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The Greek word translated “redeemed” in 1 Peter 1:18 is lutroo.[1]. It means “to ransom.” We were ransomed. We know what it means to be ransomed. If someone gets kidnapped, then you have to pay a ransom to get him or her back. What is the usual threat if the ransom demand isn’t met? Murder! If you don’t pay the ransom, they are going to kill your loved one. In the last chapter we looked at propitiation and saw that it was an appeasement of an offended power. Now we are talking about redemption, which has a different nuance. It means to ransom—a price must be paid. Who is the kidnapper? The devil. He is not the owner; he’s the kidnapper, a liar, and a thief. If someone doesn’t pay the ransom price, he says, “I’m going to kill!”

The devil had the power of death,[2] the strength and force necessary to bring it about. A kidnapper has the power of death, but does he have the authority of death? No, he has the power but not the right to carry it out. The devil kidnapped the human race and held them out for ransom. Jesus Christ paid the ransom price and bought us from death. That’s lutroo.

Aside from 1 Peter 1:18, lutroo is used in only two other places: Luke 24:21 “redeemed Israel” and Titus 2:14 “that He might redeem us from all iniquity.” We are redeemed from sin, we are redeemed from transgression, and we are redeemed from iniquity. He redeemed us from all iniquity that He might purify to Himself a peculiar people, a people zealous for good works. He has a purpose in this. He wants us to be servants of righteousness. People who serve righteousness with zeal are peculiar; they are not ordinary. Do you want to be distinctive? Do you want to stand out in the crowd? Be zealous of good works!

Lutroo comes from lutron.[3]  Lutron[4] means to loose with a redemption price; it comes from luo.[5]  Now we have arrived at the root. The root word of redemption is luo. It means “to loosen.” In its 43 uses in the New Testament, the King James translators have rendered it variously as “break up,” “destroy,” “dissolve,” “loose,” “melt,” and “put off.” Now we have arrived at a treasure trove! We are going to see the reason redemption is effective—because Christ has loosed us, He has set us free.

God likes to begin big and works His way down to the details. He makes strong, universal statements and then fills in the rest of the picture for us. For instance, Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heaven and the earth—big picture. The rest of the chapter gives details of that creation. Genesis 1:27 says that God created man, male and female, in His own image. Then chapter two gives us the details of their creation. Exodus 20:3 says “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The rest of the commandments then give us the details of how not to have idols.

Following this pattern of the big to the small, strong to the distinct, we are going to first look at the strongest use of luo in Scripture. Once we see the strength of this term and what it can encompass, we will have a good mental picture of how absolutely set free we are.

Devolution to Dissolution
Scientists are aware of four elemental forces in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force. Of these, gravity is the weakest. For instance, the electromagnetic force in a small magnet can overcome the whole gravitational pull of the earth on a paperclip. The weak nuclear force exhibits itself through radioactive decay, something that occurs all around us on a consistent basis.[6] A breech of the strong nuclear force can be cataclysmic. This is the force that holds the nucleus of atoms together; when we tear them apart, we enter into e=mc2 territory.

2 Peter 3:10-12
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt [luo] with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved [luo], what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved [luo], and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

This is nothing more and nothing less than a description of a nuclear meltdown of the universe as we know it! Luo, to loose, is strong enough to describe the breakdown of the universe at an atomic level. If you think that is too much for me to say regarding a word used in a Greek text that was written in the first century A.D., recall that atomic theory had its birth as early as the fourth century B.C.[7] We received the concept of the atom from the Greeks, and this Greek term is strong enough to describe elemental, molecular atomic dissolution.[8] One can’t get any looser than that!

So that’s the word tree: lutroo, lutron, luo. We are going to look at some uses of luo that apply to the end result of our redemption. But first we are going to look at intercession.

[1] Strong’s # NT:3084
[2] Heb 2:14
[3] Strong’s # NT:3083
[4] This term is used twice (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45) and translated “ransom” both times.
[5] Strong’s # NT:3089
[6] Rom 8:20-21
[7] John Gribbin, In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat, “Democritus of Abdera, who died sometime close to 370 B. C., [proposed] that the complex nature of the world could be explained if all things were composed of different kinds of unchangeable atoms… ‘The only existing things are atoms and empty space; all else is mere opinion,’ he wrote.” Bantam Books, New York, New York, © 1984 by John and Mary Gribbin, p. 19.
[8] In physics, matter is described as being in different phases. We are familiar with the primary three: gas, liquid, solid. But the fourth phase, dissociated atomic matter, is not so common. It is called plasma.