The most misunderstood word in the Bible is also one of the biblical words we use the most. What word is that?
The word “saved.”
And not just the word saved, but the other words in the same word family, such as save, salvation, and savior.
How often have we heard pastors and teachers tell us of our need to “get saved”? How often do evangelists ask people if they have “been saved”? How often do people argue about whether or not we can lose our salvation, and how to know for sure if we are really saved or not?
This is common terminology, right? It is heard in countless sermons, read in countless books, and used in countless evangelism methods.
The problem is that the word doesn’t usually mean what we think it means.
Getting Saved is Not About Going to Heaven
Most often, when Christians use the word “saved” we think about the following concepts:
- getting forgiveness of sins
- escaping hell
- going to heaven when we die
- receiving eternal life
Furthermore, we think that people “get saved” by doing some (or all) of the following:
- ask Jesus into our hearts
- confess our sin
- repent of our sin
- get baptized
- believe in Jesus
- trust Jesus
- believe that Jesus is God,
- believe that Jesus died on the cross, and rose again from the dead
- believe that we are sinners and that Jesus died for our sin on the cross
- etc, etc, etc.
But did you know that the word “saved” (and the other related words like save and salvation) are rarely used to express any of the concepts above? The closest we get is Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:2, and Ephesians 2:5-9, and I am not convinced that even in these passages, the word “saved” means getting forgiveness of sins so we can escape hell, get eternal life, and go to heaven when we die. Taking a detailed look at each of these texts is beyond the scope of this blog post, so let me just summarize what the word saved means in the Bible.
What does the word “Saved” mean?
It means “deliverance.” To be saved means to be delivered.
And when we understand it this way, it opens up a whole new range of possibilities. We can be “delivered” from almost anything, right? I pray that as I write this blog post, I am delivered (saved) from theological and biblical errors, and my greatest nemesis of all – typographical errors!
But I can also be delivered from sickness, from a meteor falling out of the sky and landing on my house, from getting in a car accident while I drive to work, from enemies invading our country, from our economy sliding into collapse, from earthquakes, floods, storms, and on and on it goes.
In a more spiritual sense, I can be saved from slipping into sin so that I destroy my life and my witness. I can be saved from ruining my marriage and my family by treating them with the love and respect they deserve.
How is “Saved” used in the Bible?
The vast majority of the times the word “saved” is used in Scripture, it is not used in reference to receiving eternal life or going to heaven when we die, but is used in one of these other ways mentioned above. If you doubt this, just pull out a concordance and start checking it yourself. When the Bible uses the word “saved” it is talking about the Israelites getting saved from their enemies, from sickness, from slavery, and from death. The disciples are saved from drowning in a storm. Christians can be saved from a life of empty living.
This sort of thinking really helps when we read certain difficult passages. Paul writes that women will be saved through childbearing (1 Tim 2:15). Does he mean that only women who have children can get forgiveness of sins and go to heaven when they die? Of course not! A brief look into the context of 1 Timothy 2 reveals that one source of a woman’s personal self-worth is in how she trains and raises her children. Paul is teaching that one way women can be “saved” from feeling insignificant is by raising children. It is not the only way, but is one way.
So the next time you are reading the Bible and come across the word “saved,” stop and think about it. Substitute in the word “deliver” or “deliverance” and then look into the context to see what sort of deliverance is in view. Ask yourself, “Delivered from what?” and let the context answer this question for you. Doing this little exercise will really help clarify what the Bible actually teaches about how to receive eternal life and the role of good works in our life as Christians.
You will see that while good works play absolutely no part in getting, keeping, or proving our eternal life, good works nevertheless can “save” us. Ah, but “save” us from what? I will let you embark on the rest of this study on your own. Have fun!
I found this helpful .Thanks
Please read 1 Peter 1-9 for the best answer.
Very helpful. Thanks.
Geraldine wong says
So did I alot of things we have been taught from a Christian perspective being mislead
What a message! I don’t know how to describe the joy I’m having since I discovered your website. Most of the topics you are dealing with are questions I have been longing to obtain sincere answers.
May God continue using you. Daniel. Conakry; Guinea
Jeremy Myers says
Thank you for the encouragement. It means a lot to me. Blessings on you as well!
What is the difference between saved and born again?
Adam Berman says
Great blog Brother. I have come to many of the same “radical” conclusions myself. The next logical question is, what verses do actually poiint us to the coonclusion that salvation is n scap plan and not a present day reality. From what I’ve gleened so far, the verses that talk about heaven are descriptive and not a destination point. Would love to here your thoughts. Blessings.
Jeremy Myers says
Not sure what you mean by “n scap plan.” I am assuming it’s a typo, but cannot figure out what it should be, and so cannot respond properly to your question.
Adam Berman says
Sorry, escape plan. I really need to proofread better.
The word Saved is the same as being Born again. You can not enter the kingdom of God unless you are Born again. There is one Name under heaven whereby we must be Saved. Whoever calls upon the Name of the Lord (Jesus) will be Saved. Jesus came to Save that which was lost. Those words plus a couple others mean the same thing. Regenerated also is the same as those words, our spirit gets regenerated becomes alive when we are Born again, Saved, or regenerated. There is a lot more to this, I don’t have much time right now, I would have left verses but I have to go. John 3:3, Romans 10:13, Acts 4:12, Luke 19:10, http://www.gotquestions.org/regeneration-Bible.html, Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, you are saved past tense. You can’t do it on your own, Jesus did it for us. Study to show yourself approved unto God a workman that needs not to be ashamed rightly dividing the Word of truth. There are many more to back this up.
Jeremy Myers says
First, the word “saved” is not the same as “born again” at all. They are not the same in English or in Greek.
Second, the “Kingdom of Heaven” is not the same as “heaven.” A basic study of the these phrases in Scripture will reveal this quite clearly.
Third, “calling on the name of the Lord” is not the same thing as believing in Jesus for eternal life. In Romans 10, where this verse comes from, only those who have been declared righteous through faith are the ones who call on the name of the Lord. Therefore, calling on the name of the Lord to be saved is something that Christians do; not non-Christians.
I could go on and on, but there are so many misunderstandings in your comment, the three above will be enough for now.
Sam Riviera says
Jeremy, Good! I know you have lots of other things to do, but some comments are remarkably cringe-worthy, and if allowed to stand seem to give a sense of agreeing that what they say is correct. Current usage of some English words in a religious context in certain religious circles differs dramatically from the meaning of the words in their original context in the Bible, in their original languages. Thank you for setting this straight.
Occasionally I think back to the way some of these words were used in the conservative evangelical church I attended as a child. If the pastor ever explained a word, he pulled out his desk dictionary, read the definition, then put his personal spin on it. These people may have been well-intentioned, but their doctrines often had little to do with the Bible or the beliefs of those who lived when Jesus walked this earth or shortly thereafter. I call that “reinventing Christianity”.
Jeremy Myers says
Sam, Thanks! Yes, it is truly cringe-worthy the way various words are thrown about in some churches. As you point out, many English words in a religious context do not mean the same thing in their original context … and sometimes not even in a modern non-religious context!
Craig giddens says
Context will determine the way the word saved is being used. For instance;
Matthew 8:25 refers to being saved from a storm.
Matthew 10:22 and 24:13 refers to those being saved from perishing during the tribulation.
Matthew 14:30 refers to Peter being saved from drowning.
Passages such as Matthew 1:21 , John 3:17, Acts 16:13, 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 21, Ephesians 2:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 1 Timothy 1:15, 2:4 make reference to being saved from our sins which is the usual meaning people think of. In these instances we are being saved from our sins and God’s wrath. Born again refers to what we become as new creatures in Christ indwelt by His Spirit. These occur simultaneously.
Jeremy Myers says
Yes, context is always important. I have done extensive contextual studies on all these texts. When used in context to sin, the word “saved” refers to delivering people from the damaging and destructive consequences of sin in their lives. It does not refer to getting them into heaven when they die.
Craig Giddens says
Jesus died for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. It affects our life here and now and after we die. Because our sins are forgiven we are delivered from the penalty of sin and now because we are in Christ and He lives in us we can have victory over the power of sin. Because we have been saved we will spend eternity with Christ.
Robert Hollinger says
Saved simply means, from death. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. This is God’s free gift to mankind, ALL will live eternally no matter if they rejected the Christ or not, ALL means ALL. Where we spend eternity depends on many other things. Adam brought mortality, death into the world and the Christ brought eternal life. Amen
Jeremy Myers says
It often does mean delivered from physical death, but it can mean other things as well. Delivered from prison, Php 1:19, from temporal bondage to sin, Php 2:12; etc.
Amen. God’s word is right and this person is a false prophet/teacher. Jesus was very clear what He came to do and this person is either deceived GREATLY and CLEARLY or he is trying to get money somehow out of this bs!
Gyamera Christian says
I strongly believe that if we are able to realize what we are saved from and the purpose of “SAVED” we will come to realize what “SAVED” means.
In your thesis you said that getting saved is not about escaping hell or going to Heaven when we die. My question is if I gain gain grace to Heaven when I die, have i not been “SAVED” from the powers of hell?
Jeremy Myers says
The way the word “saved” is used by English speakers today, yes, your use is fine. But this is NOT the way the word “saved” is used in the Bible. The use you suggest is not found anywhere in Scripture.
Squawks 5000 says
Yes — you are saved from the powers of hell by accepting Jesus [John 3:16].
It’s just that saving people from hell isn’t the only thing that Jesus does. Jesus also came so we can be saved from sin’s power and have an abundant life [John 10:10].
Fr Brendan Pelphrey says
Orthodox Christians (with the capital “O”) have always understood that the Protestant understanding of salvation is not really biblical, and you have, I hope, opened the door for some Protestant Evangelicals to realize this. There are several words used in the Old and New Testaments which translate as “saved,” “salvation” and so on, but none of them means to be justified by faith. They have to do with being rescued from catastrophe, being healed, being made whole. This is the ancient Christian teaching and remains the Orthodox understanding of what salvation is–namely, the process of becoming complete, whole, safe, in-filled with the Holy Spirit. It is what ancient theologians called “theosis,” becoming one with God. So: I was saved at the resurrection, but at the same time, God isn’t finished with me yet.
Larry Fasel says
In Jn 3 the term “Born Again ” is used by Yeshua in speaking to Nicodemus. This was not something new. Yeshua was speaking to a Jew not an English speaking people that have put a new twist on the word Born Again. In those days that term meant Change (shana in Hebrew) the same word is used in Mal 3:6. In fact Yeshua was surprised that Nicodemus being a Teacher and one that sat on the Sanhedrin didn’t understand what he meant. Why do you think he said,”Jesus answered, “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things? (Joh 3:10). Born Again meant to change or have a change in life such as becoming a proselyte, or getting married, when a Jewish man became king, he is said to be “born again.” He started a whole new life. Before, he was just a citizen of the nation, now he is the leader a change in life. The next way you could be “born again” is t’vilah, which is Hebrew for Baptism. You immersed yourself and when you came out of the water you were ritually clean.4. The next way you can be “born again” is repentance. Repentance means to turn around, to change your mind from walking in unrighteousness to walking in righteousness. That is being “born again.” It is a new way of life. You were going one way, now you are going another way. To think that Yeshua was going around teaching people things that they could not do in the here and now but would have to wait till he died is ludicrous. Again, “Born Again” is not unique to Christianity or Christian Theology in fact it is totally Jewish. All the sayings of Yeshua must be looked at within that social matrix and understood within the framework of that society. That term has nothing at all to do “salvation”.
Jeremy Myers says
This is an excellent summary of what it means to be “born again. I agree wholeheartedly.
Craig Giddens says
Jesus’ words seem to indicate more than repenting or changing your life. He’s talking about the kingdom of God and being born of the Spirit.
3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, HE CANNOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
4. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and OF THE SPIRIT, HE CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is BORN OF THE SPIRIT is spirit.
7. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Jesus came as Israel’s long awaited Messiah to offer them their promised kingdom.
But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
But He knew the nation as a whole would reject Him.
21. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
31. Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
32. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
33. And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
Jeremy Myers says
It is not usually a good practice to disagree with someone simply by quoting Bible verses at them. Everybody knows these Bible verses are there … they simply understand them differently than the way you might. Besides, other than the John 3 passage, the other passages you quote don’t even mention being “born again” and so don’t apply to the discussion at hand.
Craig Giddens says
Being born again is by the Spirit and is essential to entering the kingdom of God
Jeremy Myers says
Yes. Absolutely. But the “Kingdom of Heaven” is not the same thing as “eternal life.”
Larry Fasel says
Craig, the Kingdom of Elohim can’t be entered without the change of a persons character or way of life that is not in accord with the Torah. That is what the word Shani means (Yeshua did not teach in Greek but either Aramaic / Hebrew/ Shana can be a noun as in Year which is always changing or as a verb such as Mal 3:6. Ani YHWH LO Shani. I YHWH do not change. It was a very common usage in the language, Born Again. Yeshua was Born again when He was immersed, he went from a common way of life to the ministry he was set apart for. If you’ll recall when he came up out of the water the “Spirit” descended on Him for the work he was about to start. He later reiterated this to Nicodemus.
Craig Giddens says
Jesus was God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16, John 1:1-3 and 14) so He never needed to be born again.
Larry S Fasel says
I see, thank you so much for that insightful thought. However I think that comment is some what anachronistic considering when that Book was written (John) and the Theology that’s been tied to it. I’ve always wondered when people read that prologue in John why they assert Jesus into it, the Greek does not read that way. It is supposition & presupposing.
Craig Giddens says
It can be speaking only of Jesus.
Verse 1 – the Word was with God
Verse 2 – the Word was God
Verse 3 – All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2)
Verse 11 – He came unto his own, and his own received him not
Verse 14 – the Word was made flesh – compare with 1 Timothy 3:16 (God was manifest in the flesh)
Craig Giddens says
Jeremy said “Yes. Absolutely. But the “Kingdom of Heaven” is not the same thing as “eternal life.”
You are correct. I can’t be dogmatic but it appears the Kingdom of Heaven is physical and has to do with the promised kingdom to Israel. The kingdom of God refers to God’s spiritual rule over the universe but particularly in the hearts of man. It is evident the new birth of the Spirit and is necessary for entrance into the kingdom of God.
George huston says
The real question is What is Gods purpose with humanity? Being saved or deliverance is more of way of life, as opposed to being saved by uttering Jesus save me on ones death bed.
Heaven is like a home. God is the Father, owner and judge. If you compare that to any home on earth with caring loving parents, you start to see comparisons.
For one, like any good parent, doesn’t like evil. Like good parents don’t want it in your home. Why you ask? Keeps the house good, pure, untainted!
So what happens to that person who is doing questionable things, like an a adult gone bad. You love them, but you ask them to stop and be good, and don’t let them in you’re house not until they clean up their attitude!
So what does that meaning in being saved or delivered? When Jesus said to love thy neighbors, love they enemy, what did he mean and why? Because Gods wants people to love and care, like he does!
Many people Believe that when Jesus said “believe in me and you will be saved and food if the book of life” “general idea, no bible references sorry”. I believe he meant do the things I do, love, faith, hope. Not just calling on his name in hopes you get redemption, I believe that is not the way.
I do believe there are many misconceptions of words and meanings in the bible from Christian church’s. I don’t not believe that Being saved in today church’s, they are acting like an elite club, which is totally wrong!
The reason they have it wrong is very simple. The are basing the words on Aramic “How the Romans wrote” vs how Hebrew wrote. Both differ vastly in ideas or wording. Christians should be looking at Hebrew words and their meanings not Latin!
Thus being saved is this….the more evil and wrong you do….the farther away from God you get. What your left with is cold and heartless world.
Son of Man…meaning…lust, greed, hate, revenge, gluttony so on
Son of God…to love, to have faith, to heal, to give
Jesus was trying to tell us something…to be good. He gave his life to show the way on HOW TO TREAT OTHER PEOPLE!
Craig Giddens says
Your goodness will earn you eternal condemnation. As the Bible says all have sinned and are separated from God unless they believe the gospel (1 Corinthians 15 1:1-4). Good sinners and bad sinners are both under God’s wrath unless they get saved.
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Jesus gave His life to make for us a way to the Father.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
So you are saying that you are right and every other pastor/teacher is wrong????
Jeremy Myers says
Ha! No, but apparently you and I are listening to different pastors and teachers. This idea is not just taught by me, but also by a large number of pastors and teachers around the world and throughout church history.
Do you realize that your criticism of this idea, however, is exactly the same criticism directed toward Martin Luther by the church in his day?
Yes l strongly believe that sozo in this context doesn’t mean to be born again. It means to be saved from any danger. It can be from sickness, tragedy or any other bad thing. When Nicodemus asked Jesus how can one enter the Kingdom of heaven. He said through repentance and baptism. Acts 2:38 also speaks of repentance and baptism.Christ also commanded us to preach and baptise. The miracle of salvation takes place in the process of immersion. That’s where the transformation takes place because it’s only the blood of Jesus that takes away the sins. Confession alone will not remove our sins. We need to hear, believe,repent, confess and be baptized for our names to written in the book of life. And live righteously thereafter.
Thanks for sharing. We had a similar exercise in our small bible study group more than a year ago. We started by asking each one what is their understanding of the word “save” or “salvation” and came up pretty much the same with your list above. Checking the original word in Greek and its definition, we came up with the same observation as you mentioned. We then listed all the verses in the four gospels, Acts, and even Eph 2:8-9, where the word are used and read the context they were used. The definition is consistent with the context of its usage in all of the verses. In fact, if we apply the definition of salvation to mean “going to heaven”, it won’t make any sense. The best realization of all is when the right definition is applied to Eph. 2:8-9. It goes beyond the usual discussion which always focus on how do we get to heaven, by grace or by works.
Surprisingly at the end of our exercise, the group was still divided. Some still find it hard to accept the meaning of the word as it was originally defined and used.
If a guy walks up to you with a Bible in his hand and asks, “Are you saved?”, maybe it would be a good idea to clarify by asking, “Saved from what?”. You may even choose to save yourself from a potentially uncomfortable conversation with a quick retreat. But it is pretty clear what the guy means and what most people mean when they talk about being saved, especially in a religious context. There are a lot of ways to describe it, but the basic concept is salvation from eternal separation from God. You can even use the word “delivered” as in delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col. 1:13). Most of the time when people talk about “being saved” that is what they mean – saved from sin, not from typographical errors or tornadoes. Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:2, Ephesians 2:5-9 all refer to eternal salvation or “not perishing” as it is described in John 3:16. It is also Jesus’ meaning when he talks about coming to save that which was lost in Luke 19:10. Paul uses the word commonly with that meaning as does James in 1:21, 2:14, and 4:12. Sure, “saved” has other meanings in the Bible, but none more important than that of the salvation of our souls by God, the Father, through his Son, Jesus.
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 1 Tim. 1:15
Squawks 5000 says
I agree that “saved” usually refers to sin, but there are three types:
1) Saved from sin’s penalty — It’s the one everyone’s familiar with (when we accept Jesus as L/S and are able to go to heaven)
2) Saved from sin’s power — Jesus also enables us to overcome sin in our lives.
3) Saved from sin’s presence — In heaven, we don’t have to deal with sin!
Although the first definition is important, the second definition is important too. Sin doesn’t just seprate us from God — it ruins our relationships and places heavy guilt. Jesus didn’t die just so we can be saved from eternal separation — he died so we can be saved from the power of sin and experience an abundant life with him RIGHT NOW [John 10:10].
The Messiah's Follower says
It is an interesting conversation! I believe that without knowing TaNaK (the First Covenant) we will all still go in a circle of what certain keys words in the Renewed Covenant (New Testament) mean. The Messiah Himself said in John 7:16 (His teaching is not his, but it is the Father’s who sent Him). Go back and understand the Father’s Words, then read the New Testament, you might be very surprised. May our Heavenly Father remove the scale from your eyes bothers and sisters.
Jesus saves me every day, in ways I can’t even conceive. He always has my back!
But isn’t it really about what’s in our hearts ?? It feels like, in this circumstance, it’s like pronouncing potatoes/potatoes, one with the long “a” sound, and the other with a short “o” sound. I think most Christians get the idea, whether it’s worded being “saved” or “delivered”.
But thanks for the food for thought ! God Bless ! ( That means I wish God’s blessings for you) lol (just kidding.)(sorry) ?
that’s kind of enough evidence to highlight the importance of being “saved” in relation to the FACT that Jesus died for our sins
Jeremy Myers says
Except the word “saved” isn’t used in that verse… which proves my point.
However, the word “saved” IS in John 3:17, but it is used there in connection with the entire world … which God loves. So if God loves the entire world, and if God wants to “save” the entire world, and if you believe that “save” means “give eternal life,” then are you a universalist?
If “saved” means “get eternal life and go to heaven when you die” then John 3:16-17 is teaching universalism. If, however, “saved” means something else (as I believe it does), then John 3:16-17 makes a whole lot more sense.
I have thought of (saved) as from the judgment that is coming and what follows. …Romans 5:9-10. ….Nate
Oscar Schult says
This has been the subject of many conversations, if not arguments, with my beloved wife.
Every time she brought the subject I asked the same question. Saved from what?
Your answer makes a lot of sense to me. I’ll start looking into the gospel again from your very refreshing point of view.
Jeremy Myers says
Glad I could help! (I hope! I certainly don’t want this idea to create problems in your marriage!)
I recently joined a Bible study group led by someoone close to mme I’m very fond of her and admire her spiritual dedication. But outside of the group we had a discussion about being ” saved”. Most people in this group consider themselves saved. I come from a Catholic background and felt that being saved meant being called to study the way of Jesus. But I never, in 30 some years, heard the term among my Catholic friends and religious Sisters.
But here’s the problem, my friend told me that you could only get into heaven if you were saved. Those who weren’t went to hell. I asked, Did that include my Jewish husband and all Jews . She said, “Yes.” Just read the book of John.”
I know that attitudes like this led to certain German religious communities viewing Jews unworthy in God’s eye. Thus, easy to turn a blind eye when they were led to concentration camps and exterminated . (Abraham Geiger and The Jewish Jesus, p11-12)
I’m very upset by this interpretation of “saved” as it seems to include an anti-semitic stance.
Donald MacGregor says
Very interesting debate going on here. I’m with Jeremy, but would take it one step further, and take the meaning of what is generally translated as ‘saved’ to mean ‘made whole from brokenness’ or ‘being brought from a poorer life to a better life.’ The reason being the stong link between healing and salvation.
In English, “Salvation” traces its lineage eventually to the Sanskrit word sarvah, The Sanskrit sarvah means “all” – it is a reference to wholeness, completeness and totality. The Sanskrit root of ‘sarvah’, came into Latin as ‘sal’, which we see in Latin words related to health or wholeness. The Latin word ‘salvare’, means to save or make safe illness or death.
From Latin, sal came into English in words such as “salutary” meaning beneficial, “salubrious” meaning wholesome, “salute” (as in to wish someone good health), and “salve” an ointment to make you better. Sal also came to “Salaam” in Arabic and “Shalom” in Hebrew come from the same roots of wishing health, wholeness and peace on a person.
So in Sanskrit and Latin, Hebrew and Arabic and in English, the ancient meanings of salvation are related to wholeness and health, not about being saved from eternal damnation.
2. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word most often translated as “salvation” is yesha, or yeshua, both of which come from the root yasha, meaning to be free, in a wide or roomy space, carrying the sense of being freed from confinement, constriction and limitation. Being brought into a spacious environment – that’s actually the root meaning of the name Jesus, which is the same as Joshua or Yeshua in Hebrew.
3. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as “salvation” is soterion. Its root is from the word sozo, meaning to be whole, physically, mentally and spiritually. In the Phoenician system of writing, which was originally pictorial and from which the Greek and Roman alphabets derived, the symbol that came into Greek as the word soterion is a picture of a broken pot or vessel – soterion is the process of being made whole, of re-integration.
This all presents us with a very different picture of salvation – about being made whole from brokenness.
All humans experience brokenness in some form – in their relations to self, others and to the Divine; brokenness or imperfection is a human universal. So, we are all on a journey to wholeness, and this is an ongoing process – everyone, no matter at what age, has the chance for growth into greater wholeness and healing, though in our human imperfections the process is never truly complete.
Jeremy Myers says
Yes, it can sometimes refer to being “make whole from brokenness.” But it doesn’t always means that. Again … when the disciples are in the boat and they cry out “Lord, save us!” they are not asking to be made whole from brokenness. They simply don’t want to drown in the storm. So “deliverance” is still best, and context helps determine what kind of deliverance is in view.
Jojo C. says
Saved is one of many words that are just thrown around without the proper usage, whosoever is another…. it certainly doesn’t mean everyone (singular) it means … The Believing All (plural) some of all. Back to Saved….. just look up the meaning is it’s respective language. After all there was no English 2,000 years ago.
Part of Speech: verb
Root Word (Etymology): From a primary sos (contraction for obsolete saoz, “safe”)
TDNT Reference: 7:965,1132
Outline of Biblical Usage:
to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction
one (from injury or peril)
to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health
to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue
to save in the technical biblical sense
to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment
to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance
Hope this Helps
Edit: should have said… everyone (plural) as in “god loves everyone” (every single individual) HE in-fact does not love everyone, God loves The Believing All (singular, the body of believers made up of ALL kindred, tongue, and tribe.
God loves everyone, this includes sinners and believers. this is the reason He died.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
C Robert Follett says
Great article! Also a brave author to venture beyond the accepted literalism of Christian beliefs and traditions. I applaud you!
This word saved really help me.so dose that once save always saved is wrong then coz we need to be saved every day.
Marjorie Keenan says
I agree with your post, where many won’t I am sure. As I have received revelation of the true “Covenant of Grace” that is not mixed with law, I see so many errors in what we have learned in the church. Grace really opens up a lot of questions for me as the finished work of Jesus has redeemed mankind from the curse of the law. Jesus took the sin of the world, past present and future, and was the final atonement for sin. He said He would remember our sin no more, for His sake. Grace is all about unconditional love and not our performance, but about Jesus and believing what He finished for us. The Bible says sin is not imputed to man now, so why is the church dwelling on sin and works? We cannot mix law and grace..law is sin and death and causes sin to abound; grace is the Spirit of Life and causes sin to diminish. The Bible also says the Ten Commandments are a “ministry of death”. To say that God still judges sin and will send us to eternal punishment is saying that Jesus died in vain. It implies that God Himself is not satisfied with the sin issue. Jesus is God and God dwelled among us in the flesh. Jesus rescued us and gave us a whole new plan for abundant life..that plan is the Covenant of Grace and that is how God has related to us for the last 2000 years. God’s only desire from creation was to have a relationship with us. He was always about love. Sin separated us from God, but it did not separate God from us. I am so tired of religious and self-righteous teaching. Whom the Son makes free is free indeed.
Salvation or to be saved, means deliverance from all the works of the enemy. Jesus gave us His name to defeat trials and attacks, and God endued us with His power, through Holy Spirit, to take dominion over this earth, and no weapon formed against us will prosper.
I think you missed Acts 2:47 “…praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Here, the Lord, by His grace is “adding to the number being saved.”
You also may have missed 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2 Corinthians 2:15 where the comparison is between those saved and those perishing (hell).
Where does it say perishing is hell?
Thank you for writing this article. I’ve been thinking lately about what the Bible says one must believe/do to go to heaven. Call me a shallow person, but ultimately, I’d rather not spend any amount of time in hell, so I will do what I need to to get to heaven. Some passages say to believe AND be baptised. Others say to sell all your belongings and follow Jesus. Others say just to believe that Jesus died and was resurrected. I don’t know what the answer is, but your article makes sense. Salvation, in the New testament, seems to be speaking of saving someone from hell (or separation from God). That’s the way I see it in context.
So question, we early Christians saved from being burned at the stake by Romans, or saved from hell?
It can also mean “set aside” for a special purpose. In some instances it fits perfectly! We have been set aside to spend eternal life with God ❤️
C Robert zFollett says
You are so right! Nothing turns me off faster than to have someone ask me if I’m “saved”. I’ve learned over the years how to answer this uncomfortable question by saying “I was saved two thousand years ago when they nailed Jesus to the cross, but thanks for asking.”
Dale Cripe says
No Doubt Brother. Love you Response. 😊
John P says
1 John 5:13 that you may KNOW verses 14-15 if we ask anything according to His will He hears us and grants us our request for eternal life because it’s not His will that any should perish.
Tobin Crenshaw says
Darren Graff says
Thanks for the view point on the meaning of saved or salvation.
Question; if Jesus is bringing salvation ( eternal life) how can we already have it. Seems to me if we already have it Jesus isn’t bringing it.
You can not ‘save’ which was lost. The meaning for saved is beyond being rescued or delivered. The word ‘which’ oft to be the key to what Jesus meant.
Jeremy, your words were very interesting to read, thank you for sharing them. I’m learning how to search more into the words we use and how properly to apply them to sharing the gospel.
CHARLIE B HERNDON says
I have thought this for years.
Much damage has been done by the misuse of this word and many blessings forfeited.
You expressed it well.
Hope many will read this and be ‘saved’ from a misunderstanding of being saved!
Dale Cripe says
If a person accepted Christ at age 5 and Believe Jesus is the Son of God who takes away our sin through the Cross and Dies at 7 He goes to Heaven.
If a person dies at age 7 Not hearing the Gospel He goes to Heaven. So what Drastic Change in that 5 year olds Life?
I’d think… There is no change, at all, because most five-year-olds are not truly aware that they need to actually die to this world (sin) and follow Jesus. We are actually asked to “become as little children” (Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven).
I see it as… Like a child that trusts in our Father without seeing or understanding all there is to know.
I was Going to take The Sabbath Class next Sabbbath day, I needed clarification on the Words To Serve and To save. I got the Gleps of the Task I’m about to Take. Thank You I will try my at most best. But if I get lost I will Deffer, and let someone do the Lesson .
Excellent, enough said.
Thank you so much for this refreshing read on the word ‘Saved”, in times when it seems no one understands or even seeks a true understanding of the scriptures. Such an absolute ‘disservice’ is done when false teachers misuse such simple word concepts that can, and do, have such serious consequences. May God bless you abundantly!
PS. I’ll be searching for more of your articles like this.
Larry Hodgson says
Your comments put me in mind of Satan’s approach to bring doubt to Adam and Eve by twisting words out of context. You offend me. I wonder how you offend your Heavenly Father with your intellectual mumbo-jumbo. The scriptures demonstrate that the wages of sin is death. God demonstrated in his directives to the Old Testament believers to shed blood of animals as an appeasement to him for forgiveness. They needed to do this repeatedly. The High Priest went beyond the veil each year to plead for forgiveness for the nation. Jesus, once-and-for-all time was the perfect lamb that shed his blood on the cross, was buried, was resurrected by the Father and now sits on his throne at the right hand of God to intercede and forgive those who seek him and believe in him. The wages or payment for sin is death by the shedding of blood. Jesus paid in full the wages of sin by shedding his perfect blood. Men have studied the scriptures for thousands of years and have not understood the wonderful power in the blood. Jesus said, [John 5:39] You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very scriptures that testify about me yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Frank Krajcir says
What happened to Titus 3:5-8, Looks like you need to get regenerated ?
If the conditions of being “saved” such as asking for forgiveness., etc isn’t a part of salvation then whereby do we believe and be assured of eternal life?
Matt Smith says
I am having trouble finding the “context” of 1Tim 2 regarding the woman being saved in childbearing is Paul teaching about her finding her self-worth? Where does it say that in the Bible? A brief look into the context reveals this?? I read the whole chapter over and the chapter before and after, unless English has lost its meaning you may need to re-think that one.
Beverly Ellis Parker says
2 Timothy 3:15- Study to show yourself approved unto GOD a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
In other words, it may not say the purpose that it states, “the woman being saved in childbearing”. ” Study” chapter 2 of first Timothy and see what you come up with.
wmba dams says
but it is still confusing
and raises the question : how do you avoid hell?
are you save from it or delivered from it?
if so then how and what do you need to do?
Matthew 1:21 (KJV) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Jesus did not need to be saved because he did not sin.
Beverly Ellis Parker says
That was a very informative message. Things that make you go, “Hmm” I knew that salvation didn’t mean eternal life with Christ. So, I would suppose that salvation and saved are synonymous?
Great teaching! Thank you!
So, in John 17, Jesus is talking to the Father and is saying what eternal life is: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
So, my question is, “If eternal like is to know God the Father and His Son, then do we have to make a confession of that scripture or Roman 10:9-10 and the results will be salvation?
Bob House says
Very interesting and enlightening- that has set me on a journey of rediscovery.
William Ferguson Jr says
Semantics is important as proven by your discourse
Senor Villette says
Good work, good job. may the God of heaven bless you and your family. your comments help a lot and open my eyes a little bit about how to approach the bible.