Kinsman Redeemer

As great a chapter as it is on its own, the entirety of chapter 4 of the book of Revelation may be understood as an introduction to the main point of chapters 4–5, that is, to introduce the scroll with its seven seals…

NAS Revelation 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.

The symbolic presentation showed a scroll or a rolled-up parchment with seven seals affixed to the side in such a way that if unrolled the seven seals would need to be broken one by one. The scroll in large part reveals what terrible things will take place in the Tribulation, the seven-year judgment on the nation of Israel for her unbelief and rebellion to God. The Tribulation, the Scriptures directly and indirectly tell us throughout both Testaments, will follow closely the Rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

There are so many important and fascinating subjects, e.g., the scroll, the seals, the Lion, the Lamb, the four living creatures, the seven Spirits, and the twenty-four elders, that deserve our attention in chapter 5 that it would take me several blogs at least to cover them. Pastor Matt did an amazing job in covering  the material he did in the time he had in his sermon last week. But one subject that is not actually mentioned specifically by name in the text but that drew Pastor Matt’s attention particularly was the “Kinsman Redeemer.” It is the Kinsman Redeemer that is first indirectly and then directly referred to in chapter 5 as the One who is singularly worthy to open the scroll/book and the seven seals…

NAS Revelation 5:2-14 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look into it. 4 And I began to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look into it; 5 and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” 6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came, and He took it out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” 11 And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

This blog is about the Kinsman Redeemer.

In simplest terms, a kinsman was a male relative. The biblical subject of the kinsman redeemer, however, is somewhat complex. For this reason I include the following excellent, if challenging, definitive article on the kinsman redeemer from Holman’s Bible Dictionary

KINSMAN Usually refers to a blood relative based on Israel’s tribal nature. The most important relationship was that of the father to the oldest son. Certain obligations were laid on the kinsman. In the case of an untimely death of a husband without a son, the law of levirate marriage  becomes operative—that is, the husband’s brother was obligated to raise up a male descendant for his deceased brother and thus perpetuate the deceased’s name and inheritance. The living brother was the dead brother’s goʾel—his redeemer (Gen. 38:8; Deut. 25:5–10; Ruth 3:9–12). The kinsman was also the blood avenger. A wrong done to a single member of the family was considered a crime against the entire tribe or clan. The clan had an obligation, therefore, to punish the wrongdoer. In the case of a murder committed, the kinsman should seek vengeance. According to the imagery of ancient people, the blood of the murdered man cried up from the ground for vengeance, and the cry was heard loudest by that member of the clan who stood nearest to the dead in kinship. Therefore the closest of kin followed through with the blood avenger responsibility (cp. Gen. 4:1–16, esp. v. 10).The kinsman was also responsible to redeem the estate which his nearest relative might have sold because of poverty (Lev. 25:25; Ruth 4:4). It was the kinsman’s responsibility also to ransom a kinsman who may have sold himself (Lev. 25:47–48). The OT book of Ruth is the most striking example of a kinsman who used his power and Jewish law to redeem. Boaz demonstrated one of the duties of the kinsman—that of  marrying the widow of a deceased kinsman. A correlation is sometimes made between the redemption of Ruth by Boaz and the redemption of sinners by Christ.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the identity and purpose of Jesus Christ is inextricably tied to the full understanding of the kinsman redeemer. Jesus Christ is both the son of Adam (Romans 5:12-21, i.e., human) and the Son of God (i.e., divine). He is qualified to be the Kinsman Redeemer.

Pastor Matt referenced Leviticus 25 as the biblical origin of the kinsman redeemer. The following information would have been given us if Pastor Matt had all Sunday afternoon…

ESV Leviticus 25:24-31 And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land. 25 “If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold. 26 If a man has no one to redeem it and then himself becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it, 27 let him calculate the years since he sold it and pay back the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and then return to his property. 28  But if he does not have sufficient means to recover it, then what he sold shall remain in the hand of the buyer until the year of jubilee. In the jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property. 29 “If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, he may redeem it within a year of its sale. For a full year he shall have the right of redemption. 30 If it is not redeemed within a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong in perpetuity to the buyer, throughout his generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31 But the houses of the villages that have no wall around them shall be classified with the fields of the land. They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the jubilee.

I trust you can see from the seminal book of Leviticus that redemption of property by a relative was an important part of Jewish law. A careful study of the Old Testament reveals the concept was more than that, for it reflects no less than the redemption of a world lost in sin by the Kinsman Redeemer, who is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The kinsman redeemer was a relative who restores or preserves the full community rights of disadvantaged family members. The concept arises from God’s covenant relationship with Israel and points to the redemption of humanity in Jesus Christ.” – Bible Word Study

The LORD as redeemer – Ex 6:6-7 See also 2Sa 7:22-24; Isa 43:1-7; 54:5-8; Jer 50:33-34.

The kinsman-redeemer reflects God’s concern for the poor and oppressed – Pr 23:10-11 See also Ps 68:5-6; 72:2-4

Also from the Bible Word Study are these Covenant rules for the kinsman-redeemer you might find helpful:

“The kinsman-redeemer’s obligation to redeem the land Lev 25:25-28; Jer 32:6-9. The kinsman-redeemer’s obligation to redeem the enslaved Lev 25:47-55.

The kinsman-redeemer’s obligation to provide an heir Ge 38:8-10; Dt 25:5-10; Mt 22:23-28; Mk 12:18- 23; Lk 20:27-33.

The kinsman-redeemer’s obligation to avenge death Nu 35:16-21. The kinsman-redeemer’s obligation to be a trustee Nu 5:5-8.”

Perhaps the clearest Old Testament validation of this is found in the book of Ruth in the figure of Boaz. Boaz in the kinsman redeemer of Naomi, and a picture of the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer…

ESV Ruth 2:1 Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.

ESV Ruth 2:20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”

ESV Ruth 3:1-4:17 Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? 2  Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3 Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” 5 And she replied, “All that you say I will do.” 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. 7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! 9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.” 14 So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. 16  And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.'” 18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.” ESV Ruth 4:1 Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. 2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. 3 Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” 5  Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” 6 Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” 7 Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. 8 So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. 9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” 11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.” 13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

That, of course, is the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17).

No one in Revelation 5 was able to open the scroll and the seven seals, which represented the title deed to the universe. No one was worthy. But the Kinsman Redeemer is able; the Kinsman Redeemer Jesus Christ alone is worthy.

NAS Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

NAS Galatians 3:13-14 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree “– 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

NAS Hebrews 2:11-18 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying, “I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.” 13 And again, “I will put My trust in Him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.” 14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15  and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

– Professor Thomas A. Rohm