An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


Savior. One who pays a price to buy back something, to liberate a person or a people from bondage, or to save a life that was legally forfeit. In the OT, the Lord God is the redeemer of Israel (see Ex 6:6; 2 Sm 7:23; Ps 130:7; Is 44:6, 54:5). God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt and from the Babylonian exile. The OT also includes a messianic expectation of the redeemer who will come (see Is 7:14-17, 9:1-7, 11, 40:1-11). Christians identify Jesus Christ as the expected messiah and redeemer. Jesus is the redeemer of fallen humanity (see Rom 3:24; Gal 3:13, 4:4-5; Ti 2:14). The NT uses a variety of images and metaphors to present Jesus as our redeemer. The sacrifice of Jesus’ life is described as “a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45; Mt 20:28). Jesus predicted that he would draw all to himself when he was lifted up from the earth (Jn 12:32). Jesus was “handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25). He is the “Second Adam,” who restores humanity to righteousness and right relationship with God (see Rom 5:19). St. Paul states that “as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” (1 Cor 15:22). The Letter to the Hebrews (2:17) states that Jesus was “a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” who made “a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.”

Jesus’ role as our redeemer is at the heart of Christian theology. This theme is powerfully expressed in the worship of the Episcopal Church. The collect for the Second Sunday of Advent prays that “we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer (BCP, pp. 159, 211). The first collect for Easter Day states that God gave his only-begotten Son to death on the cross for our redemption and that Jesus delivered us from the power of our enemy by his glorious resurrection (BCP, pp. 170, 222, 295). Eucharistic Prayer B recalls that in these last days God the Father sent Jesus “to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world” (BCP, p. 368). The Hymnal 1982 includes “Redeemer of the nations, come” as a hymn for Advent (Hymn 55).

Redemption may be understood in terms of atonement, forgiveness of sins, justification, deliverance from the power of death, righteousness, and the doing away with human alienation from God. Christians affirm that we may share the saving benefits of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection through baptism and participation in the life of the church (see Col 2:12; Rom 6:4-5).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.