Jesus Paid The Ransom, But To Whom?


The generally given definition of the word ‘ransom’ is to buy back or to free by paying the release price. Certainly, this is involved in it, because the root of the word ‘ransom’ is the word ‘luo’, which, in New Testament times was used in numerous ways.

1. Of a soldier unbuckling his armour.

2. Of the removing of a harness from a horse.

3. Of the freeing of a prisoner, or slave by paying a price.

In fact, the word which describes the ransom price is the word ‘lutron’, which is made up, as you can readily see, of the root word ‘lou’ and the suffix ‘tron’. That suffix, ‘tron’ usually indicated the means or method by which a thing was accomplished.

For instance, the word from ‘to plough’ was ‘haroo’ and the tool by which the ploughing was done, was a ‘harotron’. And, similarly, to be set free by paying a ransom price was ‘luo’ and the means whereby the release was obtained was by paying over the ransom, which was the ‘lutron’.

The purpose of the Lord Jesus and thus the purpose of God Himself was to see us free by providing a ransom.

Now, it is at this point that we may find ourselves in difficulties, if we’re not careful, because, throughout the centuries, theologians have argued long and hard about this ransom aspect of the Gospel, without, I have to say, reaching any universally accepted conclusion.

The question which they so fiercely debated was, to whom was the ransom paid? Some thought that the price was paid to the Devil, but was it? and should it have been?

There are all kinds of reasons why this couldn’t possibly be the case. The most obvious objection to this would be that if mankind had to be freed by the Lord Jesus by paying, a ransom to the Devil, that would imply that Satan has superior power and would mean that he had gained a victory.

Well, the Lord himself put Satan in his place when He told His parable of the man who sowed good seed in his field. You will remember that it was whilst men slept, i.e., at night, that an enemy came along and maliciously sowed weeds.

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. ‘The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. ‘The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ Matthew 13:24-30

Now the facts to notice are these

1. The one who sowed the good seed was the owner of the field.

2. And in order to do damage, the enemy had to come under cover of darkness.

In explaining the parable to His disciples, Jesus said.

1. The field is the world.

2. The one who sowed the good seed in his own field is the Son of Man, Himself. In other words, the world belongs to the Lord Himself

3. The enemy who came by night to do his wicked work is the Devil.

This is as far as we need to go with the parable. The point which is very clearly made here is that the devil has no rights at all in this world, John 8:44.

Any claim to power which he may make is a false claim and any hold he has on mankind has been secured by deception and lies because he had been a murderer and a liar from the beginning.

The Scriptures clearly state that Jesus paid a ransom but there are some who teach that the ransom was paid to Satan and others say that the ransom is paid to God. It’s important to understand the truth so that we are able to communicate the truth, Matthew 20:24-28 / Mark 10:41-45 / 1 Timothy 2:5-6 / Genesis 2:16-17 / Genesis 3:1-7 / Genesis 3:21-24 / Romans 5:6-14 / Romans 6:23 / Revelation 13:8.

The ransom was identified when man, Adam, sinned against God and chose to be liable for his own soul by deciding for himself what is right and what is wrong. The penalty for violating the commands of God is death or eternal separation from God. It is the paid ransom that allows the ransomed one to return to his family, to God.

What was the price of the ransom? Exodus 12:5-10 / John 1:29 / Psalm 49:6-9 / Proverbs 13:7-9 / Matthew 20:28 / Mark 10:45 / 1 Timothy 2:5-6 / Acts 13:26-30 / 1 Peter 1:18-21 / Romans 4:18-25 / Hebrews 7:26-27 / Hebrews 9:13-22 / John 10:16-18 / Acts 2:22-24.

The price of the ransom was the blood of a lamb without spot and without blemish. That lamb was Jesus. He paid the full price, not part of the price but the entire price of the ransom.

How can we know for sure to who the ransom was paid? Exodus 30:11-12 / Jeremiah 31:10-11 / Hosea 13:14 /  Isaiah 53:10-11.

Clearly, the Scriptures teach that it is God who is to be paid the ransom. It was God who we offended by our sins and it is to him that redemption is to be made. The debt that is owed is to God. The preciousness of God is that he is the only one who could afford to pay the price, which He did.

How do we know for sure that the ransom wasn’t paid to Satan? Ezekiel 18:4-9 / Revelation 1:17-18 / Isaiah 41:4 / Isaiah 44:6 / Isaiah 48:12 / John 5:21-23 / Revelation 19:20 / Revelation 20:10 / Psalm 139:8 / Romans 1:22-32.

The ransom could not be paid to Satan because the souls do not belong to Him but to God. It is Jesus Christ, God in flesh, who has the keys to hell and death that determines who enters into the presence of God and who enters into eternal damnation. There is nowhere anyone can go to hide himself from God.

Also note that it is Satan who will be judged, found guilty, and sentenced to eternity in ‘the lake of fire’ from which there is no escape. If the ransom was to be paid to Satan then that would indicate that Satan stole something from God and as such he has power over God.

Reality is significantly different in that God gave men over to their own lusts and desires. The realm of lust, desire, and sin is the realm of Satan so Satan could not have stolen that which he was given.

It does appear to be logical, as a ransom is normally paid to the person who has captured the one kidnapped, so there is a kind of logic to this belief of the ransom being paid to the devil, but I don’t agree that this is a correct understanding of the idea of Jesus paying a ransom.

The one to whom we owe a debt because of our sin is God, not Satan. Jesus paid the debt, or perhaps put even better, he paid the penalty for our sins.

Romans 6:23 says the ‘wages’ of sin is death. We earned the death penalty, spiritually, for our sin, and Jesus paid that ‘debt’ when he died on the cross for our sins.



"One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.’"