The idea of salvation is one of the basic concepts in many religions. From the beginning of beliefs, like from the very beginning of humanity’s intelligent Weltanschauung, humans had a tendency to dualism, which was reflected in the beliefs as well. The primitive men believed in two kinds of gods and spirits, good and evil; the evil disturbed their lives and the good helped and rescued them from malaise. The development of religions brought the idea of an afterlife, in which the concept of redemption was incorporated as one of the main goals. For instance, the eschatology of Buddhism is permanent, and it upholds the principle of reincarnations of a living being and the world in the eternal circle, which can be interrupted only by getting to Nirvana. Thus, the concept of final salvation is expressed by the eternal non-being. The perception of redemption in Islam is similar to the Christian salvation, both of them are linear. They argue that after some dreadful events, the End will come. It will bring the Final Judgment after which there will be only two ways: to Paradise (salvation) or Hell. The interpretation of ecclesiastical literature causes numerous debates on the issues. The question of salvation and the ways to it in Christianity stay open. Regarding the above, the given essay touches on the question of salvation and its means of interpretation based on the book of Romans 5:1-21.
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The notion of salvation is inseparably connected with the atonement of all sins and the first trespass, described in The Book of Genesis. After the Fall of Christianity, people became sinful and mortal. However, it is indicated that God still loves people and that there is a way to salvation and absolution.
Due to the various interpretations of the texts, there exist a lot of salvation paradigms. Researchers Wallace A. J. and Rusk R. D. suggested the main paradigms of redemption (3), through which the book of Romans 5:1-21 will be analyzed.
The first issue under consideration is moral transformation. According to this idea, the way to salvation lies in Jesus’ life and his teaching “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (The Book of Romans 5:1). According to his words, there is a way to cultivate one’s spirit not only through faith and hope in God but by means of suffering that will give us patience and a morally acceptable character. This theory is supported by the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Very often the word “sufferings” has connotations of sacrifices incorporated in fasting, suppression of carnal desires, and even (if to consider the old tradition) self-punishing. After the above doctrine, the apotheosis of humility which will lead to redemption consists of the absence of despair, rejoicing, being grateful even for penalties, as they are the way to absolution.
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The second theory is not as popular as the first one. The core of salvation lies in the ransom from Satan. As it is well known, the Son of God died to save humanity from sins that existed before us but were let into our souls by failing to follow God’s commandments. The part of the statement which states that death spread to all men means not only the physical death but the eternal death for the soul as well. Jesus was sinless, so by accepting to die and offering his innocent soul, he made that ransom on our behalf. As it is said in the chapter under analysis, “the free gift following many trespasses brought justification” (The Book of Romans 5:16). Thus, the same way all humanity was infected with sin, one righteous soul spread the atonement.
The third paradigm is based on the critics of the second one. In the eleventh century, Anselm of Canterbury represented God as a nobleman, who was offended by the failings of humans. Thus, only the death of the most pleasing son could ease “the wrath of God” (The Book of Romans 5:9). The prominent Bible interpreter, Matthew Henry, states that by the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus, the basis of our salvation and satisfaction of sin was placed (1).
The Protestant ideas, which became popular in the sixteenth century, developed the penal substitution theory. As it is legalized, the sinners must pay the penalty of their actions through the death of Jesus. In addition to the free gift, the way to salvation lays in faith. The given theory is quite categorical about the expression “justified by faith” (The Book of Romans 5:1); it rejects any good deeds for the sake of atonement. The main tenet of Christian flows, known as Sola Fide, is based on the above principle.
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The next conception differs from all the above ideas by the predestination’s domination in it. Calvinism rejects the free will given to men. The free gift is understood as something which is fated to some part of humanity, irrespective of their choice or deeds. Thus, only a part of the human race will receive justification, while the rest are doomed.
The next part of the essay will be dedicated to the author’s personal humble interpretation of salvation, described in the fifth chapter of the book of Romans 5:1-21. It should be pointed out that the views stated below are only considered to be a part of the whole notion of salvation. Secondly, only the topics which have not been mentioned above will be discussed below.
It has to be commenced with the statement, that the Holy Spirit is a part of us ((The Book of Romans 5:5). Hence, all the people have a part of God, which is the soul, and there is a possibility to get to Heaven for anyone.
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In addition to faith, hope, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, a human must recognize God and allow Him to one’s soul. This deduction was made out of the phrase “justified by his blood” (The Book of Romans 5:9). It goes without saying that apostles paid great attention to the word choice in their works. The word “blood” could be easily changed by others, which could have had the shade of sacrifice. Out of the points discussed above, it can be suggested that the word “blood” has a double meaning: sacrifice and a hint onto the Eucharist. The rite of Communion is made by grace, bread, and vine, with the symbolic meaning of the flesh, and the blood of Jesus. Only the faithful can be a part of the Eucharist; moreover, the rite implies the previous repentance and the promise to live after God’s law in the future. Thus, the Eucharist can be treated as the means to salvation, being a symbolic embodiment of Jesus’ death and men’s confessions.
One more piece of evidence, which excludes all possible coincidences in writing under the issue and even its design, is the chapter number of the part under the dispute. Number five has a sacred significance according to Bible, which can be represented by the next meanings:
- it is a numeric symbol of a man after the Fall. The connection can be represented by the five great sins: ignorance, anger, passion, spite, and envy
- five senses
- five dots, forming a cross
- five fishes which fed five thousand people
- the Pentateuch
- five wounds of Jesus Christ
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Consequently, number five can hold the meaning of the next interrelated notions. The first to be is death. Adam’s Fall as the death of innocence; the death of Jesus as the death of sin and the way to resurrection and eternal life; the physical death itself as one of the ways to be forgiven and the only way for the mortal to get to Heaven. The second to be is the five inborn sins, which should be defeated. The third is the cross of deeds and choices, carried personally, till the Final Judgment. The last, but not the least, is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
It can be concluded that there exist various doctrines of salvation. Thus, it is a complex notion that cannot be expressed in a one-sided view. On the basis of the given analysis, the meaning of salvation as described by the book of Romans 5:1-21 includes many ways. Faith, hope, sufferings, personal choice and responsibility, moral transformation by the means of the soul cultivation through teaching and the law, the sacrifice, the Eucharist as the symbol of the sacrifice and confession, and death.