Why “Time Redemption?”

So, the name—why call your blog “time redemption?” Is this named after some sequel to a science fiction movie where the characters are stuck in a slow-motion orbit hurriedly fighting against time?

In choosing this title, I was originally thinking of the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian church. He warns the church to, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). Paul likewise instructed the Colossian church to, “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5-6). The translation of the Bible enshrined as the Authorized Version, also known as the King James Version, translates the phrase “making the best use of the time” in both passages as “redeeming the time.” This phrase in the original Greek Scriptures is a participial phrase modifying the imperatives “Look carefully” (Eph. 5:15a) and “Conduct yourselves” (Col. 4:5).

Thus, if the Ephesian or Colossian believers (as well as contemporary followers of Jesus Christ) are going to be watchful of how they conduct their lives, then they are going to be careful to “make the best use of their time” or “redeem the time.”

Many of us understand the word “redeem” as meaning to “rescue” or “save” someone out of a terrible situation. In Scripture, we find that Jesus Christ has “redeemed” us from our sin by paying the penalty for our sin with His substitutionary death on the cross (Galatians 4:4-7). We enjoy singing songs like “Redeemed How I Love to Proclaim It!” or “There is a Redeemer” to celebrate this redemption that we have received as children of God. We were slaves of Satan but Jesus Christ “redeemed” us or “bought us back” from the slave block and made us His children, not to give Satan some money, but to shred Satan’s authority over our lives and to bring unmatchable glory to His Father and our Creator. We needed a Redeemer—we couldn’t pull this one off on our own, nor did we desire to be saved on our own—God initiated and enacted our redemption.

Sometimes, however, we can indeed “redeem” things on our own. For instance, a sports player can be said to “redeem” himself or his good image when he makes a bad play on the field by making a really good play later on in the game. If a baseball player strikes out with men on base to end the inning he could be said to have “redeemed” himself by hitting a homerun or driving in other runners later on in the game. We can also “redeem” a coupon at the grocery store or “cashing in” a check at the bank.

Needless to say, there are various nuances for “redeem” in our English vernacular. This is all well and good, but how does this term “redeem” make sense with the phrase “redeeming the time?”

We all know that we can’t “buy back” time—once the day is over we can’t get it back.

Obviously, this can’t be what Paul was meaning for the Ephesian or Colossian believers. It is important to remember that just as the English word “redeem” has various nuances, so does the original Greek word (exagorazo) that Paul used in his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians.  The root word agorazo means to “buy” like someone would purchase some produce at the marketplace. With the preposition ek (amalgamated form ex) tacked onto the front of agorazo, the nuance of “buying back” is maintained. However, when used outside the active voice, the word takes on the connotation “make the best use of.”  In Eph. 4:16 and Col. 4:5 the verbal form of ekagorazo is in the middle voice.

Paul is not commanding the churches to “buy back” time, which is impossible, but to “make the best use of” their time, which is indeed possible.

My desire is to “make the best use of my time” or “redeem the time” while I have been given the gift of life from God. To this end, I want to be “time redemptive” and hopefully this little tool of a blog will be a good use of my time while working through the Text. I desire to be grace-filled and to live redemptively each day by keeping the truth of the Gospel at the forefront of my thoughts and actions.

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