Mea Culpa: How I was Wrong on Eph. 1:13-14 and the "Redemption of the Purchased Possession"


To make mistakes is unavoidable.  However, while it is not in our power to never err, it is in our power to quickly admit our mistakes and move on.

I try to have the humility and forthrightness to admit when I have been wrong.  My take on Eph. 1:13-14 is one of those cases where I have to admit to having been wrong. The view I formerly took on this passage was that the "redemption of the purchased possession" spoke to the church's redemption from the bondage of sin.  My thinking was that the church is the "purchased possession."   

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28). 

By this (mistaken) view, the church was the purchased possession and was waiting of redemption. And what could redemption be but remission of sins?  However, I now see that I was totally wrong. 

First, the idea that the church was waiting for redemption and justification - that these were somehow held in abeyance until AD 70 - simply has no Biblical support.  Dozens and dozens and dozens of verses affirm that redemption and justification were complete and possessed by the church from and after the cross.  Not one verse can be produced showing that justification came in AD 70, or tha the church remained under the debt of sin after the cross. Since redemption from sin was already an accomplished fact, redemption in Eph. 1:13, 14 cannot speak to sin. 

Second, the passage itself indicates what the "purchased possession" is; viz., our heavenly inheritance.  When Christ purchased our salvation from sin, he also purchased our adopted sonship and eternal inheritance above. As a token of our adoption, God has "sealed" us with his Spirit in our hearts: 

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage against o fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him that we ma be also glorified together" (Rom. 8:14-17). 

A "seal" is an evidentiary token or device. When we obtain copies of official documents, the clerk affixes an official seal to them for purposes of authentication.  Paul says in Rom. 8:14-17, above, that the Spirit "beareth witness" with our spirit (authenticates) that we are the children of God. The groaning of the Spirit that cannot be uttered (v. 26) and our cries of "Abba, Father" are the "earnest" (guarantee, surety) of our inheritance. 

The probable source of Paul's imagery in Ephesians is the book of Jeremiah.  Under the law of Moses, the right of redemption - viz., the right to purchase and possess - a family member's land fell to the near kinsman, who purchased the land under seal (some token of evidence). This very thing is shown in language remarkably similar to Eph. 1:13-14, when the prophet Jeremiah was in prison during the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar: 

"And Jeremiah said, “The word of the LORD came to me, saying,  ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.”’  Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.  So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver.  And I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales.  So I took the purchase deed, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open;  and I gave the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses who signed the purchase deed, before all the Jews who sat in the court of the prison"(Jer. 32:6-12; emphasis added). 

This passage describes Jeremiah's purchase (redemption) of his uncle's land. The redemption was sealed in evidence of his purchase. God's purpose in having Jeremiah buy the land served to assure his promise to restore the captivity to Palestine. 

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days.” For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land”’ (Jer. 32:13, 14). 

It is easy to see the analogy to our case. Our paternal inheritance in heaven has been purchased by our Kinsman Redeemer (Christ), with whom we are joint-heirs of eternal life.  The transaction was paid in blood, and the evidence of the purchase has been sealed in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, by whom we cry "Abba, Father." This yearning serves as the earnest of our heavenly inheritance until it comes into our actual possession. 


Ephesians 1:13-14 expressly states that our inheritance is the purchased possession of which the Spirit is the earnest and seal.  Redemption from sin and justification is nowhere in the text.



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