What Does Sozo Mean?
"[Jesus] gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." - Galatians 1:4
Jesus gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world—not just the evil world to come.
Many people think that what Jesus produced through His death, burial, and resurrection only affects the spiritual, eternal realm. Because of this, they come up with song lyrics referring to when all of us get to heaven, what a day it will be. Of course it will be glorious in heaven, but Jesus also came to deliver us from this present evil world. We’re not just saved from hell, our sins, and future punishment—Jesus also came to deliver, protect, and provide for us in this physical world right now.
An All-Encompassing Word
The Greek word sozo was used over a hundred times in the New Testament. It’s an all-encompassing word for salvation, often rendered “save” or “saved.” However, a closer look at how this important word was translated makes it very clear that our salvation includes much more than just forgiveness of sins. Sozo was translated “save” thirty-eight times in reference to the forgiveness of sins. Some examples include:
"She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save [sozo] his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
"For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save [sozo] them that believe."
1 Corinthians 1:21
"Wherefore he is able also to save [sozo] them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25
Forgiven, Healed, and Delivered
Sozo was translated another fifty-three times as “saved” (past tense) in reference to forgiveness of sins. However, there were also times where this exact same Greek word was translated as “healed.”
"[Jairus] besought [ Jesus] greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed [sozo]; and she shall live." Mark 5:23
This word “healed” is referring to physical healing. As the story unfolds, Jairus’ daughter actually died, and Jesus raised her from the dead. (Mark 5:35–43.) So in this instance sozo— “healed”—refers to physical healing, even physical resurrection from the dead.
This same word that’s used for both forgiveness of sins and physical healing also applies to deliverance from demons.
"They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed [sozo]." Luke 8:36
Commonly called the Gadarene demoniac, nobody could hold this man. In fact, he often broke the very chains which bound him. Sometimes deliverance from demons is necessary for someone to receive healing. That is included in this word sozo.
"The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed [sozo]." Acts 14:9
Paul beheld this crippled man and perceived that he had faith to be healed [sozo], and he was (vv. 8–10).
Christ’s Saving Power
Here is a classic example of Christ’s saving power manifesting in our lives both as healing and forgiveness of sins.
"The prayer of faith shall save [sozo] the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." James 5:15
In another instance, Jesus knew the thoughts of the scribes and Pharisees, so He asked:
"Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save [sozo] life, or to destroy it?" Luke 6:9
When they didn’t answer, He turned and healed the man with the withered right hand (vv. 8–11). Jesus wasn’t just talking about forgiveness of sins. He meant the healing of the body.
This same word—sozo—was also translated “made whole” in reference to healing. Consider the example of the woman with an issue of blood:
"But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole [sozo]. And the woman was made whole [sozo] from that hour." Matthew 9:22
In faith, she touched the hem of His garment and received healing. She was sozo—made whole. This is the same Greek word that is synonymous with forgiveness of sin. Here again, it’s applied to being healed physically.
This same instance, recorded in the book of Mark, reveals that right before she reached out to Jesus, she said:
"If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole [sozo]." Mark 5:28
Sozo was translated “make whole” or “be whole” eleven times in scripture. It’s obvious from God’s Word that salvation isn’t limited only to the forgiveness of sins.
"And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole [sozo]." Mark 6:56
When Jesus heard the news that Jairus’ daughter had died, He answered him, saying:
"Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole [sozo]." Luke 8:50
The Lord was referring to the healing of her physical body.
Salvation doesn’t only mean forgiveness of sins, but includes healing of the body, deliverance, and financial prosperity, too. Many in the modern church have interpreted salvation only to be forgiveness of sins, but that’s a misrepresentation of what the Lord did. Forgiveness of our sins is certainly the centerpiece, and I’m not minimizing it at all. However, at the same time Christ died to purchase our redemption from sin, He also freed us from sickness, disease, depression, and poverty.
Second Corinthians 8:9 is very clear concerning the atonement and our redemption from poverty:
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."
Jesus became poor so that we through His poverty might be made rich—abundantly supplied. Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, God has provided everything we need in this life and in the life to come—forgiveness of sins, healing, deliverance, and prosperity. Isn’t God good!?