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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Salvation, Saviour

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SALVATION, SAVIOUR . ‘Salvation’ is the generic term employed in Scripture to express the idea of any gracious deliverance of God, but specially of the spiritual redemption from sin and its consequences predicted by the OT prophets, and realized in the mission and work of the Saviour Jesus Christ.

1. In the OT . The root meaning of the principal OT words for ‘save,’ ‘salvation,’ ‘saviour’ is, to be broad, spacious; salvation is enlargement. As illustrations of this OT meaning of salvation may be taken the words of Moses at the Red Sea, ‘Stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah’ ( Exodus 14:13 ) ‘He is become my salvation’ ( Exodus 15:2 ); or the avowal of the psalmist, ‘This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles’ ( Psalms 34:6 ). Jehovah is said to have given ‘saviours’ to Israel in the time of the Judges ( Nehemiah 9:27 ). Victory in battle is ‘salvation’ ( Exodus 14:14 , 1 Samuel 14:45 , Psalms 20:1-9 etc.). Salvation, or deliverance, of this kind is sometimes national, but sometimes also individual (cf., of David, 2 Samuel 22:1-51 , Psalms 18:1-50 ). Such external deliverances, however, it is to he observed, are never divorced from spiritual conditions. It is the righteous or penitent alone who are entitled to look to God for His saving help; no others can claim Him as the rock of their salvation ( Psalms 18:1-3; cf. Psalms 4:1 ). When, therefore, the people had turned their backs on Jehovah, and abandoned themselves to wickedness, salvation could come only through a change of heart, through repentance. The chief need was to be saved from the sin itself. In the prophets, accordingly, the perspective somewhat changes. External blessings, deliverance from enemies, return from exile, are still hoped for, but the main stress is laid on a changed heart, forgiveness, restoration to God’s favour, righteousness. In the pictures of the Messianic age, it is these things that come to be dwelt on (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34 , Ezekiel 36:26-28 , Hosea 14:1-9 etc.). As the idea of salvation becomes more spiritual, it likewise becomes more universal; the Gentiles are to share its blessings ( Isaiah 45:23-24; Isaiah 49:8-12; Isaiah 60:1-12 ).

The teaching of the prophets bore fruit in the age preceding the advent of Jesus in deepening ideas of the future life, of resurrection and a future perfected state: of the connexion of prosperity with righteousness though mostly in the sense of outward legal obedience, the very error against which the prophets declaimed and in more concrete representations of the Messiah. But there never failed a godly kernel, who cherished more spiritual hopes, and waited in patience and prayer for ‘the consolation of Israel’ (Luke 2:25 ).

2. In the NT . In the NT the word ‘salvation’ ( sôtçria , from sôtçr , ‘saviour’) is sometimes applied to temporal benefits, like healings ( e.g . Matthew 9:22 ‘thy faith hath made thee whole,’ lit. ‘saved thee’), but most generally it is employed as a comprehensive term for the spiritual and eternal blessings brought to men by the appearance and redeeming work of Jesus Christ. The name Jesus was given Him because ‘it is he that shall save his people from their sins’ ( Matthew 1:21 ); He is distinctively the ‘Saviour’ ( Luke 2:11 ); His work on earth was ‘to seek and to save that which was lost’ ( Luke 19:10 ); His death and resurrection were a means to salvation ( Romans 5:8; Romans 5:10 ); He is exalted ‘to be a Prince and a Saviour’ to give repentance and remission of sins ( Acts 5:31 ); ‘in none other is there salvation’ ( Acts 4:12 ). In Apostolic usage, therefore, salvation is the all-embracing name for the blessings brought by the gospel (cf. ‘the gospel of your salvation,’ Ephesians 1:13; ‘the word of this salvation,’ Acts 13:26; ‘repentance unto salvation,’ 2 Corinthians 7:10 etc.). To expound fully the contents of this term, accordingly, would be to expound the contents of the gospel. Enough here to say that it includes deliverance from all sin’s evils, and the bestowal of all spiritual blessings in Christ ( Ephesians 1:3 ). It begins on earth in forgiveness, renewal, the bestowal of the Holy Spirit, enlightenment, guidance, strengthening, comfort; and is perfected in the blessedness and glory, in which body and soul share, of the life everlasting. The fact never to he forgotten about it is, that it has been obtained at the infinite cost of the redeeming death of God’s own Son (cf. Revelation 5:8 ). For further elucidations, see artt. Atonement, Mediator, Redemption. James Orr.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Salvation, Saviour'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/s/salvation-saviour.html. 1909.

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