Why Did Paul Need To Be Saved?

Paul apparently declares his need for salvation in Philippians 1:19, “I know that this shall turn out to my salvation,” he writes. But, what did he mean by needing salvation?

Theologians and Bible scholars typically identify three aspects of the spiritual sense of salvation (See Radmacher, Salvation, Chapter 1). Here I illustrate these aspects from the New Testament referencing only the noun form of “salvation” (σωτηρία):

  1. Saved from the penalty of sin–justification, Romans 1:16
  2. Saved from the power of sin–sanctification, Philippians 2:12
  3. Saved from the presence of sin–glorification, 1 Peter 1:9

As in all interpretive work the context is the determining factor for the meanings of words. So, was Paul referring in Philippians 1:19 to his justification, his sanctification, his glorification? The answer must lie in the contexts of his statement.

Both the Greek New Testaments by Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Societies suggest in the marginal references that Paul quotes or alludes to Job 13:16 from the Septuagint (LXX, the Greek translation of the Old Testament). Numerous commentators agree. The words of the LXX and Paul are exactly the same. The interpreter must ask, How did Paul’s conscious or unconscious allusion to Job affect the meaning of his “salvation” in Philippians? In other words, in what sense did he need to be saved?

Upon encountering the actuality or possibility of a quotation or allusion in the text, whether from the margins or appendices of the Greek New Testament or commentaries, some interpretation guidelines must be followed (See Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation, chapter 11, for an overview). Interpreting quotations and allusions involves minimally (1) the source of the reference, (2) the interpretation of the reference within its own context, (3) the manner of the citation by the writer, (4) the purpose for the quotations or allusion, and (5) the conclusion.

In Philippians 1:19 the source of the quotation or allusion is clearly Job 13:16.

The meaning of Job 13:16 within its own context may be summarized: In response to an accusation of being guilty before God of sin by Zophar, Job argues that he is innocent and that if he could argue his case legally before God he would be found innocent. The LXX term for salvation (σωτηρίαν) translates the Hebrew word ישׁוּעה meaning victory and, in this legal context, victory equals acquittal.

The manner of the citation is a direct quote or allusion from the LXX which is itself a good representation of the Hebrew precursor. An excellent source for this type of evaluation is Archer & Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament: A Complete Survey. However, because there is a question whether Job 13:16 is actually being quoted by Paul, this parallel is not included.

The purpose of the quotation or allusion is an application statement that Paul’s life now and in the future will continue to exhibit genuine Christian character.

In conclusion, salvation in Philippians 1:19 is the salvation of a victorious Christian life, sanctification, deliverance from the power of sin, both in the present and when Paul must give account before the Judge of all the earth. It also illustrates the parallel experiences of Job and Paul. Job was accused of sin by his “friend;” Paul is attacked by “brothers.” Both Job and Paul claim “salvation.”

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