly the models to be aspired to. Boot camps are training grounds where the will is systematically broken down, so that the recruit will obey orders instantly without thought. Those made in God's image would recognize that the worldly life is one way of living, but not for God's children. God is teaching with a negative example, what not to be. Lesson learned, the candidate must be extracted. Job cried out and God revealed the rescue mission launched. A substitute will take Job's place! That accounts for the animal sacrifice, Job's coded reply to God, "Message received, waiting for rescue event". That's why Abel's sacrifice was pleasing. Cain never exercised the image of God attribute, he was a natural born killer. Watch how the special forces train their recruits on YouTube, especially the Spetznatz, it's pretty brutal. To produce unwavering obedience. Why?

            Col. Jessup: We follow orders, son. Otherwise people die.
            A Few Good Men, Columbia Pictures.

            Does God owe Egypt? He does, signified by the paschal lamb.

            I'd posted about what Torah is, in the OT, Old Tweb. As the Jewish sages say, "Torah is the blueprint for the universe". Just as a master architect commits himself to following a blueprint he himself has issued, so also God puts Himself under Torah. One aspect of Torah is the debts incurred by man to Torah, where God pays, redeems these debts.

            Exodus 12: LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2“This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. 3“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. 7‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8‘They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

            Comment


            • #7
              The author of the treatise to the Hebrews speaks of the high priest, because of his weakness, being obligated to offer sacrifices for himself. Some might take this to imply that Jesus, who had no such debt, was able to pay the debts of others. But I think those who put too much stock in theories derived from implications and metaphors miss the point entirely.

              Paul does speak of the obligation (debt) to follow the law for those who are circumcised, but following Jesus he also teaches a more important way for all of us to fulfill the law:

              Μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν· ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκεν.

              You owe nothing to anyone, except to love (and respect) each other, for the one who loves the other has fulfilled the law.
              βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
              ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

              אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by footwasher View Post
                Good question. It was an aspect of the atonement that I wondered about too. God sent Adam into the world to teach him about faith, just as God sent Israel to Egypt for the same reason. He placed attractive candy in front of Adam, He gave Joseph a dream, acts that set off a chain of events culminating in captivity.

                In a way, God owes the captors because:

                They spent in infrastructure for His children
                They cared for His children
                They tutored His children
                What is this I don't even...
                The world is like military school, where rebellious children are sent, to be tamed! However, the products of military schools are citizens who are not exactly the models to be aspired to. Boot camps are training grounds where the will is systematically broken down, so that the recruit will obey orders instantly without thought. Those made in God's image would recognize that the worldly life is one way of living, but not for God's children. God is teaching with a negative example, what not to be. Lesson learned, the candidate must be extracted. Job cried out and God revealed the rescue mission launched. A substitute will take Job's place! That accounts for the animal sacrifice, Job's coded reply to God, "Message received, waiting for rescue event". That's why Abel's sacrifice was pleasing. Cain never exercised the image of God attribute, he was a natural born killer. Watch how the special forces train their recruits on YouTube, especially the Spetznatz, it's pretty brutal. To produce unwavering obedience. Why?

                Col. Jessup: We follow orders, son. Otherwise people die.
                A Few Good Men, Columbia Pictures.

                Does God owe Egypt? He does, signified by the paschal lamb.


                Exodus 12: LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2“This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. 3“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. 7‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8‘They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well we did trash Creation:
                  Quote
                  We may return to the same conclusion that we reached before: the sacrifice of animals is inadequate to achieve final cleansing, nor can it cleanse anything more than the copies of heavenly things. Then who will bring the definitive sacrifice? A man must do it. A similar point is made indirectly in Num. 35:33-34: “Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the LORD, dwell among the Israelites.” When a man had shed blood, the man must die. But there is one exception, when the blood of the death of the high priest releases a manslaughterer to return home (Num. 35:25-28). The blood of the high priest has special value. In agreement with this principle, Zech. 3 uses all the symbolism of a defiled human high priest Joshua and then mysteriously of the Branch in connection with which “I will remove the sin of this land in a single day” (Zech. 3:9).
                  http://www.frame-poythress.org/ebook...-law-of-moses/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by footwasher View Post
                    Well we did trash Creation:
                    Quote
                    We may return to the same conclusion that we reached before: the sacrifice of animals is inadequate to achieve final cleansing, nor can it cleanse anything more than the copies of heavenly things. Then who will bring the definitive sacrifice? A man must do it. A similar point is made indirectly in Num. 35:33-34: “Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the LORD, dwell among the Israelites.” When a man had shed blood, the man must die. But there is one exception, when the blood of the death of the high priest releases a manslaughterer to return home (Num. 35:25-28). The blood of the high priest has special value. In agreement with this principle, Zech. 3 uses all the symbolism of a defiled human high priest Joshua and then mysteriously of the Branch in connection with which “I will remove the sin of this land in a single day” (Zech. 3:9).
                    http://www.frame-poythress.org/ebook...-law-of-moses/
                    Do stop posting in this thread. Thanks.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                      The author of the treatise to the Hebrews speaks of the high priest, because of his weakness, being obligated to offer sacrifices for himself. Some might take this to imply that Jesus, who had no such debt, was able to pay the debts of others. But I think those who put too much stock in theories derived from implications and metaphors miss the point entirely.

                      Paul does speak of the obligation (debt) to follow the law for those who are circumcised, but following Jesus he also teaches a more important way for all of us to fulfill the law:

                      Μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν· ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκεν.

                      You owe nothing to anyone, except to love (and respect) each other, for the one who loves the other has fulfilled the law.
                      Robrecht: When Paul and the other NT writers used ἀπολύτρωσις, do you think they were evoking the purchasing at the slave markets or the Exodus event? Or both? Or something else?
                      Last edited by Paprika; 05-03-2014, 09:09 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Above, I spoke of the use of the language of debt/indebtedness/obligation in the New Testament. Now I turn to the language of redemption/liberation. The metaphor of redemption in the ancient world is very meaningful, liberation from forced slavery, captivity, imprisonment, prostitution, etc, but it is often overlooked by those who speak theologically.

                        Again, the author of the treatise to the Hebrews, uses this language:

                        ... καὶ διὰ τοῦτο διαθήκης καινῆς μεσίτης ἐστίν, ὅπως θανάτου γενομένου εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῶν ἐπὶ τῇ πρώτῃ διαθήκῃ παραβάσεων τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν λάβωσιν οἱ κεκλημένοι τῆς αἰωνίου κληρονομίας.

                        On account of this, he is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that, a death occurring for the liberation of those going astray of the first covenant, those called to the eternal inheritance might receive the promise.

                        The above is an overly literal translation, so forgive me if it does not seem clear at first. The author is speaking of liberation, but not the payment of debt to God or the devil. Because the verse begins, 'on account of this', one should look to the immediately preceding context for fuller understanding. The author is speaking of finding eternal liberation, of Christ offering himself to God through the eternal Spirit, and his blood purifying our conscience from dead works into the worship of the living God.
                        Last edited by robrecht; 05-03-2014, 09:37 AM.
                        βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                        ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                        אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                          Robrecht: When Paul and the other NT writers used ἀπολύτρωσις, do you think they were evoking the purchasing at the slave markets or the Exodus event? Or both? Or something else?
                          Paul only uses this word twice, once very generally and once for the 'redemption' of our bodies, so it is hard to make a specific case for him. For all the authors, one should look at each usage in context, but I do think the idea of liberation/release from slavery, imprisonment, prostitution, etc, is an important background for understanding this metaphor. The 'Exodus event' was also liberation from slavery.

                          I do think Paul is using or alluding to this metaphor with (ἐξ)αγοράζω in 1 Cor 6,20 7.23 Gal 3,14 4,5, especially in 1 Cor 7,23.
                          Last edited by robrecht; 05-03-2014, 10:00 AM.
                          βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                          ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                          אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                            Do the Scriptures use monetary and debt imagery in these ways:
                            1) We owe God a debt and Jesus paid it for us or
                            2) We owe the devil a debt and Jesus paid it for us?

                            It really doesn't seem that way to me. 3) is possible, and much less clear-cut:

                            3) Jesus redeemed (monetarily) us slaves.

                            That we have obtained redemption through Jesus' work I do not question. But I do wonder if it's using the monetary sense of redemption. Consider: in the main Jewish story of redemption, of deliverance, of the freeing of the slaves, God does not give Pharaoh something of similar value to the Jews slaves in exchange for taking them out. No, when God redeems his people (Exodus 6:6) Pharoah and his are defeated, not given something in exchange.

                            Hence, when the NT writers speak of redemption (ἀπολύτρωσιν), are they using it in a monetary sense?

                            (NB: I am not arguing that monetary imagery is valid or accurate, but that it doesn't seem Scriptural. Constructive discussion only, with contextual use of the Scriptures, please.)
                            These two passages came to mind:
                            Give us this day our daily bread,
                            12 and forgive us our debts,
                            as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:11-12)

                            “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (from Matthew 18)

                            The word "redemption" does not appear in either text, but the forgiveness of debts is clearly used as a metaphor for the forgiveness of sins. Within the logic of Matthew 18, the manager's debt is owed to the king. Matthew 6 doesn't specify, but a debt is normally forgiven by the one to whom it is owed, which in this case would be God.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                              Do stop posting in this thread. Thanks.
                              Why don't you ever tell me to stop posting, Paprika? What's wrong with you?

                              Edited to add: Minor correction.
                              Last edited by The Remonstrant; 05-03-2014, 11:47 AM.
                              For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

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