Colossians 1:14-20
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:…

The liberty for which the slave longs is, perhaps, the sweetest earthly cup man drinks. Health has been often said to be the greatest earthly blessing. What are money, luxury, titles, a crown even, without it; but what is health without liberty. We sympathize with the instinctive love of freedom in animals — the noisy joy of the dog when he gets off his chain; the noble eagle chained to the perch, strangling in its struggles to escape. Much more do we sympathize with our fellow-creatures, whether slaves or citizens, who have made the altars of liberty red with their blood, preferring death to bondage. But them is a more degrading and dreadful slavery, that of the slaves of Satan, who are sold under sin. Would that we set the same price on spiritual as we do on earthly liberty! What struggles would then be made and prayers offered for salvation! And when saved ourselves, how anxious we should be for the salvation of others.

I. WE ALL NEED REDEMPTION. To a man who knows he is nigh unto death offer a medicine that will cure him, and he will buy it at any price; but offer the same to one who believes himself in health and he holds it cheap. For a similar reason are Christ and His redemption rejected of men. So the great work of God's Spirit is to rouse a man from the torpor induced by the poison of sin. And blessed the book, preacher, or providence that sends the conviction into our hearts. For to a soul convinced of misery who so welcome as the Saviour?

1. The slavery of sin is natural to man, We pity the mother as robbed of one of her best joys, who knows that the little creature on her bosom is a slave. But that calamity is ours. "In sin did my mother conceive me." "I am carnal, sold under sin." "Ye were the slaves of sin" — not one hired for a period, but branded with the mark of a perpetual bondage.

2. This slavery is the universal state of man. Slavery is the worst and oldest of human institutions. At an early period, in Cain, he who should have been his brother's keeper, became his murderer; and when man did become his brother's keeper, it was too often as an owner. But, wherever slavery obtained, some were free. It is not so with sin. The king and the beggar are both slaves; every man's heart is black, whatever his face may be.

3. This slavery is the state of all unconverted men.

(1) Some are slaves of gold. What bondage is equal to that? for a man to harden his heart to the claims of pity, to deny his own flesh and blood, to lie and cheat, or, if not, throw his soul away for money.

(2) Some are slaves of lust. To what base society and acts of villainy do their tyrant passions condemn them. The thief that steals my money is a man of honour compared with him who steals a woman's virtue.

(2) Some are slaves of drunkenness. Of all slavery this is the most helpless and hopeless. Other sins drown conscience, this season as well.

(3) Some are slaves to the opinions of the world. The Macedonian boasted that he had conquered the world; the world can boast that it has conquered them. Theirs the miserable condition of a servant who has to bear in some ill-governed household the caprices, not of one mistress, but of many.

II. OUR REDEMPTION IS NOT A SIMPLE MATTER OF TIME. Every fifty years, and in certain cases, seven, redeemed the Hebrew. Everywhere time works changes, the young grow old, the poor get rich, the rich poor. Time alters the form of the globe. But amid these changes the condition of the sinner alters not. The longer you live in sin the more hopeless is salvation. Do you say, But what am I to do? Can I redeem myself? Assuredly not. But are we to sit still as though redemption would come like a jubilee in the common course of providence? No, we are to be up and doing. I do not say that we are to rise like an oppressed nation which wrings its liberties from a tyrant hand; nor that we can purchase redemption; nor that through works of righteousness we can lay any claim to its blessings. And yet I say, "Labour for the meat that endureth unto everlasting life." There are various ways of being diligent. Though men call him idle the poor beggar is as diligent as others; and such as that suppliant's, along with the use of other means, are the labours to which God's mercy and your own necessities call you. Unable to save yourself, besiege the throne of grace.

III. CHRIST IS THE REDEEMER. There is no other. His types and symbols teach this. There was but one ark in the flood, and all perished save those who sailed in it. There was but one altar in the Temple, one way through the Red Sea, "one Mediator between God and man."

1. Christ does not redeem us by simply revealing the truth. Were He a Saviour only in this sense there are others. From "the Sun of Righteousness" He changes into a star, one of a constellation which is formed of Moses and the prophets. Many of them, indeed, had more to do in revealing God's will than Christ. No book bears His name, and the truths which fell from Him form but a fraction of Scripture. Yet who but He is set forth as the Redeemer, in whose name else are we commanded to believe and be baptized?

2. Christ does not redeem us by His example. That man is in a sense my saviour who leads me safely along any dangerous path, and in a corresponding way some say Christ redeemed us. He set us such an example, that by following His steps we may enter the kingdom of heaven. Alas for safety if it turn on that I Walk as He walked! Who is sufficient for that? We should certainly attempt to follow Jesus, yet our best attempts will leave us more and more convinced that our only hope for redemption lies in the mercy of the Father and the merits of the Son.

3. Christ has redeemed us by suffering in our room and stead. "Without shedding of blood is no remission." "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin."

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)


1. Sin is a violation of the law of God (1 John 3:4). In this law there is the precept which is the rule of duty, and the sanction or penalty which shows what God might do if He dealt with us according to our merit. Accordingly in sin there is —

(1) The fault. Man, God's subject, and obliged to Him by His benefits, swerves from the rule of his duty and exposes himself to God's judgment.

(2) The guilt, which is liableness to punishment.

2. Forgiveness is a dissolving the obligation to punishment, a freedom in God's way from the consequences of sin.

(1) It is not a disannulling of the act as a natural action. What is done cannot be undone.

(2) Nor is it abolished as a criminal action. Forgiveness does not make a fault to be no fault. The innocent are acquitted, but the guilty are pardoned as sinners.

(3) Nor is the merit of the sinful act lessened, it still deserves punishment.

(4) Forgiveness therefore is a passing by the fault so that it shall not rise up in judgment against us. The fault is the sinner's, the punishment the Judge's, which He may fashion on certain terms stated in the law of grace.I prove it(1) from the nature of the thing, for there is such a relation between the fault and the guilt, the sin and punishment; that the one cannot be without the other. Therefore, if the Judge will not impute the fault there will be an immunity from punishment.

(2) From the common rule of speaking among men. He cannot be said to forgive a fault who exacts punishment; and what do men mean when they pray for pardon but that they may be exempted from punishment?

(3) It would impeach the justice and mercy of God were He to punish where He has pardoned.

(4) Scripture phrases show that God blots out our sins (Psalm 71:2; Psalm 32:1; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Jeremiah 31:34).


1. Our being redeemed supposes a captivity and bondage.

(1) Unrenewed men are slaves to sin (Titus 3:3; John 8:34). Men imagine a life of vanity to be a very good life, and it were so if liberty consisted in doing what we list rather than what we ought. But it is not, and experience shows that men cannot leave their base satisfactions.

(2) As they are under sin so they are under Satan (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:26).

(3) For this they are under the curse of God.

2. To recover us there was a price to be paid by way of ransom to God. We are not delivered by prayer, nor mere force, nor out of pity, but by just satisfaction to provoked justice. The price was not paid to Satan, who is a usurper — from him we are delivered by force — but to God. Man had not sinned against Satan, but God, to whom belong condemnation or pardon. And God being satisfied, Satan has no power over us. That redemption implies payment of a price is clear (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6). Christ in recovering men in dealing with God is set forth as a Lamb slain (Revelation 5:5, 6); in dealing with Satan as a lion recovering the prey. A ransom was necessary because God had made a former covenant which was not to be quit but upon valuable consideration, lest His moral attributes should fall to the ground.

(1) The honour of His justice was to be secured (Romans 3:5, 6; Genesis 18:25). If God should pardon without satisfaction how should He be reverenced as the holy Governor of the world? Hence Romans 3:25, 26.

(2) His wisdom. If the law should be recalled, the Lawgiver would run the hazard of levity.

(3) His holy nature would not permit it. Some way must be found to signify His hatred of sin (Psalm 11:6).

(4) His authority. It would be a derogation to the authority of His law if it might be broken with impunity.

(5) His truth. God's word is not to be regarded as a scarecrow (Genesis 3:5; Deuteronomy 29:19, 20).

3. None was fit to give this ransom but Jesus Christ, the God-man. He was man to undertake it in our name, God to perform it in His own strength; a man that He might be under the law and die, God that He might put the stamp upon the metal and make it current coin. By taking human nature a price was put into His hands, to which His Divine nature gave the requisite value (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:13).

4. Nothing performed by Christ could be a sufficient ransom but His death.

(1) To answer the types wherein without shedding of blood was no remission.

(2) In the nature of the thing (John 8:20). Death was threatened to sin, and feared by the sinner, and must be borne, therefore, for deliverance.

5. From this ransom there is a liberty resulting to us; but not a liberty to sin (Romans 6:22). Christ came not to free us from the duty of the law, but its penalty, otherwise it would promote the devil's interest. He redeemed us that we might serve God.

6. We are not partakers of this liberty till we are united to Christ by faith "in whom."


1. How a part.

(1) Redemption is taken for the laying down of the price. That was done on the cross (Hebrews 9:12).

(2) In its application. Besides the ransom there is actual deliverance. Complete redemption we shall enjoy at the last day (Romans 8:23; Ephesians 4:30; Ephesians 1:14). Begun deliverance, which we now enjoy by faith, consists of justification (Ephesians 1:7), where sin is freely pardoned, and we delivered from evil and wrath; and sanctification (1 Peter 1:18; Titus 2:14).

2. A principal part, for —

(1) The power of Satan is destroyed (Acts 26:18).

(2) The reign of sin is broken. The gift of the sanctifying Spirit is part of our pardon applied (Colossians 2:13).

(3) We are eased of our tormenting fears.

(4) Death is unstinged (1 Corinthians 15:56).

(5) The obligation to, eternal punishment ceases.

IV. USE. To persuade you to seek after this benefit.

1. We all once needed it. Nothing but pardon will serve your turn.

(1) Not forbearance on God's part.

(2) Not senseless forgetfulness or baseless hope on yours.

2. The best of us still need it. Renewed sins need new pardon; daily infirmities daily repentance.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

1. The apostle had been speaking of Christian privileges as being matters of present enjoyment — meetness for heaven; deliverance from sin, dec., are in the actual possession of the Christian.

2. There are two methods proposed by which men hope to secure God's favour. Thousands consider it presumption to profess to have it, but hope to do so after they have prayed more and done more good deeds. God's method is the reverse. What man places at the end He places at the beginning; what man says "work for," He says "work from." Turning away our thoughts from self He fixes them on Christ.

3. The different results on feeling resulting are immense. The man who works for future forgiveness has at best the spirit of a servant; he who takes forgiveness now as God's free gift in Christ enjoys reconciliation and sonship.


1. Redemption is something more than rescue. If you see a man in danger and pluck him out you save but not redeem him. If you see a man oppressed and snatch him from his enemy you deliver but not redeem him. Redemption is the release of a man by the payment of ransom. We by our transgressions have exposed ourselves to God's law, which knows no pity, holds us in its grasp, and will inflict, unless we are delivered, the fearful penalty of eternal death. But if that penalty be remitted we are redeemed, and so forgiveness is equivalent to redemption. But sin has also brought us under its own power, and so made us its slaves; and the only way of securing us and setting us free is forgiveness.

2. The one thing we absolutely require as sinners is the remission of the horrible penalty, and it is neither irrational nor immoral to be afraid of that penalty; but we must be released from the power of sin before our happiness can be secured. Tell me that I am not to be punished and you have made me glad, but you have not inspired me with love to God. But tell me that the means of forgiveness is the sacrifice of God's dear Son, that God pardons not only as a Sovereign but as a Father, and the power of sin will be broken, and I enter on the joyful, ennobling service of love.


1. In Philippians 2. the apostle, in speaking of Christ's death, has in view Christ's obedience; here in using the term "blood" his idea is expiation, and so elsewhere where the word is used; because in the Jewish sacrifices it was not the death of the victim, but its blood that was the typical instrument of expiation.

2. Such a redemption is necessary to meet the demands of the heart and to produce a changed feeling towards God.

(1) Forgiveness must be a righteous forgiveness; not a mere easy, weak-minded passing over of transgression. Redemption by the blood of Christ meets this demand of the awakened conscience, for in the cross God appears more awful than elsewhere in His hatred of sin and His determination to punish it.

(2) But it is also the forgiveness of a Father we want, and nowhere have we such an exhibition of God's love as in the cross. Conclusion. — This redemption is only to be had in Christ. Out of Him, however respectable and moral, we are slaves of sin and exposed to the curse.

(G. Calthrop, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

WEB: in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins;

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