The Father William Most Collection
Saved (in Scripture)
[Published electronically for use in classes taught by Fr. Most and for private theological study.]
There are three senses of the word "saved" in Scripture:
1. Rescue from evils in this life:
Mt. 8:25: "Lord, save us we are perishing."
2. Final entry into heaven:
1 Cor 3:15:" "He himself will be saved [at the parousia] as though fire" -- Final salvation.
1 Tim 2. 9: Women "will be saved through childbearing, if they remain in faith and love and holiness with decency." COMMENT: Here it does not mean enter Church, but reach final salvation. Surely it does not mean same as taking Christ as personal Savior. Basic idea: People must fill the niche God has given them. Childbearing, and rearing, is, for most women, an essential part of that niche--If there were infallible salvation by taking Christ as personal Savior, no need to add this.
3. Entry into the Church:
Rom 11:14: "... to see if I may provoke my kinsmen to envy [of gentiles who have entered] and so save some of them."
COMMENT: Paul knows well as he shows in Rom 2:14-16 that there can be final salvation, entry into heaven, without formal entry into the church. He says that the Gentiles who do not have the law, still do what the law written on hearts calls for. It is the Divine Word that writes that law on their hearts -- in accepting that message, they are accepting the Word, and so are Christian - cf. St. Justin Martyr, Apology 1. 46 saying that some like Socrates were Christians because they followed the Logos. If God did not make such a provision, He would seem to be the God of the Jews only, not of the gentiles: Rom 3:29.
Rom 9:27: "Isaiah cries out about Israel: If the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved." COMMENT: He speaks of the remnant those who will return from captivity to become again the people of God. By rejecting God, as Hosea 2:3 shows, they had become outside that people. But now they were to be made again part of the people of God: "And I will say to not-my-people: You are my people." In parallel then, Paul speaks of the remnant of Israel who are saved in his day in the sense of becoming part of the People of God, the church, by accepting Christ.
Rom 11. 25-26: "A blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the gentiles enters [the Church" and so all Israel will be saved." COMMENT: In context, Paul refers to the conversion of the Jews to Christ at the end. They were out of the People of God, as shown by his comparison, in Rom 11 of the two olive trees. Many branches fell off the tame olive tree, off of the People of God, and gentiles were put into their place. So the context of all of Chapters 9-11 has been speaking of those who did or did not enter the Church.
Rom 11:11: "By their transgression [that of the Jews who rejected Christ and Paul's preaching of Him] salvation [is, has come] to the gentiles." COMMENT: Paul first preached to the Jews in each city. Most of them rejected it, even persecuted, tried to kill Paul. So Paul turned to the gentiles, who did enter the kingdom of Christ, His Church. According to Rom 2:14-16 (see comments above on Rom 11:14) the gentiles could have reached final salvation without formal and external entry into the People of God. So here salvation means entry into the Church.
1 Cor 7. 16: "How do you know, wife, if you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, if you will save your wife? COMMENT:Speaks of case of Pauline Privilege. Clearly means bring into the Church.
1 Ths 2. 15: The Jews "did not please God and were against all men, forbidding us to speak to the gentiles so they could be saved." COMMENT: This does not refer to final salvation, since Paul knows--cf. again Rom 2. 14-16 that gentiles can reach final salvation without knowledge of revealed religion. So this means preventing the gentiles from entering the Church--save in that sense.
Rom 10:9-10: "If with your mouth you confess the Lord [that Jesus is Lord, is divine] and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For by the heart one believes [leading to] justification; with the mouth one confesses [leading] to salvation [entry into the Church]. COMMENT: One must believe in the divinity of Christ and profess that belief then he can be admitted to the people of God, the Church.
This does not mean that by "taking Christ as your Savior one can be infallibly "saved," as we see in the texts given in the section below:
"Saved": No infallible salvation; "saved" often means "enter Church"
Rom 1. 5: "The obedience of faith". Here obedience is partly identified with faith. Cf. Interpreter's Dictionary of Bible, Supplement, p. 333:"' obedience of faith' (Rom 1:5, hypakoe pisteos 'the obedience which faith is. ')" COMMENT: This does not mean that faith earns salvation, nor does it mean only that good works are merely a fruit of faith- for this identifies faith with obedience. Hence all Pauline faith is faith that works through love.
Rom 5. 3-4: "Trouble produces patience, patience produces tested virtue, and tested virtue produces hope." COMMENT: This goes beyond taking Christ as personal Savior.
1 Cor 15. 2: "[The Gospel] through which you are being saved." COMMENT: Sozesthe is present tense, process is going on.
1 Cor 9. 27: "I hit my body under the eyes and lead it around as a slave, lest when I have preached to others, I myself might be rejected." COMMENT: If anyone could be saved by just taking Christ as Savior, Paul would be the one. But he fears he could be rejected if he does not keep his body under control by mortification.
We must notice that in context Paul is speaking of final salvation, heaven, not just of some extra, for he has been pleading since chapter 8 to avoid scandal, which would ruin a soul for whom Christ died.
This thought continues in 1 Cor 10. 1-12: Paul tells of the old people of God. They did not have it made, many perished. So the new people of God do not have it made because by taking Christ as Savior. They need to be like Christ.
Phil 2. 12: "With fear and trembling work out your salvation.... COMMENT: No working out needed if there is infallible salvation at one move, taking Christ as Savior.
Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, s.v. sozein lists no meaning of saved as taking Christ as personal Savior for infallible salvation. There is no scholarly support for infallible salvation. The idea came from Luther's failure to see what St. Paul meant by the word faith. Cf. Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplement, p. 333. For Paul's concept of faith. It includes these things: (1) If God speaks a truth, we believe it in our mind: cf. 1 Ths 2:13; 2 Cor 5:7; (2) If He makes a promise, we must be confident: cf. Gal 5:5; Rom 5:1; (3) If He tells us to do something, we must do it; Cf. Rom 1:5, the obedience of faith; (4) all of this is to be done in love: Gal. 5:6. NB, Luther thought if we have faith, we can disobey God. But faith includes obedience, and so cannot justify disobedience. (Cf. his Epistle 501, to Melanchthon, "Even if you sin greatly believe still more greatly." And: "Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.... no sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day." (Weimar ed. vol. 2. p. 371; Letters I, Luther's Works, American Ed. vol 48. p. 282).