In the passage above the word “salvation” translates the noun σωτηρίαν (sōtērian), the accusative singular feminine case of σωτηρία (sōtēria), which means safety, deliverance, and preservation from danger or destruction. But what exactly is Biblical salvation?
Let’s look at two other very important Biblical words first. The first in our English translations is “Christ.”
1 Βίβλος γενέσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ Δαυὶδ υἱοῦ Ἀβραάμ. Matthew 1:1 (NA28)
1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Matthew 1:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In Matthew 1:1 the word “Christ” translates the noun Χριστοῦ (christou), the genitive singular masculine case of Χριστός (Christos). Some English translations actually translate Χριστοῦ in this verse as “the Messiah.” The reason for this is twofold. The original Greek usage of this word carried a totally sexual meaning in Classical Greek. It comes from chierin, to rub lightly, or spread over something. Some uses were rubbing arrows with poison in preparation for battle (Homer) and applying paint or whitewash. Another common use was rubbing the body with oil after a bath.
In the Old Testament translation into Greek, this word corresponds to the Hebrew equivalent mesiah (Messiah), which refers to someone who is ceremoniously anointed with holy oil for an office. The most common office for anointing was a king (e.g., David, 2 Samuel 2L7); another was of priests, such as Aaron, which is beautifully described in Psalm 133.