"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

The Ransom Theory Of The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Perhaps you might be familiar with the following broadcast message

“One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation.

Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting. “Yes, sir, I just caught the world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn't resist. Got 'em all!”

“What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asked..

Satan replied, “Oh, I'm gonna have fun! I'm gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I'm gonna teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I'm really gonna have fun!”

“And what will you do when you get done with them?” Jesus asked.

“Oh, I'll kill 'em,” Satan glared proudly.

“How much do you want for them?” Jesus asked.

“Oh, you don't want these people. They ain't no good. Why, you'll take them and they'll just hate you. They'll spit on you, curse you and kill you! You don't want those people!”

“How much?” Jesus asked again.

Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, “All your tears, and all your blood.”

Jesus said, “Done!” Then he paid the price.”

This sounds like a good explanation for all the sin in the world, right? Oh it makes perfect sense, now we know why Jesus died; now we know what the Bible means when it says Jesus came “to give His life a ransom for many.”” (Mar. 10:45), right? Well, NO, this is a return of a heresy called the ransom theory of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The ransom theory of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The ransom theory is a third century teaching that says that Christ paid the ransom to satan when He atoned for the Sins of mankind (see atonement).

Why the ransom was not paid to satan

If the ransom was paid to satan, then that would imply that we owed satan something since Christ paid the ransom in our place. So then what did we owe satan? Nothing, and as we will see later on, we owe God.

Another aspect to note is that, from the broadcast message above, it would seem that satan wanted Jesus to  go to the cross, but Scripture gives us dozens of accounts when satan tries to stop Jesus from going to the cross (cf. Mat. 4:1-11, Mar. 8:32-33).

Lastly, Why would satan want the blood of Jesus? I mean, why would the devil want Jesus' tears and blood? It doesn't make sense to me. Why not ask for something like freedom, or salvation from the judgment to come? You might be thinking, well, he wanted to grieve God's heart by taking away God's Son. But this, as we will later see, contradicts a lot of Scriptures that say that it was God's plan that His Son should die from eternity.

So why the need for a ransom?

“Sin is a debt… We who are sinners are described by Scripture as debtors who cannot pay their debts. In this sense, we are talking not about financial indebtedness but a moral indebtedness. God has the sovereign right to impose obligations upon His creatures. When we fail to keep these obligations, we are debtors to our Lord. This debt represents a failure to keep a moral obligation.” R.C. Sproul

As fallen sinners we owe God. God's law demands perfect obedience of which we are unable to fulfill. As the above quote says, our debt is not a financial debt but a moral one. It is also an infinite debt, in the sense that we could never pay it. Sinners will spend all of eternity paying for their sins in hell.

“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30)

What was finished? The word used in the greek for “it is finished” is “τετέλεσται – tetelestai” which has a root word teleo which means “to end, that is, complete, execute, conclude, discharge (a debt):- accomplish, make an end, expire, fill up, finish, go over, pay, perform.” (Strong's Greek Dictionary). Tetelestai is used when you finish paying a debt, the person you owe will say to you “tetelestai” i.e. Your debt is finished. So when Jesus said it is finished on the cross, He was declaring that our debt was paid, fully.

So who was the ransom paid to?

To God! Man sinned against God, not satan. Man is a debtor to God, not satan. Man was cursed by God, not satan. So why then would the ransom be paid to satan? “It was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer” (Isa. 53:10, NIV)

Jesus is also said to be our passover, who was sacrificed for us (cf. 1 Cor. 5:7). But who was He sacrificed to? Let the Word of God speak for itself:

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:2)

Who's plan was it that Jesus should come and die?

“knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:18-20).

The lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the earth, before there even was a satan. God purposed the plan of salvation from eternity past.


Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom to God. He sacrificed His life to God. It was God's plan that Jesus should die for the sins of many, and not satan's suggestion.

Soli Deo Gloria

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