Question: "What does it mean that we are redeemed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13)?"
Answer: In Galatians 3:13, the apostle Paul states that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” When Paul refers to “the law,” he means the Mosaic Law found in the first five books of the Bible, which instructed the Israelites how to properly worship and honor God through various commands and requirements.
The Greek word for “redeem” in the Bible is exagorazo. It was a financial term that referred to the process of purchasing a slave’s freedom. When a slave was “redeemed,” he or she was no longer bound to the rules and expectations of a slave’s life. So, to be redeemed from the curse of the law means to be set free from its rules and regulations. In other words, those who are redeemed from the curse of the law are no longer required to observe the law’s commands as the Israelites were.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. That is, His sacrificial work on the cross purchased our freedom from the law. Jesus fulfilled the original intention and purpose of the Mosaic Law on our behalf (Matthew 5:17; Romans 8:34). What we could not do in perfectly obeying God’s will laid out in the law, Christ did for us. In that way, He fulfilled the law and accomplished what God intended.
This doesn’t mean we completely ignore everything in the Mosaic Law. There are many commands in the law that all people from all time should always obey. For example, Exodus 20:13 says, “You shall not murder.” Even though Christ fulfilled the law, God’s people should still observe the command not to take another human’s life. Though we are redeemed from the curse of the law and set free from its rules and regulations, it’s still important to observe the moral and ethical commands found within the law. Of the Ten Commandments, nine are repeated in the New Testament as commands for us today.
To be redeemed from the curse of the law also means that we no longer have to face the judgment of God. The law was perfect, and, as sinful beings, the Israelites could not perfectly observe the law. They were considered “cursed” whenever they disobeyed the law or failed to live up to its expectations. God’s judgment rested on all of those who did not live according to His ways. And since, according to Romans 2:14–15, God has placed the moral requirements of the law on all human hearts (not just the Israelites’), we are all under a curse and deserving of God’s judgment. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).
So, when Paul says in Galatians 3:13 that we are redeemed from the curse of the law, he means that we no longer will receive the judgment of God because of the way we fall short of His holy standards. In the same verse, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 21:23 in referring to Jesus’ death on the cross. Through Jesus’ atoning work on the cross, He became that curse for us in order to receive the judgment of God on Himself. He died in our place so that we wouldn’t have to experience the wrath of God (see 1 Peter 2:24); instead, we could receive the gift of His Holy Spirit (see Galatians 3:14).
To be redeemed from the curse of the law means to be freed from followings its rules and regulations and from experiencing the judgment of God. Jesus Christ is the Redeemer, becoming a curse for us and purchasing us from the slavery of sin through His death on the cross.