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1. Christianity deliverance by redemption from the power of sin and from the penalties ensuing from it
2. Christian Science the realization that Life, Truth, and Love are supreme and that they can destroy such illusions as sin, death, etc.


The discovery of Jesus' resurrection on Easter morning had a profound impact on the small circle of his followers and on the first Christians. It convinced them that a new era had dawned, an era in which God was making salvation possible through Jesus and his teachings.

Salvation in the Hebrew Scriptures

The meaning of the words "salvation" and "save" evolve as one reads through the Bible. In the earliest Hebrew scriptures, which Christians call the Old Testament, "to save" means to rescue or to deliver. God, kings, and judges are called "savior" for leading the Hebrews out of dangerous, oppressive, or distressing situations. In these texts not only does salvation refer to escape from danger, but also to movement towards a state of well-being, prosperity, and expanded possibilities. Various kinds of reconciliations between God and humanity are also referred to as salvation. In these early writings salvation is something that happens over and over again to the Jewish people. These texts give little evidence of belief in a long-lasting or eternal state of salvation or an afterlife.

Later Old Testament writers begin to imagine a final deliverance for the Jewish people. This deliverance would end the period of history in which the Jews found themselves, a period characterized by the threat of one after another disaster, conquest, or conflict. Furthermore, it would usher in the glorification of Israel. In this future era of salvation the scattered Jewish people would be gathered together to enjoy peace, justice, and abundance. Some texts link the coming of this era with the conversion and subjugation of the Gentiles, that is, the non-Jewish peoples. These later Old Testament writings also begin to suggest a belief in an afterlife characterized by the resurrection of the body and spirit. During Jesus' lifetime many Jews believed in the resurrection of the dead.

Salvation in the Christian Scriptures

Written in Greek, the Christian scriptures, or New Testament, also use a word whose root meaning is "rescue" to convey the concept of salvation. In some instances the word "save" is used as a straightforward synonym for rescue or deliver (Matthew 27:40, 49). Most New Testament references to salvation, however, imply it to be a state of liberation, peace, wholeness, and closeness to God. This definition of salvation implies that the saved live untroubled by sin and its consequences, a state which the New Testament also refers to as redemption. Nevertheless, salvation is not to be taken for granted. New Testament writers warn that every individual must take responsibility for monitoring their relationship with God, keeping watch over their own salvation (Philippians 2:12). (See also Repentance.)

In the New Testament salvation is a gift from God, therefore only God and Jesus Christ are referred to as "savior." Jesus functions alongside God as savior because, according to Christian doctrine, he is the Son of God, a human man through whom God acted and spoke in such a clear way that his followers concluded that Jesus shared in God's divine essence in a way that other human beings do not. Thus Jesus served as God's chosen messenger, appointed to teach the world through word and example how to attain salvation. This idea finds expression in the very meaning of Jesus' name, which means "God saves" or "God is salvation" in Hebrew.

The New Testament view of salvation expands and combines preexisting Jewish beliefs concerning salvation, life after death, and the destiny of the Jewish people. In several accounts of his healing miracles, Jesus speaks of healing as salvation (Matthew 9:21-22, Mark 5:23). Some passages in the New Testament equate salvation with eternal life (Romans 5:9-10, 21). The word salvation may also refer to a future point in history when God fulfills his final plans for humanity (Matthew 19:23-29). This image of salvation harks back to earlier Jewish beliefs concerning the final deliverance and triumph of the Jewish people. The writers of the New Testament understood God's future plans for humanity's salvation to include the resurrection of Jesus' faithful followers (Philippians 3:20). Yet salvation is not limited to the future. The New Testament presents salvation as a process that extends from the past through the present and into the future.

The New Testament writings of the first Christian leaders reveal that the resurrection of Jesus Christ became the focal point for early Christian beliefs concerning salvation. Jesus' resurrection was seen as a token of the future resurrection of all the faithful (1 Corinthians 15). The fact that Jesus' resurrection had already happened meant that humanity's final salvation had been transformed from a promise into a reality. It could no longer be spoken of as taking place in a future era, but rather had already begun to happen. For Jesus' followers, his resurrection initiated a new era in God's efforts to save humanity. Previously the Jews had understood God's offer of salvation to be limited to the nation of Israel. The writers of the New Testament explain that through the life, death, resurrection and teachings of Jesus Christ, God extended his offer of salvation to the whole world (John 3:16-17).

Further Reading

Alsup, John E. "Salvation." In Paul J. Achtemeier, ed. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Fuller, Reginald H. "Savior." In Paul J. Achtemeier, ed. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Light, Gary W. "Salvation." In David Noel Freedman, ed. Eerdmans Diction- ary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. Myers, Allen C., ed. "Salvation." In The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1987. Neyrey, Jerome H. "Eternal Life." In Paul J. Achtemeier, ed. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. "Salvation." In Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998.


See also Deliverance.
Sanctimony (See HYPOCRISY.)
Sanctuary (See REFUGE.)
Esther, Queen
intercedes with king for cessation of extermination of Jews. [O.T.: Esther 7:8]
Faerie Queene (Gloriana)
gives a champion to people in trouble. [Br. Lit.: The Faerie Queene]
Jesus Christ
as savior of souls. [Christian Tradition: Jobes, 330]
led his people out of bondage. [O.T.: Exodus]
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