Robert N. Wilkin
Tremendous confusion results when one misinterprets the meaning of sōzō and sōtēria. It is not simply laypeople who wrongly assume that the words saved and salvation in the NT almost always refer to regeneration. Many scholars do as well. But there is good reason to believe that these words often refer to something other than regeneration and that in specific books the sense is both different and consistent. Knowing that opens up the understanding of these books.
Recently I wrote an article on three specific uses of sōzō in 1 Corinthians. I showed that it is highly likely that in those three uses (1 Cor 3:15; 5:5; 15:2), the salvation in view is being spiritually healthy, not being saved from eternal condemnation. In this article I will consider the uses of sōzō (“save”) and sotēria (“salvation”) in five NT books. It is my contention that in each of these books, the meaning of those words is consistent and does not refer to salvation from eternal condemnation there.
II. THE RANGE OF MEANING FOR SOTĒRIA AND SŌZŌ IN THE NT
The words sōtēria and sōzō have a range of meanings in the NT, including:
- Regeneration/salvation from eternal condemnation (e.g., John 3:16-17; Eph 2:5, 8; Titus 3:5)
- Deliverance from impending death (Matt 8:25)
- Healing from illness (Jas 5:15)
- Being spiritually well (1 Cor 3:15; 5:5; 15:2)
- Handling trials in a God-honoring fashion (Phil 1:19; 2:12)
- Being chosen to be one of Christ’s partners in the life to come (Heb 1:14; 5:9)
- Deliverance from false teachers and their practices (1 Tim 4:16)
- Experiencing joy and contentment in the face of trying circumstances (1 Tim 2:15)
- Deliverance from temporal judgment from God/the death dealing consequences of sin (Jas 1:21; 2:14; 5:20)
- Deliverance from the coming Tribulation (1–2 Thessalonians).
III. THREE USES OF SŌTĒRIA IN PHILIPPIANS: HANDLING PERSECUTION IN A GOD-HONORING WAY
Two of the three uses of sōtēria in Philippians are recognized by all scholars as not referring to salvation from eternal condemnation. Those verses are Phil 1:19 and Phil 1:28.
Philippians 1:19. Paul was in prison in Rome as he wrote this epistle, one of the four Prison Epistles. He wrote,
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance [sōtēria] through your prayers and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell (Phil 1:19-22).
Paul already knew he had everlasting life and was secure (Eph 2:8-9; 2 Tim 1:12). But the salvation he speaks of in Phil 1:19 is related to his imprisonment as the following verses show. But in what sense did he know that he would gain his salvation through the prayers of the Philippians and the work of the Spirit in his life?
Robert Lightner says that the salvation here is not being born again, but that it refers “to either the final stage of his salvation (cf. Rom. 5:9) or future vindication in a Roman court.”1
Fee understands this salvation as being “vindicated,” that is, “that Christ be ‘magnified’”2 through Paul’s imprisonment.
O’Brien also sees the issue here as vindication. He points out that Paul is here quoting Job 13:16. Just as Job was ultimately vindicated by handling his suffering well, Paul is confident that he too will be vindicated by handling his suffering well.3
In sum, most commentators understand sōtēria here to refer to vindication before the Lord for having handled his suffering well.
Verses 20-22 explain that the salvation Paul has in mind is handling his persecution “with all boldness” with the result that “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” He was not saying that he was sure that he would be released from prison, since he indicates that “what I shall choose I cannot tell.”
Philippians 1:28. Paul’s second reference to sōtēria deals with the readers:
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation [sōtēria], and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me (Phil 1:27-30).
Paul links their salvation with his. They are to follow his example by handling their trials so that they too continue boldly “to suffer for His sake.” They were to maintain “the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”
Fee comments on the connection between 1:19 and 1:28 and says that “the word ‘salvation’ probably carries a sense very close to that in v. 19. Such salvation/vindication will not necessarily be manifest to the opponents, but it will become clear to the believers themselves.”4
Some commentators, however, do not mention the connection between Phil 1:19 and 1:28. Lightner fails to point that out, and he is not quite clear how he understands 1:28 when he writes, “Instead they were to be reminded at such times that their own victorious Christian response would be a sign that their opposers would eventually be destroyed. At the same time, it would be a sign that the saints of God would be delivered by God Himself.”5
O’Brien also fails to mention the connection. He understands the salvation here as entering into Christ’s eschatological kingdom.6
In Phil 1:19 and 1:28, sōtēria refers to a believer who handles his ongoing persecution in a way that brings glory and honor to our Lord. The believer who does so will be vindicated at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The third use, Phil 2:12, is understood by many commentators to refer to gaining or maintaining everlasting life by doing good works.
Lightner says, for example:
It is commonly understood that this exhortation relates to the personal salvation of the saints at Philippi. They were told to “work out,” to put into practice in their daily living, what God had worked in them by His Spirit. They were not told to work for their salvation but to work out the salvation God had already given them.7
Similarly, though Fee does see a connection with 1:28, he writes,
This is not a soteriological text per se, dealing with “people getting saved” or “saved people persevering.” Rather it is an ethical text, dealing with “how saved people live out their salvation” in the context of the believing community and the world. What Paul is referring to, therefore, is the present “outworking” of their eschatological salvation within the believing community in Philippi.8
O’Brien takes a view that is close to that of Fee, a view that has been held by many commentators over the past hundred years:
Sōtēria is being used in a sociological rather than a strictly theological sense to describe the spiritual health and well-being of the entire community at Philippi. Paul is therefore urging all the Christians corporately to take whatever steps are necessary to remove every trace of spiritual disease and thus to restore the congregation to health and wholeness.9
If we pay attention to the context of the third use, we will see that it too refers to vindication before Christ that will result from persevering in the handling of persecution in a God-honoring manner.
Philippians 2:12. The first thing that should be noticed is that this is the third and final reference to sōtēria in Philippians. Then one should notice the comparison between “my sōtēria” in 1:19 and “your own sōtēria” in 2:12. Whatever Paul means by “my sōtēria” clearly informs us what he means by “your own sōtēria.” Finally, the ensuing context after Phil 2:12 shows that the theme of handling persecution in a God-honoring fashion fits perfectly in this third use.
Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation [sōtēria] with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). To “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is to continue to obey (“as you have always obeyed…work out your sōtēria”). In light of 1:28 and 2:14-16, what Paul is commanding is that they are to continue to “shine as lights in the world” (v 15) by “holding fast the word of life” (v 16) so that at the Judgment Seat of Christ (“the day of Christ”), Paul might be able to rejoice since their fruitfulness will show that his labors among them were not in vain.
All three uses of sōtēria in Philippians refer to persevering by handling one’s persecution for Christ in a manner that glorifies Him. If we wish to retain the idea of deliverance, then we could say that sōtēria in Philippians is being delivered from shame both now and at the Judgment Seat of Christ. That deliverance is achieved by keeping a proper perspective on suffering for Christ that results in persevering in one’s trials in a way that glorifies God.
Even if the NT taught that salvation from eternal condemnation was conditioned upon perseverance in good works, Phil 1:19, 1:28, and 2:12 can easily be seen as not referring to salvation from eternal condemnation. One would need to go elsewhere to find that teaching; but, of course, it is not found anywhere since the sole condition of salvation from eternal condemnation is faith in Christ.
IV. FIVES USES OF SŌZŌ IN JAMES: ESCAPING TEMPORAL JUDGMENT VIA PUTTING OUR FAITH TO WORK
All commentators understand Jas 5:15 as referring to healing or deliverance from an illness. Most commentators suggest that Jas 4:12 refers to God’s ability to extend or curtail one’s physical life.
Three of the uses of sōzō in James are widely understood by commentators to refer to deliverance from eternal condemnation (Jas 1:21; 2:14; 5:20). However, there is strong contextual support for the view that even those three uses also refer to deliverance from temporal judgment.
James 1:21. The author has just called the readers “my beloved brethren” (1:16, 19). In fact, in the verse before 1:19-21, James says “He brought us forth by the word of truth” (1:18). To be brought forth (apekuēsin, He birthed us) is to be born again, to be given everlasting life. There is no shift in addressees in vv 19-21. James is challenging his born-again readers to receive the Word of God that had been implanted in them through the preaching of God’s Word. Application of God’s Word is necessary “to save your souls,” that is, to save your lives from the death dealing consequences of sin (Jas 1:15).
That understanding, however, is not reflected in most commentaries. Adamson is representative of the view of many:
The reference to salvation is to be interpreted in the light of the rapidly approaching Day of Judgment (see Acts 17:30). It is charged with the eschatological urgency of the NT, including (conspicuously) the Epistle of James. No soul can be called saved, or lost, until the Final Judgment; hence James’s gospel of faith continuing at work in hope of that final approbation, 1:3. It is faith expressed in action (magna efficacia, Bengel) that puts the power of the divine Word into human life, to the saving of the soul at the Last Judgment.10
James 2:14. Much confusion has been caused by this simple verse. James is obviously saying that faith without works cannot save the believer. But the issue, often not considered, is what the believer needs to be saved from. The believer already has passed from death into life (John 5:24), is already guaranteed that he will never perish (John 3:16; 11:26), and has already been saved (Eph 2:8). What the believer needs salvation from are the consequences that result from failing to apply God’s Word. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?”
The issue is stated in the opening words, “What does it profit (ti to ophelos)?” A believer will only be profited if he not only says the right things, but also does the right things. James had just said, “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (Jas 2:12).
The believer (“my brethren”) who “says he has faith” but who does not do what is consistent with what he believes (“but does not have works”) is one who will not be saved from God’s temporal judgment.
Like a good preacher, James illustrates his point. If a brother or sister in your own assembly is hungry and poorly clothed, it is not enough to say, “Be warmed and filled” (v 16). Instead, you must also do, that is, you must “give them the things which are needed for the body.” A failure to do so “does not profit” the believer in need (v 16). Notice that v 16 ends with the same question that began v 14 (ti to ophelos).
Faith without works will not save from God’s temporal judgment. It is dead, that is, it is unprofitable. Like a dead battery in a car, when we do not have faith to do what we believe, our faith is unprofitable for us or the believers who need our help.
Unfortunately, many commentators fail to consider the context sufficiently. Peter Davids’s interpretation is representative of the view of most commentators:
That which will be useless in the final judgment is a faith lacking works. The hypothetical situation introduced by ean is described as a person “claiming to have faith.” And a claim it is, for whatever the content of the faith in terms of orthodox belief, pious expressions, prayers, etc., it appears only in the person’s verbalizations (and ritual actions) but not in such deeds as would prove the reality of an eschatological hope…Works are not an “added extra” to faith, but are an essential expression of it.11
James 5:19-20. Some Roman Catholic expositors understand these verses to mean that if a believer turns a straying believer back to the Lord, he covers a multitude of his own sins (i.e., the sins of the rescuer, not the one he rescues) and makes his own salvation more likely. As Catholic apologist John Martignoni writes,
Did you catch that? Most people who read this passage do not stop to think about what it is really saying. If you do something to bring a sinner back from the error of his way, you will save YOUR soul from death and will cover a multitude of YOUR sins. What an awesome promise God has given us in Scripture! Zeal for the souls of others will cover a multitude of our sins and save our soul from death!12
Protestant commentator Adamson takes the salvation as that of the one who strayed, but concerning the covering of sins he writes, “These sins are obviously the sins of the reclaimer, not the reclaimed.”13
Protestant expositors are divided as to what type of salvation is in view. Some understand James to be speaking of salvation from eternal condemnation and some from physical death. Adamson understands this salvation as both from physical death and eternal condemnation: “The soul is that of the erring brother; see 1:21. Death, from which he is saved, is the penalty of sin, as in 1:15, and under the covenant ‘final exclusion from the Divine Society’ (1 John 5:16; so Westcott).”14
Davids agrees that both types of death are in view:
The concept of saving a soul from death is clear enough, for death is plainly the final result of sin, usually thought of as eternal death or the last judgment (Dt. 30:19; Jb. 8:13; Pss. 1:6; 2:12; Pr. 2:18; 12:28; 14:12; Je. 23:12; Jude 1:23…). That sin can result in physical death is also clear (1 Cor. 15:30 [sic]15, as well as many of the above OT examples) and this may be part of James’s meaning (as in 5:14-16), but the tone appears to go beyond physical death and recognizes death as an eschatological entity, at least where one dies in sin (cf. 1:15).16
Other Protestant commentators interpret Jas 5:20 to refer exclusively (or primarily) to eternal condemnation. Moo, for example, writes, “It is by sharing with James the conviction that there is indeed an eternal death, to which the way of sin leads, that we shall be motivated to deal with sin in our lives and in the lives of others.”17 Stulac agrees: “But when he speaks of saving the sinner’s psychēn, ‘soul,’ from death, he ‘appears to go beyond physical death and recognize death as an eschatological entity’ (Davids 1982: 200).”18
Still other Protestant commentators understand James to be speaking only of salvation from physical death. For example, Johnson gives no indication that he understands death here to include eternal condemnation:
The connection of sin and death is widespread (see Deut 30:19; Job 8:13; Pss 1:6; 2:12; Prov 2:18; 12:28; 14:12; Wis 2:24; Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:56; 2 Bar. 85:13; T. Abr. 10:2–15). The “rescue operation” by moral correction vividly recalls the imagery of 1:15, which describes the inexorable progress from desire to sin and from sin to death (thanatos). In Matt 18:15, the result of such correction is “gaining your brother” (ekerdēsas ton adelphon sou). Ezekiel also spoke of the prophetic rebuke in terms of life and death: “If you warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he surely shall live, because he took warning; and you will have saved your life” (Ezek 3:21).19
Richardson too speaks of physical death as the issue here: “James’s focus is on the death of the body. He was not commenting on that which will follow the judgment of God (cf. 4:12), who will cause the destruction of the wicked.”20
Hodges says that the rescuer is “turning him [the wanderer] aside from a sinful path that can lead him to his physical death (see 1:15). Thus, a Christian’s efforts for the restoration of his brother to the pathway of obedience are life-saving in scope.”21
That believers are the rescuers is clear because the first word in v 19 in both English and Greek is brethren (adelphoi). Brethren are believers all through James.
That the ones being rescued are believers is also clear because James says, “if anyone among you wanders from the truth” (emphasis added). The wanderer is one of the brethren.
That a believer who strays could be called “a sinner” (v 20) is not surprising. In the first place, even believers who are walking in fellowship with God are called sinners in Scripture (e.g., Rom 5:19; Gal 2:17; 1 Tim 1:15). In the second place, an extremely common NT use of sinners (hamartōloi) refers to those who have strayed and are spiritually away from God (e.g., Matt 9:11; Luke 15:7, 10; John 9:16, 24, 31; 1 Pet 4:18).
When James says that the rescuer “will save a soul [or, life] from death” (v 20), he is referring to saving a fellow believer from imminent physical death. The salvation of the soul (psychē) in James (cf. 1:21) and in the rest of the Bible refers to salvation from physical death. Peter, speaking of Noah’s ark, says, “eight souls were saved through water” (1 Pet 3:20). Solomon said that God “will spare the poor and needy and will save the souls of the needy” (Ps 72:13). He made it clear that he was speaking of physical deliverance when he added, “He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; and precious shall be their blood in His sight” (Ps 72:14). The Apostle John said that Jesus “laid down His life [psychēn] for us” (1 John 3:16). Then John went on to say that we should “lay down our lives [psychas] for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). The Lord on several occasions spoke of the need of believers to save their lives/souls (Matt 16:25-26; Mark 8:35-36; Luke 9:24-25; 17:33), which has been called “the Lord’s logion of the salvation of the psychē.”22
All uses of sōzō in James refer to deliverance from temporal judgment.
V. FIVE USES OF SŌTĒRIA IN ROMANS: DELIVERANCE FROM TEMPORAL WRATH BY WALKING ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT
There are thirteen uses of the words sōtēria and sōzō in Romans. That is too many passages to cover in a journal article, so I have chosen to focus on the five uses of sōtēria.
It is not uncommon for commentators to interpret sōtēria in Romans as always referring to deliverance from eternal condemnation, though some understand Rom 13:11 as referring to the Rapture. However, there is reason to believe that at least three of the five, and possibly all five, refer to deliverance from God’s wrath in this life.
Romans 1:16. Paul says that the gospel of Christ “is the power of God to salvation [sōtēria] for everyone who believes.” Most commentators understand Paul to be saying that the message of 1 Cor 15:3- 11 results in everlasting life for everyone who believes it.23 Witmer writes, for example, “At least Paul gladly proclaimed it [the gospel] as God’s panacea for mankind’s spiritual need. He identified it as the infinite resources (dynamis, ‘spiritual ability’) of God applied toward the goal of salvation in the life of everyone who believes regardless of racial background.”24
The word gospel is not defined in its ten uses in Romans.25 It is reasonable to understand that expression as referring to the good news of the substitutionary death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-11). However, never in Romans, Paul’s other epistles, or anywhere in the NT are we told that anyone who believes the gospel is born again. In 1 Cor 15:1-11, the gospel is the message which, if held firmly to, results in ongoing salvation, that is, ongoing spiritual health (1 Cor 15:2).
In Rom 1:15 Paul said that he was “ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.” Since the readers were already born again (Rom 1:6, 8, 12), Paul’s reason for wanting to preach the gospel to them was not so that they would gain everlasting life. Instead, he wished to aid them in their walk with Christ. Verse 17 is best understood as having the force of a command: “The just by faith shall [should] live.”26 That life is spelled out in Romans 5–8.
The gospel of Christ is a message that can result in believers being delivered from temporal judgment, which Paul calls “the wrath of God” in the verse immediately after vv 16-17 (Rom 1:18).
There is a huge gap before Paul used sōtēria again. He did not use it at all in the justification section (Rom 3:21–4:25), which is quite telling.27 His next use is not until Rom 10:1.
Romans 10:1. Romans 9–11 deal with Paul’s concern for Israel. In 10:1 he writes, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved [estin eis sōtēria].” The salvation to which Paul refers could be salvation from eternal condemnation, since Paul longed for that for everyone he spoke with. However, since the only other use of sōtēria in Romans 10 refers to salvation from God’s wrath in this life (see discussion under Rom 10:10) and since the two uses of sōzō in Romans 10 also refer to salvation from God’s wrath here and now (Rom 10:9, 13), the salvation Paul desires for Israel is their deliverance from God’s judgment and their establishment as the blessed nation from which Messiah rules. Compare Rom 11:26.
It should be noted that when the OT speaks of the salvation of Israel, it is referring to Israel’s being delivered from God’s wrath in this life. Note the parallelism in Jer 23:6a-b, “In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely.” To dwell safely is to be saved. The same idea is evident in Jer 31:7b-8a, “Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O Lord, save Your people, the remnant of Israel!’ Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth.” The regathering and restoration of the Israel is her salvation. So, too, Jer 33:16a, “In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely.” The national salvation of Israel is her dwelling safely in her own land without oppression from Gentiles.
Most commentators, however, understand this salvation to refer to deliverance from eternal condemnation.28 However, the other uses of the word in Romans and the immediate context show that deliverance from temporal wrath is in view.
Hodges writes, “The term for deliverance (sōtērian) is to be taken here consistently with the use throughout the epistle of the word group sōzō/sōtēria (see discussions at 1:16; 5:9-10; 8:24; 9:27). Its reference is to rescue from the temporal display of God’s anger [against Israel].”29
Romans 10:10. Much confusion results from inaccurate exposition of Rom 10:9-10. Commentators who say elsewhere that the sole condition of salvation from eternal condemnation is faith in Christ also say that Rom 10:9-10 teaches that both faith plus confession of Christ are required, though they attempt to downplay that by saying that those are “two parts of the same saving expression.”30 Or they say these “are not two separate steps to salvation. They are chronologically together.”31 Or they explain, “This simple response, surprisingly in light of Paul’s stress on faith in this context, is a twofold one: ‘if you confess with your mouth’ and ‘if you believe in your heart.’”32 Those explanations are contradictory and confusing.
There are two conditions for salvation/deliverance in these verses, one internal (believing in your heart) and one external (confession with your mouth). Since the only condition for justification and regeneration is faith in Christ, the salvation in these verses must not refer to regeneration, but to deliverance from God’s wrath in this life, as the other uses of sōtēria in Romans attest.
Verse 10 explains v 9: “With the heart one believes unto righteousness [dikaiosunē].” That is the justification by faith alone message of Rom 3:21–4:25. The only condition of being made righteous (= justified) is believing. Dikaiosunē is the cognate noun associated with the verb dikaioō (justify).
However, in order to have salvation from God’s wrath in this life, one must not only believe, but he must also confess with his mouth the Lord Jesus.
Confessing the Lord Jesus is understood in various ways. Some commentators suggest that it refers to acknowledging the deity of Christ. Witmer, for example, says it refers to “acknowledging to God that Christ is God.”33 Others say it refers to verbally confessing that “Jesus is Lord.” Moo, for instance, writes, “The acclamation of Jesus as Lord is a very early and very central element of Christian confession.”34 Still others suggest that this should be understood not as a confession, but as a prayer. Hodges says, “The response of the mouth should be a confession directly addressing Jesus with the designation ‘Lord.’ This confession is made in prayer (vv 12-13). This is an appeal to His Lordship for the needed deliverance from divine wrath.”35
Verses 13-14 support the interpretation that the confession or appeal referred to in Rom 10:9-10 is being made by a believer, not an unbeliever, and that the salvation is the deliverance of a believer from God’s wrath in this life. In v 13 Paul cites a verse from Joel 2, that reads, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Verse 14 has three rhetorical questions, each of which indicates what comes first. Question 1, “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” shows that believing in Jesus precedes calling upon Him in prayer. Question 2, “And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” demonstrates that hearing about Jesus precedes believing in Him. Question 3, “And how shall they hear without a preacher?” indicates that the preacher must preach about Jesus before people can hear what he says about Him.
Commentators who understand the salvation of Rom 10:13 to refer to the regeneration of unbelievers when they believe find it difficult to explain v 14. Witmer sees a shift: “Previously, to call on the Lord was equated with trusting Him or believing in Him (cf. vv. 11 and 13), but here it follows the believing.”36 But the believing in v 13 is being explained in v14. It does not fit the context to see a shift in the type of person doing the believing.
Moo takes a similar position, saying in reference to v 14, “salvation is a matter of calling on the Lord.”37 In other words, people are saved from eternal condemnation by calling on the Lord. But two paragraphs later, he distinguishes between calling on the Lord and believing in Him: “But people cannot call on the Lord if they do not believe in him.”38 Essentially he is saying that people cannot believe in the Lord if they do not already believe in the Lord.
Osborne succinctly explains vv 14-15a: “Thus the order is the sending of the witness, leading to the preaching of the gospel, leading to hearing the message, leading to believing the truth, leading to calling on the Lord.”39 Notice that he indicates that believing precedes calling on the Lord. However, when he speaks about calling on the Lord in vv 12-13, he understands it as referring to initial faith in Christ for salvation and later lifelong calling upon Him in prayer and worship. He writes, “Here [v 12] it begins with calling on the Lord in faith for salvation (as in v. 13) and continues with the lifelong calling on the Lord that results.”40 Osborne also says, “Salvation is experienced in the twin responses of confessing and believing.”41 It is hard to understand what he means. In one place he says that calling on the Lord is done in faith, suggesting that is the sole condition. In another he says that salvation is by faith and that calling on the Lord follows faith. In still another he seems to be saying that both responses are needed for one to be saved.
Much confusion would be spared if commentators recognized that sōtēria in Romans is deliverance from the wrath of God in this life.
Romans 11:11. This verse is still within the discussion of Israel in Romans 9–11. Paul writes, “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” What is this salvation that had come to the Gentiles? It certainly could refer to regeneration. However, nothing in the context suggests that. In fact, the next verse says, “Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” Riches for the Gentiles is parallel to salvation has come to the Gentiles.
It is likely that the salvation in Rom 11:11 concerns deliverance from God’s wrath in this life. Paul has in mind Gentiles who not only have been justified by faith in Christ (Rom 10:10a), but who also are confessing the Lord Jesus (Rom 10:10b). The result is that they are blessed.
While Moo understands the salvation of the Gentiles as their gaining everlasting life, he concludes his discussion of Rom 11:11 emphasizing the issue of temporal blessings upon Gentiles, which he sees as part of their salvation: “Paul apparently thinks that the Jews, as they see the Gentiles enjoying the messianic blessings promised first of all to them, will want those blessings for themselves.”42
Romans 13:11. What did Paul mean when he said, “now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed”? Clearly, he was not talking about regeneration, for that does not get any nearer.
Witmer says it refers to “ultimate or final salvation realized at the return of the Savior.”43 Precisely what he means by ultimate or final salvation is presumably the time when believers will be raptured and given glorified bodies.
Moo says, “Some Christians might find it puzzling that Paul places ‘salvation’ in the future for believers. But, in fact, Paul regularly uses ‘salvation’ and its cognates to denote the believer’s final deliverance from sin and death.”44
Morris adds, “Paul writes elsewhere, ‘We eagerly await a Savior from there (i.e., heaven)’ (Phil. 3:20), and it is something like that that he is saying here. There is the thought of eager expectation and the thought that the fulness of all that salvation means is yet to come.”45
Believers will be saved from the Tribulation wrath (cf. 1 Thess 5:8-10). Our salvation via the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13-18) is nearer every day which passes. Of course, when that occurs, we will have glorified bodies and a fullness of everlasting life that we’ve not yet experienced.
All of the references to salvation in Romans refer to being delivered from God’s wrath in the present life.46
VI. THREE USES OF SŌTĒRIA IN 1-2 THESSALONIANS: DELIVERANCE FROM THE TRIBULATION VIA THE RAPTURE
Paul’s two letters to the believers in Thessalonica give more details about the Rapture than any other books in the NT. It should not be surprising, therefore, that the three uses of sōtēria in the Thessalonian epistles all refers to escaping the Tribulation wrath via the Rapture.
1 Thessalonians 5:8. Paul’s first use of sōtēria is in the section of 1 Thessalonians that deals extensively with the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13–5:11). In 1 Thess 5:8, Paul writes, “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” Believers are “of the day” in our position. Paul is urging believers to live in keeping with their position. He uses his famous trilogy of faith, hope, and love.
In what sense is “the hope of salvation” a helmet? In the context of 1 Thess 4:13–5:11, the soon anticipated deliverance/salvation is the Rapture (cf. 4:16-18; 5:3-4). Believers already have everlasting life as a present possession (John 5:24). We are eagerly awaiting the Rapture and the return of Christ.
The salvation they look forward to is deliverance from the wrath to come when the Lord returns, as is clear from the context. It is not a wishful longing that someday they might be saved eternally. Such a thought is entirely foreign to the New Testament. Followers of Christ have a sure hope; they are not as others who have no hope.47
Green takes the same view, writing:
The hope they enjoyed is specifically linked with their future salvation (cf. Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13; Rom. 5:9–10; 1 Cor. 3:15; 2 Tim. 4:18), which here, as in Romans 5:9–10, is deliverance from the wrath of God, as the following verse shows. The hope of salvation is not a vague expectation but rather the settled assurance of future deliverance (see 1:10; Rom. 8:24).48
This understanding is confirmed by the use of sōtēria in the very next verse.
1 Thessalonians 5:9. Verse 9 begins with an explanatory gar (for): “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation [sōtēria] through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The wrath in context is the Tribulation. The way in which believers will obtain salvation from the Tribulation is by means of the Rapture.
Green comments, “the present concern is with deliverance from the divine chastisement that will come upon those who rebel against God’s way…The Lord is the one who will deliver believers from the coming wrath (1:10 and commentary).”49 Constable adds, “The wrath of God referred to here clearly refers to the Tribulation; the context makes this apparent. Deliverance from that wrath is God’s appointment for believers…through the Lord Jesus Christ.”50
God did not appoint Church Age believers to go through the wrath that is the Tribulation. He appointed us to escape it via the Rapture.
2 Thessalonians 2:13. After the Rapture occurs, “God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thess 2:11). Paul then says that he is “bound to give thanks to God always for you” because “God from the beginning chose you for salvation [sōtēria] through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thess 2:13). While those who believe in the Calvinist view of election typically interpret this to be a reference to election to everlasting life,51 the context does not support such an interpretation. The Church Age believer has been chosen by God to be saved from the Tribulation via the Rapture. Compare 1 Thess 5:9.
The end of v 13 needs some comment. Why is this selection for salvation “through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth”? Paul is giving the divine and human aspects of our selection to be raptured. The word sanctification refers to being set apart. The Holy Spirit positionally sets the believer apart. This is sometimes called past sanctification. That past sanctification occurs at the moment that a person has “belief in the truth” concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.52
The three uses of sōtēria in 1-2 Thessalonians refer to being delivered from the Tribulation via the Rapture.
VII. SEVEN USES OF SŌTĒRIA IN HEBREWS: BECOMING ONE OF CHRIST’S PARTNERS IN THE LIFE TO COME
As is true of nearly every book in the Bible, one’s perception of the purpose of Hebrews is vital to interpret it correctly. And that certainly is true of interpreting the word sōtēria in Hebrews.
Hebrews 1:14. Being the first use of sōtēria in Hebrews, this reference is especially important. The author says that angels are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” This salvation is typically understood as final salvation or the completion of our salvation when we are glorified. Ellingsworth says regarding sōtēria in 1:14, “The term is never explained (—> 2:3), and must be considered traditional.”53
The salvation here spoken of lies in the future; it is yet to be inherited, even if its blessings can already be enjoyed in anticipation. That is to say, it is that eschatological salvation which, in Paul’s words, is “nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11) or, in Peter’s words, is “ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:5).54
Rayburn adds, “Throughout Hebrews salvation is viewed in terms of its future consummation. Its present dimensions are not emphasized, since they are not immediately relevant to the author’s purpose, which is to call his readers to that persevering faith which alone obtains entrance to the heavenly country (10:35–39).”55
However, there are contextual clues that this future sōtēria here refers to being Christ’s partners (metochoi) in the life to come. Tanner writes, “By salvation, our author is thinking not of our Lord’s saving work on the Cross, but a future salvation associated with His Second Coming (emphasized in chap. 1). This is quite clear in light of his use of ‘salvation’ in 9:28, as well as his explicit mention in 2:5 of ‘the world to come.’”56 He made clear in his comments on Heb 1:9 that he thinks this future salvation refers to being one of Christ’s companions in the life to come.57
The word metochoi (1:9) refers to partners in Luke 5:7. It is used in Heb 3:14 in an eschatological sense: “For we have become partakers [metochoi] of Christ if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence to the end.” To be Christ’s partner in the life to come one must hold fast to the end of his life (cf. 1 Cor 15:2; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 2:26). Everlasting life is secure the moment one believes in Christ (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35; 11:26). But future partnership with Christ requires endurance (cf. 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 2:26).
Angels are not sent out by God to help all believers. He sends them out to help believers who are walking in fellowship, those who are Christ’s partners and will remain so forever if they hold fast in their Christian experience.
Hebrews 2:3. This second use of sōtēria in Hebrews helps explain the first. It is within the first warning passage in Hebrews (2:1-4). The author asks, “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…?” The salvation (sōtēria) of which he is speaking is the same as that in Heb 1:14.
Since most commentators understand the salvation in Heb 1:14 to refer to entering Christ’s eschatological kingdom, they also understand sōtēria here in that way. Ellingworth says, “the message about Christ is an event which brings salvation to those who believe.”58 Bruce writes,
But the great salvation proclaimed in the gospel was brought to earth by no angel, but by the Son of God himself. To treat it lightly, therefore, must expose one to sanctions even more awful than those which safeguarded the law…This is the first of several places in the epistle where an inference is drawn a fortiori from law to gospel.59
However, the first-person plural shows that the author is speaking to believers about something bad that could happen to them if they continue to “drift away” (2:1). While believers cannot lose everlasting life (Heb 10:10, 14), they can lose the opportunity to be Christ’s partners, co rulers, in the life to come (Heb 3:14).
Hebrews 2:10. In the third use of sōtēria in Hebrews, Jesus is called, “the captain of their salvation.” He was “made perfect [or, made complete] through sufferings.” The Lord Jesus was sent to suffer and then to die. He would not finish the work the Father sent Him to do until He died on the cross. The night before the cross, He said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose, I came to this hour” (John 12:27).
Many commentators understand the author to be saying that Jesus is our Savior. Bruce, for example, writes, “He is the Savior who blazed the trail of salvation…As His people’s representative and forerunner He has now entered into the presence of God to secure their entry there.”60
However, the text says that He is “the captain of [the] salvation” of all believers who follow Him on the path of suffering (cf. Matt 16:24-28; Heb 5:9). Only by following Him on that path will we become His partners in the life to come. This is not a promise to all believers.
It should be noted that He is leading believers who follow Him “to glory.” In Hebrews and in this context future glory is reserved for enduring believers only. Christ’s partners will share in His rule and in His glory. Tanner comments,
The word glory recalls Psalm 8 again (see Heb 2:7) and how Christ experienced glory in resurrection and exaltation. To bring many sons to glory looks at God’s plan for believers also to share in glory, as Christ Himself did after successfully completing His earthly pilgrimage. Because of their faith in Him, they will eventually receive the glory of resurrection and (if they do not neglect the “so great a salvation”) a sharing in the glorious reign and dominion of the Son. The latter privilege is conditional in light of 2:1–4 (cf. 4:1ff).61
Hebrews 5:9. This is the fourth use of sōtēria in Hebrews and the first use since Heb 2:10. The author, speaking of Jesus, says, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…” To refer to Him as “the author of eternal salvation” is similar to the previous reference to Him as “the captain of their salvation.” As with chap. 2, the author indicates that He will only give this salvation to those “who obey Him.”
This is the only use of the expression eternal salvation in the entire NT.62 And it is conditioned not upon faith, but upon obedience.
Hughes says, without explanation, “Here again, then, they are being reminded, as previously they have more forcefully been reminded (cf. 2:3; 3:12ff.; 4:11), that this great salvation belongs only to those who persevere in obedience to Christ.”63 Bruce takes the same view, once again without an explanation as to how this harmonizes with salvation by faith alone in over a hundred NT verses.64 He does note, however, that the author is linking the obedience of Christ in Heb 5:8 to the obedience to those whom He will give eternal salvation.65
Once it is recognized that this salvation is obtained by obedience and not by faith, it should be obvious that this salvation does not refer to regeneration and escaping eternal condemnation since that is conditioned upon faith alone, not obedience.
Tanner gives four reasons why “eternal salvation in this verse does not refer to redemption from sin based on Christ’s atonement:
First, of seven occurrences of “salvation” in Hebrews… not once does it clearly mean salvation from sin…Second, Christ’s experience in 5:7-8 is meant to parallel that of believers…Third, the context has not been talking about a sinner’s need for salvation from sin…Fourth, the obedience mentioned in 5:9 must be seen in light of the preceding verse. The word “obey” in v 9 (from hupakouō) is clearly associated with the word “obedience” in v 8 (from the related noun, hupokoē).66
Tanner goes on to suggest that this eternal salvation refers to “shar[ing] in Christ’s inheritance and reign[ing] with Him.”67
Hodges agrees, writing,
[This eternal salvation] should not be confused with the acquisition of eternal life which is conditioned not on obedience but on faith (cf. John 3:16, etc.). Once again, the author had in mind final deliverance from and victory over all enemies and the consequent enjoyment of the “glory” of the many sons and daughters. This kind of salvation is explicitly contingent on obedience and indeed on an obedience modeled after that of Jesus who also suffered.68
Hebrews 6:9. After giving the third warning (Heb 5:11–6:8), the author then says in this fifth use of sōtēria that he is confident that the readers will not fall away, but that they would do well concerning “things that accompany salvation.” The things which the author is confident they will continue to do are the good works that flow from the Word of God when a believer receives it (Heb 6:7).
The salvation of which the author speaks is once again often seen as referring to regeneration. Bruce writes, “the fruits of righteousness had beyond all question manifested themselves in their lives. Those fruits, being the natural concomitants of salvation, bore witness that the people in whom they appeared were genuine heirs of salvation.”69 Koester agrees: “The sharpness of the reproof in 5:11–6:3 and of the warning in 6:4-8 does not mean that the author has lost hope for the listeners. His words are designed to motivate listeners to persevere, not to drive them to despair of God.”70 In his view only those who persevere will enter Christ’s kingdom.71
However, there is nothing in 6:4-8 that implies that the eternal destiny of anyone who fails to persevere is being threatened. The warning, like all the warnings in Hebrews, concerns temporal judgment and the possibility of missing out on ruling with Christ in the life to come. The illustration of Heb 6:7-8 is that we burn the worthless overgrowth of fields. The field represents the believer. His worthless overgrowth represents works that are burned. But the field remains. There is no reason to see salvation in Heb 6:9 as anything other than what it has been in the whole book thus far, that is, becoming Christ’s partners in the life to come.72
Hebrews 9:28. In his sixth use of sōtēria, the author says that Christ “was offered once to bear the sins of many” during His first coming. Then when he refers to Christ’s Second Coming, he brings in the theme of future salvation for faithful believers: “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Bruce represents most commentators who see this future salvation as entering Christ’s kingdom: “So our author thinks of Jesus as going into the heavenly holy of holies, to reappear one day in order to confirm finally to his people the salvation which his perfect offering has procured for them.”73 A bit later he makes clear that he interprets salvation in Hebrews to require perseverance: “All the blessings which he [Jesus] won for his people at His first appearing will be theirs to enjoy in perpetual fulness at His second appearing. Therefore, let them not grow faint and weary but persevere in patience and faith.”74
Not all believers will receive this future salvation. It is only “those who eagerly wait for Him.” Compare 2 Tim 4:8 where Paul says that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give “the crown of righteousness” to him “on that Day [the Judgment Seat of Christ], and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” The salvation of Heb 9:28 is the same as it has been in the entire letter. It is the future selection by Christ to be one of His partners in His kingdom. As Hodges writes,
Deftly the author implied that “those who are waiting for Him” constitute a smaller circle than those whom His death has benefited. They are, as all his previous exhortations reveal, the ones who “hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (3:14). The “salvation” He will bring them at His second coming will be the “eternal inheritance” of which they are heirs (cf. 9:15; 1:14).75
Hebrews 11:7. This seventh and final use of sōtēria is a bit of an outlier. The author says, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” The salvation here refers to the physical salvation of Noah and his family from death in the flood.
Ellingworth represents the view of most commentators on salvation in Hebrews in general and Heb 11:7 in particular:
Elsewhere in Hebrews (—> 1:14; 2:3, 10; 5:9) the reference is to eternal salvation, connected as here with obedience in 6:9; 9:28; only here is there reference to a temporal escape from drowning, and even here the wider implications are perhaps not entirely absent, since Noah’s rescue from the flood is an essential link in God’s purpose for his people.76
Hodges ties his understanding of Heb 11:7 to his understanding that salvation in the entire letter refers to becoming Christ’s partners in the life to come:
That God does reward those who seek Him is suggested by the career of Noah, who became an heir of righteousness by faith. What he inherited was, in fact, the new world after the Flood as the readers might inherit “the world to come” (cf. 2:5). The reference here to Noah saving his household recalls the writer’s stress on a Christian’s salvation-inheritance. It further suggests that a man’s personal faith can be fruitful in his family, as they share it together.77
Except for the one reference to deliverance from death in Heb 11:7, all the uses of sōtēria in Hebrews refer to being Christ’s partners in the life to come. And, as Hodges suggests, even that reference may allude to ruling with Christ in the world to come. That privilege will not be for all believers, but only for those who endure to the end of their Christian lives in faith and good works.
Doing word studies is a vital aspect of hermeneutics. We cannot understand the Bible correctly unless we understand the meaning of key Biblical terms. That is certainly true of the words sōtēria and sōzō. Often new or untaught believers routinely understand the words salvation and save to refer to escaping eternal condemnation. That results in terrible confusion.
In some books of the Bible, these words are used in precisely the same sense in all or nearly all of their uses. Once one grasps that fact, the interpretation of the books opens up. Hebrews, Romans, Philippians, James, and 1-2 Thessalonians are all examples of cases in which the authors use sōtēria and sōzō with one uniform sense (and not the sense of salvation from eternal condemnation).
The reader is urged to do this study for himself. Check out all the uses of sōtēria and sōzō in these five books, and the entire NT.
1 Robert P. Lightner, “Philippians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 2:651.
2 Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 126.
3 Peter T. O’Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991), 108.
4 Fee, Philippians, 169-70.
5 Lightner, “Philippians,” 652.
6 O’Brien, Philippians, 156.
7 Lightner, “Philippians,” 655.
8 Fee, Philippians, 235.
9 O’Brien, Philippians, 277.
10 James B. Adamson, The Epistle of James (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976), 81–82.
11 Peter H. Davids, The Epistle of James (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), 120–21.
12 At https://www.biblechristiansociety.com/newsletter/389-planting-seeds-of-faithwith-your-help.
13 Adamson, James, 204.
14 Ibid., 203.
15 He meant 1 Cor 11:30.
16 Davids, James, 199-200.
17 Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), 251.
18 George M. Stulac, James (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993), 188.
19 Luke Timothy Johnson, The Letter of James (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 338.
20 Kurt A. Richardson, James (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997), 245.
21 Zane C. Hodges, “The Epistle of James,” The Grace New Testament Commentary, First Edition, ed. by Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2010), 1142.
22 See, Jerry Pattillo, “An Exegetical Study of the Lord’s Logion on the ‘Salvation of the Psychē,’” JOTGES (Autumn 2015):21-36. Available online at https://faithalone.org/wpcontent/uploads/2016/12/Autumn_JOTGES2015.pdf.
23 So, Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 67; Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Romans (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 256; Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), 67.
24 John A. Witmer, “Romans” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 2:441.
25 Euangelion, “gospel,” occurs ten times (Rom 1:1, 9, 16; 2:16; 10:16; 11:28; 14:24; 15:16, 19, 29. The cognate verb euangelizein, “to preach the gospel,” occurs three times (Rom 1:15; 10:15; 15:20).
26 See Zane C. Hodges, Romans: Deliverance from Wrath (Corinth, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2013), 37-38.
27 Paul does not use the verb form, sōzō, in the justification section either. His next use of sōzō is in Rom 5:9-10 where it is specified as referring to a future deliverance from wrath: “we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” In addition, Paul says in v 10 that “we shall be saved by His life,” that is, by our manifesting His life. See Hodges, Romans, 140-44.
28 So, Moo, Romans, 631-32; Witmer, Romans, 479; Morris, Romans, 378.
29 Hodges, Romans, 293.
30 Morris, Romans, 386.
31 Witmer, Romans, 481.
32 Moo, Romans, 657.
33 Witmer, “Romans,” 481.
34 Moo, Romans, 658.
35 Zane C. Hodges, “Romans” in The Grace New Testament Commentary, Second Edition, ed. by Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2019), 334.
36 Witmer, “Romans,” 481.
37 Moo, Romans, 662.
38 Ibid., 663.
39 Grant R. Osborne, Romans (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004), 274.
40 Ibid., 273.
41 Ibid., 270.
42 Moo, Romans, 688.
43 Witmer, “Romans,” 491.
44 Moo, Romans, 822.
45 Morris, Romans, 471.
46 Even in Rom 13:11, the future deliverance of the believer includes escaping wrath since the Tribulation will be a time of great outpouring of God’s wrath, and believers will be delivered from the Tribulation via the Rapture.
47 Thomas L. Constable, “1 Thessalonians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 2:706.
48 Gene L., Green, The Letters to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 241.
49 Ibid., 243.
50 Constable, “1 Thessalonians,” 707.
51 E.g., Green, Thessalonians, 325-26; Constable, “1 Thessalonians,” 721.
52 Most commentators understand the salvation here as regeneration and the sanctification as referring to present sanctification. See, for example, Constable, “2 Thessalonians,” 721; Green, Thessalonians, 326; Gregory K. Beale, 1-2 Thessalonians (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 226.
53 Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), 133.
54 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), 25.
55 Robert S. Rayburn, “Hebrews” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 3:1133.
56 J. Paul Tanner, “The Epistle to the Hebrews” in The Grace New Testament Commentary, ed. by Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2010), 2:1036.
57 Ibid.: “[the OT citation in 1:9] mentions the king’s ‘companions’ (metochous), a term he later applies to believers who participate in the heavenly calling to the New Jerusalem of the New Covenant.” See also, Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 2:782.
58 Ellingworth, Hebrews, 141.
59 Bruce, Hebrews, 29.
60 Bruce, Hebrews, 43.
61 Tanner, “Hebrews,” 1039.
62 It is found once in the OT in Isa 45:17. There it refers to the future reign of the Messiah and of Israel over all the countries of the world.
63 Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1977), 188.
64 Bruce, Hebrews, 105-106.
66 Tanner, Hebrews, 1050.
68 Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 2, ed. by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 792.
69 Bruce, Hebrews, 126.
70 Craig R. Koester, Hebrews (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 316.
71 Koester’s discussion of 3:14 as well as 6:11-12 confirms that he understands the author of Hebrews to be saying that only those who persevere in the faith will enter Christ’s kingdom.
72 See J. Paul Tanner, “But If It Yields Thorns and Thistles: An Exposition of Hebrews 5:11–6:12,” JOTGES (Spring 2001): 19-42.
73 Bruce, Hebrews, 224.
75 Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 2:803.
76 Ellingworth, Hebrews, 579.
77 Hodges, “Hebrews,” 808.