What does it mean to be saved?
info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
Although the term ‘getting saved’ is used throughout the Bible, we gain a real sense of the meaning of this term from the account found at Acts 16:29, 30, which tells of a Greek jailer (someone that was unfamiliar with Christianity and its terms) who asked Paul and Silas this:
‘Lords, what must I to do to get saved?’
And they replied:
‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your household will be saved.’
The question that naturally comes to mind here is:
What did the jailer actually think that he and his family were going to be saved from?
Going back to the Ancient Scriptures of IsraEl (OT), the only mention of salvation appears to have been in connection with being saved through the destruction of IsraEl or JeruSalem.
However, this man and his family weren’t Jews, and they didn’t live anywhere near JeruSalem.
For at Acts 16:34 we are told:
‘He and his entire household started rejoicing over their coming to believe in The God (gr. to Theou)’…
That is, the God of the Jews.
As you can see, this family wasn’t in danger of being destroyed when JeruSalem was conquered by the Romans in 70-CE, because they lived in a far-away land. Therefore, it doesn’t seem likely that the man was asking about a physical salvation from a coming destruction.
Now, among modern Christians, the term ‘salvation’ has come to mean ‘being saved from damnation.’ And something like that must have been what this man was referring to, since there was no indication that he and his family were in imminent danger from another source. Yet the question that he asked and the answer that he was given still seem a bit hard to explain, since we really don’t know what was going through the man’s mind when he asked this.
But is simple ‘belief in Jesus’ all that is required for ‘salvation from damnation?’
Well in this case, we must realize that there was a lot more that this jailer needed to understand about Jesus and becoming a Christian, since as a virtual pagan, there was a world of things that he had to learn about monotheism, Christian conduct, the resurrection, and of God’s Kingdom.
In fact, as the text tells us;
He also had to learn about ‘The God,’ not just about Jesus.
So clearly, much more than just belief in Jesus would actually have been required for him and his family to be saved.
Therefore, this is why the account continues with the words:
‘Then they told him and all those in his house about the Word of The God’ (according to the Westcott and Hort text),
‘about the word of the Lord’ (according to Scrivener’s Textus Receptus).’
Of course, recognize that this was the same challenge that was faced by all the gentiles to whom Paul and his companions preached – which is a little hard for those of us who live in so-called ‘Christian’ lands to understand.
Many that call themselves Christians today are actually in the same condition as that jailer was before Paul and Silas ‘told him and all those in his house about the Word of The God.’ For many still don’t understand Christian living (Jesus’ instructions on morality and love, for example).
So, notice what Jesus himself said at Matthew 7:22, 23:
‘In that day, many will say to me;
Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, and perform many great works in your name?
Then I’ll admit to them,
I never knew you!
Get away from me you lawbreakers!’
Therefore, it appears as though more than simple belief is required.
For to keep from being a ‘lawbreaker’ and in order to be ‘known’ by Jesus, a person must not only believe in him, but also in everything that he taught… Which includes coming to an understanding of his instructions on how to live a clean life as one of his followers.
And who will actually be ‘saved?’
Jesus answered this question himself when he said (at Matthew 24:13):
‘But those that endure to the end will be saved.’
So in order for Christians to continue in a ‘saved’ condition, they must follow a faithful course to the end of their lives.