Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation [Grk. noun = soteria] in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved [Grk. verb = sozo].”
The word soteriology comes from two Greek words: soter which means “savior, deliverer, perserver” and logos, which in the Greek means statement or speech, but in English means the study of. Soteriology, then, is the study of salvation as it has been revealed in Scripture. The most common word for salvation in the Hebrew OT is yasha (sometimes as yeshuah>) which means “deliverance, rescue, salvation, also safety, [and] welfare.” Salvation in the OT was primarily physical, as one might be delivered from his enemy in battle or from a plague (2 Sam. 22:3-4; 1 Chron. 16:23, 35; Job 5:4, 11; Ps. 3:6-8; 44:4-8; 85:7, 9; 89:26; Isa. 17:10; 45:8; Mic. 7:7). Charles Ryrie comments:
The most important Hebrew root word related to salvation in the Old Testament is yasha˒. Originally it meant to be roomy or broad in contrast to narrowness or oppression. Thus it signifies freedom from what binds or restricts, and it came to mean deliverance, liberation, or giving width and breadth to something…Faith was the necessary condition for salvation in the Old Testament as well as in the New. Abraham believed in the Lord, and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness (Gen. 15:6).
The NT writers use the following Greek words:
- Sozo (verb) refers to the act of physical deliverance in some biblical passages (Matt. 8:25; 14:30; Mark 13:20; Luke 6:9; John 11:12; Acts 27:20, 31), and spiritual deliverance in other Scriptures (Luke 7:50; 19:10; John 12:47; 1 Cor. 1:21; Tit. 3:5; Heb. 7:25). As to our spiritual deliverance, we are saved from the penalty of sin (Rom. 5:16; 8:1, 33-34; Eph. 2:8-9), the power of sin (Rom. 6:11; Col. 3:5), and ultimately the presence of sin (1 John 3:2, 5).
- Soter (noun) means Savior, and refers to the agent of salvation, the one who rescues or delivers another from harm or danger (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Eph. 5:23; Phil. 3:20). This refers to the agent of salvation.
- Soteria (noun) refers to the provision of salvation, rescue, or deliverance brought by another (Luke 1:69, 19:9; John 4:22; Acts 7:25; 13:26, 47; Rom. 1:16; 2 Cor. 1:6; 6:2; Eph. 1:13; Phil. 1:28; 2:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; Heb. 1:14; 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5, 9; 2 Pet. 3:15).
As to the meaning of the word salvation, the Old and New Testaments are much alike. The word communicates the thought of deliverance, safety, preservation, soundness, restoration, and healing; but though so wide a range of human experience is expressed by the word salvation, its specific, major use is to denote a work of God in behalf of man.
God created mankind in His image and without sin (Gen. 1:26-27). However, Adam and Eve committed sin and corrupted the entire hum race with sin (Gen. 3:1-8; Rom. 3:23; 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). All of Adam’s descendants are born into this world spiritually dead in “trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), and are by nature “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3), “separate from Christ…having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12), alienated from God (Col. 1:21), and “devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 1:19; cf. Rom. 8:9). Biblically, men are sinners in three ways:
- By imputation of Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:12-21).
- By nature (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 7:19-21; Eph. 2:3).
- By choice (1 Kings 8:46; Rom. 3:9-18).
The Bible teaches that man is completely marked by sin in every aspect of his being. Sin permeates his thoughts, feelings and volition (i.e. will). The sin nature resides in every person and negatively influences his relationships with other people, and most of all with God. This means that men are completely unable to save themselves (Rom. 5:6-10; Eph. 2:1-3). However, from eternity past, God also decreed to provide salvation through the death of Christ (Rev. 13:8; cf. Eph. 1:3-6), and this provision was not based on any merit or worthiness in sinful men (Rom. 3:21-26; 4:1-5), but is founded solely on His love, grace, and mercy (John 3:16; Eph. 2:1-9; Tit. 3:5). Salvation is never what men do for God, but what God has done for men through the substitutionary atoning work of His Son. Jesus bore the penalty of their sin on the cross and God freely gives eternal life and imputes His righteousness to those who believe in Christ as their Savior (Isa. 53; John 3:16; 20:31; Rom. 3:21-26; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:2). All of us are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).
In its broadest significance, the doctrine of Salvation includes every divine undertaking for the believer from his deliverance out of the lost estate to his final presentation in glory conformed to the image of Christ. Since the divine objective is thus all-inclusive, the theme is divided naturally into three tenses: (a) the Christian was saved when he believed (Luke 7:50; Acts 16:30, 31; 1 Cor 1:18; 2 Cor 2:15; Eph 2:8 R.V.; 2 Tim 1:9). This past-tense aspect of it is the essential and unchanging fact of salvation. At the moment of believing, the saved one is completely delivered from his lost estate, cleansed, forgiven, justified, born of God, clothed in the merit of Christ, freed from all condemnation, and safe for evermore. (b) The believer is being saved from the dominion of sin (Rom 6:1–14; 8:2 ; 2 Cor 3:18; Gal 2:20; 4:19 ; Phil 1:19; 2:12 ). In this second tense of salvation the believer is being divinely preserved and sanctified. (c) The believer is yet to be saved from the presence of sin when presented faultless in glory (Rom 13:11; 1 Thess 5:8; Heb 1:14; 9:28 ; 1 Pet 1:3–5; 1 John 3:1–3). To this may be added other passages which, each in turn, present all three tenses or aspects of salvation—1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 1:6, Ephesians 5:25–27; 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10; Titus 2:11–13.
All are saved by hearing God’s promises and believing Him to be true to His word, that He will provide forgiveness of sins, the imputation of righteousness, and the gift of eternal life to all who place their faith in Jesus as Savior (John 3:16; 6:28-29, 40; 20:31; Acts 16:30-31). “All that is required of any man is to accept what God has provided in Christ. If a man by faith accepts the offer of life, he is born again of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit follows up the work begun in regeneration and perfects holiness in the believer.” From beginning to end, regeneration, sanctification and glorification are all the work of God for the benefit of men and women. People respond positively to the call and work of God in their lives, but even this is because God has moved their hearts to action (John 6:44, 65; Acts 13:48; 16:13-14).
Soteriology Audio Lesson Part 1
Soteriology Audio Lesson Part 2
Steven R. Cook, M. Div.
 Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., rev. and ed. Fredrick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 985.
 Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 447.
 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1999), 321.
 Lewis S. Chafer, “Soteriology” Bibliotheca Sacra, 109 (1945): 11-12.
 Here, the term imputation means that God credits or charges Adam’s original sin and its guilt to all his offspring.
 Lewis S. Chafer, “Soteriology” Bibliotheca Sacra, 109 (1945): 13.
 Henry Clarence Thiessen and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 204.