Soteriology -- By: Lewis Sperry Chafer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 102:405 (Jan 1945)
Article: Soteriology
Author: Lewis Sperry Chafer


Lewis Sperry Chafer

[Author’s Note: In this series of articles, which aims at a premillennial and dispensational treatment of the whole field of Systematic Theology and which has already presented Bibliology, Theology Proper, Angelology, and Anthropology, the major division of Soteriology has been reached. This is the first of this series on Soteriology, and will be followed, God willing, by extended articles, continuing at least for the coming four years.]


Soteriology is that portion of Systematic Theology which treats of salvation. The word salvation is a translation of the Greek word σωτηρία (cf. σωτήριον and σωτήριος), and is derived from the word σωτήρ which means Savior. Σωτηρία appears forty-eight times in the New Testament. Forty-six times it is translated salvation, once it is translated deliver (Acts 7:25), and once health (Acts 27:34).

In comparison with that which obtains in the New Testament, the Old Testament doctrine of Salvation is more involved; largely because of that which enters into all Old Testament revelation, namely, the progress of doctrine. This progression may well be stated in the words of Christ: “First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear” (Mark 4:28). It appears that, in the Old Testament, the English word salvation presents a latitude of meaning ranging from deliverance from enemies to right relation with God. Deuteronomy 28:1–14 describes the desired estate of an Israelite in the land, and to him salvation consisted largely in deliverance from all that might hinder those blessings. Such, indeed, were the benefits which Jehovah Himself held before His people. A still greater hope was ever before Israel of a spiritual triumph in their yet future covenanted

kingdom. In reference to their estate in that kingdom it is written: “And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Deut 30:5,

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