Question: "What does it mean that in Him we have redemption (Ephesians 1:7)?"
Answer: In Ephesians 1 we learn about our incredible spiritual riches in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) and how God works to provide these riches for us—including our redemption: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:7–8).
In Ephesians 1 Paul encourages believers at Ephesus by explaining their new identity in Christ. God gave us that new identity, and we learn in the following chapter that we receive God’s grace by faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9). This new identity in Christ is characterized by our having every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
Notably, all three Persons of the Trinity played a role in giving us these blessings. God the Father chose us to be in Christ to be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4). He also predetermined or predestined that we would be adopted as sons through the work of Christ (Ephesians 1:5). God the Son also worked so that we could have a new identity. In Him we have redemption and forgiveness through His shed blood (Ephesians 1:7). God the Holy Spirit seals believers as God’s guarantee or pledge that we do indeed have eternal life (Ephesians 1:13–14).
This new identity in Christ is made possible by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and it is accomplished by the work of Christ on the cross. In Him we have redemption, which Paul identifies as the forgiveness of our sins according to God’s rich grace given to us. The term redemption is translated from the Greek apolutrosin, which means “the act of fully setting free.” Paul explains the need for that redemption in the following chapter.
In Ephesians 2, we learn that we need redemption because we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). We were physically alive, but we were in bondage to sin and walked enslaved to the world, the devil, and our own flesh (Ephesians 2:2–3). Ultimately, we were deserving of God’s wrath. We owed a debt we could never repay on our own. We were enemies of God (Romans 5:10), as Paul explains elsewhere. But in Christ we have redemption (Ephesians 1:7). He died on the cross to set us free. By God’s grace through our believing in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9) we are set free from the bondage of sin (Romans 8:2) and from the wrath and judgment of God (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Paul writes to make sure that believers understand that in Christ we have redemption—in Him we are fully set free. Furthermore, God has accomplished this for His own glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). We know that, if God has staked His own glory on our having redemption in Him, that God has made certain that we are fully set free. Jesus explained that the one who believes in Him has eternal life (John 6:47). Peter identifies at least eleven ways we can be certain that the redemption we have in Christ has been accomplished (1 Peter 1:3–5). Paul affirms to the Colossians that in Him we have redemption, which is the forgiveness of our sins (Colossians 1:14). And if there is any doubt in our minds as to the security of our redemption in Christ, Paul reminds us that we are sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).
Though we are still surrounded by the consequences of sin—even in our own bodies—one day we will experience every aspect of being free from sin. In Him we have redemption. In Him we have been fully set free.