What Is the Bible’s View?
How Many Saviors Do You Have?
THROUGHOUT history many men have represented themselves as saviors of their fellow humans. For example, Hitler and Mussolini in the height of their glory were hailed as messiahs. Enthused about the progress made during the early part of the Hitler regime, one woman in East Prussia told her neighbor, ‘He deserves to have his feet kissed.’ But these dictators proved to be no saviors. They became responsible for the death of millions of men, women and children. How disappointed were those people who had put their trust in them when their respective nations went down in defeat!
These and many other examples well illustrate the wisdom of the Bible’s admonition: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.” (Ps. 146:3, 4) Salvation that can be depended upon must come from a source far higher than dying men. The Bible shows that source to be our Maker, God. “Salvation belongs to Jehovah,” declared the inspired psalmist. (Ps. 3:8) Through his prophet Isaiah, the Almighty stated: “I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.”—Isa. 43:11.
But it may be asked: ‘Is not Jesus Christ the Savior? So, then, are not Jehovah and Jesus the same, making our Savior but one, God?’
The Bible does not limit the term “savior” to the Most High. In the past, men whom God used in freeing his people Israel from oppression were called saviors. We read: “Jehovah raised a savior up for the sons of Israel that he might save them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, the younger brother of Caleb.” (Judg. 3:9) Then again we are told: “The sons of Israel began to call to Jehovah for aid. So Jehovah raised up for them a savior, Ehud.”—Judg. 3:15.
Note that Othniel and Ehud were raised up by Jehovah God as saviors. They were merely the agents through whom the great Savior, God, brought about liberation from enemy oppression. Othniel, Ehud and others like them did not proclaim themselves to be saviors. They acknowledged the One who was using them as being their Savior and God. David, who was often involved in saving the Israelites from their enemies, said: “My God is my rock. I shall take refuge in him, my shield and my horn of salvation, my secure height, and my place for flight, my Savior; from violence you save me.”—2 Sam. 22:3.
But what about Jesus Christ? He, too, cannot be spoken of as being a Savior besides Jehovah, that is, as a rival of his Father. The Scriptures clearly establish that Jesus’ role as Savior was assigned to him by his Father. The Christian apostle John wrote: “We ourselves have beheld and are bearing witness that the Father has sent forth his Son as Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14) Aged Simeon, on seeing the babe Jesus at the temple, exclaimed: “Now, Sovereign Lord, you are letting your slave go free in peace according to your declaration; because my eyes have seen your means of saving.”—Luke 2:29, 30.
Because salvation comes from Jehovah God through Jesus Christ, a “great crowd” is depicted in the book of Revelation as making the following declaration: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9, 10) That “great crowd” is spoken of as surviving the “great tribulation” that is to come upon humankind. (Rev. 7:14) Their being saved or preserved alive through this tribulation, however, is not the only kind of salvation they experience. In the capacity of the sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus Christ provided the basis for saving or liberating them from sin, the “sting producing death,” and therefore also from death. (1 Cor. 15:56) This agrees with the words of an angel to Joseph: “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife home, for that which has been begotten in her is by holy spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you must call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”—Matt. 1:20, 21.
Appropriately, then, as God’s means of salvation, Jesus Christ is called the Savior. Apart from him no one on earth can be saved from sin and death. When before the Jewish supreme court, the apostle Peter pointed this out, saying: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”—Acts 4:12.
Jesus’ being referred to as the Savior does not mean that he is the same as Jehovah God. Why, the very name “Jesus” points to God as the source of salvation. It means “Jehovah Is Salvation” and thus honors the Father as the Savior to whom even the Son looked. At Hebrews 5:7 we read: “In the days of his flesh Christ offered up supplications and also petitions to the One who was able to save him out of death, with strong outcries and tears, and he was favorably heard for his godly fear.” Also, after his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ continued to place himself in a position subordinate to that of his Father. For instance, he said to Mary Magdalene: “Be on your way to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.’”—John 20:17.
Though rightly stressing the role of Jesus Christ as the Savior, the Christian Greek Scriptures also make it plain that the God of Jesus Christ is the actual author of salvation. The disciple Jude concluded his short letter with the words: “To the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might and authority for all past eternity and now and into all eternity. Amen.” (Jude 25) Similarly, in his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul spoke of the heavenly Father as the Savior: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus under command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus, our hope.” (1 Tim. 1:1) “This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:3-6). “We have rested our hope on a living God, who is a Savior of all sorts of men, especially of faithful ones.” (1 Tim. 4:10) So even in a context mentioning Jesus Christ, God is identified as the Savior.
The testimony of the Bible as a whole thus makes it clear that there is but one Savior, Jehovah God. All others who have rightly been called saviors, including Jesus Christ, are not rival saviors. Rather, they were willing to be used by Jehovah God in this capacity. Hence, those desiring to gain divine approval must acknowledge that salvation proceeds from the Father through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.