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  • The action of saving or delivering; the state or fact of being saved.
1. a. The saving of the soul; the deliverance from sin and its consequences, and admission to eternal bliss, wrought for man by the atonement of Christ. [eccl. L. salvatio, rendering Gr. .]
b. in formulas of asseveration.
c. year of (man's) salvation, a year reckoned from the birth of Christ: after med.L. anno salutis.
d. Phr. to work out (one's own) salvation; freq. fig., to be independent or self-reliant in striving towards one's goal.
e. (With initial capital.) ellipt. for (a member of) the Salvation Army.
For lessons on the topic of Salvation, follow this link.
2. gen. Preservation from destruction, ruin, loss, or calamity. In mod. use chiefly with more or less allusion to sense 1. for or in salvation of: in order to save or preserve.
3. A source, cause or means of salvation; a person or thing that saves. Now chiefly in phr. to be the salvation of.
4. Comb., as salvation banner, -monger, -work; salvation-contemning adj.; salvation history = HEILSGESCHICHTE; Salvation Jane = Paterson's curse s.v. PATERSON; Salvation lassie = LASS 1d.

Chronologic Sample

  • 1225 Ancr. R. 242 Hwat te were leouest efter i sauuaciun.
  • 1300 Cursor M. 17958 (Arundel MS.) His owne sone shal he sende doun In ere to monnes saluatioun.
  • 1377 LANGL. P. Pl. B. v. 126 Sorwe of synnes is sauacioun of soules. 14.. HOCCLEVE Ad beatam Virginem 53 O spryng and welle of our sauuacioun.
  • 1602 SHAKES. Ham. III. iii. 92 Some acte That ha's no rellish of Saluation in't.
  • 1651 HOBBES Leviath. III. xxxviii. 245 The joyes of Life Eternall, are in Scripture comprehended all under the name of Salvation, or being saved. ?
  • 1709 LADY M. W. MONTAGU Lett., To Mrs. Hewet (1887) I. 23 His first wife..ventured her own salvation to secure his.
  • 1738-9 BP. BUTLER Serm. S.P.G. 9 It is indeed true, God willeth that all men should be saved: yet..the Salvation of every man cannot but depend upon his Behaviour.
  • 1816 SCOTT Old Mort. xxx, Men who believed that the pale of salvation was open for them exclusively. 1841 TRENCH Parables ix. (1877) 181 The whole economy of salvation has been put into Christ's hands.


In religion, salvation is the concept that God or other Higher Power, as part of Divine Providence, "saves" humanity from spiritual death or eternal damnation by providing for them an eternal life (cf. afterlife). Salvation has been termed the major theme of the Bible.[1]

World religions share the notion that humanity needs salvation from its present condition since humanity does not manifest its purpose of existence and therefore in some sense is "lost." Judaism, Christianity and Islam—the three monotheistic religions of the world—regard salvation as liberation from the bondage of sin and re-establishing a personal communion with God.[2]

  • Judaism posits collective salvation for the people of Israel.
  • In Christianity Jesus is the source of salvation and faith in his saving power is stressed.
  • Islam emphasizes submission to Allah.
  • Eastern religions tend to stress self-help through individual discipline and practice, sometimes over the course of many lifetimes, though in Mahayana Buddhism bodhisattva and certain buddhas may act as intervening divine agents.[3]

Author Ernest Valea suggests three aspects as important to analyze in assessing the meaning of salvation to a particular religion:

  • The resources needed for attaining salvation
  • The actual way of getting saved and
  • The meaning of being saved.[2]
  • The theological study of salvation is called soteriology. It covers the means by which salvation is effected or achieved, and its results.[4] Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or "redemption" from sin and its effects. By its nature salvation must answer to the plight of humanity as it actually is, offering individuals redemption from slavery to sin, forgiveness from guilt, reconciliation for alienation and "renewal for a marred image of God."[5]:80

In Buddhism, the problem is suffering and the solution is the Noble Eightfold Path. In some forms of Hinduism, the problem is the cycle of reincarnation and the solution is Self-realization.[6] Some religions claim that salvation can be attained by using only inner human resources such as meditation, accumulation of wisdom, asceticism, rituals, or good deeds. Other religions teach that humans can be saved only through the grace granted by an external personal agent (God, a bodhisattva, an avatar, etc.) One’s duty is to recognize the impossibility of being saved by one's own efforts, and therefore accept grace unconditionally.[2]


  1. "Salvation." Macmillan Dictionary of the Bible. London: Collins, 2002. Credo Reference. 19 July 2009. ISBN 0333648056
  2. Valea, Ernest. "Salvation and eternal life in world religions." Comparative Religion. 13 June 2009.

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