from John MacArthur’s teaching on Ephesians 1: 6-10

There are five Greek words in the New Testament that come from the legal vocabulary. They have to do with legal things in the Roman world, a legal background.  Let me share them with you and then I’ll show you how they differ.

The first one is dikaiosis. Now dikaiosis is a word that means acquittal. It means acquittal in the court.  When somebody was acquitted of a crime, we translate it in the Bible  justification. Justification. Somebody is justified.

All right, there is a second word, aphesis. That word means to cancel a debt, to cancel a debt.  Sometimes it would be a lawsuit or something would be wrangling in the court and there would be a judgment that would say you don’t owe that man anything the debt is cancelled, or whatever, retribution has been made, the price is paid, there’s the canceling of the debt. Aphesis in its legal sense means to cancel a debt, we translate it in the Bible, are you ready, forgiveness, forgiveness.

The third word is huiothesia. And that is a word that means in legalese, it means in the Greek world – adoption. Like a family would go to court to adopt a child. Now the Bible really uses it to speak of sonship, sonship. Becoming a son of God.

And then there is the word katallasso which legally means reconciliation. Sometimes people go to court for a divorce and they will be reconciled. Or sometimes two fighting factions will be brought into a suit and there will be reconciliation brought about. Now it means in a courtroom reconciliation and that’s exactly the way we translate it in the Bible. Paul talks about being reconciled to God.

The fifth word is apolutrosis, it means to redeem, to purchase to set free. And it is translated redemption.

Now listen and I’ll show you the distinction of these words.

In justification the sinner stands before God accused but he is declared righteous. In justification he stands before God accused but he is declared righteous.

In forgiveness, the second word, the sinner stands before God as a debtor and receives a cancellation of his debt.

In adoption the sinner stands before God as a stranger but he is made a…what? … son.

In reconciliation the sinner stands before God as an enemy but he is made a friend.

In redemption the sinner stands before God as a slave and he is receiving his freedom, you see.

All of those terms speak of the wondrous miracle of salvation. All of those things; justification,
forgiveness, adoption, reconciliation and redemption are provided because Jesus paid the price.

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