The New Testament often employs the verb σῴζω to describe several things including the saving of the soul from eternal destruction as well as for denoting the rescue or deliverance out of other difficult physical or temporal circumstances. It is used some 106 times in the Greek New Testament.
Last week I began to teach the exegesis of Colossians at the seminary and one of the things students must do in the course is translate the book several times. As I worked through the passage a bit, I was reminded of that “other” verb for “saved” found in Colossians 1:13: ῥύομαι. In verse 13 Paul declares, “For he rescued us out of the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” The verb ῥύομαι also has a range of usage that includes both spiritual salvation (Col 1:13) as well as temporal deliverance (2 Cor 1:10 [3x]; 2 Tim 3:11) but is more rare than σῴζω, being found only 17 times in the New Testament.
In those 17 uses it used to denote deliverance from “darkness” (Col 1:13), “evil” (Matt 6:13), “enemies” (Luke 1:74), “body of this death” (Rom 7:24), “the wrath to come” (1 Thess 1:10), “perverse and evil men” (2 Thess 3:2) and “temptation” (2 Peter 2:9). One interesting use of ῥύομαι is found in conjunction with σῴζω where Paul basically uses the two terms in a synonymous manner. In Romans 11:26 Paul, citing Isaiah 59:20 declares,
26 and so all Israel will be saved [σῴζω]; just as it is written,
“The Deliverer [ῥύομαι] will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
So the next time you read the term “deliver,” “save,” or “rescue,” take a peek. It might just be the other word for save: ῥύομαι.