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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Salvation

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SALVATION.—The Gospel usage of this word is closely connected with that of OT.

The corresponding Heb. words are derivatives of ישׁע and נצל. Of the former, the Niphal and Hiphil are found in the verb; of noun forms יַשַׁע; or יָשַׁע, יֽשׁוּעָה, תְּשׁוּעָה, מוֹשָׁעוֹת and some proper names, of which the most important is יְהוֹשׁוּעַ ‘Jehovah is salvation.’ The root נצל occurs in the Niphal and Hiphil of the verb; its only noun-derivative is the ἅταξ λεγομενον, הַצָלָה, Esther 4:14. The fundamental meaning of ישׁע appears to be ‘enlargement,’ whence the notion of ‘deliverance’ naturally springs, the same association of ideas being observed in the use of ‘compression,’ ‘confinement’ as figures for ‘distress.’ So far as the verbal forms of both roots are concerned, the idea of ‘saving’ is entirely negative, that of deliverance from some evil, no reflexion being passed upon favourable, positive consequences. A negative sense is very clear in such passages as Psalms 28:9; Psalms 69:35, where the positive results of the saving act are named as something additional. From other words denoting deliverance ‘to save’ is distinguished by the constant presence of two elements, that of a delivering agent, and that of an active interposition on his part for the removal of actual evil or peril. For mere ‘preservation’ or mere ‘escape’ other words are used: ‘healing’ also is expressed by different terms; of. Genesis 45:7; Genesis 47:25, Exodus 1:17, Jeremiah 48:6, Ezekiel 3:18, Psalms 6:5; Psalms 41:3, Job 2:6. The evil from which salvation takes place varies; in most cases it is the oppression of Israel by its enemies; sometimes, though not frequently, it appears in the acute form of individual or national death (Psalms 68:19-20). While the noun-forms frequently have the same negative meaning as the verb, they pass over more readily into the positive sense, so that the act of deliverance becomes the point of departure for the bestowal of favour, blessing, and prosperity. Thus יְשׁוּעָה and תְּשׁוּעָה come to mean ‘victory’ (1 Samuel 14:45, 2 Samuel 19:2, 2 Kings 5:1, Isaiah 60:18). ‘Salvation’ becomes synonymous with other positive terms like ‘righteousness,’ ‘blessing,’ ‘light’ (Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 61:10; Isaiah 62:1, Psalms 24:5; Psalms 106:4). In the Prophets and the Psalter it obtains an eschatological (Messianic) sense, and stands as one of the terms for the great final deliverance and the final blessedness to follow (Isaiah 12:2 f., Isaiah 45:17; Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 51:6; Isaiah 51:8; Isaiah 52:7; Isaiah 56:1, Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 33:16, Micah 7:7, Habakkuk 3:8; Habakkuk 3:18, Psalms 14:7; Psalms 35:4; Psalms 74:12; Psalms 85:8; Psalms 98:2-3; Psalms 109:27; Psalms 118:15; Psalms 118:21.) The religious importance of the conception in the OT springs not so much from the nature of the evil removed, or from the nature of the blessedness bestowed, as rather from the fact that salvation, of whatever nature, is a work of Jehovah for His people, a Divine prerogative; hence the frequently recurring statements that salvation belongs to Jehovah, is of Jehovah, that Jehovah is salvation, the Saviour of Israel (1 Samuel 14:39, 2 Samuel 22:3, 2 Chronicles 20:17, Isaiah 12:2-3; Isaiah 33:22, Psalms 3:8; Psalms 62:2; Psalms 118:14; Psalms 118:21). In so far as salvation is valued not merely from the point of view of its benefits for man, but as a pledge of the Divine favour, the idea becomes spiritualized in principle. Besides, in so far as all national developments in the history of Israel have a religious and moral background, it is felt that every act of salvation must have for its antecedent a change in the people’s spiritual condition (Isaiah 33:22; Isaiah 33:24). In a few passages the conception is directly transferred from the national-political to the purely religious sphere, sin being named as the evil from which Israel or the individual is saved (Ezekiel 36:29, Psalms 51:14).

The LXX Septuagint renders the Heb. verbs by σώζειν, the nouns by σωτηρία. and σωτήριον. These words, however, are likewise used to render Heb. terms of a different shade of meaning, and thus to a large extent the nice distinction of the original between ‘salvation ‘specifically so-called and such more general terms is obscured. Thus σώζειν stands for מלט Niphal, Piel, and Hiphil, frequently in the Passive for mere ‘escape,’ also for forms of פלט and חיה. On the other hand, σώζειν never bears in the LXX Septuagint the specific sense of ‘healing’ (Jeremiah 17:14).

In the Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphical writings the usage does not vary much from that of the OT; cf. Sirach 51:12 (ἐξ ἀτωλείας), Wisdom of Solomon 16:7, Judith 9:11, Enoch 48:7 (of ‘the Son of Man’; ‘in his name are they being saved, and he is the God of their life’) 50:3 (eschatological-negative, mere salvation without glory) 63:8, 4 Ezr 6:25, 7:131, 9:8, 12:34, 13:26, 8:39 (the righteous shall he satisfied with salvation in connexion with the Messiah), Ps-Sol 6:2, 10:8, 12:6, 18:6, Baruch 4:22; Baruch 4:24; Baruch 4:29, Test. Judges 1:22, Test. Daniel 5, Test. Napht. 8, Jub 23:29, 1 Maccabees 4:30; 1 Maccabees 9:9, 4 Maccabees 11:7; 4 Maccabees 15:3 (‘piety which saves unto eternal life’) 4 Maccabees 15:27. In most of these passages the conception is eschatological-positive, and in many of them it has reference to the issue of the Last Judgment, wherein lies a transition from the OT to the NT usage. There is also an advance in this, that in a couple of instances the act of salvation is connected with the Messiah.

In the Gospels σώζειν occurs 54 times (not counting Luke 17:33, where ζωογονήσει is better attested than σώσει of the Textus Receptus , nor Matthew 18:11, a verse omitted by the best authorities). The noun σωτηρία occurs 5 times (not counting αἰώνιος σωτηρία in the rejected shorter conclusion of Mk.)—Luke 1:69; Luke 1:71; Luke 1:77; Luke 19:9, John 4:22. τὸ σωτήριον is found twice—Luke 2:30; Luke 3:6. Of the instances of this use of the verb 14 relate to the deliverance from disease or demoniacal possession—Matthew 9:21-22 bis, Mark 5:23; Mark 5:28; Mark 5:34; Mark 6:56; Mark 10:32, Luke 8:36; Luke 8:48; Luke 8:50; Luke 17:19; Luke 18:42, John 11:12; in 20 instances the reference is to the rescue of physical life from some impending peril or instant death—Matthew 8:25; Matthew 14:30; Matthew 16:25; Matthew 27:40; Matthew 27:42 bis., Matthew 27:49, Mark 3:4; Mark 8:35; Mark 15:30-31 bis. Luke 6:9; Luke 9:24; Luke 9:56; Luke 23:35 bis. Luke 23:37; Luk_23:39, John 12:27; in the remainder of cases, 20 times, the reference is to religious salvation technically so called—Matthew 1:21; Matthew 10:22; Matthew 19:25; Matthew 24:13; Matthew 24:22, Mark 8:35; Mark 10:26; Mark 13:13; Mark 13:20; Mark 16:16, Luke 7:50; Luke 8:12; Luke 9:24; Luke 13:23; Luke 18:26; Luke 19:10, John 3:17; John 5:34; John 10:9; John 12:47. The noun σωτηρία is used twice in the OT sense of deliverance from the enemies of Israel—Luke 1:69; Luke 1:71; Luke , 3 times in the more specifically religious sense—Luke 1:77; Luke 19:9, John 4:22. τὸ σωτήριον in Luke 2:30 has the same distinctly religious associations; in Luke 3:6 it stands in a quotation from Isaiah 40:5, where the meaning is eschatological from the OT point of view.

1. First we examine the passages relating to the deliverance from diseases or demoniacal possession. The question is whether the import of σώζειν here is exhausted by the notion of ‘healing.’ The Greek word has this meaning, being connected with σῶς (σάος), ‘whole,’ ‘sound,’ therefore σώζειν = ‘to render whole, sound.’ The Authorized Version accordingly renders in most of these cases ‘to make whole’ or ‘be whole,’ in two ‘to heal’ (Mark 5:23, Luke 8:36), in one ‘to do well’ (John 11:12), and only once ‘to save’ (Luke 18:42). In one instance it offers ‘to save’ as a marginal reading for ‘to make whole’ (Mark 10:52). Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 everywhere follows the rendering of Authorized Version except that it makes the two passages where the latter has ‘to heal’ and the one passage where it has ‘to save’ uniform with the others; further, that it renders in John 11:12 ‘to recover,’ and that it offers in all passages except Mark 6:56 the marginal alternative ‘to save.’ It should be noticed that on other occasions the Evangelists use, and make Jesus use, different words, whose import is restricted to ‘healing’ in the medical sense, and that not only where the object is some disease or disability, but also with a personal object; so θεραπεὑειν (Matthew 4:23-24; Matthew 8:7; Matthew 8:16; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 10:1; Matthew 10:8; Matthew 12:10; Matthew 12:15; Matthew 14:14; Matthew 15:30; Matthew 17:16; Matthew 17:18; Matthew 19:2; Matthew 21:14, Mark 1:34; Mark 3:2; Mark 3:10; Mark 3:15; Mark 6:5; Mark 6:13, Luke 4:23; Luke 4:40; Luke 5:15; Luke 6:7; Luke 6:18; Luke 7:21; Luke 8:2; Luke 8:43; Luke 9:1; Luke 9:6; Luke 10:9; Luke 13:14; Luke 14:3, John 5:10) and ἱᾶσθαι (Luke 6:19; Luke 9:2; Luke 9:11; Luke 9:42; Luke 14:4; Luke 22:51, John 4:47). The question is not, of course, whether the element of ‘healing’ as a connotated idea should be entirely eliminated from σώζειν. Not only would this have been impossible to a Greek speaker or writer in cases where the saving act as a matter of fact consisted in or involved healing, but it is also excluded by the observation that Jesus more than once referred to His saving work as the work of a physician, and in the instruction to His disciples spoke also of it as ‘healing’ (Matthew 9:12; Matthew 10:1; Matthew 10:8; Matthew 13:15, Mark 2:17, Luke 4:18; Luke 5:31; Luke 9:1-2; Luke 10:9). The only point at issue is whether the Evangelists are aware of a difference between statements where ‘healing’ is designated as such, and other statements where ‘healing’ is implied, but where for a certain purpose it is characterized as ‘saving.’

The data above cited show that this last question must be answered in the affirmative. In view of the fact that Aramaic lies behind the Greek form of the words of Jesus or the Evangelists, we shall also have to assume a clearly marked difference between the two sets of cases. The additional element which the use of σώζειν introduces into the situation is that of deliverance from the sphere or power of death. In Mark 3:4, Luke 6:9, while speaking of His healing work, our Lord contrasts σώζειν with ἀποκτείνειν, which implies that He regarded it as the opposite of ‘killing,’ i.e. as rescuing from death and restoring to life. According to Mark 5:23, the purpose of ‘being saved ‘is ‘to live.’ In Luke 7:3 διασώζειν, the use of the preposition marks the process as a transition from death to life. It is true that in some instances the disease or infirmity from which Jesus saves is not fatal in itself, e.g. the withered hand (Mark 3:4), the issue of blood (Mark 5:28), certainly some of the diseases of Mark 6:56, blindness (Mark 10:52). Still even here the act of saving is viewed not from a medical point of view, but from the religious point of view, according to which all disease and infirmity lie on the side of death, so that it belongs to the function of one who delivers from death to work deliverance from these consequences of sin and precursors of death likewise.

This is further continued by the general interpretation Jesus puts upon His healing miracles as prophecies and pledges of the approaching Kingdom, in which all sin and death shall be done away with. With regard to the casting out of demons, the correctness of this view is vouched for by the explicit statement (Matthew 12:28 = Luke 11:20). But it applies equally well to the other miracles of healing. Jesus did not look upon these as works of philanthropy merely, or as signs authenticating His mission primarily. While the latter was one of the purposes for which they were intended—and this is brought out prominently in the Fourth Gospel—in the Synoptics, where Jesus’ teaching is centred in the Kingdom-idea, the miracles are before all else signs of the actual approach of the Kingdom,—proofs that the saving power of God, which calls the Kingdom into being, is already in motion, and therefore so many instances of σώζειν. Jesus’ saving power is simply the Kingdom-power applied to the individual under the influence of sin and death. Thus only can we naturally explain the fact that, where ‘salvation’ has a direct religious reference, both in our Lord’s own and in the later Apostolic teaching, the close connexion between it and the ideas of death and life is unmistakable. If this religious usage is at all dependent on the physical aspect of our Lord’s saving activity, it can be only through the common element of victory over sin and death. Jesus Himself has sufficiently indicated the connexion between the two, both in the Synoptical sayings and in the Johannine discourses. In the former the physical evils, which the saving Kingdom-power removes, have a moral and spiritual background. Hence Jesus makes such physical salvation the occasion for suggesting and working the profounder change by which the bonds of sin are loosed, and the rule of God set up in the inner life of man. The external and the internal are significantly placed side by side as co-ordinated halves of an identical work (Mark 2:9). And in the Fourth Gospel we are explicitly told that the physical acts are intended to point to corresponding spiritual transactions; the healing of the blind, the raising of the dead, are symbolic of Jesus’ saving work in the spiritual sphere (John 5:14; John 5:19-29; John 9:3; John 9:39; John 12:25-26). On three occasions our Lord has brought out the spiritual significance of the physical salvation by calling special attention to its dependence on the exercise of faith: the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:34 = Matthew 9:22 = Luke 8:48), the blind man near Jericho (Mark 10:52 = Luke 18:42), one of the lepers (Luke 17:19). The words ‘thy faith has saved thee’ are on these occasions the same as were used in such a case of purely spiritual salvation as is recorded Luke 7:50. They were intended as a suggestion that faith, which had yielded such results in the physical sphere, could be made equally fruitful in the sphere of spiritual salvation. Thus the external and internal are linked together by the common factor of faith.

That σώζειν has to do with the contrast of life and death becomes plain also from those instances of its natural use where deliverance from evil other than disease or demon-possession is referred to, for here everywhere the evil is that of physical death (Matthew 8:25; Matthew 14:30; Matthew 16:25; Matthew 27:40; Matthew 27:42; Matthew 27:9, Mark 8:35; Mark 15:30-31, Luke 9:24; Luke 9:56; Luke 23:35; Luke 23:37; Luke 23:39, John 12:27).

2. In connexion with the directly religions use in the Gospels several questions emerge. (1) Is the saving act, when belonging to the spiritual sphere, still viewed as a translation from death into life, and what is the meaning of death and life as related to salvation in this sphere? (2) Is the deliverance conceived eschatologically, as something to be experienced in the Last Day, or is it treated as an experience already attainable in this present life? (3) Is the conception negative or positive, or both negative and positive, i.e. does it express merely the removal of spiritual evil, or also the bestowal of positive spiritual blessings, especially the gift of life in a positive, pregnant sense?

(1) The answer to the first question is that spiritual salvation still revolves around the contrast between life and death, and that in a twofold sense. Both as subjective and as objective states, death and life come under consideration here. In other words: Jesus saves from spiritual death as a condition of the soul, and He saves from eternal death as a punishment awaiting the sinner. As the object of His saving activity, our Lord names τὸ ἀπολωλός ‘that which has become lost and now is lost’ (Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24; Matthew 18:12-14, Luke 15:4; Luke 15:6; Luke 15:8; Luke 15:24; Luke 19:10). From the figures used it appears that the Gr. ἀπόλλυσθαι has in this connexion the sense ‘miss,’ ‘be missing,’ not primarily the sense ‘destroy,’ ‘be destroyed.’ The ‘lost’ are like sheep gone astray upon the mountains, like the coin slipped out of the hand of its owner, like the prodigal who lias left the father’s home. A lost condition means estrangement from God, a missing of all the religious and moral relations man is designed to sustain towards his Maker. But this lost condition is further identified by Jesus with spiritual death, for of the prodigal the father declares: ‘This thy brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found’ (Luke 15:24; Luke 15:32). Elsewhere also the state of sin is described as a state of death (Matthew 8:22, Luke 20:38). Salvation of ‘the lost,’ therefore, is salvation from spiritual death. As such it includes both forgiveness of sin and moral-religious renewal. To the woman who had anointed Him Jesus said: ‘Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace,’ and this obviously repeats in another form the preceding statement, ‘Thy sins are forgiven’ (Luke 7:48; Luke 7:50). In the case of Zaeehaeus also assurance of pardon is undoubtedly implied when Jesus declares ‘salvation’ to have come to his house (Luke 19:9). Here, however, the salvation manifests itself also in the moral transformation of the publican, issuing directly into repentance and good works. The prodigal is pardoned and restored to the privileges of sonship. But salvation is not confined to deliverance from this subjective spiritual death, just as the conception of being ‘lost’ is not exhausted by estrangement from God. ἀπόλλυσθαι is used in a retributive sense in eonnexion with the judgment of God to which the sinner is subject; it involves exposure to objective death as a result of condemnation. With reference to this the two senses of the verb, ‘to be missing’ and ‘to be destroyed,’ are used side by side. From the point of view of man the judgment may bring a ‘losing’ or a ‘finding,’ ‘keeping’ of the soul or life (Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24-25; Luke 17:33, John 12:25). From the point of view of God as Judge it may bring ‘destruction.’ This is the ἀπώλεια, which is spoken of in Matthew 5:30; Matthew 7:13; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 18:14, Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5, John 3:15-16; John 6:39; John 10:28; John 17:12; John 18:9. The two aspects of ἀπόλλυσθαι—the subjective spiritual ‘being lost’ and the objective retributive ‘being lost’ or ‘perishing’—are joined together in Matthew 18:10-14, where first the sinning one is compared to a sheep gone astray and to be sought, and then, to give the motive for this search after the subjectively lost, Jesus adds: ‘Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish’ (ἀπόληται); that which is already lost in the one sense must be diligently sought, lest it should be lost in the deeper, absolute sense. And the deliverance from this final ἀπώλεια, as well as the deliverance from the other lost condition, is σώζεσθαι, σωτηρία. Thus in Mark 16:16 ‘to be saved’ is the opposite of ‘to be condemned’; in John 3:16-17 of ‘to be judged’ and ‘to perish,’ in John 10:9-10 of ‘to be destroyed,’ in John 12:47 of ‘to be judged.’ This ἀπώλεια, however, not less than the other ‘being lost,’ is equivalent to death. It is a losing of the life (ψυχή, Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24-25, John 12:25); its opposite is ‘to have eternal life’ (John 3:16; John 10:28), or ‘to be raised up at the last day’ (John 6:39). Thus it appears that salvation in its speeilie religious sense is still viewed throughout as a deliverance from death and an introduction into the sphere of life.

(2) The second question was whether ‘salvation’ is conceived eschatologically or as something experienced already in this present life. It has been answered in principle by the above, for present salvation coincides with deliverance from subjective spiritual death; eschatological salvation coincides with deliverance from objective death in the Judgment. In a number of the passages already considered the reference to the present is very plain. To the woman who anointed Him Jesus addressed the words, ‘Thy faith has saved thee.’ Of Zacchaeus He declared: ‘To-day is salvation come to this house’; and in the following statement—‘The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost,’—the ‘saving’ must belong to the same time as the ‘seeking,’ i.e. to the present time of our Lord’s earthly ministry. In John 12:47 the saving of the world for which Jesus has come is a present thing as distinct from the judging of the world for which He has not come, but which is reserved for the future. In Matthew 1:21 the sins of the people being the evil from which Jesus saves, the salvation is viewed as a present one. In other passages the eschatological reference is equally obvious. ‘He that endures to the end shall be saved’ (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13). Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24 speak of the finding or saving of life in the future Judgment as conditioned by the willingness to sacrifice one’s life here. This is clear from the context (Mark 8:38 in Mk., Matthew 16:27 in Mt. = Luke 9:26 in Lk).

The point of the saying is not, as often interpreted, that for one kind of life, physical life, given up, another kind of life, spiritual life, will be received in return; in which case the future tenses might be purely logical, and no eschatological reference implied. The meaning is that for life, in its general sense, sacrificed by accepting physical death, life in the same general sense will be received in reward through the escape from death, when Jesus comes to judge and to render every man according to his deeds. As Zahn observes, the distinction between two kinds of ‘life’ or ‘soul’ is scarcely in harmony with the Hebrew point of view, according to which the ‘life’ or the ‘soul’ is frequently called ‘the only one’ (Com. on Matthew, in loco).

Eschatological is also the reference in the question of the disciples recorded in Matthew 19:25, Mark 10:26, Luke 18:26. ‘Then who can be saved?’ The question was called forth by Jesus’ declaration, that the rich would with great difficulty enter into the Kingdom of God, which was in turn called forth by the question of the rich young man, ‘What shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life?’ Here ‘to be saved’ = ‘to enter the Kingdom’ = ‘to inherit eternal life,’ and the qualification of life as eternal, as well as the further context,—St. Peter’s question about future rewards, and our Lord’s answer to this,—prove that the whole discussion is eschatological in its scope. Matthew 24:22 || Mark 13:20 ‘Except these days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved,’ is best understood as follows: The temptation in these last times will be so severe, that, if their duration had not been kept within certain limits, all men, even the elect, would have fallen away, and so no flesh would have been ultimately saved in the Day of Judgment.

This interpretation seems to be required by the fact that the shortening of the days is for the sake of the elect. The mere preservation of physical life could have no special bearing upon the destiny of the elect, since, even when killed in the body, they would be sure to inherit the Kingdom; the whole representation concerning the possibility of none being saved, and the elect falling away and the shortening of the days, is, of course, conceived from the human point of view (cf. Zahn, Com. on Matthew, in loco).

In the remainder of the passages there are no means of determining whether ‘salvation’ be future or present. For Matthew 18:11 (Textus Receptus only) the reference to the present is supported by Luke 19:10. In Luke 8:12 ‘that they may not believe and be saved,’ the eschatological sense would be quite plausible, but the other view is slightly favoured by the general import of the parables dealing with the present invisible aspect of the Kingdom. In general, the representation of the Kingdom as both present and future creates a presumption in favour of the view that our Lord regarded salvation as both a present and an eschatological experience. The form σωζόμενοι, ‘those who are being saved,’ in Luke 13:23, probably reflects the two-sidedness of the process, as belonging to both present and future, and therefore unfinished in this life. In the case of the Johannine sayings (John 3:16-17; John 4:22; John 5:34; John 10:9) we shall have to assume, in harmony with the generalization of the conception of ‘life,’ ‘eternal life,’in the discourses of this Gospel—which makes out of it a conception indifferent to the distinction between present and future—that the same will be true of the synonymous conception of salvation. The future in John 10:9 is purely logical in its force.

(3) The third question concerned what may be gathered from the Gospels in regard to the positive or negative context of the idea of religious salvation. The negative aspect—escape from death—stands in the foreground in Matthew 24:22, Mark 13:20 : if the days had not been shortened, not even the elect would have escaped the fate of death in the Judgment; similarly in Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24 : he who will sacrifice his life here shall escape the loss of life in the Judgment. Probably Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13 should be interpreted on the same principle: the enduring now will save from greater calamity in the Last Day. On the other hand, in Matthew 19:25, Mark 10:26, Luke 18:26, where ‘salvation’ is equivalent to entrance of the Kingdom and inheriting of eternal life, the emphasis rests on the positive side. In the Johannine passages the positive content of the idea is very marked. According to John 3:16-17, ‘to have eternal life’ and ‘to be saved’ are synonymous. In John 5:34 also the preceding context revolves around the idea of life (John 5:21-29), and in the sequel the same idea is again brought forward (John 5:39). Again, in John 10:9-10 ‘salvation’ and ‘life’ appear in close conjunction; John 12:47 receives its interpretation from John 3:17. The same difference as is observable with reference to eschatological salvation may be observed where present salvation is spoken of. Sometimes the conception is negative (Matthew 1:21, Luke 7:50), sometimes positive as well as negative (Luke 19:10); the salvation which came to Zacchaeus’ house certainly included more than pardon, since it issued in renewal of life. The facts, therefore, do not bear out the contention of B. Weiss, who maintains that σώζεσθαι has everywhere a purely negative meaning.

In the saying of Luke 19:10 Jesus declares ‘saving’ to be the highest category under which His Messianic activity is to be subsumed. He came to save, i.e. His entrance into the world was for this specific purpose (cf. Mark 10:45). The connexion between Him and salvation consists not merely in this, that as a preacher of the gospel He proclaims it. Everywhere the supposition is that salvation is in some way bound to His Person. For the Johan nine discourses this needs no proof. But it is no less true for the Synoptics. Because He lodged with Zacchaeus, salvation entered the latter’s house. The rich young man was not saved, because he refused to follow Jesus. The saving acts in the physical sphere are suspended on faith, and this faith involves trust in Jesus,—in Jesus, to be sure, as the instrument of God, but none the less so that on Jesus’ Person together with God the act of faith terminates. It is psychologically inconceivable that in those who were helped by the miracles of Jesus, faith should not have assumed the form of personal trust in Him. Faith in God and faith in Jesus here inevitably coalesce. On the occasion of the storm, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack of confidence in His presence with them as a guarantee of absolute safety (Matthew 8:26). Similarly Peter, when walking upon the water, calls upon Jesus to perform the saving act. From the close connexion in which these transactions stand to the specific religious salvation, it may be safely inferred that in the latter also Jesus occupies a necessary place. This is confirmed by Luke 7:50, where the woman’s faith, which is declared to have saved her, consists in the attitude of trust she had assumed towards Jesus; the love shown the Lord is here the result of the forgiveness of sins (Luke 7:47), and inasmuch as this love terminated on Jesus, the faith which conditioned the forgiveness must likewise have had Him for its object. Similarly in the discourse at Caesarea Philippi, ‘salvation’ in the Last Day is made dependent on following of Jesus and sacrifice of life for Jesus’ sake and the gospel’s sake, and the corresponding acknowledgment by Jesus in the Judgment (Mark 8:34-35; Mark 8:38 || Mt. and Lk.).

It is not true, as is being frequently asserted of late, that in the gospel preached by Jesus there is no place for His own Person, it being merely a gospel about God. Though not frequently in so many words, yet in acts we find our Lord seeking to cultivate a relationship of faith between the disciple and Himself and, in Himself, with God. If only once in the Synoptics we read explicitly of faith in Jesus (Matthew 8:10), and that in a passage where the authenticity of the words εἰς ἐμς is doubtful, this is counterbalanced by the fact that not more than once God Himself is specified as the object of faith (Mark 11:22). Jesus, conscious of being the Messiah, the Judge at the Last Day, who would finally dispose of the destiny of all mankind, could not help ascribing a central soteriological position to Himself. Such a figure as He was in His own view, could not be kept outside of the saving transaction, which in a certain sense forestalls the Last Judgment. The absence of more direct affirmations.of this principle is simply the result of Jesus’ method of not directly proclaiming at first His Messianic dignity, but rather allowing it to be gradually inferred from the impression made by His Person and the witness of His works. On the basis of our present Gospels, apart from critical reconstructions of the teaching of Jesus, no other view is possible than that our Lord represented salvation as in some way bound to and wrapped up in His Person. He did not represent salvation as something unconditioned, flowing simply from the love of God, which would overleap every necessity of mediation. The parable of the Prodigal Son, so often quoted to the contrary, furnishes, when rightly read, the clearest demonstration of this, for it was spoken to describe not God’s attitude towards sinners in the abstract, but the historic approach of God to lost men in the appearance of His Son Jesus. It was the attitude of Jesus towards publicans and sinners that drew forth the parable, and therefore it describes God’s attitude towards them as bound to that assumed by Jesus (cf. Ernst Cremer, ‘Die Gleichnisse Lukas 15 und das Kreuz’ in Beitr. z. Förder. Christl. Theol. 1904, Heft 4). The gospel is not a mere announcement of the love of God unpreceded and unattended by any action on His part; it is the glad message of the love of God in action, of what God does in Jesus to give His love effect in actual, substantial salvation. The unfolding of what the Person of Jesus as the bearer and worker of salvation contains could not be fully given by our Lord before His saving work had actually transpired, but had to be left to Apostolic teaching.

3. Humanly considered, salvation is dependent on faith. This is not merely explicitly announced (Mark 16:16, Luke 8:12, John 3:16-17), it is likewise presupposed or expressed in connexion with the healing acts of Jesus. It is a striking fact that in the Synoptics nearly the whole of our Lord’s teaching on faith attaches itself to the performance of miracles. This is because miracles embody that saving aspect of the Kingdom to which faith is the subjective counterpart. The miracles, almost without exception, have two features in common. Firstly, they are transactions in which the result depends absolutely on the forth-putting of the Divine supernatural powers, where no human effort could possibly contribute anything towards its accomplishment. And, secondly, the miracles are healing miracles, in which the gracious love of God approaches man for his salvation. Faith is the spiritual attitude called for by this twofold clement in God’s saving work. It is the recognition of the Divine power and grace,—not, of course, in a purely intellectual way, but practically so as to carry with it the movement of the whole inner life. How faith stands related to the saving power of God is most clearly illustrated in the narrative of Mark 9:17-24. “When the disciples could not heal the child with the dumb spirit, Jesus exclaimed, ‘O unbelieving generation!’ The father says, after describing the severity of the case: ‘But if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ To this Jesus replies: ‘What, if thou canst! all things are possible to him that believeth.’ Faith is omnipotent. To speak, with reference to it, of an ‘if thou canst’ is an absurdity. Thus to faith is ascribed what can be affirmed of God alone. And elsewhere also this same principle is emphasized by our Lord (Matthew 21:21-22, Mark 11:22-23, Luke 17:6). The explanation lies in this, that faith is nothing else than that act whereby man lays hold of, appropriates, the endless power of God. This line of reasoning, however, is not applicable to the miracles only. The miracles, as has been shown, illustrate the saving work of God in general. All salvation partakes, humanly speaking, of the nature of the impossible: it can be accomplished by God alone (Matthew 19:25-26, Mark 10:26-27, Luke 18:26-27). All genuine saving faith is as profoundly conscious of its utter dependence on God for deliverance from sin and death as the recipients of our Lord’s miraculous cures were convinced that God alone could heal their bodies from disease. Faith, however, is more than belief, more than a conviction regarding the necessity and sufficiency of the Divine power. It also involves trust, the reliance upon God’s willingness and readiness to save. Jesus never encouraged the exercise of faith as a mere theoretical belief in supernatural power. The performance of a sign from heaven, such as men might have witnessed without trust in God or Himself, He persistently refused. He who truly believes, realizes that God is loving, merciful, forgiving, glad to receive sinners. Faith transfers to God in the matter of salvation what human parents experience in themselves with reference to their own children, the desire to help and supply (Matthew 7:7-11). This reliance of faith is not confined to the critical moments of life; it is to be the abiding, characteristic disposition of the disciple with reference to his salvation as a whole. Faith, in those on whom the wonderful cures were wrought, may have manifested itself at first as a momentary act, but, as shown above, Jesus frequently called the attention of such people to what faith had done for them, thus suggesting that it was permanently available as an instrument of salvation.

4. In proper names, the conception of ‘saving’ occurs twice in the Gospels, namely, in the name Jesus, and in the exclamation Hosanna. A reflexion upon the meaning of the name Joshua is found also in Sirach 46:1, and in Philo, who explains it by σωτηρία κυρίου (de Mut. Nom. 21). The meaning of Matthew 1:21 is not that Jesus will bear this name symbolically in illustration of the fact that ‘Jehovah is salvation,’ but rather that in Him Jehovah save


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Salvation'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/s/salvation.html. 1906-1918.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 14th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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