A socio-historical study of the meaning and implication of salvation in Acts 16
The importance of an engagement with the Biblical text through methodological frameworks that speak to the context of African theologians and Christians, while also taking into consideration the centrality of Scripture is essential to this research. In this study, salvation is studied as it appears in Acts 16 through a combination of exegetical analysis and the socio-historical method to draw implications for the African context. The Socio-historical method in particular led to the identification and establishment of contextual similarities between the African and Greco-Roman contexts. The research argues that salvation is a spiritual intervention with possible physical ramifications. In Acts 16, Luke demonstrates this as the “setting at liberty" of the slave girl from the oracular burden of the (python spirit) and economic exploitation. He also shows salvation to be freedom from the fear of death such as expressed by the Philippian jailer. The jailer and the slave girl’s need for salvation that was met, was both spiritual and temporal. This definition is in line with the salvation mission of Jesus in the fourth chapter of Luke’s Gospel. The definition speaks directly to the worldview of Luke’s actual, authorial and narrative audiences. It also speaks to the worldview of Africans. The research concludes that based on Acts 16, salvation does not come from the Greco-Roman (Theos upsistos — most high god), nor from other gods. It is not obtained by offering any sacrifices, but comes from invoking and believing in the name of Jesus. This is a new concept for Greco-Romans and Africans because 'the Lord Jesus’ is not listed in their pantheon of deities. It is new to every culture where the message of salvation advances and encounters pre-existing notions about the meaning and means of salvation.
- Theology