The "Saviour" Spelling Heresy
Does "Saviour" Show Distinction; but not "Savior"?
By David J. Stewart
There is a heresy going around in our churches and on the internet which teaches that referring to Jesus as "Savior" (without the u) instead of Saviour is a sin, and an attack against the Lord Jesus Christ. Although the argument may sound compelling at first, there is NO scholarly or Scriptural support for this claim. I recently heard a sermon by a well known Baptist preacher who loves and defends the King James Bible, so I won't mention his name; however, he teaches this Saviour spelling heresy, and I am saddened about that, because he is indicting many of his fellow brethren, including great men of God like Jack T. Chick and others who spell Savior without the "u." Jack Chick defends the King James Bible more anyone I know. I have recently received a few letters from web visitors, one calling me a "liberal," because I spell Savior without the "u." They claim that "Savior" is not found in the King James Bible, but only in the liberal corrupt versions. However, the basis of their argument is ridiculous. "Labour" in the King James Bible no longer has a "u" in our modern English language, nor does the word "neighbour." I am going to PROVE to you from the Bible how wrong the Saviour spelling critics are in a moment.
In support of their claim, Saviour spelling critics like to point out a distinction made over a century ago in Webster's Dictionary concerning the words "Savior" and "Saviour" (which I have been unable to verify). I have 2 things to say about this if their claim is true:
- As you will find at the following link, Webster's Dictionary today makes absolutely no distinction between the two words: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/
Men are flawed and make mistakes in judgment, which is why we should be like the believers at Berea who "searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). Even if Mr. Webster believed a difference existed between the two different spellings of the word, the original Greek does NOT support such conjecture (as I will show you in a moment).
One defender of the King James claims... "The spelling of 'Saviour' as "Savior" denies his deity." That is ridiculous and untrue. It was actually Noah Webster himself who first changed the Old English word of "Saviour" into "Savior." Webster's 1828 Dictionary states:
SAVIOR, n. savyur. One that saves or preserves; but properly applied only to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, who has opened the way to everlasting salvation by his obedience and death, and who is therefore called the Savior, by way of distinction, the Savior of men, the Savior of the world.
Spelling "Savior" or "Saviour" and has nothing to do with the meaning. Our Savior is the One who came down from glory-- the Second Person of the Trinity--the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us, rose again, and intercedes as High Priest at the Right Hand of the Father. It does not matter how you spell Savior--what truly matters is that Jesus saves. Many people do not believe in the correct Jesus of the Bible, and that should be our concern as soul winners. There are many Jesuses out there but there is only one Biblical Jesus, found in the Bible--the one and true Savior. The Lord Jesus Christ must be lifted up--in every language. The name of Jesus is most important (Philippians 2:10). We read in Acts 4:12...
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved"?
Six Letters or Seven?
Proponents of the "Saviour" theory claim that "Savior" denies Christ's deity because it only contains six letters, instead of "Saviour" which contains seven letters (God's number of perfection). However, such conjecture is flawed because "Saviour" in other languages is spelled out with 6 letters, 9 letters, 10 letters, et cetera--and the amount of letters in no way negates or takes away from the meaning. The meaning of the word is THE SAME. The actual Greek word (from which the KJV is translated) for "Saviour" is soter, and does not have seven letters. The notion that changing the amount of letters in Saviour alters the meaning--modern English vs. Elizabethan English--has no validity. The word for "Saviour" in Polish is "Zbawiciela"... notice that it has 10 letters. The word for "Saviour" in German is "Retter"... notice that it has 6 letters. The word "Saviour" in the New Testament comes from the Greek soter, which only has 5 letters. Whether 10 or 7 or 5 letters... Savior means the same to those who KNOW the Lord Jesus Christ, for He alone has saved us. We must be careful not to get caught up in unbiblical disputations but rather must earnestly contend for the faith. We should use and endorse ONLY THE KING JAMES BIBLE because It stays true to the original text, and not because of the Elizabethan English. In the case of thee and thou, you need the Elizabethan English, but this is certainly not true of the word Saviour. Old English spelling may be different than modern English, but the pure translation of the inspired text--from the Textus Receptus and the Masoretic Hebrew--is what is truly important!
Please listen to what I'm about to say... Our weakest argument is our enemies strongest attack against us. In other words, if we're going to attack the godless New International Version (NIV)... and it is godless... then let's be very careful not to stoop to unscholarly claims which give our enemies ammunition to validate the label of ignorance they've already bestowed upon us. I call the Saviour spelling heretics "Christian vigilantes," because they are willing to be unscholarly and unbiblical to justify their position. A vigilante takes the law into his own hands. We must be careful when critiquing God's enemies that we don't make foolish and unscholarly claims against them, because it empowers them to discredit our legitimate defense of the Christian faith. This is good advice for us all.
"Saviour" in the Greek
The word "Saviour" is mentioned in the New Testament 24 times, and in EVERY case is the Greek word "soter," which means "deliverer, preserver... The name was given by the ancients to deities, esp. tutelary deities, to princes, kings, and in general to men who had conferred signal benefits upon their country, and in more degenerate days by the way of flattery to personages of influence" (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon). Clearly, God uses "saviour" in the Bible in a broad sense of the term. In Ephesians 5:23, the husband is referred to as the exact SAME "saviour" as is Jesus elsewhere, i.e., soter... "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour (soter) of the body." The wife is to submit to her own husband as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). Hence, the Bible does NOT use "saviour" to show any distinction whatsoever concerning Jesus Christ. As we have seen, the term is used in reference to the husband in Ephesians 5:23. According to the Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, the term "saviour" was especially used in reference to pagan deities, kings, and princes. It was also used in general to refer to men who had made great contributions to society. So any preacher or Bible teacher who makes a fuss over the modern spelling of "savior" (without the "u") is unscholarly to claim that "saviour" shows distinction but "savior" doesn't. The original Greek silences him very quickly on the matter. The word "Saviour" in the Word of God does NOT show any distinction. This fact is incontrovertible.
Now if you want a word that shows DISTINCTION, then you want the word "Christ." The Greek word for "Christ" is "Christos," which means "anointed"; hence, Jesus was the Anointed One. So the word "Christ" definitely shows distinction, but NOT the word "Saviour." Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God. When Jesus asked Peter, "But whom say ye that I am?"... "Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mathew 16:16). I've heard people say that "Saviour" and "Christ" mean the same thing, but they do NOT. I heard one of the Saviour spelling heretics say, "There are many saviors, but only one Saviour!" That is not true, as Obadiah 1:21 clearly evidences...
“And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.”
I would agree if the definition of "Saviour" were THE ANOINTED ONE; but it is NOT! Biblically, there are many "saviours" (as seen in Obadiah 1:21); but only one MESSIAH. The term "Messiah" is mentioned only twice in the Bible (in Daniel 9:25 and 26). The Hebrew word is "mashiyach" and means "anointed," which is the equivalent of the Greek "Christos." Hence, Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One. "Saviour" NEVER refers to Jesus in this manner. Jesus is the deliverer (i.e., Saviour) of mankind, through His blood, because He is the CHRIST! If Jesus were not the Christ, then He could not be anyone's Saviour.
In John Chapter 4 we read about the Samaritan woman who had gotten saved. She immediately went out soulwinning and brought many people to hear Jesus. As a result, many of them believed on Jesus and were saved that day. Those new believers came back to the Samaritan woman in John 4:42 and said... "Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him (Jesus) ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." Do you see the difference between the words "Christ" and "Saviour"? The reason why Jesus is the Saviour of the world is because He is THE CHRIST (i.e., the Anointed One). Many people are a "saviour" in the Biblical sense of the word, and no one can argue this fact, based upon the meaning of the Greek soter. The Bible never warns us about "false Saviours"; but against FALSE CHRISTS! Mark 13:22 warns, "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."
The Original 1611 King James Bible
I recently bought an exact replica of the original 1611 King James Bible, which you can also order here. The word "Sauiour" is used (using the letter "u" instead of "v"). So if the Savior spelling heretics want to be ridiculous, then so can I. Neither the words "Savior" nor "Saviour" appeared in the original 1611 King James Bible. So there!
I've only taken the time to expose this heresy because the name of my website is Jesus-is-Savior, and some people have tried to discredit my ministry with the Saviour spelling heresy. If you want to call me a liberal, as one woman did, and discredit my entire ministry based upon your ignorance of the Greek language, then that is your prerogative; but please, stop what you are doing because it's just giving the NIV crowd more ammunition to justly prove your ignorance (and hurt the rest of us who are rightly dividing the Word of Truth in our defense of the precious King James Bible).
David J. Stewart
Saviour or Savior?