1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-7 (NASB)
What is a saint? I grew up as a Southern Baptist with a lot of Roman Catholic friends just down the street from a Catholic school and large Catholic Church. I am retired now, but for the last 20 years I have worked for a corporation that was owned by a Roman Catholic Hospital not-for-profit corporation….
So, with that being said, I know what the RCC’s concept of a “saint” is, but what is the Biblical definition? I believe the passage I placed at the top of this post is a good starting place, but we will look at the Greek word that is translated as “saint” and what it means Biblically.
I agree with Warren Wiersbe who said, “No word in the New Testament has suffered more than this word saint. Even the dictionary defines a saint as a ‘person officially recognized for holiness of life.” Is that the Biblical meaning? In the passage above the word saints in v7 translates the Greek adjective ἁγίοις (hagiois) the dative plural masculine of ἅγιος (hagios), which means holy, set apart (for holiness), consecrated. However, in secular Greek the word hagios meant “to stand in awe of or be devoted to the gods.” This word came right out of pagan Greek religion, but Paul had to use it since there was no other word to use. So, the word was originally used of a person who was devoted to a god. One such as that was looked upon as a “holy one” or a “holy man.”