What Is A Saint?

By: Bill Bratt


Years ago I used to play trumpet in the high school concert band and the stage band. One of my favorite songs to play was a dixieland song titled: "When the Saints Go marching In." It is a very exciting and lively number.

The word Ďsaintí is used a lot in our society. Cities are named using the name saint such as Saint Louis and Saint. Albans. We have dogs that are called Saint Bernards. We have hospitals such as Saint Anthonys in Columbus. We have the holidays of Saint Patrickís Day and Saint Valentineís Day. We also have churches using the word saint such as Saint Marys in Portsmouth.

Many times we may think Saints only have something to do with the Catholic Church. Quoting a paragraph from the Catholic Encyclopedia under the heading ĎSaintí, "A title properly given to those human members of Christ recognized by the Church either traditionally or by formal canonization, as being in heaven and thus worthy of honor; the title is extended also to certain angels (Raphael, Gabriel, Michael). The description, not the title, of saint is applied in addition to those beatified by the Church. Both beatification and canonization indicate that the Church is satisfied that heroic virtue or martyrdom can be attributed to the person considered."

Notice in this quotation that the Ďsaintí has to be in heaven and therefore is dead.

Letís take a look at what the Encyclopedia Americana says about ĎPatron Saintsí. "Among Christians, ..., various saints have been traditionally associated with a disease or disability, an occupation, profession, or other activity. Their intercession with God has been sought through prayer for cures or for protection and fostering of one or another activity Their designation as patron saints usually arose through popular devotion."

There is a long list of patron saints but letís look only at a few of them. The patron saint of Accountants is Saint Matthew, Architects is Saint Thomas, Athletes is Saint Sebastian, Comedians is Saint Vitus, Nurses is Saint Camillus de Lellis, Tax collectors is Saint Matthew. The patron saint of Brides is Saint Nicholas of Myra, Throat Sufferers is Saint Blaise, and Searchers for Lost Articles is Saint Anthony of Padua.

In the King James Version of the Bible the word Ďsaintí occurs 5 times and the word Ďsaintsí occurs 96 times.

Now that we have laid a little foundation, letís ask the question: What Is A Saint?

What Is A Saint?

Letís look at how the apostle Paul greeted the members of the Church in Ephesus. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: {2} Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:1-2).

Notice that these people are alive, they are not dead and they are not in heaven. Also notice that nothing is said about beatification and canonization of the Church in regard to the saints in the Church.

Letís notice another greeting that the apostle Paul gave to the Church of God at Corinth, "Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, {2} Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: {3} Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:1-3).

Notice again that these people are alive, they are not dead and they are not in heaven.

Letís look at one more example. The apostle Paul had planned to visit Rome. Letís look at Romans 15 and verse 22, "This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you. {23} But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, {24} I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. {25} Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. {26} For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. {27} They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. {28} So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way." ... {31} "Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there."

Notice in this passage that the apostle Paul again uses the term Ďsaintsí for the live members of the Church. Notice also in verse 26 that Paul was wanting to take up Ďa food contribution for the poor saints in Jerusalem.í There was a famine going on in Jerusalem and Paul wanted to take food to them. (For more information on this topic request our free article: "Collection for the Saints in Jerusalem").

Letís look at a couple of Old Testament examples: Psalms 31 verse 23 says: "Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full." Psalms 34 and verse 9, "Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing."

Scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments are references to certain living people called Ďsaintsí of God.

What makes a Ďsaintí a saint?

In the Old Testament the word Ďsaintí is translated from the Hebrew word (Strongís Concordance #6944) "qodesh," meaning: "a sacred place or thing; sanctity:--consecrated, dedicated, hallowed, holiness, holy, saint, sanctuary."

In the New Testament the word Ďsaintí is translated from the Greek word (Strongís Concordance #40) "hagios," meaning: "sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, consecrated): holy, saint."

The word Ďsaintí basically means "sacred or holy one." A saint, according to the Bible, is simply a holy person.

So how can we be holy? The apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1 verse 15, "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; {16} for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy.""

Be Holy

Letís look at some Biblical examples: Holy is the opposite of vile.

Revelation 22:11, "Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy."

To be holy is to be without blame. Ephesians 1:4, " For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love"

To be holy is to be without stain, wrinkle or blemish. Ephesians 5:27, "To present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

To be holy is to be free from accusation. Colossians 1:22, "But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation."

To be holy is to be clean, pure, without blame or blemish.

The fifth chapter in 1 Thessalonians is about the Day of the Lord. Letís start reading in verse 23, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. {24} He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. {25} Brethren, pray for us. {26} Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. {27} I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren."

Notice that the apostle Paul in verse 23 was asking God to sanctify, or to make holy, the members of the Church of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1). But in verse 27 Paul still calls the brethren holy.

Letís put this into perspective. Sometimes we put people in the Bible on a pedestal perhaps a little higher than we should. We think of men such as Abraham, King David and the apostle Peter as very special people and these people were indeed very special to God, but they were still human just as we are human. These three men were spiritual giants at times but each one sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Abraham lied, King David got Bathsheba pregnant and killed her husband Uriah and Peter denied Christ three times.

These people were not perfect just as we are not perfect.

A Christian is Sanctified

When a person accepts Jesus Christ as his savior he becomes sanctified.

John 17 is the real Lordís Prayer. It was Passover evening and Jesus was with His disciples and after the foot washing, eating the Passover meal, partaking of the new sacraments of the bread and the wine, Jesus began to pray. In verse 6, He begins praying for His disciples. I want to focus in on verse 19 where Jesus said, "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth."

Notice that the disciples were Ďsanctified." They were made holy.

The word ĎsanctifiedĎí is translated from the Greek word (Strongís Concordance #37) Ďhagiazoí, from G40; and is defined as: "to make holy, i.e. purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate:--hallow, be holy, sanctify."

Notice that this definition is very close to the definition of Ďsaintí.

Letís notice a couple more scriptures where Christians are said to be sanctified.

In 1 Corinthians 1 and verse 2, the apostle Paul says, "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."

The writer of Hebrews in chapter 2 beginning in verse 10 says: "For it was fitting for Him (Jesus), for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. {11} For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren."

Notice that the people being sanctified by Jesus, that He called them brethren.

As a point to associate with sanctification is that God is holy (1 Peter 1:16) and only He can make something holy.

As a case in point, notice in Genesis 2 and verse 3, "God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." God made the seventh day (Saturday) special, different from the other six days of the week, He made it holy by sanctifying it.

Christians are holy because Godís Holy Spirit takes up residence and dwells in them. All who become Christians are sanctified, set apart and made holy by Godís Holy Spirit. Letís notice how the apostle Paul says it in Romans 15 and verse 16, "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit."

The apostle Paul also stated the following regarding Godís Spirit, "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ" (Romans 8:9).

Notice that without Godís Spirit and the Spirit of Christ a person does not belong to Christ, in other words, he is not a Christian and is not sanctified. In Conclusion: Each and everyone of us in Godís Church is a saint. The Bible definition of a saint is simply a holy person. God considers us to be holy even though we are not perfect.

Letís realize that there is no greater calling than to be a saint and to partake of Godís holiness!

"The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways (Deuteronomy 28:9).

Notice that to be a holy people to God that we must keep Godís Ten Commandments and walk in His ways. Letís walk in the footsteps of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21).

(For more information on the topic of Holiness, request our free article: ĎBe Holy as God is Holy.)


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