Total Life Ministries
What is "deliverance?" People often use the term "deliverance" as if it were synonymous with "the casting out of demons." Indeed, deliverance may entail casting out demons, but the term, as used in Scripture, has a much broader meaning and deeper significance.
In the Bible, "deliverance" conveys an overall picture of salvation through the hand of a loving and powerful God. It describes the full impact of Jesus' death and resurrection being applied to and outworked in the lives of God's people. And it signifies the fulness of freedom in Christ.
There are at least 35 Old Testament words and 12 New Testament words which, at some point (in the King James and/or New American Standard translations), are translated as "deliver, deliverer, deliverance, etc." These various words can generally be arranged into four areas of meaning. By looking at these four areas, we get a comprehensive understanding of what the Bible means by "deliverance," and we can arrive at a functional definition of the term.
The first meaning of "deliverance" is "to deliver out of the hands of..., to escape." This meaning illustrates God's rescue of His people from the dominion of Satan and the world system. An example is found in the Hebrew word Natsal (Strong's #5337) which is defined as "to snatch, take away; to snatch out of danger, preserve, deliver anyone from danger." For example:
The same sense is poetically conveyed in Psalm 124:7 (NASV) by a word meaning "to slip away, to escape, deliver from danger."
The second meaning of "deliverance" adds the idea not only of rescue but also of "drawing someone to one's self." This concept shows that God's motive behind deliverance is His fervent desire to fellowship with His people upon whom He has set His unfathomable love. The following two verses both beautifully capture this thought.
The third meaning of deliverance is "to deliver into the hands of...for the purpose of judgement." This idea involves God bringing His people into confrontation with their enemies so that they can defeat them in battle. The Old Testament picture of Israel confronting the Canaanite nations typifies the battle of the New Testament believer against the powers of darkness and the ongoing influence of the world system. For example, God promised Israel:
This aspect of deliverance requires the believer to be equipped by God with spiritual weapons of warfare. God will supply the power to defeat the enemy once the believer faces the enemy in faith. David gives us an example of God's faithfulness to the one who will face the enemy:
The fourth and last meaning of deliverance is "to have ample space between oneself and one's enemies." It is the end result and goal of the process of deliverance, where one's enemies have been beaten back and brought into subjection, so that they do not press in to harass, distress, and endanger a person or his land. This idea is expressed as follows:
This concept of safety is captured in Hebrew in the word, Yasha (Strong's #3467) meaning "to be spacious, ample, broad." It was used of Samson where it was said that "he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines" (Judges 13:5), thus enabling Israel to live in peace from her enemies.
In the Hebrew language, the following words, all defined as "salvation," are derived from the word "yasha":
By combining the above four categories of meaning of the many Biblical words translated as "deliverance," we arrive at the following comprehensive definition of deliverance: