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Salvation in Luke-Acts

Dani T.(NT3)

Some (such as Conzelmann) have argued that Luke attributes no soteriological
significance to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ (arguing that Christ’s
ascension and exaltation takes precedence). However, whilst Luke does not
always explicitly spell out his theme of salvation , it is a vital part of his gospel.
The language of salvation in the gospel is substantial, and Luke’s presentation
of Jesus as saviour for all people is found in numerous clues throughout his
writings. Whilst Luke does present the atoning salvific work of Christ through
these clues, it is the ‘who’ of salvation, rather than the ‘how’ which is his
primary concern.

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all
people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel – Luke

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost – Luke 19:10


o Linguistic Analysis
- swzw
• Verb no more common than other gospels (17 in Lk.
Comparable to other gospels)
• Although Spiritual sense of swzw used in Luke more
than in Mt and Mk

- swthr / swthria
• Saviour and salvation … not found in Matt/Mark but in
Luke-Acts (15 times in total)

o Semantic Range
- Health (Lk 6:9, 8:48, Acts 27:20-21)
• Preservation of physical life/rescue from mortal

- Deliverance from the demonic (Lk 8:36)

- Spiritual Salvation (7:50, 8:12, 13:23, 19:10)

• Link between physical and spiritual salvation in 7:50
o Your faith has saved you normally linked with
physical healing said here with no suggestion
of such.

Salvation, Jews & Gentiles

- Particular Lukan focus on gentile salvation

o Makes sense of the birth narrative’s focus on salvation to those
outside God’s blessing
o As narrative progresses, Jews reject Jesus and offer of salvation
being brought to those who will receive him (eg. Man with leprosy,
roman centurion, prostitute, thief on the cross)

- Not that Jews are excluded from salvation but it is not exclusively for them

- It is not universalism but fulfilment of OT prophecy that God’s blessing

would include the nations (as per Simeon quoting Is 42)

- 24:47  essential verse for universal scope of Gospel

o theme taken up in Acts (1:8)
o Acts shows the process by which the Gospel grew, beginning in

No Soteriological Significance from Jesus death?

Is there any relationship between salvation and the cross as presented in Luke?

- Conzelmann says no. The Cross in Lk is a path to glory rather than being
presented as an atonement that brings salvation (ie. No Mak 10:45).
o No soteriological significnce drawn from Jesus’ suffering and death

- Jerome Kodell suggests there is some form of salvation but not atonement

How do we respond?
1. Old Testament Background
2. Birth Narratives
3. Salvation Teachings of Jesus
4. Lord’s Supper
5. Passion Narratives
OT Background  Grounded in Isaiah’s Suffering Servant

- John the Bap’s ministry  announced with quote from Is 40

o Prepare way for the Lord, sign exile is over & redemption at hand

- Simeon (2:32) quotes Is 42:6 to identify Jesus with the servant and YHWH

- Fulfill scriptures
o 24:44 - Jesus describes his death as dei (necessary)
o To take salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike

- Traits of the Servant

o Innocence --> Jesus as servant demonstrated by his innocent
suffering according to divine will as per the traits of the servant
- Declared innocent by Pilate and Herod (23:4, 4, 14, 15, 22)
and by the thief (23:41)
o Suffers & Dies to Save
- Central trait of servant
- Laying on him the inquity (53:6)
- Bearing the sins of many (53:12)  partial quote at Last

Birth Narrative (1-2)  Coming of Salvation linked to Jesus Christ

- Clearly establishes Jesus as the Saviour

- Lk 1:47 - God is Mary’s Saviour

o powerful action against mighty and proud on behalf of poor and

- Zechariah’s Song (1:67-80)  redemption of Israel

o Tightly connected with the coming of the Messiah and forgiveness
of sins (1:77)
- Horn of salvation (1:69)
- Salvation from our enemies (1:71)
- Knowledge of Salvation (1:77)

- Lk 2:11 – Angelic announcement that Saviour has been born

- Lk 2:30 – Simeon recognises fulfilment of God’s promise of salvation to all

the earth (precursor to Acts)
Salvation Teachings of Jesus  Seek and Save what was Lost

- Certain teachings of Jesus about salvation which are distinctively Lukan

o Lk 19:10 – seek and save what is lost  summary of Jesus’
mission in Luke

o Example: Lk 15 – Lost sheep/coin/son. Salvation parables not

found in any other gospels

Salvation and Lords Supper  Redemption, Propitation, Atonement

- Passover permeated with ideas of redemption and propitiation

o God’s wrath passed over by blood  act of salvation
o Not atonement though (laying of sin on one for salvation of other)
o Acts 20:28  church was purchased with blood of Jesus

- But Jesus redefines signficance of Passover in light of coming death.

Clues found in 22:19-20
1. Introduces idea of atonement here by alluding to Exodus 24:8
where Moses sprinkles blood to atone for sins
2. Inauguration of ‘new’ covenant spoken by Jer 31:31-34 
forgiveness of sins by his own blood
3. “Given for you” (22:20)  Jesus giving blood/body for his people

Passion Narrative  Jesus Salvific Death

- Substitution of Jesus for Barabbas  substitute for sinner (23:18-25)

o Dramatic historical representation of what was to take place on
cross. Jesus dying on behalf of the guilty.

- Jesus offers thief life (paradise) in face of death (Lk 23:43)

- Repetition of save language in Lk 23:35-39 unprecedented in the Gospels

- Lk uses ‘tree’ (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29) rather than normal word of cross
 allusion to Deut 21:23 (Jesus bore our curse)
Blessings of Salvation

Salvation in Lk-Acts brings

- Salvation through forgiveness and release for oppressed
o 1:77, 3:3, 4:18, 24:27, Acts 2:38, 5:31, 10:43, 13:38

- Life – not major theme but eternal life will come to those who have given
up everything for kingdom of God.
o 10:25, 12:16, 18:29-30

- Peace – Jesus is mediator of peace and brings it about through

o 1:79, 2:14, 10:5-6, Acts 10:36)

- The Kingdom – important theme but not so directly linked with salvation.
Salvation denotes entering the kingdom (14:15-24)