Sunday, April 9, 2017

1 Timothy 2:6 Corresponding Ransom

A while back, a very adamant (and even more so, extremely cocky) man took one of our old publications to task claiming it had misused and misinterpreted 1 Timothy 2:5,6.

The book title is: You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth. On page 62, paragraph 16, the whole paragraph reads:

A legal principle in God's law for the nation of Israel is involved. It states that life should be given for life.' (Exodus 21:23, Deuteronomy 19:21) By his disobedience the perfect man Adam lost perfect life on a paradise earth for himself and all his children. Jesus Christ gave his own perfect life to buy back what Adam lost. Yes, Jesus "gave himself a corresponding ransom for all." (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) Because he was a perfect man, even as Adam had been, Jesus is called "the last Adam." (1 Corinthians 15:45) No human other than Jesus could have provided the ransom. This is because Jesus is the only man who ever lived that was equal to Adam as a perfect human son of God.--Psalm 49:7; Luke 1:32; 3:38.

To that man, the above-quoted paragraph implied that Jesus corresponds to Adam. However, the context of the scripture says that Jesus’ ransom corresponded to all human life. 1 Timothy 2:5,6, according to the New World Translation states: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all—this is what is to be witnessed to in its own due time.

So is the implied (misunderstood) use what was intended? In the following quote from the Insight On Scriptures, we see that it was not: “Lyʹtron (from the verb lyʹo, meaning “loose”) was especially used by Greek writers to refer to a price paid to ransom prisoners of war or to release those under bond or in slavery. (Compare Heb 11:35.) In its two Scriptural occurrences, it describes Christ’s giving “his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Mt 20:28; Mr 10:45) The related word an·tiʹly·tron appears at 1 Timothy 2:6. Parkhurst’s Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament says it means: “a ransom, price of redemption, or rather a correspondent ransom.” He quotes Hyperius as saying: “It properly signifies a price by which captives are redeemed from the enemyLink to full article. (See “Supplemental” at the end of this article.)

So the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses use the scripture correctly and preach as much. I personally have always understood the passage in 1 Timothy correctly, so I don’t know how any reasonable person could conclude differently.

However, what about the matter of Christ somehow corresponding to Adam? 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 draws that exact relationship. Adam, lost his perfection when he sinned. But he did not lose it only for himself. He lost it for all his progeny for all time. In contrast, Jesus, who maintained his loyalty to the end of his earthly life, gained not only a heavenly resurrection to eternal life for himself, but became a “life-giving spirit” for all those who would accept the ransom being provided. (I’m not trying to split hairs here. Yes, Jesus died for all mankind, but not all mankind will respond to this life-saving provision. As stupid as it may sound, there are actually folks that reject the provision like in the case of this real life bank robbery. In like manner, atheists, agnostics, religions not based on the Bible, or a belief in Jesus, all reject the provision of the ransom. That rejection will cost them their lives.)

In summary then, indeed Jesus’ ransom acted for the benefit of all mankind--if only they would respond. It is also true that there is both a correspondence and a contrast between Adam as a perfect man (prior to sin) and to Jesus who never wavered in his loyalty. Adam’s action sold us into slavery to sin and death while Jesus gave us all the opportunity for a glorious, unending future.

One thing I did notice between the NWT and other translations is the lack of the word “corresponding” in verse 6. So I researched further. The Greek word for ransom (antilutron), according to the same website just cited, is actually broken down into two parts (See “Helps Word-studies”): “anti,” carrying the context of “corresponding,” and “lutron” (or “lytron”) meaning “ransom price.” So where other translations chose to only render “antilutron” as “ransom,” the NWT chose to correctly, and more accurately render it “corresponding ransom."

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