One who saves, used with various shades of meaning, ranging from deliverer to healer and benefactor. In the Old Testament God Himself and no other is savior (Isaiah 43:11;
Hosea 13:4), though individuals such as Moses and the judges may serve as agents of God's deliverance. God reveals His role as savior primarily through the Exodus from Egypt and provision for Israel during the wilderness years (Hosea 13:4-6). In the New Testament, savior continues as a title of God; indeed, God is the savior in a full third of the New Testament cases (Luke 1:47;
1 Timothy 1:1;
1 Timothy 2:3;
1 Timothy 4:10;
Jude 1:25). The New Testament, however, reveals God as savior primarily in the Christ event. Savior also appears as a title of Christ. The title appears only twice in the Gospels. There Christ is a savior for the outcasts of Israel (Luke 2:11) and the savior of the world (John 4:42; also
1 John 4:14). In Acts Jesus is twice described as the savior of Israel (Acts 5:31;
Acts 13:23). Here Jesus' saving role involves giving “repentance and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31; compare
Matthew 1:21). Paul anticipated Christ's coming again as savior (Philippians 3:20).
Ephesians 5:23 presents Christ as savior of the church. Over one half of the references to Christ as savior occur in the Pastorals and 2 Peter. The increased usage of savior as a Christological title in the later New Testament writings and especially in the postapostolic church perhaps results from the needs of apologetics and evangelism. In a pagan world offering numerous “saviors” such as the pagan gods Zeus and Asclepius, the Roman emperor, and various philosophers, the church witnessed to Christ as the savior who could rescue humanity from the penalty and power of sin. See Salvation.