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To Whom Did Jesus Pay the Ransom for Us?

“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10 KJV).

We received this note:

My Pastor is going to be preaching that the price Christ (the bridegroom) paid for the church (the bride) had to be paid to Satan because before we are adopted sons of the Living God, we were sons of the devil. I know this is wrong, but am having a hard time finding a rebuttle Scripturally to refute this claim. Can you help me please?

Victor and Paul’s reply:

Robert, by God’s grace, you came to us for an answer. You will receive it because you know that what is about to be preached by your pastor is error, you disagree with it, yet you want to know what to answer according to the Word of God. This is all in spite of the fact that he is your pastor to whom, ideally, you are to submit. By God’s grace, we will give you what you need.

Since it was possible he might be preaching this weekend, I purposed to reply to you as soon as I could, if perchance the answer might be timely. We are, of course, assuming you understood him correctly. Is it possible your pastor is only using an expression or figure of speech? Is it possible you misunderstand him? That is a very easy thing to do, as we have discovered many times. However, we take this opportunity to answer you as you pose the problem, and we know that it will, not only serve to help you, but many others as well. It is a question that has been asked before, and it deserves an answer.

You ask for a rebuttal “Scripturally.” The Bible does indeed have all the answers; however, sometimes they are not as specific or direct as you might desire. For example, in replying to the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection, Jesus replied with a passage interpretation that answered their error, not specifically, but by reasonable deduction:

“But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32 MKJV).

Godly reason about what the Bible says should be sufficient for those who have the Spirit of God or who are disposed to believing the truth and obeying It. They needn’t have specific words from the Bible like, “Don’t drive on the wrong side of the road,” or, “Don’t smoke,” to know that the Bible does, in principle and essence, answer those issues by implication.

Correct us if wrong. Your pastor is saying that Jesus paid Satan the price for us, because we were all his sons, sons of the Devil. You don’t believe that Jesus paid Satan (rightly so), but you may also be wondering, “If Christ paid the price for us sinners, to whom did He pay it, if anyone?”

Let’s ask other questions in reply to your pastor’s notion:

One: Is the onus on you to refute his assertion? Is not the burden on him to show where in Scripture it says that God paid Satan the ransom, since he makes that claim? Ask him where in the Bible it says that God paid Satan the ransom; let him prove it.

Two: The Bible is clear that Satan is a liar and murderer from the beginning. Jesus Himself said so:

“You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you desire to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44 EMTV).

This tells us that he had no payment coming to him because he is the great usurper – a thief:

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 EMTV).

Tell me, Robert, does one pay a thief for stolen goods? In this world, it has happened and happens all the time, of course. Muslims and others extort money, taking hostages, threatening their lives, and holding them for ransom.

Criminals make fortunes robbing, embezzling, extorting, bribing, kidnapping, and blackmailing. They also plea bargain for lighter sentences or immunity, by giving the authorities what they want. So thieves do get paid for what is not rightfully theirs; but is that right? By the sense of justice God has given us, we know it is not. Therefore, we know that God would not do it Himself.

In true justice, thieves are arrested, penalized, and corrected, if possible; all stolen goods are confiscated and returned to rightful owners, without compensation to the offender.

“They do not despise a thief, if he steals to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; but if he is found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the goods of his house” (Proverbs 6:30-31 MKJV).

That is God’s Word and Law. Why would God pay a thief? Yes, this thief is known as the prince of this world, but it does not mean he is prince legitimately. It only means he rules as the prince of darkness over those in darkness, as God has appointed him. Liars, thieves, and murderers also serve His purposes, until all evil is put away. So why should God pay off His own agents of evil, who serve Him according to the judgments He performs with men? The Scriptures leave no doubt that God rules in perfect power, even now:

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 KJV).

“With Him is strength and sound wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are His” (Job 12:16 MKJV).

Here is the big difference between man and God: Men will pay ransoms or grant favors to liars, thieves, and murderers to somehow preserve themselves, be it their valuables, business ventures, freedoms, citizens, children, or other loved ones. But God did not so much as preserve His only begotten and beloved Son. His own arm brought Him salvation for His prize creature, man.

God paid for us with His own life. He was not moved or restrained by the true cost for what was needful. His act was not one of capitulation to the enemy, but one of grace (unmerited favor) toward us. He paid a price in that He gave us that which we did not deserve, out of His love, mercy, and generosity.

The Scriptures say nothing of God having to pay Satan or of Satan requiring payment from God, but they do say that the covenant God initiated and made with His people required His life:

Hebrews 9:11-24 MKJV
(11) But when Christ had become a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building
(12) nor by the blood of goats and calves, but by His Own blood He entered once for all into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
(13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh,
(14) how much more shall the blood of Christ (Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God) purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
(15) And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new covenant, so that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, those who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
(16) For where a covenant is, the death of him covenanting must be offered.
(17) For a covenant is affirmed over those dead, since it never has force when the one covenanting is living.
(18) From which we see that neither was the first covenant dedicated without blood.
(19) For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
(20) saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has enjoined to you.”
(21) And likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.
(22) And almost all things are by the Law purged with blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission.
(23) Therefore it was necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves were purified with better sacrifices than these.
(24) For Christ has not entered into the Holy of Holies made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.

It was God’s doing to make this covenant. Satan had nothing to do with it. Ask your pastor, “If payment was due to Satan, what would Satan want with the blood of goats and bulls?”

God was not after payment by blood of goats and bulls, either, or even the blood of His Son. His purpose was and is our redemption and union with Him, that we be in like mind and heart. Our need for redemption was a necessity itself, which God gloriously satisfied by His sacrifice, fulfilling the potential of His creation. Only He, as the Son of God, could do this.

Satan belongs to God, as do all things, and nothing Satan claims possession of is his unless God gives it to him. However, there is no record that God ever gave man to Satan. Even if man subjected himself to the serpent by partaking of the Tree of Knowledge, it would not mean God owes Satan anything. God owes none of His creatures anything at any time. He is ever the Creditor, and we are all debtors, every one.

Three: Do you think God would trust Satan to hand over the goods (man) if he were paid any amount? Are liars, thieves, and murderers to be trusted? Would God be so foolish as to strike a deal with Satan? Would that not suggest virtue with Satan?

Four: If your pastor is correct, where is the evidence that Satan surrendered the stolen goods to God upon payment?

Five: If Satan wanted Christ’s blood, why was he trying to prevent the shedding of it – the crucifixion?

Matthew 16:21-23 MKJV
(21) From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
(22) Then Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, God be gracious to You, Lord! This shall never be to You.
(23) But He turned and said to Peter, Go, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you do not savor the things that are of God, but those that are of men.

Jesus knew where the discouragement to fulfill His mission was coming from.

On the other hand, there are those who think Satan killed the Christ, contrary to His will, which is not true:

“No one takes My life from Me. I give My life of My own free will. I have the authority to give My life, and I have the authority to take My life back again. This is what My Father ordered me to do” (John 10:18 GW).

Yet, it is true that those who killed the Christ were sons of Satan, even as He called them.

Six: Did the Lord come to pay Satan or to destroy him (his works)?

“Since then the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise partook of the same; that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death (that is, the Devil), and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15 MKJV).

Satan is known as Apollyon, the destroyer. Why would God pay Satan for destroying or to stop destroying? When the disciples returned to the Lord, reporting that even devils were subject to them in His Name, Jesus said He saw Satan fall as lightning from Heaven. That doesn’t sound a lot like someone being paid or about to be paid anything, does it?

The day would come when Michael and his angels would do battle with Satan and his angels and cast them out of Heaven (Rev. 12 – this did not happen before creation, as many suppose; John was not writing of things that came to pass; he wrote of things “which must shortly come to pass” – Rev. 1:1). Does it sound like Michael came to him with a sack of silver or with a scabbard of steel?

Seven: If the ransom was paid to Satan in blood, what would Satan do with it? Did he think he would defeat God and replace Him? Why would he draw that conclusion? Would Satan not know that all things are God’s? Maybe he knows more than we give him credit for. After all, was he not in Heaven among the sons of God, at the very throne of God, when they presented themselves before Him, centuries after creation and centuries before Christ (Job 1 and 2)?

Here now is your answer. God did not pay anyone. It is a figure of speech. I pay the price when I take the remains of an old rusted car out of the bush or scrap yard and begin to restore it. It is about restoration. I may pay a scrap dealer for those car remains, but God did not have to pay a scrap dealer because the scrap yard is His, the scrap dealer is His, and the scrap is His.

He did not pay for man, as though man was not His. He paid the price (bore the cost) for man because man was His, and He purposed man to be as Him. It is about reconciliation. God made the move to reconcile man with Himself. He knew man was not able to do so, being dead and depraved beyond any hope in himself. God therefore paid the price. It is all part of the process of God making man in His own image – the process was not completed, but only begun, in Eden.

Paul wrote:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, Whom you have of God? And you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 MKJV).

And: “You are bought with a price, do not be the slaves of men” (1 Corinthians 7:23 MKJV).

God indeed paid the price of redemption, but He did not pay it to Satan. He simply did that which was necessary for Him to do to redeem mankind and reconcile all things to Himself.

Eight: Perhaps more to the point of this issue is that your pastor makes an assumption that all are children of the Devil. Is that a valid assumption? If so, why did Jesus call the Pharisees and Scribes children of the Devil, but not His own disciples?

Why did He not call the unsaved Roman centurion a child of the Devil? Instead, He marveled, saying He had not seen such great faith anywhere in Israel (Matthew 8:5-13).

What about the Syro-phoenician woman, a Gentile, whom Jesus commended for her faith on behalf of her daughter (Matthew 15:22-28)?

Yes, James declares that devils also believe; however, these cases I cite involved faith in Jesus Christ, accompanied by fruits and attendant rewards. Do sons of the Devil place their faith in Jesus Christ? We think not.

Were all those who were born before Jesus Christ and who lived, fought, and died in faith sons of the Devil? Were Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Samson, Samuel, Job, David, Elijah (who was translated), Elisha, Daniel, Daniel’s companions, Jeremiah, and John the Immerser sons of the Devil?

While it is said that Cain was of the evil one, does it say that for Abel?

“Not as Cain who was of the evil one, and killed his brother. And for what did he kill him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s things were righteous” (1 John 3:12 MKJV).

Can a son of the Devil be righteous?

Of Job it says: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. And that man was perfect and upright, and one who feared God and turned aside from evil” (Job 1:1 MKJV).

Does that sound like the description of a son of the Devil?

Jesus was called the Son of David. Was Jesus therefore a “grandson” of the Devil? Was Jesus born of the sons of devils?

Was not John the Immerser filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15)? Could he have been Satan’s property?

Was his mother, Elizabeth, who experienced a miraculous birth from above, a daughter of the Devil?

Zechariah was chosen by God to be father to the “voice of one crying in the wilderness,” who would be introducing the Savior of all mankind. Zechariah served faithfully in the Temple; to him the angel appeared and spoke, revealing his coming son’s name (John). Would God give all these great and holy privileges to a son of the Devil?

Was Simon, who prophesied over the child Jesus, a son of the Devil? Or was Anna, the aged widow and prophetess who spent her life in service to God by fasting and prayer, a daughter of the Devil?

Was Mary, the mother of Jesus, a daughter of the Devil?

Was Joseph, the surrogate father to the Son of God, a son of the Devil? The Bible describes him as a just man; he received four dreams from the Lord and obeyed in all that was commanded him on record. Is it possible to think of devils being that way?

Your pastor puts forth a premise rather difficult to defend Biblically, does he not, assuming we accurately understand what he said? Not all have been sons of the Devil –only those who have sold themselves out to do evil and glorify themselves.

Nine: Let’s ask your pastor one more question, Robert. It is clear that some men have been sons of the Devil. Jesus said so. But it also seems quite clear that not all men and women have been children of the Devil. So now what must Jesus do? Must He, according to your pastor, pay the Devil for only those that are the Devil’s? Whom shall the Lord pay for the remaining people? Is He paying a ransom that is to be divided among different factions?

The point is that it was not a matter of paying someone – certainly not, and especially not, the Devil. The propitiation, the ransom, the purchase is a figure of speech. It is an expression of the process of paying the penalty due for our sin. It is called redemption or salvation. What we could not pay or do, He paid or did for us.

Put another way, Robert: We hope you will pay the price and not be afraid to share this letter with your pastor and others, lest you should be less loved or mildly penalized, or even ostracized, for differing with him. If paying that price, will you have paid it to someone, or will you have simply paid a price for speaking the truth, as true saints everywhere do?

Here is a Scripture that proves it is God Whom we owe – yet He forgives us our debts, not because He had to pay Himself, but because it was necessary for Him to demonstrate His nature and prove it in man:

Matthew 18:23-35 MKJV
(23) Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven has been compared to a certain king who desired to make an accounting with his servants.
(24) And when he had begun to count, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
(25) But as he had nothing to pay, his lord commanded that he, and his wife and children, and all that he had, be sold, and payment be made.
(26) Then the servant fell down and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me and I will pay you all.
(27) Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
(28) But the same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. And he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe.
(29) And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, Have patience with me and I will pay you all.
(30) And he would not, but went and cast him into prison until he should pay the debt.
(31) So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry. And they came and told their lord all that was done.
(32) Then his lord, after he had called him, said to him, O wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
(33) Should you not also have pitied your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you?
(34) And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to him.
(35) So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also to you, unless each one of you from your hearts forgive his brother their trespasses.

Do you see how the Bible speaks without being explicit? If you want to know the Truth for His sake, you will believe and obey the Lord, and when you do, He will do this for you:

“Open my eyes, so that I may behold wonderful things out of Your Law” (Psalms 119:18 MKJV).

“Through Your Commandments You make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers; for Your Testimonies are my prayer. I understand more than the old men, because I keep Your Commandments” (Psalms 119:98-100 MKJV).

“Through Your Commandments I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalms 119:104 MKJV).

“I hate half-hearted thoughts; but Your Law do I love” (Psalms 119:113 MKJV).

“The entrance of Your Words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalms 119:130 MKJV).

I’ll bet you didn’t expect this for an answer! Neither did we! We have given this letter much and prompt attention for your sake, because it covers an issue we believe others need to hear about. We would be interested in knowing if your pastor receives this before he preaches, and what he does about it. By the way, what church is it, Robert?

Here are some other writings on our site that can serve you as helpful background for what the Scriptures teach regarding the topics brought up in this writing:

Diabolical Doctrine: Satan Was Once a Good Being
The Good News
Whose Will is Free?
The SIGN: The Book of Jonah, the Book of God
Only the Death Sentence Will Avail

Contending for the faith once delivered to the saints,

Victor Hafichuk

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