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An important term in the Bible with a wide range of meaning. The word for “salvation” in the OT has a root meaning of “broadening” or “enlarging” and can connote the creation of space in the community for life and conduct. More often than not, this is done with divine help, particularly in circumstances where God’s people face an adversary (Exod 14:13-14; Exod 14:30; Exod 15:2; 1Sam 7:8; 2Sam 22:28; 1Chr 16:35; Neh 9:27; Ps 7:1; Ps 17:7; Ps 18:1-3; Ps 54:1; Ps 59:1-2; Ps 106:43-48; Ps 116:1-6; Ps 118:5-14). The goal of such deliverance is the establishment of God’s reign among God’s people and the other nations of the world (Isa 49:25-26; Isa 52:6-10; Isa 55:1-5; Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36:22-32; Ezek 37:23-28). In the NT, God’s intent to “save” or “rescue” God’s people is identified with the person and ministry of Jesus (Luke 19:10; Luke 14:16-24; Luke 15:3-10; Luke 18:10-14; Matt 10:6-8; Matt 15:22-28; Matt 18:12-14; Matt 21:28-32). The traditions about Jesus’s life record him bringing people salvation by delivering them from forms of physical, spiritual/psychic, and demonic/cosmic bondage to a condition of restored wholeness and soundness (Mark 1:40-45; Mark 2:1-12; Mark 5:1-20; Mark 5:34; Mark 10:52; Luke 7:50; Luke 17:19; John 9; John 12:3-7). But for NT writers, the death and resurrection of Jesus represent the ultimate focal moment for salvation (1Cor 15). Early Christians associate Jesus’s death with that of the Passover lamb as “atonement” (John 1:29; John 1:36; John 6:51; 1Cor 5:7; Heb 9:24-26). His death provides “reconciliation” with God (Rom 5:1-11; 2Cor 5:18-20) and his resurrection points to future deliverance from judgment and wrath (1Thess 1:9-10; also Mark 13 and parallels).

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.