We have heard and read of “saints” in the Bible. But who are the saints, and what is the meaning of a “saint”? The word “saint” is derived from the Greek verb (hagiazo), meaning to “set apart”, “sanctify”, or “make holy”. The Hebrew word (qadowsh) is translated to “saint” in the Old Testament. It also means “sacred”, “Holy One”, or “set apart”.
Saints in Roman Catholic theology are those who have gone to be in heaven. They are a particular class of people and based on their noteworthy deeds, this honour of sainthood is bestowed on them. Someone can only become a saint when the Pope or a prominent bishop canonises them. In contrast, according to the Bible, saints are never deceased individuals who have been canonised by the church and given sainthood. Instead, in the New Testament, saints are all living people born again in Christ, loving God, worshipping God, and being in complete service to God. Amen!
The word “saint” or “saints” is used around 67 times in the New Testament, and every time it refers to all believers. The word of God is clear that all believers are saints, and it is never a unique group of people who serve God better than others (Acts 26:10, Romans 1:17, 1 Corinthians 1:2). All Christians are saints because we are called to live lives “set apart” from this world and be holy. After all, God is holy. 1 Corinthians 1:2 says, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:” Also, 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
This idea of being set apart for God is carried over from the Old Testament. The people of Israel were set apart by God, for God. Deuteronomy 7:6 says, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Even then, ordinary people could not approach God in the tabernacle, which was only accessible by priests and under the conditions specified by God. The intent of all this was to display the holiness and sacredness of Jehovah and that it was necessary to be “set apart” to be in His service. Amen!
Likewise, Christians are called and set apart by God. 1 Peter 1:15 says that God is the one who called us; therefore, we need to be holy in all our conduct. It is a divine call of God. Since God is holy, and as we see God’s holiness and sacredness as revealed throughout Scripture, we are to reflect that holiness as children of God. Peter reinforces this idea from Leviticus 11:44. We are to be set apart from all that is profane and sinful, and instead, we are to conform to the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!
Our sainthood begins at our calling because God is setting us apart. We are called to belong to God, we are no longer our own, but we were bought with a price. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We are called to glorify God with our lives, and we are to witness Christ. This witness comes from being set apart, striving for a purity of life that matches our saviour, Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, all who believe in Christ are “saints” because they have been called and are set apart for good works (Ephesians 2:10) and the glory of God. Not only are we called to be saints, but we are to continue in perseverance to be saints in the process of sanctification, reflecting the image of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and being ambassadors of Christ.
Let us close with 1 Peter 1:13-19, saying, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”