Ruth: Who/what was the other kinsman?

Have you ever sat there, reading your Bible, and the Holy Spirit revealed somethingNK delightful in a passage that you had read many times previously but had never before grasped the full import? I’m sure you can relate. The Old Testament has many types and foreshadowings of Jesus Christ and when we understand their full meaning for the first time it’s a bit of a “eureka” moment.

As I mentioned in some recent posts, my wife and I are currently studying through the Book of Ruth, one of my favorite books of the Bible. I’ve read this book many, many, many times, but just like every book in the Bible, the Holy Spirit reveals something new each time I read it.

In the Book of Ruth, Boaz is a wonderful type of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He’s a relative by marriage to Naomi and Ruth, and Ruth claims him as her kinsman-redeemer. Boaz loves Ruth and is more than happy to oblige her claim, but first he must deal with an unnamed individual, a closer relative of Naomi and Ruth, who is first in line to act as their redeemer. In chapter four, Boaz brings the individual before Bethlehem’s magistrates, but the person ultimately declines to be the women’s redeeemer, freeing Boaz to legally assume the role and marry Ruth.

While reading about Boaz’s dealings with this other kinsman, a question popped into my mind for the first time. If Boaz is a type of Christ, who/what does this other kinsman represent? The unnamed nearer-kinsman plays a small but pivotal role in the story and I sensed he symbolized something very important, but what was it? I found a very credible answer in J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on the chapter. McGee suggests the other kinsman represents the Law. Although he came before Boaz (Christ), he (the Law) could not/would not redeem the women. A light went on in my spirit. Yes, yes, that was it! The nearer kinsman who could not/would not redeem Ruth represented the Law. I found that other commentators have drawn the same conclusion as McGee.

I remember as a Catholic struggling to find redemption through the Ten Commandments. It was impossible. The Law cannot save, for it only shows us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus Christ took on human flesh to become our Kinsman. But you must reach out to Him and accept Him as your Savior, your Kinsman-Redeemer. Oh, Lord Jesus, thank you for redeeming me from the heavy burden of sin. Thank you for loving me and saving me!

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” – Romans 8:1-8


6 thoughts on “Ruth: Who/what was the other kinsman?

  1. I remember someone pointing out to me that because Ruth was a Moabitess, her ancestors were forbidden from being a part of the congregation; as would her descendants. The other kinsman’s focus on that particular law was crucial to Boaz’ strategy, he really laid it on thick that land came with Ruth, from Moab, a Moabitess, and to get the land (which was what he was after) it’d be a package deal (with Ruth, who’d disqualify him) so that’s why he passed it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is awesome brother. what an amazing conclusion to draw. I have read the book of Ruth only one time, but plan to revisit. it is a wonderful thing to have clarity and then go back and read with a proper perspective on who everyone represents. also it is amazing how God pretty much has real life stories with real people representing future events and people. and when Jesus was here he told parables symbolizing real people. God has this beautiful way of telling stories using nouns to represent people. lol its hard to explain but hopefully you understand. this was a great read brother!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Julian. Some may not agree with typology of the other kinsman in Ruth being the Law but I think it’s pretty obvious. Yes, uncovering these symbols in the Old Testament that point to Jesus is just awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

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