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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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DELIVERANCE (ἄφεσις).—The English word does not occur in the Gospels, except in a quotation from the OT (see below), but the Gr. word is found 8 times (in Matthew 26:28, Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3; Luke 1:77; Luke 24:47 it is rendered ‘remission’ [of sins]; in Mark 3:29 ‘forgiveness’; in Luke 4:18 bis (a) ‘deliverance’ [Authorized Version], ‘release’ [ Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885], (b) [to set] ‘at liberty’); while the fact of deliverance underlies all that is recorded of Jesus, and has coloured the entire thought of Christianity. To think of Christ is to think of Him as Saviour. In such utterances as ‘The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost’ (Matthew 18:11), and ‘the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them’ (Luke 9:56), we have the keynote of Christ’s mission. He sounds it in the beginning when, preaching in the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:18), He declares His work to be, in the words of Isaiah 61:1, ‘to preach deliverance to captives.’ His days are passed in saving men from every slavery that binds them to the transient. This is at the root of all His acts of deliverance—even the healings. When He gives physical renewal to the lame, the diseased, the dumb, the blind, the paralyzed, it is always that they may the easier find spiritual perfection. Moral and spiritual deliverance are often associated with a bodily purification—greatly to the confusion of contemporary traditionalists. They are astonished that He should say to the one sick of the palsy, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’ (Mark 2:5), or to the leper, ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole’ (Luke 17:18). In the typical prayer taught to His disciples there is no word about life’s miseries, poverty, or pain: the petition is simply ‘Deliver us from evil’ (Matthew 6:13, Luke 11:4): the soul’s need being eternal outweighs the need of mind and body. And we can hardly doubt that, as He looked upon that long and sad procession of the bodily wrecks that came to Him ‘at even’ (Mark 1:32), the heart of the Missioner in Christ was kindled by the vision of souls that would be set free to fulfil better their purpose of life when the numbed or tortured body was given rest and cure. Conscious of the necessities of daily life, He, better than all others, knows how temporary they are, and lifts His voice continually against the soul’s voluntary bondage to things material. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God’ (Luke 12:31); ‘Lay up treasure in heaven’ (Matthew 6:20); ‘Beware, and keep yourselves from covetousness’ (Luke 12:15); ‘If thou wouldst be perfect, go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor … and come, follow me’ (Matthew 19:21)—such phrases indicate the deliverance from the world and its anxieties which culminates in the invitation of Jesus—‘Come unto me … and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).

The highest of the self-chosen titles ring with deliverance. Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd, who will even give His life for the sheep (John 10:11); He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), leading from earth and time to heaven and eternity; He is the Light of the World (John 8:12), to bring all wanderers safely from darkness and danger to light and safety. The Christian Church has always read in His titles, His words, and His actions this moral and spiritual significance. Christ has been, and is, the Saviour of men from sin and evil rather than from pain and suffering. See Forgiveness.

E. Daplyn.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Deliverance'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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