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        Christ the Kinsman-redeemer in the Covenant


          From “A View of the Covenant of Grace” by Thomas Boston.


Thomas Boston (1676-1732) was a pastor of God's flock in Ettrick, Scotland, whose preaching God abundantly blessed in the saving of many souls. The son of a Presbyterian who knew the Lord and was imprisoned for non-conformity, Boston was raised in times of murderous persecution. Nevertheless, he lived to see God’s people flourish and multiply, as “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). He is perhaps best known for his part in the reprinting of “The Marrow of Modern Divinity”, a book which distinguishes the Covenant of Works from the Covenant of Grace.



Our Lord Jesus Christ, the second Adam, giving his consent to the covenant, as proposed to him by the Father, sisted himself Kinsman-redeemer in the covenant: Job 19:2, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth."

Under the law, when a man was not able to act for himself, to assert and use his own right, one that was akin to him, had a right to act for him, coming in his room, and standing up in his right. And such a one was called his Goel; which properly signifies a Kinsman-redeemer. Hence that word is sometimes rendered a kinsman; as Numb. 5:8, "If the man have no (Goel) kinsman to recompense the trespass unto." Ruth 3:12, "I am thy (Goel) near kinsman: howbeit there is a (Goel) kinsman nearer than I." Sometimes it is rendered a Redeemer; as Prov. 23:11, "Their (Goel) Redeemer is mighty." Isa. 47:4, "As for our (Goel) Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name." One's acting in that capacity, is called doing the kinsman's part, or redeeming, to wit, by right of kin, Ruth 3:13; and 4:6. Howbeit, such a one might refuse to do the kinsman's part; as Ruth's kinsman-redeemer did, who resigned his right to Boaz, and in token thereof drew off his own shoe, and gave it to him, Ruth 4:6, 7, 8.

Now, Christ the second Adam saw sinners, his ruined kinsmen quite unable to act for themselves. Not one of them all was able to redeem himself, and far less his brother. Withal, the angels, near akin to them in the rational world, durst not meddle with the redemption; being sure they could not have missed to mar their own inheritance thereby, nor having delivered their poor kinsmen neither. If he should have declined it, and drawn off his shoe to them, or to any other of the whole creation, there was none who durst have ventured to receive it, or his foot in it. "I looked," saith he, "and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation," Isa. 63:5. He took on himself the character of their Kinsman-redeemer; and of him as such Job speaks in the forecited passage, which I conceive to be thus expressed in the original: "I know, my Kinsman-redeemer liveth: and the latter one he shall stand up upon the dust." In which words Job comforts himself with a view of Christ as his Kinsman-redeemer living, even in his day, in respect of his divine nature; and as the latter or second one, (in opposition to the former or first, Exod. 4:8, 9; Deut. 24:3, 4) namely, the latter or second Adam Redeemer, in opposition to the former or first Adam destroyer; firmly believing, that the one uniting to himself a human nature, should as sure stand up upon the dust of the earth, and do the kinsman's part for him; as the other, having the breath of life breathed into his nostrils, stood up upon it, and ruined all.

Now, there were four things the kinsman-redeemer was to do for his kinsman, unable to act for himself; all which Christ the second Adam undertook in the covenant.

1. He was to marry the widow of his deceased kinsman, to raise up seed to his brother. Hereof Boaz was put in mind by Ruth, chap. 3:9, "I am Ruth thine handmaid; spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid, for thou art a near kinsman." Compare ver. 10-13; chap. 4:10; and Ezek. 16:8. I spread my skirt over thee – and thou becamest mine." Our nature was in a comfortable and fruitful condition, while the image of God impressed thereupon in Adam, remained with it; but that image being removed, in the spiritual death caused by his sin, there ensued an absolute barrenness, as to the fruits of holiness, in our nature thus left. But our Kinsman-redeemer consented to marry the widow. Being to take to himself a human nature he undertook to take on our human nature in particular, taking his flesh of Adam's family. Thus it was provided, that his body should not be made of nothing, nor of anything whatsoever that was not derived from Adam as its original. It was a low match indeed for him; and would have been so, even if the family of Adam had been in its primitive state and splendour: but now it was considered as in the depths of poverty and disgrace. Yet, being necessary for our redemption, he consented thereto, as our Kinsman-redeemer. Accordingly, in the fulness of time, he was made of a woman, a daughter of Adam's family, Gal. 4:4, and so was a son of Adam, Luke 3:23-38. Thus was a foundation laid for the mystical marriage of believers with him; which mystical marriage doth not belong to the condition and making of the covenant properly so called, but to the promise and administration of it, being a sinner's personal entrance thereinto. And the great end, in subordination to the glory of God, for which this more intimate union and match with our nature was gone into by our Kinsman-redeemer, was to render it again fruitful in the fruits of true holiness: and without it our nature had for ever remained under absolute barrenness in that point, even as the nature of fallen angels doth.

2. He was to redeem the mortgaged inheritance of his poor kinsman, Lev. 25:25, "If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold;" or rather, "then shall come in his kinsman-redeemer, that is near unto him; and he shall redeem that which his brother sold." Our father Adam waxing poor through the deceitful dealing of the tempter with him, quite sold away the inheritance of eternal life for a morsel of forbidden fruit: and his children waxing poorer still, through their own personal fault, had set themselves farther and farther from it. They could not have raised amongst them all, what would have redeemed so much as one man's part of it. Howbeit, except it was redeemed, they could never have had access to it. Wherefore the second Adam, as Kinsman-redeemer, took the burden of the redemption on himself, and agreed to pay the price of that purchase; "dying for us, that we might live together with him," 1 Thess. 5:10.

3. He was to ransom his poor kinsman in bondage, paying the price of his redemption: Lev. 25: 47, "If thy brother wax poor, and sell himself," ver. 48, "After that he is sold, he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him." Ver. 52, "According unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption." Being sold in the loins of our first father, we were brought into bondage under the curse of the law. So we are by nature the law's bond-men, and consequently slaves to sin and Satan, never to have been released without a ransom, the full worth of so many souls. This ransom was stated in the covenant; to wit, that the Kinsman-redeemer should give himself a ransom for his poor kinsmen: and he agreed to it, for purchasing their liberty, 1 Tim. 2:5, 6. The ransom was great, soul for soul, body for body; a person of infinite dignity for his poor kinsmen in bondage. But he consented to take on him the form of a servant, that he might be set free; to have his ear bored at the law's door-post, that they might be delivered out of their bondage.

4. Lastly, He was to avenge the blood of his slain kinsman on the slayer: Deut. 19:12, "The elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the (Goel) avenger of blood, that he may die." Our Kinsman-redeemer saw all his poor kindred slain men. And the devil was the murderer, John 8:44. He had ministered poison to them in the loins of their first parent; yea, he had smitten them to death, killed them with an arrow shot through the eye. But no avenger of their blood could be found, till the second Adam, as their Kinsman-redeemer, did, in the second covenant undertake the avenging of it. Meanwhile, the murderer had the power of death, Heb. 2:14; and "the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law," 1 Cor. 15:56. Wherefore there was no disarming and destroying of the murderer, without taking the sting out of death which he had the power of. And that was not to be done, but by removing the guilt of sin, whereby sinners were bound over to death: neither was this to be done, but by satisfying the law, whose awful sanction of death strongly kept fast the guilt of death on the sinners. These were the iron gates to be broke through, ere the Kinsman-redeemer, the avenger of blood, could get at the murderer. But the mighty Redeemer undertook, by his own death and sufferings, to satisfy the law; and by that means to remove the strength of sin; and by this means again, to take away the sting of death; and thus to avenge the blood of his slain kinsman upon him, Heb. 2:14. So did Samson, a type of our Kinsman-redeemer, avenge Israel of the Philistines their oppressors, pulling down the house on the Philistines, and dying himself to destroy them, Judg. 16.



“A View of the Covenant of Grace” by Thomas Boston. Focus Christian Ministries Trust, 1990. pp 40-44.