Redeemer (Christianity)

Christian theology sometimes refers to Jesus using the title Redeemer or Saviour. This refererences the salvation he accomplished, and is based on the metaphor of redemption, or "buying back". In the New Testament, redemption can refer both to deliverance from sin and to freedom from captivity.[1]

Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue is an iconic image of Jesus Christ with his arms outstretched, representing his message of love and redemption for all people.

Although the gospels do not use the title "Redeemer", the idea of redemption occurs in several of Paul's letters. Leon Morris says that "Paul uses the concept of redemption primarily to speak of the saving significance of the death of Christ."[2]



The New Testament speaks of Christ as the one Saviour for all people.[3] The First Epistle of John says that Jesus is "the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the world" (1 John 2:2). Adherents of unlimited atonement interpret this to mean that Jesus' redemptive role is for all people without exception, while adherents of limited atonement interpret it as being available to all yet would work itself out in only the elect.

The first Christians also recognized Jesus' redemptive role to be unique (without parallel), complete (as one who conveys the fullness of salvation), and definitive (beyond any possibility of being equaled, let alone surpassed, in his salvific function). In particular, his universal role means that through him the deadly forces of evil are overcome, sin is forgiven, their contamination purified, and the new existence as God's beloved, adopted children has been made available.[4] This New Testament sense of Christ's indispensable and necessary role for human salvation could be summarized by a new axiom: extra Christum nulla salus ("outside Christ no salvation").[citation needed] This sense of his all-determining role in the whole redemptive drama is suggested by a fact: unlike the Old Testament, where various human beings could be called "saviour" (e.g., Judges 3: 9, 15, and 31), the New Testament gives the title "Saviour" only to God (eight times) and to Christ (sixteen times).[4]

See also



  1. ^ Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, 177.
  2. ^ Leon Morris, 'Redemption' Dictionary of Oxford and his Letters (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993): 784.
  3. ^ On Christ's role as universal Saviour, cf. Gerald O'Collins, Salvation for All: God's Other Peoples, OUP (2008).
  4. ^ a b For this section, and its respective themes and positions, compare Gerald O'Collins, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus, OUP (2009), pp. 297–333. Cf. also O'Collins, Salvation for All: God's Other Peoples, cit.; id., Jesus: A Portrait, Darton, Longman & Todd (2008), Chs 11–12; id., Incarnation, Continuum (2002), pp. 36–42; J.A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke I–IX, Doubleday (1981), pp. 79–82; Karl Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith, trans. W.V. Dych, Darton, Longman & Todd (1978), pp. 193–195, 204–206, 279–280, 316–321.


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