What Jesus Paid For

In the last post, Custom Shoe Arches and the Bible, I talked about it being easier to find what is NOT true than to find what is true. I then showed from just one passage that Jesus did not pay for all our sins, whether past, present, and future because the Bible says we can be punished for future sins.

What, then, did Jesus pay for with his death?

I thought the best way to determine this was to search for the words pay, paid, buy, and bought.

Pay and Paid

The first thing I noticed in searching for “pay” and “paid” is that God does not need a payment to forgive sin. Most of the uses of the word “pay” in the New Testament are found in one parable in Matthew 18:23-35. It is the parable of the unforgiving servant. His Master forgave him because he could not pay $10 million in debt. Then the servant went out and throttled his own debtor over $10,000 with no mercy at all. The Master heard about this, and he reinstated the servant’s debt.

The word “pay” is used six times in that parable. No one’s debt is paid. The Master simply forgave the debt, then reinstated it when the servant did not forgive his debtor. Luke 7:42 uses “pay” in a similar way, about two debts that could not be paid, but then were forgiven.

Maybe we should change the song from “He Paid a Debt He Did Not Owe” to “He Forgave a Debt Without Payment.” According to the parable, we did owe a debt we could not pay, but rather than paying for it himself, he simply forgave it.

Returning to “Jesus paid the price,” my search for the words “pay” and “paid” found no verses that had anything to do with the atonement. There was the parable just mentioned and then some references to paying taxes.

Buy and Bought

A search for the “buy” and “bought” found nothing related to the atonement in the Gospels, but it found a few important verses in the apostles’ letters.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:20: “Ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (KJV).
  • 1 Corinthians 7:23: “Ye are bought with a price; be not the servants of men” (KJV).
  • 2 Peter 2:1: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves” (NASB)

I used the KJV because I think my Bible program searches it better. In 2 Peter 2:1, I looked up the NASB because the KJV used the word “damnable,” which I did not want to write in the post, but now I have.

My Bible’s search program also brought up Revelation 14:4, in which the KJV says that the 144,000 virgins were “redeemed from among men.” I checked the Greek real quick and the NASB more slowly, and Revelation 14:4 can be translated “purchased from among men.”

Thus, the words “buy” and “bought” in the New Testament lead me to say, so far, that Jesus “paid the price” for us! He bought us!

Revelation 14:4 led me to the word redeem, which is very interesting.


The Greek word for “buy” is agorazo. It literally means “to be in the market place.” Thus, Thayer’s lexicon says that it means “to do business” in the market place. It can even mean sell. The Greek word for “redeem” is exagorazo, which is agorazo with an ex in front of it. It literally means, “out of the market place.” Thayer’s lexicon’s first definition is “by payment of price to recover from the power of another.”

While I am not qualified to give new meaning to Greek words, anyone is qualified to see the pictures that are in the Greek words. The picture is “out of the market place,” and the meaning is “by payment of price to recover from the power of another.”

More simply put, the picture is buying slaves out of the market place.

When the Bible says Jesus has redeemed us, it is saying he has “paid a price” to purchase us out of slavery.

What happens when someone buys a slave from a slave owner? The slave is not set free. He is turned over to a new owner. That new owner can set the slave free, but redemption in a slave market does not mean to be set free. It means to be purchased.

Both those things apply. We have seen above that Jesus bought us, and thus we belong to God. We are his slaves. The Bible also says that Jesus set us free, although we shall see in the next post that “setting us free” is simply a reference to his paying the price to redeem us from slavery to sin.

This road—following the New Testament words that have to do with purchasing, buying, and paying a price—is a long one. It is also a consistent one, without a lot of branches or forks.

Because it is a long one, let’s break here. In the next post, we will look at what the Bible says about Jesus freeing us. After that, we will go further down the road with the various Greek words for redemption. Of course, we must also cover the word “ransom,” which also means to purchase, though it is a unique kind of purchasing.

We have seen so far that Jesus paid the price to buy us, so that we are now owned by God. We have also seen that he bought us out of slavery. In the next post, we will talk about the freedom Jesus gives us and who or what it was that held us in slavery.

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