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In Greek, “salvation” (σωτηρία) is one thing; “justification” (δικαιοσύνη) is another.

For example, in Romans 10:10, it is written,

10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. NKJV, ©1982

Ιʹ καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν NA28, ©2012

What is the difference between “salvation” (σωτηρία) and “justification” (δικαιοσύνη)?

  • These are huge big theological terms. Are you asking about how they have come to be used in Christian theology? Or if you want to ask about the Greek, you need to be explicit that you're asking about just one verse, because they are used differently in different verses. – curiousdannii Oct 10 at 22:47
  • Soteria means sparing or preservation (i.e., [eternal] existence, not necessarily pleasant: 1 Corinthians 3:15), and dikaiosune means justice, correctness, holiness. – Lucian Oct 11 at 3:17
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The problem with biblical terms is that they are formed not just with a particular context in mind, but a context with a large content, itself formed over a long period of time. Theologians often refer to this detailed and laboriously formed context as a pre-understanding. So we have a bit of an anachronistic problem, in the sense that we attach a modern understanding to terms that have a sense connected to a different time period, and dealing with a problem current to that time period, a problem that, relatively speaking, has just occurred.

The way to overcome this misunderstanding is to substitute the biblical term with modern words that have an equivalency to the sense of that time period.

If we take into consideration the different aspects of the idea being communicated, we will find that salvation really means fulfilment. Adam was supposed to partner with God in completing creation. After the fall, this mission was stalled. So salvation means restoration of the mission. The mistake we make is that we fail to maintain continuity. There was an interruption in God's plan with Adam. What did He do about it? A lot actually, and immediately. He stated that the descendant of Adam would strike a killing blow to the entity that had caused the interruption.

A little later, He choses an individual who would be a part of that plan, be a link in the line of descendants who would carry out the task. We see that the scope of the plan has widened to include more than just Adam and his children. It is now a group, a family, if one wants to use a popular concept that is easy to grasp. This is where justification is explained. When a person is justified, God has accepted that the person has become part of that group. When we attach an understanding of escaping hell to the idea of salvation, we have again not maintained continuity. What does escaping hell have with the actual good news, happy announcement, that the world would be blessed through Abraham's descendants, a group, a nation, of whom Abraham is the father? Why is this last idea forgotten?

So the situation is this. When a person has a view that is consonant with God's view, that creation is incomplete, lacks something, needs fulfilment, he is recognised as perceptive, even spiritual. As opposed to others, who are just bags of meat, dedicated to following the "cycle of life". Dust unto dust. This recognition of what constitutes the real human, an entity resembling the image of God, is called justification, acceptance into God's "flock", or family. See how the use of popular terms makes understanding easy?

Hebrews 11:13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

And salvation is the phased enlightenment and empowerment of the justified towards full membership of God's family, the new humanity, the new man in Christ, the heavenly city that they enter, of those able to do the job. Of being blessings to the world. By completing Creation. Subduing the earth.

Hebrews 11:39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Luke 8:25And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?"

Luke 10:17The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."

The Law is an employment contract. A person who gets this is an employee, used to pre-publicise the identification marks of Messiah. Circumcision explains that Messiah will be cut, like the halves of the animal Abraham walks between, the penalty for non performance of the Old Covenant, falling short by the Old Man. He pays it. Hangs from a tree.

Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”—

Grace is adoption. The New Covenant justifies because it makes us family. Not receiving wages for oracle bearing, but receiving rights, for being recognised as sons and daughters.

Romans 3:19Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

All Scripture from the NASB.

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    Wonderful answer. Can u still expand on justification? – Faith Mendel Oct 9 at 21:56
  • I just added why those under grace can be justified, but not those under law. – Seeker Oct 10 at 2:38
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    You are substituting your own terminology for Greek words without any reference to a lexicon. This is simply misrepresentation. There is no connection between 'salvation' and 'fulfilment'. These English words have very different meanings. Nor does 'having a view' equate to 'justification'. And you have highlighted text without telling us your source. None of this is hermeneutic. – Nigel J Oct 10 at 11:08
  • biblehub.com/lexicon/romans/4-3.htm In Romans 4:3, what Abraham did was to agree with God, believe His promise. There was no moral aspect to his action, which we would have been led to understand if we had followed the lexicon. Rather a better sense is conveyed if we understood dikaiosunēn to mean family feeling, loyal response, not righteousness. God recognised Abraham as belonging to His flock. Abraham was justified, accepted as a son, not justified, found innocent. Grammatical historical is not the only hermeneutic. – Seeker Oct 10 at 17:47
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In the Bible, salvation can be referred to as both a past, present, and future act of God's grace. We have been saved, we are being saved, and one day we will be saved. Therefore, salvation, as presented in the Bible, has a progressive nature about it.

But justification, that is a one-time act. At some point in time, one is declared righteous due to the gifted righteousness of God received through faith.

Justification is a part of God's work of saving.

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