Salvation: A Biblical Portrait

The two words, "salvation" and "being saved" in the New Testament are the words, soterion, a noun (denoting deliverance, preservation, salvation), and, sozo, a verb (denoting to save).

Both words have a number of meanings, determined by the varying contexts in which the words are used.

In a first and basic sense, the word "salvation" virtually stands for Jesus Christ, Savior, by whose act of salvation, we are saved.

Lk 2:28,30-31
He (Simeon) took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: ... for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
Lk 19:9-10
And Jesus said to him (Zacchaeus), "Today salvation has come to this house ..."
Jn 4:21-22
Jesus said to her (the Samaritan woman), "... because salvation is from the Jews."
Acts 4:11-12
He (Jesus) is "the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone." There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.

In a second sense, the words, "salvation" and "being saved," are also used of the present experience, God's power to deliver from the bondage of sin.

1 Cor 15:2
Through it (the gospel) you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
Heb 7:25
Therefore, he (Jesus) is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.
Phil 2:12
So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
1 Pet 1:8-9
Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of (your) faith, the salvation of your souls.
2 Tim 3:15
... and that from infancy you have known (the) sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Heb 2:3
how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?

In a third sense, "salvation" and "being saved" are also used for the future deliverance of believers at the Second Coming of Christ. This salvation is the object of the confident hope of the saints.

Rom 5:9
How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath.
Rom 13:11
And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
1 Thess 5:8-9
But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Heb 1:14
Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

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By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.
Catholic Biblical Apologetics, © Copyright 1985-1997, Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Last Updated: January 3, 1997