“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” (1 Peter 1:18–19, AV)
My wife and I often watch various British mystery shows on television. The idea is to try to keep up with the subtle clues and see if we are as smart as the detectives. Some of these shows involves a kidnapping. The kidnappers will contact the family of the person who they kidnapped and ask for an amount of money to return their loved one. There is usually a large sum of money involved and an elaborate scheme to ensure the kidnappers do not get caught. However, in most cases, the shows writers have carefully crafted the plot that the kidnappers get caught in the end.
The dictionary defines a ransom as a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity. For a ransom to work the price paid by the person offering the money must be sufficient to release the captive from the one that is holding him in bondage. Here, Peter states that believers were ransomed. But what is the point that Peter is making here?
Peter makes several huge and connecting points. First, the implication of the payment of the ransom is that people are captives in need of a release. Many verses of Scripture give us a better idea of what this means. Humanity was born enslaved to the world system, “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world” (Galatians 4:3, AV). All humanity was enslaved by sin, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14, AV). All of humanity is born as captives of the evil system that the devil has established in this world, and sin.
Second, he indicated that the price of a believer’s ransom went infinitely beyond any amount of earthly wealth that could be amassed. No amount of silver or gold was sufficient to ransom believers from sin. The only price that would work was the precious blood of Jesus, God’s only Son, the incarnate God. This was the highest ransom price ever paid to free someone ever. It was an infinite price paid for the sins of all humanity necessary to secure eternal redemption. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12, AV).
Third, in verse 20, Peter indicated that this ransom was paid for our sake. It was not only for our freedom but to purify us. Paul concisely captured this thought in his letter to Titus. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14, AV)
The last and culminating point is this. Since Jesus paid infinitely high ransom for us, we should live out our lives in gratitude through proper Christian conduct that glorifies Him. This is where Peter started this thought in verse 17, “conduct yourselves with fear” (1 Peter 1:17, ESV). The word fear here, phobos, in context refers to a reverential response to God. Because of what He has done for us, we should naturally respond by holding Him in the highest regard with loving submission to His will.