sothesetai

For the most part, the main message of Scripture comes across fairly well into English translations. But there are some things which are beautifully enhanced by the original Greek (even the small amount that I know). I’ll willingly admit that the process of haltingly translating Scripture for myself has brought me to tears a few times for the sheer beauty of the truth, revealed to me in a new way past the traditional interpretations which I have heard and read and memorized all my life. Sometimes it’s something as small as Jesus’ speech at the resurrection of Lazarus: “I am the Resurrection and the Life…the one who believes in me will never die.” But somehow it takes on a deeper level of meaning when you can read the underscoring and intensified negatives that the NIV peeps left out: “I, I am the Resurrection and the Life…the one who believes in me will surely not die, ever.”

All this as a nerdy introduction to my love of Greek. And now we come to the word sothesetai.

In John 11, Jesus and His disciples are discussing the sickness of Lazarus. Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus has “fallen asleep,” meaning that he has died. His disciples, thinking Jesus means natural sleep, respond, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”

At least, that’s what the NIV says. But the word translated “get better” is sothesetai, from the root word sozo.

It means, he will be saved.

There’s so much richness and depth there. If the word “save” is used in the context of recovering from sickness, what other implications might that Greek word carry?

Healing.

Restoration.

Revival.

Liberation.

If the word “save” can be used to describe these things, think about what that means in the context of Matthew 1:21 — “You will call His name Jesus, for He will save — sosei — His people from their sins.”

“Salvation” has become such a churchy word that we hardly know what it means anymore. It’s some vague concept referring to Jesus’ death on the cross and ranks up there with “propitiation” and “atonement”. We throw it around a lot more, but do we have even have a complete idea of what it means to be saved? What does it mean that Jesus saves us from our sins?

We’re healed from the pain and the scars of this fallen world. We’re restored back to our right standing with God and into His purpose. We’re revived, brought back to life from when we were living in darkness and death. We’re liberated from our bondage to humanity. We’re completely, totally, quite literally, in every way, SAVED.

What new implications for salvation does this context bring to mind for you?

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Published in: on September 18, 2012 at 11:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nice entry… I did find it interesting that you didn’t directly translate the meaning of saved or sothesetai. Could you comment on the nature of the word in accordance with it meaning ‘Shall be being saved’ as a more continual perspective than the finality that we often like to ascribe to it with our past tense ‘saved.’

    • Thanks so much for adding your thoughts, Mark! That’s a great point…the continuous denotation of the participle definitely helps to shape the bigger picture of what salvation is as it affects every aspect of our lives, every day.


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