Aphesis: release; by implication, forgiveness
This word is not extraordinary if you look it up in a lexicon, but it will blow your mind, capture your heart, and set you free if you look it up in the Bible.
I weep that translators have chosen to translate aphesis as “forgiveness” so often. It is so much more than that.
Aphesis is the Greek word for Jubilee. Every 50 years, the land in Israel was to return to the families who owned it all the way back to the time of Joshua. The land was never to change hands except temporarily. Jubilee came with a trumpet blast, and all land that had been leased out was returned to the original families.
Jubilee came after 7 sets of 7 years. The 50th year was Jubilee, but it was tied to the sets of 7 years. Every 7 years, all Hebrew servants were set free and all debts were forgiven. The Greek word for this 7-year release? Aphesis.
Every year, on the Day of Atonement, two goats were brought before the temple and the high priest. One was sacrificed. The second, called the goat of aphesis, the scapegoat, was released into the wilderness after the priest had laid hands on its head and confessed the sins of Israel.
Aphesis is all these things, so at the end of the very first Christian preaching, on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon Peter, he did not tell them to be baptized so their sins could be “forgiven.” He told them they could be baptized for the APHESIS of their sins. Their ancestral rights would be restored (JUBILEE); their debts would be forgiven, and they would be freed from sin’s slavery (7-YEAR RELEASE), and their sins would be sent far from them (SCAPEGOAT).
In Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:14, we read that we have received “redemption,” the “forgiveness” of sins. This is like reading about a firecracker while Paul actually tossed a hand-grenade.
1 Corinthians 6:20 says we were BOUGHT WITH A PRICE. We were BOUGHT. We say Jesus “paid the penalty,” and we think it is so our sins could be forgiven. When we think that way, we have no problem saying, “Thank you, Jesus. See you down the road when its judgment time, and I can collect my eternal life and any other rewards you care to bestow on me.”
Jesus paid a price, and that price was to buy you and to buy me, to BUY us. Ephesians 1:7 actually says that we have RELEASE BY RANSOM, the APHESIS of sins, by his blood (StudyBible.info; click on that little “629” above “release by ransom” when you get to the link so you can see the various ways lexicons define that Greek word, all including “ransom”).
Ephesians 1:7 is a huge verse, a grenade and not a firecracker. It BLOWS UP everything you ever knew!! Jesus BOUGHT you by being a RANSOM, a ransom who was KILLED and whose BLOOD was the price of your release from SLAVERY to sin.
The reason that there was a 50-year Jubilee is because Israelites got themselves in trouble, in debt, in poverty, and they had to lease their ancestral land in order to be rescued from their trouble, debt, or poverty. Every 50 years, they got a complete do-over, a re-start. Every 7 years, they got a boost, a release of debts, but they had to wait 50 years for full restoration to their rights as a descendant of Israel.
Jesus gave us all of this and so much more because he is not giving us earthly land that can be taken away, nor the rights as a son of fleshly Israel. When he BOUGHT us with his blood and suffering, he gave us ETERNAL land, ETERNAL rights. We did not receive the favor (grace) of man or of an earthly king. He bought us the FAVOR OF THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE.
We are BOUGHT with a great price, a RANSOM, and we receive APHESIS, a reward so great we cannot really comprehend it, and now … we are now BONDSERVANTS of the living God. Thus Peter writes …
***WARNING: If you read what Peter said, it may shake you to your core.***
If you call on the Father, who impartially judges according to each man’s work, then conduct yourself throughout the time of your journey here with FEAR [see below] because you know it was not by perishable silver and gold that you were RANSOMED out of your useless behavior handed down from your fathers, but with the precious BLOOD of a lamb, unblemished and spotless, OF CHRIST [THE KING]. (1 Pet. 1:17-19)
Some of you lost everything that was said because the word “FEAR” was in this passage. Let’s translate “fear” as …
FEAR: “An APPROPRIATE RESPONSE to the MAJESTIC sacrifice of the MAJESTIC Son of God to RANSOM YOU from your USELESS behavior that was handed down to you by your ancestors and RELEASE you from SLAVERY, DEBT, and SIN, and GIVE you FAVOR WITH GOD and make you an HEIR OF THE MOST HIGH!
If you believe this, how can you not be in AWE?! How can you not BOW in adoration and gratefulness?! How can you not CLEANSE YOURSELF from every defilement of flesh and spirit?!
“HAVING THESE PROMISES, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every contamination of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1)