In this part of Philippians, Paul says Jesus Christ is a “Savior.” We and other Christians in the world often say Jesus is our Savior. It’s one of our favorite ways of talking about Jesus. “Jesus saved me from my sins,” we might say, “and he can save you from your sins too.” Through his death, Jesus offers to save humanity from sin.
So it might surprise you to hear that “Savior” is not one of Paul’s favorite words. In fact, this is the only time Paul uses the word Savior in any of his undisputed letters. He uses the word “Lord” at least 175 times, but the word “Savior” only once.
It may also surprise you to hear that here in Philippians 3:20, Paul is not thinking about sin. The problem that Jesus saves us from in verse 20 is not sin. In fact, nowhere in Philippians does Paul use the standard Greek word for “sin,” hamartia. He talks about sin in Romans, mentions it 4 times in the letters to the Corinthians, 3 times in Galatians, and once in 1 Thessalonians. But he does not use that word hamartia in Philippians.
So we have two oddities. Philippians 3:20 is the only time Paul calls Jesus a Savior; and even then, sin is not the human problem that Jesus saves us from. Paul affirms that Jesus Christ does save us from something, but that something is not sin. What’s going on here?
- Philippians 3:17 - 4:1